Try telling Alec Ingold and Cory Littleton that getting drafted is the end all, be all.
The Las Vegas Raiders officially announced their ten undrafted free agent signings Friday afternoon, and the signings include some of the top college prospects from respected programs that slipped through the cracks of the NFL Draft. Fortunately for these young men, just like Ingold and Littleton, their NFL journeys will continue despite not having their names called during the draft.
The UDFA signings have already arrived to Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center for Rookie Minicamp. Here are three undrafted prospects that stood out as players to keep an eye on come Training Camp.
Matt Bushman, BYU, TE
Bushman has everything you'd want out of an NFL tight end. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound tight end showed major promise in his first three seasons at BYU, as he was the third BYU tight end to have 500-or-more receiving yards in three straight seasons. Bushman showed consistency as a Cougar and was even on the watchlist for the John Mackey Award going into his senior season.
Unfortunately for Bushman, he didn't have senior season – which played a huge factor in why the tight end went undrafted. He ruptured his Achilles and was sidelined for the year, while QB Zach Wilson went on to have a fantastic season, leading BYU to an 11-1 record.
Bushman was able to return in time for BYU's Pro Day, but coming right off recovering from his injury, scouts may have not seen all that the tight end has in the tank when 100 percent healthy. The Raiders may have picked up a steal in Bushman, as there's a little room in that position group after the retirement of Jason Witten earlier this offseason.
Darius Stills, West Virginia, DT
Darius Stills was not happy when his named wasn't called this past weekend — and now he's intent on taking that out on the rest of the league.
Stills was projected to be a mid-to-late round pick, but went undrafted as many teams believed his 6-foot, 280-pound frame may be too small to be a nose tackle at the next level. Fortunately for Stills, another undrafted defensive tackle named John Randle did just fine in the NFL, and he has a similar build and high motor to Stills.
It's very strange Stills went undrafted coming off his best season as a Mountaineer. He was named Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, first-team All-Big 12 and a consensus All-American. He accumulated 85 career tackles (48 solo), 11.5 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss, one INT, two passes defensed and one forced fumble in his four years at West Virginia. While Stills is excited to come to the desert and pursue his dreams of making the roster, he believes he's just as good, if not better than anyone drafted this year at his position.
"It's unfortunate I didn't get drafted, but it's OK — at the end of the day, you got to put cleats on the same way anyone else does," said Darius Stills in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated. "Going into college I was slept on, and I definitely woke people up so I'm ready to just do it again."
TJ Morrison, Stony Brook, CB
TJ Morrison might have the most intrigue out of any of the Raiders undrafted free agent signings.
When you watch the film on Morrison, he has the potential to be a great cornerback that possesses exceptional closing speed on receivers in coverage. He also has a tough exterior to him that the Raiders love.
Morrison, like others, took a hit in his draft stock for being a small-school prospect. The pandemic made it more difficult for scouts and general managers to evaluate non-Power 5 prospects, as only a handful of FCS, Division II and III players were drafted this year. Morrison is the only player out of the ten Raiders UDFA signings from a FCS school. Nevertheless, he did damage in New York, compiling 109 career tackles (85 solo), two INTs, 18 passes defensed, five tackles for loss and one forced fumble. He was also second-team preseason All-CAA Football by Phil Steele.
Morrison will have an uphill battle competing against some of the more well-known prospects on the Raiders roster, but this is definitely a kid to keep your eye out for throughout the remainder of the offseason.
Take a look inside Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as the rookies hit the practice field for the first day of 2021 Rookie Minicamp.