The NFL Draft is ultimately a multi-million dollar game of chance. Teams spend multiple resources on analyzing prospects and determining who will best fit into their specific system with the greatest impact. Hours of game film are watched and players are put through multiple tests, both mental and physical, before a decision on their future is determined.
Sometimes teams get it right and success follows. Other times a potential superstar’s career gets derailed by outside factors such as injuries, or their particular skill set doesn’t transition well to the NFL game.
Following seven rounds of selections teams immediately begin signing undrafted free agents to fill their rosters picking over the remaining eligible players and courting them with an opportunity to fulfill their dream of playing professional football.
Once in a while these “afterthoughts” work their way into the spotlight and leave everyone thinking, “how did this guy not get drafted?” Following are the best of these individuals who didn’t hear their name called on draft day but have regardless excelled over the last 25 years.
10. Wes Welker, WR – San Diego Chargers (2004)
Appeared in three Super Bowls, five Pro Bowls, and was a two-time first team All-Pro. Holds multiple NFL and franchise records for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
9. Brian Waters, OG – Dallas Cowboys (1999)
Appeared in one Super Bowl, six Pro Bowls, and was named first team All-Pro once in his career. Won the Watler Payton Man of the Year Award for the 2009 season.
8. Tony Romo, QB – Dallas Cowboys (2003)
A four-time Pro Bowl selection and 2002 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner.
7. Jason Peters, OT – Buffalo Bills (2004)
A nine-time Pro Bowl selection with three first-team All-Pro appearances. Peters has also recorded two receiving touchdowns during his NFL career.
6. Adam Vinatieri, K – New England Patriots (1996)
Four-time Super Bowl champion, three Pro Bowls, and was a three-time first-team All-Pro. Vinatieri holds multiple NFL records including the most consecutive field goals (44) made.
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5. Antonio Gates, TE – San Diego Chargers (2003)
Named to eight Pro Bowls and a three-time first-team All-Pro, Gates is currently tied for the most touchdown receptions (111) in NFL history for a tight end.
4. Priest Holmes, RB – Baltimore Ravens (1997)
Super Bowl XXXV champion with three Pro Bowls and a three-time first-team All-Pro. The 2002 NFL Offensive Player of the Year and two-time rushing touchdowns leader.
3. James Harrison, OLB – Pittsburgh Steelers (2000)
Two-time Super Bowl champion, five Pro Bowls, and twice was named a first-team All-Pro. Harrison was the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
2. Rod Smith, WR – Denver Broncos (1994)
A two-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Pro Bowl selection, and first-team All-Pro twice. Holds eleven franchise records and is a member of the Broncos Ring of Fame.
1. Kurt Warner, QB – St. Louis Rams (1994)
Super Bowl XXIV champion and MVP, named to four Pro Bowls and a two-time first-team All-Pro. Warner was the NFL Most Valuable Player twice and the 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year.