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MMQB: Which Penn State UDFA has the Best Chance to Catch on in the NFL?

Making an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent is a tall order.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Penn State v Washington Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There were six Nittany Lions who heard their named called during the 2019 NFL Draft who, barring some kind of monumental disaster, will be on a roster at the start of the regular season. Additionally, six other Penn State players signed as undrafted free agents. For these five, it’s a long road to making it with no guarantees:

OT Ryan Bates (Philadelphia Eagles)

LB Koa Farmer (Los Angeles Raiders)

DT Kevin Givens (San Francisco 49ers)

RB Jonathan Thomas (Cincinnati Bengals)

WR/PR DeAndre Thompkins (Philadelphia Eagles)

LS Kyle Vasey (Atlanta Falcons)

However, if you’ve followed these players’ careers during their time in Happy Valley, you know not to count them out. Some entered under bleak circumstances, and fought their way up the depth chart while bringing the program back to national relevancy. Now that they have earned a chance to be on an NFL roster, they will do everything in their power to hang around and prosper.

Which of these undrafted free agents has the best shot at having a long career in the NFL?

The obvious answer for me is Ryan Bates. It was a bit of a shock that Bates was not drafted, and he certainly seems capable of playing at the next level. I would be just as surprised if he’s not on an NFL roster at the start of the season, whether in Philly or elsewhere.

Although you could make a strong case for all six.

I’ll admit I have little-to-no understanding of the intricacies that go into making an NFL roster as a long snapper, but Kyle Vasey is a reliable option who could make himself a lot of money over the next decade. I like DeAndre Thompkins chances as long as he can find a way to fix the dropped passes that plagued his senior season. He has all the physical ability to play receiver in the NFL, and could add value to any team with his electrifying abilities as a return man. He’s proven in the past that he can catch, so if he can find a way to return the form, he should make it a go of it.

Jonathan Thomas has a broad skillset that will benefit him. He can contribute on all special teams units, and even proved to be an effective kick returner. He’s also a powerful runner who really should have received more carries. He could be an asset as a reserve back, especially in short-yardage situations. Kevin Givens has proven himself as a highly productive defensive tackle. The only thing that is holding him back is his size, as he is stuck between tackle and end, and possibly without a home at either at the next level. I have a hard time seeing Koa Farmer as an NFL linebacker, but he has outstanding athleticism and could catch on as a vital special teams ace while he is coached up, or even used in other creative ways.

So what say you, BSD reader? Which Penn State UDFA has the best chance of catching on and having a long career in the NFL?