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Undrafted rookies continue to have impact


With all the focus on the seven rounds of draft picks that will start unfolding in five days, it’s easy to forget that, when the draft ends, plenty of NFL careers are born.

Every year, teams launch a land rush for undrafted players.  And some of them are much more than tackling dummies.

Last year, 37 percent of the 622 undrafted rookies signed by the 32 franchises won Week One jobs, either on the practice squad (131) or the 53-man roster (98).  Per a source with knowledge of the numbers, the Rams led the way in 2012 with seven on the active roster.  The Texans, Seahawks, and Vikings had none.

As the 2013 draft approaches, the NFL is urging agents to maximize the signing bonuses and guaranteed money the undrafted players receive.  Last year, undrafted rookies obtained an average signing bonus of $4,268.  The average guarantee per player was $5,733.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo joined the team 10 years ago as an undrafted free agent.  Potential Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner also was undrafted, as was Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle — who was undrafted at a time when the draft had 12 rounds.

Thus, after Mr. Irrelevant’s name is called, there are still potentially some very relevant players to be found.

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29 Responses to “Undrafted rookies continue to have impact”
  1. brianiswhite says: Apr 20, 2013 10:09 AM

    Erin Henderson, Minnesota Vikings starting OLB?

  2. blitzinc43 says: Apr 20, 2013 10:23 AM

    and then they ask for so much money, alla Vicky Cruz

  3. ctgiant says: Apr 20, 2013 10:31 AM

    If you don’t see a 10 minute YouTube film on John Tuggle, “Mr. Irrelevant”, with Bill Parcells, please watch it!
    Let me warn you, it’s a moving, emotional film, which my coach and friend Parcells, actually cries.
    Goggle John Tuggle.

  4. gotampabay52 says: Apr 20, 2013 10:38 AM

    Romo would go undrafted in this years draft too………

  5. godofwine330 says: Apr 20, 2013 10:41 AM

    Players like Randle who are a couple inches too short or 20 pounds or more too light have a shot. As long as they are in the room they have a shot. You never know. For all those chasing their dream I implore you to continue chasing it and never take no for an answer. If one team tells you no then there are 31 more. Sometimes you may even have to move to Canada for a year or two, but keep fighting.

  6. sewalters79 says: Apr 20, 2013 10:43 AM

    Josh Cribbs, Julian Edelman, James Harrison, Antonio Gates.

    They all also went to Kent State too. Must be something in water in Northeastern Ohio

  7. vietnambob2473 says: Apr 20, 2013 10:59 AM

    How about some love for the year Chris Harris had for the Broncos. He was undrafted and played like the best defensive back on the team last season.

  8. ddjesus says: Apr 20, 2013 11:19 AM

    Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Cullen Jenkins, etc.

  9. jack3dsd says: Apr 20, 2013 11:24 AM

    Danny Woodhead ncaa all time rushing yards leader at the time also undrafted

  10. themackstrong says: Apr 20, 2013 11:26 AM

    Seattle has many undrafted free agents in the mix last year and years before (Doug Baldwin). Jermaine Kearse and Phil Bates, Snead, Mcgrath are were all undrafted rookies on the practice squad and Kearse, Snead & Mcgrath made active roster by end of year. I don’t know who is reporting those numbers

  11. ozymandias121 says: Apr 20, 2013 11:58 AM

    LOL at the guy who listed the entire Packers secondary. And you wonder why they are dead last every year in pass defense and get torched against good teams.

  12. bluefunk72 says: Apr 20, 2013 12:00 PM

    Arian Foster also went undrafted!

  13. mianfr says: Apr 20, 2013 12:05 PM

    Best way to add value to a team, for sure. Essentially they become extra draft picks if they latch on that didn’t cost anything to acquire via trade.

  14. meandjuliojonesdownbytheschoolyard says: Apr 20, 2013 12:12 PM

    I’d be curious to see the percentage of NFL players that were undrafted, compared to those who were from rounds 5-7. See like undrafted guys fair just as well at making teams long term.

  15. rickyspanish24 says: Apr 20, 2013 12:15 PM

    The Seahawks had no practice squad players on the active roster week 1. The post is correct.

  16. rickyspanish24 says: Apr 20, 2013 12:18 PM

    I like how half of New England’s roster is comprised of UFAs despite Belichick having like 15 draft picks every year. Then morons go on television and say, “Belichick is a great evaluator of talent.”

  17. j0esixpack says: Apr 20, 2013 1:05 PM

    rickyspanish24 says:

    I like how half of New England’s roster is comprised of UFAs despite Belichick having like 15 draft picks every year. Then morons go on television and say, “Belichick is a great evaluator of talent.”


