The NFL's 25 Best Undrafted Players of All Time
The NFL Draft is one of the most exciting off the field events on the sports calendar. It is exciting because every team is involved, and as fans, every pick generates interest somewhere. We see players that we have watched in college sell themselves to a particular franchise, hoping to be the guy to change its fortunes.
Sometimes a few teams miss on a guy, and sometimes EVERY team misses on a guy. Here are 25 guys who were overlooked by every team in the NFL on draft day.
25. Nick Harper, Fort Valley State
Harper, out of tiny Fort Valley State in Georgia, didn't hear his name called in the draft, but he worked his way into the league and has started on a winning team in eight of his nine seasons in the league.
He has amassed 544 tackles and 20 interceptions thus far in his career.
24. Antonio Pierce, Arizona
Pierce, the outspoken linebacker out of Arizona, went undrafted in the 2001 draft. Since then, he has been a mainstay in the middle on the Redskins and Giants' defenses.
Pierce has 632 tackles, eight sacks, and seven interceptions in his career.
23. Adewale Ogunleye, Indiana
Ogunleye played his college ball at Indiana, traditionally a basketball school with a football team. He went undrafted in the 2001 draft, but the Dolphins picked him up, and he turned out to be a really good defensive end in the league.
Ogunleye has collected 60.5 sacks thus far, with an amazing 15 in 2003.
22. Ryan Grant, Notre Dame
Grant, out of Notre Dame, didn't impress a team enough to get picked on draft day. He eventually got picked up by the Giants and was then snatched up by the Packers and put into the starting running back spot.
In two seasons, Grant has rushed for 2,159 yards and 12 touchdowns.
21. Bart Scott, Southern Illinois
Scott, who wasn't drafted in the 2002 draft, caught on with the Ravens and worked his way from special teamer to starting linebacker. Scott has emerged as one of the best linebackers in the league, and that was evident from the lucrative contract he recently signed with the New York Jets.
In eight seasons in the NFL, Scott has 433 tackles and 16 sacks.
20. Brian Waters, North Texas
Waters, who didn't hear his name called in the 2000 draft, was picked up by the Chiefs and has become one of the better guards in the league.
Waters has started at guard 118 times in nine seasons in the NFL and has been named to four Pro Bowls.
19. London Fletcher, John Carroll
Can anyone tell me where John Carroll is located? Fletcher didn't get picked in the 1997 draft, but the Rams signed him as a free agent, and he has become the face of undersized linebackers everywhere.
In 12 seasons, Fletcher has amassed 1,338 tackles, 28 sacks, and 14 interceptions.
18. Jason Peters, Arkansas
Peters, undrafted out of Arkansas, signed on with the Bills in 2004. The Pro Bowl left tackle has worked his way to becoming one of the best offensive linemen in the league.
Peters has been selected to two Pro Bowls and has a 97 rating on Madden 2009, an honor maybe even greater than the two Pro Bowls.
17. Jake Delhomme, Louisiana-Lafayette
Delhomme, who spent three seasons in NFL Europe after college, was picked up by the Saints in 1999. Since then, he has caught on with the Panthers and has flourished as one of the more consistent quarterbacks in the league, if you ignore his most recent playoff performance...
In eight NFL seasons, Delhomme has passed for 17,877 yards and 115 touchdowns.
16. Pat Williams, Texas A&M
Williams, undrafted and picked up by Buffalo in 1998, has been one of the best run-stuffing defensive tackles in the league. He is a large man and has been stout in the middle of the Vikings defense for the past four seasons.
In 11 NFL seasons, Williams has 591 tackles and 18.5 sacks.
15. Adam Vinatieri, South Dakota State
Vinatieri, who went undrafted out of South Dakota State, was picked up by the Patriots in 1996 and has since become possibly the greatest kicker in NFL history. He is definitely the most clutch kicker, kicking game-winning field goals in two Super Bowls.
In 13 seasons, Vinatieri has made 331 field goals and 497 extra points.
14. Jeff Saturday, North Carolina
Saturday, who went undrafted out of UNC, was picked up by the Colts in 1999 and has since become one of the top three centers in the league.
Saturday has played in three Pro Bowls and has started 140 games at center.
13. Wayne Chrebet, Hofstra
Chrebet, the scrappy receiver out of Hofstra, was not drafted in the 1995 draft, but was picked up by the Jets and grabbed 66 balls in his rookie season.
In his 11-year career, Chrebet caught 580 passes for 7,365 yards and 41 touchdowns.
