Sun Devils in the NFL: A final in-depth look at the ASU 2014 draft class

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State was well-represented in the 2014 NFL Draft. With nine former Sun Devils on NFL rosters, House of Sparky takes a look at their prospects in the league as rookies.

Over the past few seasons, Arizona State has been well-represented in the NFL’s annual draft. Since 2010, the Sun Devils have produced ten draft picks and several other undrafted free agents. After going without a pick last year, three former Sun Devils were selected during this past weekend’s event. Six other Arizona State alums went undrafted but were immediately signed following the selection process.

With nine players now on NFL teams, House of Sparky takes a look at their individual situations and odds of winning their future camp battles.


Will Sutton, Defensive Tackle
Drafted in the third round with the 82nd overall pick by the Chicago Bears
Incumbent Talent at Position: Stephen Paea, Nate Collins, Jeremiah Ratliff, Tracy Robertson, Brandon Dunn
Fellow Rookies at Position at Position: Ego Ferguson (2nd), Anthony Wells (UDFA), Lee Pegues (UDFA)
Likely Battle for Spot: Sutton vs. Ferguson vs. Ratliff vs. Collins for starting spot.
Chances of Making Roster: 100%
Will Sutton was a third round selection of the Chicago Bears. The team double-dipped on defensive tackles on day two, as Sutton’s selection in the third round followed Ego Ferguson’s pick in the second round. Both of them enter a good situation, as neither player has pressure on them to perform right away. Sutton will likely battle for snaps at the three-technique behind either Nate Collins or Jeremiah Ratliff, while Ferguson will play behind Stephen Paea at nose tackle. Sutton has the upside to become a starter but will likely be a rotational player as a rookie.

Carl Bradford, Inside Linebacker
Drafted in the fourth round with the 121st overall pick by the Green Bay Packers
Incumbent Talent at Position: AJ Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Victor Aiyewa
Fellow Rookies at Position at Position: Jayrone Elliot (UDFA)
Likely Battle for Spot: Bradford will battle Lattimore, Barrington and Aiyewa for the top backup spot at inside linebacker.
Chances of Making Roster: 95%
Carl Bradford took a tumble from where he was projected to go in the draft. Most pundits (including myself) had him going on day two, but he fell to the fourth round and was snatched up by the Packers. The value pick was interesting as the Packers will likely use Bradford in several areas. Bradford views himself as a pass rusher, but due to his size, he will likely be forced to blitz from the inside. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is very clever with his blitzes. This is a very good situation for Bradford.

Marion Grice, Running Back
Drafted in the sixth round with the 201st overall pick by the Chargers
Incumbent Talent at Position: Ryan Mathews, Donald Brown, Danny Woodhead, Kerwynn Williams
Fellow Rookies at Position at Position: D.J. Adams (UDFA)
Likely Battle for Spot: Grice vs. Williams vs. Adams for fourth running back spot.
Chances of Making Roster: 70%
Former Sun Devils running back Marion Grice dealt with injuries throughout the latter part of 2013 and that seemed to haunt him during the NFL Draft. A very talented three-way running back, Grice fell to the sixth round. He will be put in a situation where there is already a wealth of running backs, as Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead had success last season and Donald Brown was recently signed to a long-term deal. Grice is likely to compete to be the fourth running back, which seems doable as Woodhead could be counted on as a wide receiver as well. Woodhead’s versatility likely allows the Chargers to go heavy at the position and if Grice recovers well enough from last year’s injuries, he could serve as quality depth for the Bolts.

Robert Nelson, Safety
Signed with Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent
Incumbent Talent at Position: Donte Whitner, Tashaun Gipson,  Jordan Posey, Jamoris Slaughter, Josh Aubrey, Johnson Bademosi
Fellow Rookies at Position: None
Likely Battle: Nelson vs. Slaughter vs. Aubrey vs. Bademosi for 1-2 spots.
Chances of Making Roster: 55%
Robert Nelson was among the first undrafted free agents to sign with a team on Saturday. He joins a Browns squad that luckily did not address his position in the draft. The position is relatively light outside of veteran Donte Whitner, who signed with Cleveland this offseason.  Nelson is set to compete for backup duty and special team snaps with a trio of fringe players. Being an undrafted player is not always seen as a positive, but it seems like Nelson and his agent picked the best spot for him. His competition is mediocre and he has a fair shot at proving that he is better.

