As we continue to be bombarded with news about players like Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, we are all reminded of the gravity of success in the first round of the NFL draft is for a franchise. Teams will move Heaven and Earth to assure that their first-round picks have every opportunity to be successful.
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Can’t say I blame them. Those early picks and their success are a direct reflection of the competence of the respective front office. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the lowly undrafted free agents. Those players that all 32 teams chose to pass on for seven full rounds, and only then does their phone ring with an offer of a chance. It’s not much of one, so players understand every rep is crucial. With very little money invested in them, UDFAs face a steep climb to NFL success.
Nevertheless, there are dozens of stories of undrafted players making it big in the league. And even more encouraging, the percent of undrafted players on active NFL rosters continues to climb. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, at the start of the 2014 season, 456 undrafted players were on NFL rosters.
Perhaps a few more of those 456 players will end up making a list like this someday. This list is far from complete, and as always the order is up for debate. However, this is a fairly comprehensive list of the 30 most successful undrafted players in the history of the NFL.