The Success of Undrafted Players in the NFL
Over the past several days, hundreds of college football players have been putting their skills and abilities on display for NFL teams via the NFL Scouting Combine, professional football’s version of a casting call for those looking to find jobs in the NFL in 2013. Many of the players at this year’s combine in Indianapolis will be drafted and find spots on NFL teams next season.
The NFL draft first came into being in 1936. In that year, 81 players were selected in nine rounds. Today, there are seven rounds of selections, with about 250 collegiate players getting drafted by NFL teams.
Most, if not all, teams have done a great deal of homework trying to determine whether or not a player will have what it takes to play in the NFL and whether or not he has a chance to make their roster. But there are times when a player goes undrafted, he signs with an NFL, and he goes on to a big career in the league.
There are quite a few players who went undrafted after their collegiate playing days but had long careers in the NFL. Let’s take a look at those players who were undrafted but played in 225 or more games in the NFL.
First, let’s start with kickers, many of whom are not drafted during a typical NFL Draft. Here are the placekickers and punters who went undrafted but played 225-plus games in the NFL:
Undrafted Placekickers, NFL games
- John Carney, 302 games
- Norm Johnson, 273 games
- Lou Groza, 268 games
- Jan Stenerud, 263 games
- Nick Lowery, 260 games
- Adam Vinatieri, 259 (active)
- Pat Leahy, 250 games
- Al Del Greco, 248 games
- Ryan Longwell, 240 (active)
- Olindo Mare, 235 (active)
- Steve Christie, 229
- Jeff Feagles, 352
- Sean Landeta, 284 games
- Matt Turk, 244 games
- Bryan Barker, 238 games
Now for the undrafted non-kickers who played 225-plus games in the league.
Played 256 games in the NFL. Was a center with the San Diego Chargers. Last played in 2010.
Played 250 games in the NFL. A defensive back who spent 11 of his 16 NFL seasons with Seattle. Last played in 2000.
Has played in 249 games in the NFL. Was active in 2012. A 15-year veteran linebacker who has played his last six seasons with the Redskins.
Played 240 games in the NFL. Was a center with the Minnesota Vikings. Last played in 1978.
Played 236 games in the NFL. Was an offensive lineman with Washington. Last played in 2010.
Played 234 games in the NFL. A fullback, he played 11 of 16 seasons with the Kansas Chiefs. Last played in 2010.
Played 227 games in the NFL. Was a center for nine of his 16 seasons with the Chiefs. Last played in 2011.
Last season, 49 undrafted rookies played in 10 or more games in the NFL. Of those 49, four actually started 10 or more games for the team that signed them. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman started 15 games for the Colts; linebacker Vontaze Burfict started 14 games for the Bengals; wide receiver Josh Gordon stated 13 games for the Browns; and wide receiver Kevin Elliott started 11 games for the Jaguars.
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