When it comes to selecting UDFAs, some teams are able to capitalize on draftable talent that somehow fell through the cracks while some are left throwing darts at a board full of players that may or may not have a redeeming quality or two in hopes of finding that one gem.
One way to to try and maximize your return on investment with a UDFA is to find a guy with speed-speed. Like, the uncoachable, God-given wheels that only a few athletes can ever attain.
Last year, the Chargers spun the wheels on former Alabama cornerback “Crazy Tony” Brown who was clocked around the low 4.3s during the draft process. This year, the Chargers pinned down a defensive back from Lamar University named Rodney Randle who supposedly ran a 4.28 forty at his pro day. Following the workout, Randle said the Chargers were among the teams showing the most interest. He wasn’t wrong, since the team worked him out just 10 days later.
Randle didn’t just impress in the forty, however. His vertical was maxed-out at 41 inches while his broad was just shy of 11 feet with a 10’11 mark. His 4.08 short shuttle time was nothing to scoff at, either. Below, you can see an example of Randle’s explosiveness on the platform as the 5-11 defender power-cleaned 321 pounds, a DB record for the lift.
Unlike the usual progression for college athletes, Randle’s best season actually came as a true freshman in 2015. In a reserve role while only playing in nine games, Randle collected 28 total stops, five pass breakups, and three interceptions en route to a second team All-Southland Conference selection. He was also a top return guy and took a kickoff to the house.
His sophomore campaign took an unexpected dip in production although he managed to earn eight starts among the nine games he participated in. He finished the year with just 19 total tackles, one tackle-for-loss, and a pair of pass breakups.
He found a bit of a resurgence in 2017 where he started all 11 games he played in and set a career-high with 55 tackles on the year. He also added a pair of tackles-for-loss, one sack, two pass breakups, with a single interception, forced fumble, and fumble recovery.
It was in his final collegiate season that Randle finally put it all together out on the field. In 12 games (all starts), the Texas-native set another career-high with 70 stops, another interception, and a career-best 12 pass breakups. As a return man, he returned 84 kickoffs in his career for 1,802 yards and the lone score. He’s likely kicking himself still, as he finished just ONE return and 18 yards shy of becoming the school’s all-time leader in both categories.
If there is a place for Randle on this team, it’s likely as the last defensive back and due in large part to a special teams role. Randle was a standout return man, as well as a gunner on kicks. His chances are fairly slim to make the final 53 but I believe he warrants enough value to be placed on the practice squad. They’ll likely stash more than one defensive back and I’d be quite surprised to see Randle get passed on.