The craziness of NFL Free Agency has come and gone, but there are still a few notable players left on the market for teams to acquire before the NFL Draft on April 26th. Despite any scheme changes, injury concerns, or off-field question marks, these six players still have the talent and youth to start for an NFL team and make an impact right away.
- Tre Boston, Safety, Los Angeles Chargers
Going from youngest to oldest, Tre Boston is first on the list at just 25 years of age. Considering the 6’1” safety doesn’t turn 26 until late June, one would think his services would have been taken long ago. Unfortunately for Boston, the safety market has been dismal this offseason, with prized safety Tyrann Mathieu only getting a 1 year $7 million deal. Still, Boston should be able to find a home soon, as his 2017 breakout campaign of 79 tackles and 5 interceptions will not go unnoticed forever.
Prediction: Tre Boston signs with the Arizona Cardinals
(Will he be able to replace the Honey Badger?)
- Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Indianapolis Colts
Late happy birthday wishes go out to the next player on our list, who turned 26 just last Thursday. Johnathan Hankins is a surprise addition to this list, as the Indianapolis Colts recently cut the defensive starter. After giving him a 3-year $27 million deal last offseason, the Colts decided to part ways with Hankins. The run stuffing nose tackle may not have put up eye-opening stats last year, but he still produced 2 sacks and was a force to be reckoned with for opposing teams running up the middle. The Colts are expected to switch to a 4-3 defense this year, so maybe Hankins just didn’t fit with the new program, despite his talent.
Prediction: Johnathan Hankins signs with the Washington Redskins
(If the New York Giants draft RB Saquon Barkley, this could help.)
- Eric Reid, Safety, San Francisco 49ers
The trend of available starting safeties continues with 26-year-old Eric Reid. The former 1st round pick of the 49ers enjoyed a successful 5 years with the organization, amassing 319 tackles and 10 interceptions. While Reid has faced concussion issues in the past, those numbers alone would prove to most that he’s due for an extension. However, Reid’s play on the field may be getting overlooked due to his involvement in the social justice protests taking place during the National Anthem. Reid was an active participant in the kneeling movement since the beginning, along with former teammate Colin Kaepernick. NFL teams appear to be hesitant in signing Reid with the media attention that may follow.
Prediction: Eric Reid resigns with the San Francisco 49ers
(They certainly have the cap space.)
- Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, New Orleans Saints
The third and final safety on our list is the veteran of the group at the ripe old age of 27. Kenny Vaccaro was picked just 3 spots ahead of Eric Reid in the 2013 NFL Draft, and both players find themselves hoping a team calls their name again. Vaccaro enjoyed similar success on the field (385 tackles, 8 interceptions) as Reid, but unfortunately carries an injury record as well. Vaccaro ended last season on injured reserve with a groin injury, so NFL teams are sure to be skeptical about his current health. If medically cleared, Vaccaro could be a sneaky addition for a roster looking to make a playoff run.
Prediction: Kenny Vaccaro signs with the Green Bay Packers
(Micah Hyde, Morgan Burnett, and Damarious Randall are all recent departures from that secondary – time to reload.)
- Bennie Logan, Defensive Tackle, Kansas City Chiefs
Many comparisons can be made with Johnathan Hankins and the next player on our list, Bennie Logan. Both are menacing run stuffers coming off of 1 year “prove it” deals. It is safe to say that Bennie Logan proved his worth, missing only one game and tallying 52 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Once again, the numbers may not fly off the stat sheet, but the job off a nose tackle isn’t to be flashy. Logan’s mission was to plug the interior run game, and he did just that. With no signs of an extension coming from the Kansas City Chiefs, it appears that Logan will have to search for another team in need of an improved run defense.
Prediction: Bennie Logan signs with the Seattle Seahawks
(RB’s David Johnson and Todd Gurley are in the NFC West, remember?)
- NaVorro Bowman, Inside Linebacker, Oakland Raiders
Last, but not least, the final spot on our list goes to a linebacker who has more tackles in his NFL career than I can count (798!!!). Turning 30 years old this May, Bowman is about to be an old man for NFL standards. Committing to Bowman long-term might not be ideal, considering his knee injury history, so getting a one or two-year deal from a prospective team is the most likely scenario to take place. Bowman seems to like it in the Bay Area, so will the Raiders resign their surprise addition from last season?
Prediction: NaVorro Bowman resigns with the Oakland Raiders
(Jon Gruden’s Super Bowl team was built around defense after all.)