Sean Pendergast

Four Undrafted Free Agents That Can Make the Houston Texans' Roster

Which Texans undrafted free agent will become the next Arian Foster?
Which Texans undrafted free agent will become the next Arian Foster? Photo by Eric Sauseda
In the National Football League, there is a certain pecking order to what exactly moves the needle on a roster. Sure, the franchise quarterback is at the top of the list, and after that are the highly drafted, highly compensated star players. However, the glue of a roster tends to get minimized, if not flat out ignored, and in the NFL, much of said glue comes in the form of undrafted free agents.

Once the seven round draft ends, after three long days, there is a land rush for the undrafted players, a crazy process that involves recruiting, selling, and even some guaranteed money for "priority" undrafted free agents. For Texans general manager Brian Gaine, the pool of undrafted players is a huge focus item for draft weekend.

“I love the undrafted free agent process,” Gaine told reporters on April 18, at his pre-draft press conference. “I was one of them. We call it the eighth round. We extend the draft. You only get seven selections now. In the old days, it went on for rounds and rounds. A lot of these players end up making teams or they are put in a very good position to go compete and make a team.”

To wit, of the 65 veteran players on the Texans' roster, as of this past weekend, 28 of them came into the league as an undrafted free agent, with 10 of these 28 (denoted by *) signed by the Texans right out of college:

Tyrell Adams, ILB
Jahleel Addae, S
Johnson Bademosi, CB
* Davin Bellamy, OLB
Brian Boddy-Calhoun, CB
Deante Burton, CB
DeAndre Carter, WR
* Dylan Cole, ILB
* Trevor Daniel, P
Brandon Dunn, NT
* Ka'imi Fairbairn, K
Darren Fells, TE
Josh Ferguson, RB
Tashaun Gipson, S
* Joel Heath, DE
A.J. Hendy, S
Buddy Howell, RB
Chris Landrum, OLB
* Greg Mancz, C/G
Steven Mitchell, WR
A.J. Moore, S
* Brennan Scarlett, OLB
Maurquice Shakur, G
* Vyncint Smith, WR
David Steinmetz, T
* Jester Weah, WR
* Jon Weeks, LS
Isaac Whitney, WR

Additionally, if you're looking for more proof that finding a diamond in the rough is not only possible, but sometimes essential, remember that the third greatest player in the history of the Texans' franchise, running back Arian Foster, came here undrafted in 2009. He is the gold standard for what an undrafted player can become.

So, with that in mind, here are four names from this class of undrafted free agents that I think have a puncher's chance of making the 53 man roster:

Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan
In my book, Higdon is the chalk among this class of undrafted free agents to make the team. Combine the acute need at that position — right now, the entire depth chart is essentially Lamar Miller and D'Onta Foreman — with Higdon's productivity and tools (ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at his pre-draft workouts, and gained over 1,000 yards last season at Michigan), and perhaps the Texans have found their next great undrafted running back. Of course, I may have said the same thing last year about UDFA RB Terry Swanson, and he didn't even make the Texans' practice squad. For what it's worth, longtime NFL personnel guru had Higdon as the No. 1 undrafted RB, so there's that.

Johnnie DIxon, WR, Ohio State
Tyron Johnson, WR, Oklahoma State

There is no doubt that opportunity exists for one of these players, like Vyncint Smith last season, to make the team out of training camp as part of the 53-man roster. Right now, after DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee, the WR depth chart is full of inexperienced, undrafted types... like Dixon and Johnson. Dixon was actually given a sizable amount of guaranteed money for an undrafted free agent, $50,000 in bonus and salary, so I would expect at least a spot on the practice squad for him. Dixon has elite speed, having run a 4.41 at the combine. Johnson was even faster than that at his pro day, running a 4.34 40-yard time.

Albert Huggins, DL, Clemson
Huggins was part of a defensive line room that had three first round picks in it, so it's hard to get yours with so many dogs out there eating. We know that the Texans love them some Clemson Tigers, especially on the defensive line, which already has D.J. Reader and Carlos Watkins. The Texans showed last season that they're willing to go heavy with numbers on the defensive line, if the talent warrants it. Also, like Dixon, Huggins got a sizable $40,000 guarantee for an undrafted free agent. Huggins benched 225 pounds 35 times at the NFL Combine, so I feel like if I don't put him on this list, he could squash my skull with his bare hands.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast