The final pick of the NFL Draft may be Mr. Irrelevant, but it also begins a flurry of free agent signings for good players that did not go somewhere in the three day event. This year was a light one for Purdue. Only three players (so far) signed deals as undrafted free gents.
Josh Johnson - San Diego Chargers - I was very surprised that Josh did not get drafted, as I felt he was a sure-fire late round pick. He did not make it, however, and the three-year starter and academic all-Big Ten cornerback landed with an invite by the Chargers.
Johnson was a bit overshadowed by corner-mate Ricardo Allen for much of his career, mostly because Allen is known for his touchdowns and Johnson is just a solid corner that always played extremely well. Johnson finished with six career interceptions, three coming this season. One of his picks was returned 74 yards for an interception this season against Marshall.
Johnson was always a solid tackler with 65tackles (third highest on the team in 2012) a sack, 16 pass break-ups and 19 passes defensed. If anything, he was a little undersized as a corner, but his skills are solid. Perhaps he can make it as a future nickel back.
Johnson was a great baseball player in high, as he lead the Tampa area in home runs and was one of the top 100 juniors in the nation.
Akeem Shavers - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Akeem should be able to sue Gary Nord for criminally underusing him throughout the season in favor of screen pass after screen pass. Shavers rushed for 871 yards and six TDs while catching 18 passes for 370 yards and three more scores. He torched Indiana for three scores and well over 100 yards in the regular season finale as Purdue needed a big game from him to get bowl eligible. He rushed for 95 yards in the bowl game before a knee injury sidelined him the rest of the day, so he finished very strong once Nord was not calling plays.
He is a bigger back at 5'11", 203 pounds and never lit the world on fire statistically, but when finally given the ball he did produce. As a JuCo junior in 2011 he had 519 yards and six touchdowns with five catches for 58 yards and a score.
Shavers will go as far as he works, but he has the size and the talent to be a reserve running back on the right team.
Robert Marve - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - And so, the Marve saga finally has a happy ending as he will at least get a home town look with Tampa. I can't help but think this is a courtesy look as a Tampa high school standout, as he tore his ACL three times in four years and wasn't THE No. 1 guy until late in his career, partially because of injuries and partially because of coaching stupidity. He split time with Jacory Harris, Caleb TerBush, and Rob Henry in his career before finally getting named the No. 1 starter and leading Purdue to a bowl game with three straight wins.
With Marve you're getting a mature player. He redshirtted at Miami back in 2008 with injuries from a car accident before splitting time with Harris as a starter in 2009. He sat out 2010 after transferring from Miami and tearing his ACL. He started four games in 2011 before tearing his ACL again. In 2012TerBush was the starter with Marve taking about half the snaps. It made so much sense to split QBs for a stellar 6-6 record that Hope did it again, going as far as benching a hot Marve at Notre Dame in favor of a cold TerBush because it was as exactly as idiotic as it sounds. Marve got Purdue within striking distance of a late tie before tearing his ACL again, but with nothing to lose in his 6th year of eligibility he played on it. He finished with 1,734 yards, 15 TDs, 5 INTs, and a 65% completion percentage after starting the final five games.
It is remarkable to Marve is getting a look, but he finally was playing to his incredible talent this season before his body betrayed him once again. The scrambling ability he showed at Miami is mostly gone, but he had a clutch 17 yard scramble (again, on a torn ACL) late against Iowa to set up the game-winning field goal.
Marve matured by leaps and bounds at Purdue, so Tampa is at least getting an extremely mature, savvy leader. Unfortunately, after three ACL tears I think it is very unlikely he even makes it to a preseason game.