Picking 5 Best UDFA Signings After the 2023 NFL Draft

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 29: A view of the logo during the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 29, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 29: A view of the logo during the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 29, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

So, the annual Player Selection Meeting is in the books and what an event it was! Some fascinating draft classes that will be analysed and graded to death over the coming weeks, but also plenty of shocking decisions to pass over many players who carried draftable grades. It is those players we look at today with the 5 best UDFA signings after the 2023 NFL Draft.

Who are the 5 best UDFA signings after the 2023 NFL Draft?

Ivan Pace Jr., LB — Minnesota Vikings

It was a surprise that the ex-Bearcat linebacker was not drafted as I had him pegged as a fifth round pick. Pace was one of the standouts during Senior Bowl week and should make Minnesota’s roster as camp breaks later this year.

"Lance Zierlein describes him as “one of the strongest players in the 2023 NFL Draft from a pound-for-pound standpoint”."

This certainly shows on tape. Go check out his knockdown of O’Cyrus Torrence during the Senior Bowl game – he simply blasts the behemoth guard on his backside immediately after the snap in what was an embarrassing moment for the ex-Gator.

Such plays serve to demonstrate who he is though: an explosive, downhill thumper who was a real heart and soul player for Cincinnati, willing to leave everything on the field.

Pace will shoot gaps and be a menace in the backfield. He is a homing missile against the run and is an electric player to watch buzz around the line of scrimmage, playing with real toughness and football instincts.

Whilst he may never become a true three-down player due to a lack of length and fluidity in coverage, Pace offers burst, speed, and tenacity to stick on this roster as a weapon at the second level.

Matt Landers/Jake Bobo, WRs — Seattle Seahawks

Okay, I am cheating here a little bit by having two, but there is not much to split this pair. Both had fringe draftable grades on my board; Bobo was my WR29 and Landers, my WR32. Both stand 6’4” and weigh 200 pounds and both possess impressive ability after the catch for such big men.

Landers finished 2022 with 901 yards receiving for eight touchdowns and was the leading receiver for a Razorback team containing the once highly-touted prospect, Jadon Haselwood. Bobo finished the year with a line of 817 yards and seven scores and was comfortably Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s favourite target.

In terms of their strengths, they are difficult to separate as they are both adept at making tough catches in traffic, with the length to high point the ball where necessary. Both men track the ball well in the air and are terribly underrated playmakers.

Landers is probably the early favorite to beat out Bobo thanks to his superior testing profile (see RAS above). The ex-Razorback wowed at the combine with a 4.37 forty, whereas the UCLA Bruin wideout showed only adequate agility at his Pro Day, as well as a slower sprint.

The Seahawks drafted Jaxon Smith-Njigba to finally solve their third receiver conundrum, but there is a Razor tight battle Bruin for a roster spot between these ex-Arkansas and UCLA stars.

Emil Ekiyor Jr., iOL — Indianapolis Colts

Ekiyor was my iOL10 due to his collegiate pedigree (three-year starter for the Crimson Tide) and potential positional versatility.  He played right guard almost exclusively for Alabama but at the Senior Bowl, Ekiyor showed off an ability to compete at center.

The Colts need interior help and Ekiyor can serve in the NFL as a backup to Ryan Kelly, as well as offering additional cover and competition at his native guard spot. His shorter frame lends itself well to the center position and he possesses real strength, excellent short-area footwork, and has a genuine anchor.

Ekiyor’s strong mitts let him strike powerfully and he is able to put a visible initial jolt on defensive linemen. This shocks his opponent and allows him to drive them backward, creating holes in the running game.

Is comfortably one of the 5 best UDFA signings after the 2023 NFL Draft and he should make the roster, ballasting a clear area of need for Indianapolis.

Jalen Redmond, iDL — Carolina Panthers

Another Senior Bowl standout, Redmond is a violent interior presence on the defensive line. I had Redmond graded as an almost certain day three pick, but it transpired that the ex-Sooner had no takers when all was said and done.

Nevertheless, Redmond will prove in quick time that he is one of the 5 best UDFA signings after the 2023 NFL Draft and that he is much more than the athletic tweener he is unfairly labeled as. Redmond is an intriguing developmental project as a penetrative three-technique.

He does not have prototypical length, but his 291 pounds afford him almost unparalleled agility among his defensive tackle peers in this class.

The Oklahoma product had the best three-cone at the NFL combine (7.30), topped the broad and vertical jumps among DTs (9’8”/34.50”), and came second only to Calijah Kancey in the forty, with a blazing 4.81-second dash. His 1.71-second 10-yard split further highlights what an explosive athlete Redmond is.

I believe that Redmond has good odds of making this roster and is an exciting and aggressive addition to the Carolina Panthers.

Sean Tucker, RB — Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If Sean Tucker’s medicals check out, then he will prove to be a steal for the Bucs. A build and running style reminiscent of ex-Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin, Tucker is a powerful, compact runner with a low center of gravity and excellent contact balance — Muscle Hamster 2.0!

Tucker is more than just a bowling ball of brawn though and has a choppy and sudden running style that allows him to jolt into a different direction in an instant and explode out of his breaks. Tackles bounce off him in the open field thanks to his decisive and purposeful style.

A record setter in college, Tucker galloped for 3,182 yards across three seasons at Syracuse at a 5.4 yard per carry clip. He is also an effective receiver, snagging 36 balls in 2022 alone.

An undisclosed medical concern kept him out of the NFL combine and from performing at his Pro Day, but if he can stay healthy then he has a legitimate chance to form an exciting one-two punch with 2022 draftee, Rachaad White.

Let me know your thoughts and tell me who YOU think are the 5 best UDFA signings after the 2023 NFL Draft on Twitter: @BenAMatthews.