Daily Archives: February 21st, 2014

The success of undrafted players in the NFL

(John Carney)

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 they have 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. (Active means they were active during the 2013 season)

Undrafted Placekickers, NFL games
John Carney, 307 games
Adam Vinatieri, 284 games (active)
Norm Johnson, 273 games
Lou Groza, 268 games
Jan Stenerud, 263 games
Nick Lowery, 260 games
Pat Leahy, 250 games
Al Del Greco, 248 games
Ryan Longwell, 240 games
David Akers, 237 games (active)
Phil Dawson, 237 games (active)
Olindo Mare, 235 games
Steve Christie, 229 games
Undrafted Punters, NFL games
Jeff Feagles, 352 games
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.

David Binn: Played 256 games in the NFL. Was a center with the San Diego Chargers. Last played in 2010.
Eugene Robinson: Played 250 games in the NFL. A defensive back who spent 11 of his 16 NFL seasons with Seattle. Last played in 2000.
London Fletcher: Has played in 256 games in the NFL. Was active in 2013. A 16-year veteran linebacker who played his last seven seasons with the Redskins. There is a lot of speculation that 2013 was Fletcher’s last season in the NFL.
Mick Tingelhoff: Played 240 games in the NFL. Was a center with the Minnesota Vikings. Last played in 1978.
Ethan Albright: Played 236 games in the NFL. Was an offensive lineman with Washington. Last played in 2010.
Tony Richardson: Played 234 games in the NFL. A fullback, he played 11 of 16 seasons with the Kansas Chiefs. Last played in 2010.
Casey Wiegmann: Played 227 games in the NFL. Was a center for nine of his 16 seasons with the Chiefs. Last played in 2011.

Last season, 54 undrafted rookies played in 10 or more games in the NFL. Of those 54, four actually started 10 or more games for the team that signed them. Cornerback Melvin White started 10 games with the Panthers; linebacker Paul Worrilow started 12 games with the Falcons; wide receiver Marlon Brown started 12 games with the Ravens; and linebacker Joplo Bartu started 13 games with the Falcons.

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