99 Stats Until Kickoff (#84) The success of undrafted players in the NFL
From May 30 and every day until September 5… the start of the 2013 NFL season… Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ will publish “99 Stats Until Kickoff” a daily dose of NFL stats that will get you ready for the 2013 NFL season.)
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:
Undrafted Placekickers, NFL games
John Carney, 302 games
Norm Johnson, 273 games
Lou Groza, 268 games
Jan Stenerud, 263 games
Nick Lowery, 260 games
Adam Vinatieri, 259 (active)
Pat Leahy, 250 games
Al Del Greco, 248 games
Ryan Longwell, 240 (active)
Olindo Mare, 235 (active)
Steve Christie, 229
Undrafted Punters, NFL games
Jeff Feagles, 352
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 249 games in the NFL. Was active in 2012. A 15-year veteran linebacker who has played his last six seasons with the Redskins.
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, 49 undrafted rookies played in 10 or more games in the NFL. Of those 49, four actually started 10 or more games for the team that signed them. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman started 15 games for the Colts; linebacker Vontaze Burfict started 14 games for the Bengals; wide receiver Josh Gordon stated 13 games for the Browns; and wide receiver Kevin Elliott started 11 games for the Jaguars.
“99 Stats Before Kickoff” (Stats you need to know before the start of the 2013 NFL season) is available from e-book publisher Smashwords. Go to www.smashwords.com to download a copy, including a pdf version which can be viewed on your home computer. Cost is $2.99.
Could kickers make the difference in Super Bowl XLVII?
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
With experts expecting a close game for Super Bowl XLVII, the kickers could play an important role in next week’s game.
The two opposing kickers offer quite a contrast. First we have rookie Justin Tucker with the Baltimore Ravens who had a great first season making 30 of 33 field goal attempts, a 90.9 percentage. In the playoffs he has kicked two FGs, making both.
San Francisco kicker David Akers has 367 made field goals on his resume. He has led the league in field goal attempts in four of the last five years. He has 23 playoff games experience, making 36 of 44 (an 81.8 percentage). That’s the good news.
This year, however, has been a struggle for Akers. He missed 13 FGs in the regular season ending the year with a 69 percentage rate, the lowest of his career and far below his career mark of 81 percent.
Akers is, however, one of 26 kickers who has made 80 percent or more of his field goals in playoff games. Here’s a look at the kickers who have the best field goal made percentage in the post-season (from 1966-2012, minimum of 10 attempts).
Field Goal percentage, kicker
92.9%: Martin Gramatica
92.0%: John Kasay
90.9%: Chuck Nelson
90.0%: Brad Daluiso, Stephen Gostkowski
88.9%: Mike Hollis, Jeff Reed
88.0%: Steve Christie
87.5%: Sebastian Janikowski
86.7%: Chris Boniol
85.7%: Josh Brown, Billy Cundiff, Olindo Mare, Rafael Septien
84.2%: Jason Elam
84.0%: Matt Bahr
83.3%: Mason Crosby
82.8%: Adam Vinatieri
81.8%: David Akers, Jim Breech, Shayne Graham
80.6%: Matt Stover
80.0%: Gary Anderson, John Carney, Toni Fritsch, Pat Leahy
In looking at the past 46 Super Bowl games, there have been 10 games where a kicker missed two or more field goals. Dallas Cowboys kicker Efren Herrera in the 1978 Super Bowl missed three field goal attempts, the only time three have been missed by one kicker in a Super Bowl game. Nine kickers have missed two FG attempts in a single Super Bowl contest: Lou Michaels (1969), Jim Turner (1969), Roy Gerela (1976), Rich Karlis (1987), Mike Lofer (1989), Jason Elam (1999), Al Del Greco (2000), Adam Vinatieri (2004), Josh Brown (2006).
Two more interesting stats:
* Two kickers missed a field goal in a Super Bowl game where their team lost by a final margin of three points or less. Buffalo’s Scott Norwood missed a FG in the Bills 20-19 loss in the 1991 Super Bowl against the New York Giants; Rams’ kicker Jeff Wilkins missed a FG in St. Louis’ 2002 Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, 20-17.
* Field goal kickers from the Super Bowl winning team have made 73 of 98 field goals, a 74.5 percentage. Kickers from the Super Bowl losing team have made 41 of 64 FGs in the big game, a 64.1 percentage.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp