The 2016 NFL Draft has come and gone.
Unfortunately for several Michigan State Spartans, they did not hear their names called during the draft. The good news is by going undrafted, those guys are able to pick the team they sign with, which can often lead to them ending up in the best situation possible for their NFL futures.
Case in point: Spartans star center Jack Allen surprisingly did not hear his named called during the draft, which allowed him to pick the team he signed with as he targeted teams with unknown futures surrounding that position. That's why he signed with the New Orleans Saints, who have one of the NFL's better centers in Max Unger, but he'll hit free agency in 2017.
In the meantime, Allen should be able to beat out Senio Kelemete for the backup spot behind Unger, and depending on what happens in free agency next year, Allen could soon become the starting center of the Saints. OF all the Spartans who signed as UDFAs, I give Allen the best shot of making a 53-man roster in 2016.
Elsewhere, not every Spartan was able to sign with a team who offers him a great shot of making the 53-man roster in 2016. Linebacker Darien Harris, who had a Day 3 grade going into the draft, signed an UDFA deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Harris was a stud backer in 2015 for MSU, but while he may have the tools to make it in the NFL, he'll have a tough time doing so for a Bengals defense stacked at linebacker. He may have to spend a year or two on the practice squad before he's able to make their roster.
Spartans defensive lineman Joe Heath signed with the Houston Texans after he too had a Day 3 draft grade but didn't hear his name called. That's probably good for Heath as he joined a Texans team very week along their defensive line.
Jeoffrey Pagan and Devon Still, two guys who've have trouble just making NFL rosters, are currently listed as backups in Houston, which shows just how thin they are in the trenches. Heath has a great shot at beating those guys out for a spot on the 53-man roster in 2016.
Another Spartans defensive lineman looking to make his mark in the NFL is Lawrence Thomas, who signed with the New York Jets, As good as he was for the Spartans in 2015, Thomas is going to find it very difficult cracking a Jets roster that's loaded on the defensive line.
However, Sheldon Richardson may be suspended for the start of 2016, and Muhammad Wilkerson is coming off a broken leg that may lead to a PUP stint to open 2016. That could be two extra spots for defensive lineman to open the season, so Thomas may very well end up making the Jets' 53-man roster this year.
As for MSU safety R.J. Williamson, he landed in Green Bay shortly after the draft. The Packers only have four safeties from last season, but all four of them are pretty good as this is one of the roster's bigger strengths. However, Micah Hyde doubles as a safety and corner, so technically there's a spot as a fourth full-time safety there for Williamson to win depending on how the Packers construct their final 53-man roster.
Bruising Spartans fullback Trevon Pendleton, one of the top FB prospects in this year's draft, signed with the Baltimore Ravens. As good as Pendleton is, the true power FB is a dying breed in the NFL, so it's hard to project his professional future.
Here is a recap of all the Spartans who signed undrafted free agent deals:
Jack Allen, C, New Orleans Saints
Arjen Colquhoun, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Darien Harris, LB, Cincinnati Bengals
Joel Heath, DT, Houston Texans
Lawrence Thomas, DT, N.Y. Jets
RJ Williamson, S, Green Bay Packers
Trevon Pendleton, FB, Baltimore Ravens
Taybor Pepper, LS, Baltimore Ravens
A.J. Troup, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
DeAnthony Arnett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
And here's a recap of all the Spartans who heard their names called during the draft:
Jack Conklin, OT, Round 1, Pick 8, Tennessee Titans
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Round 3, Pick 12 (75 overall), Oakland Raiders
Connor Cook, QB, Round 4, Pick 2, (100 overall), Oakland Raiders
Aaron Burbridge, WR, Round 6, Pick 38 (213 overall), San Francisco 49ers
Donavon Clark, OG, Round 7, Pick 3 (224 overall), San Diego Chargers