Davon Coleman, Defensive End
Signed with Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent
Incumbent Talent at Position: Anthony Spencer, George Selvie, Jeremy Mincey, Martez Wilson, Caesar Rayford, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass
Fellow Rookies at Position: Demarcus Lawrence (2nd), Ben Gardner (7th)
Likely Battle for Spot: Coleman vs. Gardner vs. Rayford vs. Crawford vs. Wilson vs. Bass for 2-3 spots.
Chances of Making Roster: 20%
Defensive end Davon Coleman joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. While the Cowboys are publicized as being devoid of defensive talent, the team did spend two picks on the defensive end position and recently re-signed former franchise player, Anthony Spencer. On top of that, they have returning starter George Selvie and newly-signed Jeremy Mincey set to compete at the position. Coleman could be a candidate for the practice squad with a quality training camp and preseason. The position just may have too many veterans and draft picks for Coleman to overcome.

Evan Finkenberg, Guard/Tackle
Signed with Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent
Incumbent Talent at Position: Branden Albert, Jason Fox, Nate Garner, Dallas Thomas
Fellow Rookies at Position: Ja'Wuan James (1st), Billy Turner (3rd), David Hurd (UDFA)
Likely Battle for Spot: Finkenburg vs. Thomas vs. Garner vs. Hurd for one spot. Also, has the possibility of making the team as a guard, but Turner, Garner and others can play there as well.
Chances of Making Roster: 15%
While it is no secret that the Dolphins offensive line needs a ton of work, Miami did heavily-address the trenches in the draft. Evan Finkenberg signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent after the team drafted two linemen in the first two days. Ja’Wuan James is likely to play right tackle, while Billy Turner will probably play guard. Finkenberg can play either guard or tackle, which helps him, but most of the linemen on the Dolphins can play several roles. Finkenberg will compete with the likes of Dallas Thomas and veteran Nate Garner for a spot as a backup. His most likely option is the practice squad.

Alden Darby, Safety
Signed with San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent
Incumbent Talent at Position: Eric Weddle, Brandon Taylor, Darrell Stuckey, Jahleel Addae
Draft Picks at Position: None
Likely Battle for Spot: Darby vs. Taylor vs. Addae for two spots.
Chances of Making Roster: 75%
Of all the undrafted Arizona State free agents, safety Alden Darby may have the best shot at making a roster. The Chargers didn’t address the position in the draft or free agency and outside of Eric Weddle, safety seems to be in limbo. Darby is a ballhawk, which should appeal to defensive coordinator John Pagano. He will face off against Jahleel Addae and Brandon Taylor, who are not secure on the roster. Darby’s upside likely outweighs his competition and he should have the opportunity to play on special teams and as a backup in his rookie year.

Chris Young, Linebacker
Signed with Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent
Incumbent Talent at Position: Whitney Mercilus, Trevardo Williams, Ricky Sapp, Paul Hazel
Fellow Rookies at Position at Position: Jadeveon Clowney (1st), Jason Ankrah (UDFA), Terrance Lloyd (UDFA), Doug Peete (UDFA)
Likely Battle for Spot: Young vs. Sapp vs. Hazel vs. Ankrah vs. Lloyd vs. Peete for last two OLB spots.
Chances of Making Roster: 15%
Chris Young is a long shot in the battle to make the Texans roster. He has almost the complete opposite situation as Darby, as he faces a competition that features several players at the position and the odds aren't in his favor. He may have a realistic shot at the practice squad or making someone else's roster with a solid training camp and preseason.

Chris Coyle, Tight End
Signed with Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent
Incumbent Talent at PositionGarrett Graham, Zach Potter, Ryan Griffin
Fellow Rookies at Position at Position: C.J. Fiedorowicz (3rd), Anthony Denham (UDFA)
Likely Battle for Spot: Croyle vs. Potter vs. Griffin vs. Denham for third tight end spot.
Chances of Making Roster: 25%
Chris Coyle is joining a team that has had a wealth of talented tight ends over the last several seasons. With Owen Daniels now in Baltimore, it's Garrett Graham's show. That being said, the Texans took Iowa's talented two-way tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in the third round of the draft. Those two are locked up as the top options for Bill O'Brien's offense. The third tight end will likely be decided in a battle that features Coyle and fellow rookie Anthony Denham along with veteran Zach Potter and second-year player Ryan Griffen. Coyle is probably the third-most qualified of the four-man battle, so it'll take a major offseason to get him on the final roster. He is most likely headed to the practice squad for seasoning.


Mike Kaye also serves as the Associate Editor and Head NFL Draft Writer for Bleeding Green Nation. You can follow him on Twitter at @mike_e_kaye.

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