The number of undrafted free agents that contribute to their team's success in the NFL are noticeably few. For the great franchises like the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, there may be a distinct, but certainly not large, list of undrafted free agents that will be remembered forever in the team's lore.
The Houston Texans, however, have only played a total of 10 seasons in the NFL, and the list of the franchise's greatest undrafted players is not one full of stars and Pro-Bowlers. Rather, the best undrafted players in Texans history are mainly athletes who made a small, yet meaningful impact for the franchise.
These players may have contributed to the Texans throughout the majority of their careers, or they may have just been important to the team for a single season.
In Texans' history, they have had two undrafted players that went on to become Pro-Bowlers and members of the First Team All-Pro, and they have had a total of 14 undrafted players who have started for them.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the undrafted players in Texans franchise history who have made the most major contributions to the team.
Despite not being signed by the Texans, Jerry DeLoach played the majority of his career on the new expansion franchise. Of his six NFL seasons as a defensive tackle, DeLoach played five of them with the Texans.
While he never put up incredible numbers, DeLoach was a constant presence on a struggling defensive line. He started every single game for the franchise in their first two seasons of existence and only missed one in his third season with the team.
His best season in the NFL came in 2003, when he recorded 50 tackles for the Texans. DeLoach was never a great NFL player; in fact, he cannot even necessarily be considered a good defensive lineman. DeLoach, however, is one of the few undrafted players in Texans history who was able to start nearly every game for multiple seasons.
Putting Jeff Posey here on the list might be a bit of a stretch. Of his 10 NFL seasons in his career, he played one of them with the Texans.
Posey, however, arguably had his best season as a pro on the Texans, and he was high on the leaderboards in nearly every defensive category.
Posey was a defensive force for the Texans in 2002; he was by far one of the most important defensive players on the roster in the Texans' first season in the NFL.
Shantee Orr is the first player on this list who was actually signed by the Texans in the undrafted free-agent market. He played five of his six NFL seasons with the Texans.
Despite only posting lackluster numbers in his first two seasons in the league, the Texans stuck with him, and he was given an opportunity to play in the 2005 season. Orr certainly took advantage, posting career highs in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles. Orr led the defense in multiple categories with seven sacks and four forced fumbles.
Orr started every single game in that season and was a key part of a rebuilding defense. He was one of the few undrafted players in franchise history to put up noticeable numbers on the defensive side of the ball.
Before leaving in free agency this current offseason for the Oakland Raiders, Mike Brisiel was a consistent part of one of the most efficient offensive lines in the NFL.
He was signed by the Texans coming out of college in 2006, but he did not receiver significant playing time until two seasons later. In 2008, he received recognition from the coaching staff, and he won the starting job at right guard. He went on to start all 16 games that season, helping Steve Slaton explode onto the scene with 1,282 rushing yards.
After 2008, it became clear that Brisiel was an integral part of the Texans offensive line, and he became the starter for the second straight season. However, Brisiel suffered a season-ending foot injury with only five games under his belt in the 2009 season, causing him to be unable to build off of his breakout year.
Brisiel won the starting job from Antoine Caldwell in 2010, and he significantly contributed to Arian Foster's Pro Bowl season when he won the NFL rushing title. Brisiel went on to block very well in the Texans zone-blocking scheme in 2011, allowing Foster to keep up his incredible numbers and also help Ben Tate show his worth with 942 rushing yards.
As an undrafted free agent, Brisiel was an important part of a Texans offensive line that helped its running backs dominate opposing defenses for the majority of his career with the team.
Vonta Leach is one of just two undrafted players who became Pro-Bowlers and members of the First Team All-Pro. Leach was signed by the Green Bay Packers in 2004, but he was not recognized as a dominant lead-blocker until he was signed by the Texans in 2007.
When the Texans gave him the chance to start at fullback in '07, Leach went on to show why he is now considered one of the best blocking fullbacks in the NFL. He had toughness, tenacity, strength and an unwavering desire to crush opposing defenders.
He led the way for Steve Slaton's and Arian Foster's breakout seasons in 2008 and 2010, showing why he is known as one of the scariest blockers in the NFL.
The undrafted free agent that the Texans picked up in 2007 is now the highest-paid fullback in the NFL.
The future for the Texans running game seemed bleak at the start of the 2010 NFL season. Ben Tate, the player drafted to replace the incumbent Steve Slaton, broke his ankle and was placed on the injury reserve.
Therefore, the Texans' only option at halfback was Arian Foster, an undrafted back who showed some potential at the end of the 2009 season. Foster garnered 257 yards in six games played in his first season in the NFL, the majority of the yards coming at the very end of the season.
After Tate's injury, Foster easily won the starting running back job with a solid performance in preseason, and the former undrafted free agent got his opportunity to show the NFL he had what it takes to be a starter in Week 1 of the 2010 season.
Foster proved in the 2011 season that he was no one-hit wonder, rushing for 1,224 yards despite only playing in 12 full games.
Arian Foster, the once barely-known undrafted free agent, is now considered one of the best running backs in the NFL on the Houston Texans.