    Um – yeah Rickyspanish – he is – precisely for the reason you gave.

    Belichick drafts and signs “his” system players – and awards roster spots based on how they do rather than where they were drafted.

    That’s one big reason why he’s got the best record in the NFL this century. He knows the NFL Draft is a complete crapshoot.

    In case you didn’t read this PFT article, 37% of UFAs across the ENTIRE NFL made their teams. It wouldn’t surprise me if Belichck did much better than 37%.

    You talk about successful rookie UFAs like it’s a bad thing, but they provide quality play at bargain prices, allowing a coach/GM to spread dollars to shore up critical spots elsewhere.

    If you were trying to slam Belichick and the Patriots, congratulations on an Epic Fail.

  18. geniusesq says: Apr 20, 2013 1:14 PM

    This is why the Redskins won with the RGIII trade. And, picked up Alfred Morris in the 6th. HAIL

  19. EJ says: Apr 20, 2013 1:25 PM

    If not for Undrafted Free Agents, teams would pretty much be forced to live with most of their drafted picks, regardless of how many were straight misses.
    It also makes for a better story to see one of these Undrafted players come from the very bottom and become a huge success. Beside some very few 1st round draft picks, the whole rest of the draft is almost a complete guess. There can be a player that was at the top of the game in college at his position, has the ideal size, strength, great work ethic and straight love for the game and he can become a failure at the next level. All the while there is a player who was average in college, loves the game, has a decent work ethic, but doesn’t possess the natural size for his position, and he can become one of the greatest to walk the field. You just never know, 50% of finding talent is straight up a guess.

  20. stung4ever1983 says: Apr 20, 2013 1:28 PM

    “brianiswhite says:
    Apr 20, 2013 10:09 AM
    Erin Henderson, Minnesota Vikings starting OLB?”

    I assume they meant UDFAs from the 2012 draft.

  21. axespray says: Apr 20, 2013 1:33 PM

    ozymandias121 says:
    Apr 20, 2013 11:58 AM
    “LOL at the guy who listed the entire Packers secondary. And you wonder why they are dead last every year in pass defense and get torched against good teams.”
    Dead last every year in Pass Defense?
    Really? Led the league in Takeaways in 2009/2011 in spite of us having no pass rush.

    Was the no.5 pass defense in 2010, no.2 overall in scoring.

    You can rip on our Run Defense, but our Pass Defense (mainly secondary) has been loaded these last couple years…. that’s like saying our receiving core is the worst in the league.

  22. chc4 says: Apr 20, 2013 1:59 PM

    Retired Falcons LB Jessie Tuggle was undrafted.

  23. chc4 says: Apr 20, 2013 2:01 PM

    Cheap labor.

  24. divan22 says: Apr 20, 2013 2:15 PM

    Ditto Miles Austin and coke lord Sam Hurd.

  25. mswravens says: Apr 20, 2013 2:16 PM

    Bart Scott, Priest Holmes, Danelle Ellerbee…to name a quick few…

  26. lanjoith says: Apr 20, 2013 2:25 PM

    You failed to mention 2 of the best UDFA’s in recent history – Kris Dielman (4x pro bowl, 2x all pro) & Antonio Gates (8x pro bowl, 5x all pro). Both were signed by SD in 2003 after they went undrafted. Stephen Cooper was also from the 2003 UDFA class and had a very solid career in SD as well.

  27. thestrategyexpert says: Apr 20, 2013 3:13 PM

    I don’t agree with this. These undrafted rookies that are doing so well should have been drafted. Every team drafts at least one player every year that I think isn’t worthy of being drafted at all. There’s easily many dozens of guys that fit this description, so these UDFAs are only doing well because they are mistakenly passed over by lousy GMs that are making horrible choices late in the draft.

    If the prospect has identifiable and draftable purpose, then they should be analyzed under a different lens, otherwise UDFAs get a bonus valuation that they don’t technically deserve. I call the good ones as “free quality draft picks” that other teams chose to donate for whatever reason.

  28. 1bigtex says: Apr 20, 2013 4:00 PM

    WOW, if I’m not mistaken, we had a Tampa Bay fan ragging on another team’s QB. Get back to me when Josh Freeman actually has a winning record as a QB, okay. It’s not as if the NFL world is beating a path to Florida to try and trade for the big disappointment.

  29. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Apr 20, 2013 4:51 PM

    To consistently compete in the NFL, teams must have contributions from players that go undrafted. The NFL draft is less rounds now than in the past.

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