12. Jeff Garcia, San Jose State
Undrafted out of San Jose State in 1994, Garcia opted to join the CFL. He spent five seasons there before being picked up by the 49ers in 1999. Since then, Garcia has become an above average NFL quarterback and is one of the best at throwing on the run.
In 10 NFL seasons, Garcia has thrown for 25,537 yards and 161 touchdowns.
11. Willie Parker, North Carolina
Parker came into Pittsburgh undrafted out of UNC and filled in nicely for the aging Jerome Bettis. He still hold the record for longest touchdown run in the Super Bowl.
In five seasons with Pittsburgh, Parker has gained 4,989 yards and 24 touchdowns.
10. Wes Welker, Texas Tech
Undrafted out of Texas Tech, Welker, the Chrebet clone, emerged onto the scene with a 67-catch season in 2006 with the Dolphins. He signed with the Patriots a year later and has 223 catches for 2,340 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons with New England. Welker has become the preeminent slot receiver in the NFL.
9. James Harrison, Kent State
Harrison, undrafted out of Kent State, was picked up by the Steelers in 2004. Since then, he has improved every year and is now arguably the best linebacker in the league. He was the defensive MVP last season and had one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history with his 101-yard interception return for a touchdown.
In five seasons with the Steelers, Harrison has 309 tackles and 28.5 sacks, and a new $51.5 million contract.
8. Tony Romo, Eastern Illinois
Undrafted out of Eastern Illinois in the 2004 draft, Romo was picked up by Bill Parcells and the Cowboys in 2005. In his short career thus far, Romo has indeed had an impact on the league and is one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL today.
In three seasons with the Cowboys, Romo has thrown for 10,562 yards and 81 touchdowns.
7. Priest Holmes, Texas
Holmes, who was undrafted out of Texas, was picked up in 1998 by the Ravens. He spent three decent seasons in Baltimore and then moved to Kansas City, where he flourished. In a two-year span from 2002-2003, he rushed for over 3,000 yards and 48 touchdowns. Injuries ended what was on pace to be a Hall of Fame career.
In nine NFL seasons, Holmes rushed for 8,172 yards and 86 touchdowns.
6. Antonio Gates, Kent State
Known more for his basketball career in college, Gates was overlooked in the 2003 draft but was picked up by the Chargers via free agency. Gates, along with Tony Gonzalez, changed the way the tight end position is played. Gates has been the biggest target for the high-scoring Chargers for the past six seasons.
In his six seasons, Gates has 400 passes for 5,066 yards and 51 touchdowns.
5. Rod Smith, Missouri Southern State
Smith, undrafted out of Missouri Southern State, was overlooked in the 1995 draft. The Broncos took a flyer on the guy, and they are lucky they did. Smith will go down as the greatest receiver in Broncos history and is a borderline Hall of Famer.
In his 12-year NFL career, Smith caught 849 passes for 11,389 yards and 68 touchdowns.
4. John Randle, Texas A&M-Kingsville
Undrafted in the 1990 draft, Randle found a spot on the Vikings roster and never relinquished it. He was known for being an intense, face-painting sack machine, and we haven't seen another one like him. Opposing quarterbacks feared him, and as a Lions fan, I hated him.
In 14 NFL seasons, Randle collected 408 tackles and 137.5 sacks.
3. Dick Lane, Scottsbluff Junior College
Lane, who dropped out of college and spent four years in the Army, went undrafted and showed up at Rams camp looking for a job. He found one, and he turned out to be one of the greatest defensive backs in league history. He was selected to seven Pro Bowls and is a member of the Hall of Fame.
In his 14 NFL seasons, Lane accumulated 68 interceptions and five touchdowns.
2. Kurt Warner, Northern Iowa
We all know his story. He went from stocking shelves to winning Super Bowls. Warner went undrafted and played in the Arena League for a few seasons before the Rams picked him up. When Trent Green went down with an injury in the preseason in 1999, Warner stepped in, and the rest is history. This guy will be in the Hall of Fame.
In his 11 NFL seasons, Warner has thrown for 28,591 yards and 182 touchdowns and played in three Super Bowls.
1. Warren Moon, Washington
Moon, who went undrafted for speculation that no one wanted to draft an African-American quarterback, spent five seasons in the CFL after college, winning five consecutive Grey Cups. He was eventually picked up by the Houston Oilers, and he became one of the best pure passers to ever play the game.
In 17 seasons in the NFL, Moon passed for 49,325 yards and 291 touchdowns.