Every year, around 250 college football players are selected in the NFL draft. At the same time, there are roughly 125 FBS teams with roughly 85 scholarship players, and roughly 1/5 of those players will graduate every year. That's north of 2000 players... and that isn't even including players from FCS schools and walk-ons.
However, there is a large group of players never selected in the NFL draft who get the chance to sign with a team as an Undrafted Free Agent. Sometimes, UDFAs can prove their worth during the summer camps and preseason and land a spot on a team's final roster. The best NFL teams are often those willing to give large numbers of these players a shot, searching for diamonds in the rough that went ignored by the media and 31 other teams.
Alabama has four such players that have approximately no chance of being drafted this year: Darren Lake, Geno Matias-Smith, Ty Flournoy-Smith, and Michael Nysewander.
Darren Lake, DT- 6'3" 315
Of these, Lake probably has the best shot of making a team. A massive player with a specific skill set, he is a true nose tackle. He has played solely as the center man of a base 3-4 defense against run-heavy teams, and he does that job well. He is immovable, clogs up the middle, and takes on double teams with the best of them. However, that is a role that is quickly losing value in all levels of football due to the slow trend toward more spread offenses.
Lake does not move very quickly, nor is he a disruptive force in the backfield. He rarely sheds blocks or chases down plays, sticking mostly to his role of just being a massive guy right in front of the center.
He might have value for a team in a conference that runs the ball often, such as the NFC West. It's rare than an UDFA has a well-rounded skill set, so most teams look for players who specialize in doing one thing very well. This is where Darren Lake's value shines most brightly.
Geno Matias-Smith, DB- 6'0" 196
A highly touted recruit with high potential and expectations, Matias-Smith made the move from corner to safety to be a regular contributor for the Alabama secondary over the last two years. Unfortunately, he never quite lived up to those expectations. Though a mainstay in the back half of the defense, he never made much of an impact. His man coverage skills are a bit on the weak side, and he tends to be half a second late when supporting his corners on deeper throws. Despite that, he did develop into decent tackler for a player of his size, and was almost always dependable in run support.
Matias-Smith is a safety in the body of a corner, but without the coverage skills. His best shot for making a roster this summer is to sell his versatility in the secondary to a team that is hungry for camp and practice squad depth.
Ty Flournoy-Smith, TE 6'3" 247
Once thought to be a promising receiving threat as a freshman at Georgia, Flournoy-Smith was dismissed from the team and spent time at a junior college before spending his final two seasons as a reserve at Alabama. While he showed some flashes as an athletic player with reliable hands in spring scrimmages, he never broke into any game time outside of rare mop-up duty while sitting behind the athletic phenom, O.J. Howard. He also never managed to carve a role as a blocking tight end, even being passed up for that spot this year by a true freshman.
While there could be some hidden talent waiting to be discovered, almost nothing is known of him outside of his promising freshman year at Georgia.
Michael Nysewander, FB/TE- 6'1" 237
Affectionately named "Highway 46" and voted "Most Inspirational" by the rest of the team, the walk-on slowly became one of the more valuable, albeit unheralded members of the squad. A phenomenal blocker, Nysewander was used mostly in goal line and other short yardage situations as the lead blocker for Derrick Henry. Though never featured, he has occasionally leaked out of the backfield to catch a dump-off in the flats. He also has spend significant time on special teams, both tackling and blocking. He even has some experience as a long snapper.
Though fullbacks are the least valued position in the entire NFL, Nysewander could potentially find his way onto a team that still uses the I-formation with at least some regularity. His best bet will be to sell to the league that he is a versatile player that can contribute on offense and in almost any special teams situation.