Analysis Film Review

Tershawn Wharton: The UDFA that could be a stud in the future

There are always late-round/undrafted players each year that can make a name for themselves. Tershawn Wharton is a key example of this on the Chiefs as he’ll be a beast down the line, and here’s why:

NFL undrafted free agents are college football athletes that weren’t drafted in their respective year of the draft. They’re seen as players who didn’t have the talent to be drafted but had a shot to make a team. That shot is rather slim though as even though there are hundreds of UDFAs that are signed by teams during the offseason and preseason, only about 12-15 make an NFL roster each year. Those numbers aren’t good, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad by any means, it just means that they have the skill set they have to refine and improve upon what they already know.

Talent slips through the cracks of the draft each year; for instance, players like Shannon Sharpe, Cris Carter, and Tom Brady have fallen through the cracks in the draft, and the same can be said for UDFAs. There are a great number of examples of UDFAs making the HOF like John Randle, Warren Moon, Larry Little, and soon to be HOF in one of the best tight ends of all time: Antonio Gates. There have also been players who aren’t in the hall but have made impacts in the game like Wes Welker and James Harrison. We are even seeing one make an impact right now on the Jaguars in James Robinson as he has the most scrimmage yards from any undrafted rookie in NFL history.

Tershawn Wharton has a shot to be a UDFA stud in the future, but first, let’s take a glance at his past to see how he made the Chiefs’ 53-man roster:

Out of college and training camp

Wharton graduated from Missouri S&T where he played his young college career; he was named first-team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) in 2017 after recording 64 tackles and 13.5 sacks in his sophomore season. In his junior and sophomore seasons (2018-2019), he recorded 7.5 sacks in each of those years as he finished his collegiate career with 58 tackles, 35.5 sacks, and 11 forced fumbles. After not being drafted in the 2020 Draft, Wharton signed with the Chiefs on April 27th, 2020.

After training camp began, he was already making a name for himself, and it seems his name continued to be heard around the Chiefs’ building for as long as camp took place:

Many analysts were already high on Wharton, noting his skill set and how he “flashes athleticism, fluidly chases the play laterally and gets depth on pass drops when used in coverage. Keeps his feet moving, work his hands and plays with terrific leverage” according to one scout from profootballnetwork. These skills he already had, plus the hype that he had generated within the fans and the organization himself, Veach decided to land him a spot on the 53-man roster, and he has earned it. This has shown throughout this season:

The 2020 season

Sadly, there was no preseason to boost the hype for him and others looking for a roster spot, which was a sad reality everyone dreaded; COVID occurred and ruined a lot of people’s lives and heavily affected the chances of these UDFA’s earning a spot on an NFL roster. Luckily, Wharton has been making the most of it so far. In his first career game against the Texans in their season opener, he had two combined tackles, which isn’t too bad, because he had played 24% of snaps. Even when he wasn’t making tackles, he was disrupting plays:

This has continued for the rest of the season where he has 24 combined tackles (13 solo and 11 assisted), four tackles for loss, two sacks, two QB hits, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery on only 43% of defensive snaps played. The stats contribute a lot to show what he can do, but the film adds so much more for his case to be a UDFA stud. Just watch how he’s able to slip through blockers and penetrate the offensive line:

Defensive lineman doesn’t just need to be tackling all the time; for the most part, they’re the ones that disrupt rushing lanes, pressure the quarterback to make bad passes, and pretty much annihilate/obliterate the offenses’ plays from developing. Wharton is executing just that from the two examples shown. He has also appeared to be able to chase down players from far distances. Here’s one key example against the Panthers:

His explosive style of play is also something people have seen when he’s on the field. Judging from these few examples, you can see how fast he’s able to get the jump on offensive lineman on the snap, which kills the play for the offense. He has all the skills necessary to be an absolute beast on the field. Many would ask how long will it take to develop, and the answer isn’t hard to pinpoint.

How long will it take him to be a “stud”?

I’d say give him two to three years of training with the Chiefs along with, hopefully, a preseason next season and he’ll excel. Just by seeing how he can shred through blockers, chase down runners, and be a troublesome, disruptive force on the defensive line proves this wholeheartedly. We could see an always effective Jones-Wharton defensive line combo somewhere down the line. Fans may have already gotten a glimpse of it a few days ago against the Dolphins:

The skies the limit for him, and we could see another UDFA defensive line stud like John Randle somewhere down the line. For Chiefs and NFL fans everywhere, prepare to be astonished.

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