Throughout the National Football League's storied history, there have been many players who were overlooked by league executives who went on to enjoy Hall of Fame careers. As a result of injuries, poor Combine work-outs or any number of other variables, many talented players get bypassed in the annual Draft.
It seems that every year there are at least a few notable athletes who get shut out of the draft process and are forced to sign with teams as a free agent.
This articles ranks the top five players who went unclaimed through the 2010 NFL Draft.
5. Scott Sicko
Arguably the most overlooked prospect in the 2010 NFL Draft, former New Hampshire Wildcats tight end Scott Sicko wasn’t invited to the Combine or selected in this year’s draft.
After surprising many by turning down five contract offers in favour of becoming either an educator or a state trooper, Sicko finally opted to sign with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent.
For the last several seasons there have been few tight ends who have matched the production of Sicko; in three seasons the 6’4” Wildcat amassed nearly 160 receptions for over 2,000 receiving yards.
With the Dallas Cowboys, Sicko has found himself behind one of the NFL’s top tight ends in Jason Witten and beside the up-and-coming Martellus Bennett.
If Sicko can impress coaches early, he may emerge as the team’s second tight end heading into the 2010 season.
As an athletic pass catcher, Sicko possesses many of the valuable assets Witten brings to the table, and if the Cowboys utilize the 2009 Associated Press FCS Second-Team All-American honouree to his full potential, "Big D" may have a new legitimate tight end for years to come.
4. Jevan Snead
One of the biggest question marks prior to the 2010 NFL Draft was regarding exactly how much value NFL executives placed on Jevan Snead, the former Texas Longhorns and Ole Miss Rebels signal caller.
Despite once being hailed as a potential first-round prospect by some analysts, Snead was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent after he was bypassed by all 32 NFL franchises in the draft.
Before transferring to Ole Miss to become the Rebels’ starting quarterback, Snead, 22, served as a backup to Colt McCoy as a Longhorn.
Although Snead showed glimpses of greatness during his time in college, his career has been marred by his often erratic style and tendency to throw too many interceptions, including three in a win over Oklahoma State at the 2009 Cotton Bowl.
With the Buccaneers Snead has a good opportunity to eventually become a starting quarterback, as the youthful Tampa Bay franchise is in a transitional stage and the unproven starter Josh Freeman has been plagued by inconsistency in the past.
Before the time comes for Snead to potentially take the reins of the Buccaneers, the 6'3" signal caller will look to replace the run-first second string quarterback Josh Johnson on the depth chart.
With the ideal size of a NFL signal caller and a strong passing arm, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have picked up their quarterback of the future.
If Snead can devote himself to refining some of the cerebral aspects of his game through his first few campaigns in the league, the sky will be the limit for the San Angelo, Texas native.
3. Stafon Johnson
Prior to enduring a horrific weightlifting accident in which 275 pounds were dropped on his unprotected neck, many NFL executives viewed Stafon Johnson, 22, as an eventual legitimate prospect to play on Sundays.
After recovering from the accident, and putting on an impressive performance at the Combine, Johnson went uncontacted through all seven rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft and later agreed to terms with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent.
Under the guidance of head coach Pete Carroll, Johnson was used sparingly throughout his career at USC. Prior to sitting out the majority of his senior campaign as a result of his weightlifting accident, Johnson amassed nearly 20 touchdowns as a Trojan and never finished a season with a rushing average below 4.9 yards per carry.
Using his combination of speed and agility, Johnson averaged nearly seven yards per carry while rushing the ball as a sophomore in 2007.
Despite performing well as a member of one of the NCAA’s finest football programs, Johnson was overlooked by NFL executives for his perceived susceptibility to future injuries, rather than past performances.
With the Titans, Johnson will be in the midst of one of the league’s most crowded backfields, as the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year Chris Johnson, sophomore tailback Javon Ringer, and fellow undrafted rookie running back LaGarrette Blount will all be competing with the USC alum for carries throughout the 2010 NFL season.
Fortunately for Johnson, the run-happy Titans will likely provide many opportunities for the Compton, California native to touch the ball in the future.
2. Freddie Barnes
Despite finishing his collegiate career as one of the most productive wide receivers in recent memory, all 32 NFL franchises passed on Freddie Barnes, 23, in the 2010 NFL Draft.
In the days following the Draft, the Chicago Bears signed the former Bowling Green Falcon as an undrafted free agent.
As a member of the Bowling Green Falcons from 2006 to 2009, Barnes cemented his status as one of the biggest playmakers in college football.
Showing that he can put a team on his shoulders, Barnes enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons in collegiate football history, snagging a NCAA record 155 receptions for nearly 1,800 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2009 alone.
Possessing a pair of dependable hands and a proven track record, Barnes ranks among the likes of Randy Moss as one of the most dynamic receivers in MAC history.
With his hometown Chicago Bears, Barnes will look to establish himself in the thick of one of the NFL’s more promising receiving corps. Under the coaching of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the Bears will likely focus primarily on passing the football, and this is music to the ears of the 2009 Fred Biletnikoff Award finalist Barnes.
In 2010 and beyond, Barnes will likely be given many opportunities to advance on the Bears depth chart, as Chicago’s receiving corps is among the league’s most youthful and inexperienced.
Although Barnes’s performance most likely won’t mirror the gaudy statistics that he posted in college immediately, there is a good chance that the former MAC standout can become a dependable target for Jay Cutler in the future.
1. LeGarrette Blount
Prior to being known as the perpetrator of one of the most publicised punches in recent memory, former Oregon Duck LeGarrette Blount, 23, was viewed by many as a bright prospect for the NFL.
After the incident, however, Blount’s draft stock plummeted and despite an impressive Combine workout, the 240 lb tailback was bypassed by every club in the 2010 NFL Draft.
After Blount voiced his intention to sign with the San Francisco 49ers after the draft, the overlooked running back surprised many and agreed to terms with the Tennessee Titans.
As a power back at Oregon, Blount ran over opposing Pac-10 defences for two seasons. Despite being known more for his right-hook than running ability, Blount has been on the radar of NFL executives for his entire collegiate career.
Difficult to take down and specializing in yardage after first contact, Blount muscled his way to over 1,000 rushing yards as a junior at Oregon in 2008.
In Tennessee Blount will likely be expected to assume the role that has been vacated as a result of the departure of LenDale White, as the two heavy-set running backs have similar skill sets.
Working as a compliment to the dynamic Chris Johnson, Blount’s hard-headed running style will likely be used primarily in short-yardage situations. With an inconsistent quarterback in Vince Young, and a coach that focuses largely on “pounding the rock,” Blount will likely receive many opportunities to carry the football in the 2010 season.
In 2010 Blount is poised to receive ample opportunities with the Titans, and for a physical running back with a chip on his shoulder, this is a scary thought for opposing defences.
With Blount, the Titans have landed a tenacious power back.
And in conjunction with the extremely talented Johnson, Tennessee may have one of the top one-two punch backfields in the NFL...