Undrafted free agency often pairs players with teams better than if those players were selected late in the draft, and that appears to be what happened when the Houston Texans made the call to Missouri State linebacker Dylan Cole and added him to their roster following the 2017 NFL Draft.
Undrafted free agents are never a lock to make a roster, but Cole has as good a chance as anyone this season.
At Missouri State, Cole put up 457 career tackles (152 and 142 in the last two seasons), 40.5 tackles for loss, 21 passes defended and three forced fumbles.
Before the draft he put up huge numbers at MSU's pro day, reeling off 32 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a 39-inch vertical jump and a 4.52 second 40-yard dash. The bench and vertical were better than all NFL combine participants at the linebacker position, and his 40-yard dash was second only to hybrid safety/linebacker Jabrill Peppers.
Now he's in the same front seven as J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, Jadeveon Cowney, Whitney Mercilus and Bernardrick McKinney. Yes, he's got almost no shot to be a starter. But he's already making an impact in training camp and is getting noticed, especially by local media.
Cole is the type of player who probably won't do anything flashy — rarely do inside linebackers get a lot of attention. But he should get tons of playing time in the preseason, likely with fellow rookie Zach Cunningham, who was a second round pick this spring.
The Texans value playmakers on their front seven as much as anyone in the league, and Cole is a playmaker in every sense of the word. It's never an easy ask for an undrafted player to make the roster, but Cole has as good a shot as any in the league.