Who were the best undrafted players in NFL history?

The NFL draft is the starting point of the professional career of many great players. Some of the top picks continue to have stellar careers and others rise from the bottom of the pack. But what happens if your favorite player doesn’t get drafted? Is that the end of the road for your grilling dreams?

Not necessarily. there are around 3,500 eligible players in each draft class and with only 262 seats at the table, there is still a lot of untapped talent. When you factor in injuries, retirements and draft losses, teams will look for the best free agents on the market.

Here are some of the best undrafted players of all time. This is a small sample of ten, including five members of the hall of fame and a couple who should join their ranks sooner or later.

jake delhomme


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After going undrafted in 1997 out of Southwestern Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana Lafayette), Delhomme was signed by the Saints to the practice squad. something happened time in Europe backing Kurt Warner and eventually made it to the Carolina Panthers, where he beat Rodney Peete to the starting job and led the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII. Widely seen as one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history, the Patriots won it in Adam Vinatieri’s last second field goalgiving Thomas Brady his second Super Bowl victory.

Drew Pearson*

The three-time All-Pro wide receiver was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 1973 after going undrafted out of Tulsa. The teamed up with Tony Hill and Tony Dorsett to help the Cowboys become the first team to have two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher in 1979. A tragic car accident in 1984 prematurely ended his career, but in his time with Dallas, he helped them. reaching three Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XII. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2021.

Jason Peters

The SEC tight end out of Arkansas He was expected to enter the fourth round of the 2004 draft, but was ultimately undrafted and was selected as a free agent by the Buffalo Bills. He was traded to tackle and he spent five years with Buffalo and then moved to the Philadelphia Eagles. After nine Pro Bowl appearances, he signed a one-year deal in 2021 with the Chicago Bears. When he finishes his playing days, a bronze bust is likely to await him in Canton.

Sam Mills*

Saints (1986-1994), Panthers (1995-1997).


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At just 5’9″ tall, the Montclair State linebacker was seen as too young to play in the NFL. After going undrafted in 1981, he was signed by the Cleveland Browns and released after the preseason. The Toronto Argonauts repeated the performance in 1982. It took the USFL and the Philadelphia Stars to give him a break where he quickly became, alongside Reggie White, one of the best defensive players in the league. When Stars coach Jim Mora moved to the New Orleans Saints, he brought Mills with him and became the center of the Dome Patrol’s ferocious defense, earning four Pro Bowl selections in New Orleans. Orleans. Jim Mora called him “The best player I’ve ever coached.” He ended up in Carolina, where he earned his fifth Pro Bowl appearance. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer and he passed away in 2005 at the age of 45. Mills was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2022.

Wes Welker

The Texas Tech standout, with the NCAA record for punt return yards and the second-most punts returned for touchdowns, was undrafted in 2004. The San Diego Chargers drafted him as a free agent and released him after a game. Marty Schottenheimer calls Welker’s release the “biggest mistake I’ve ever made.” He then signed with the Miami Dolphins and after three seasons he was traded to the New England Patriots. He had an incredible career with the Pats setting franchise records for receiving yards, most receptions in a single game, most yards in a game, longest reception and his career receptions. he did it to five consecutive Pro Bowls and led the league in receptions three times.

Joe Perry*

Coming out of the Army, Joe Perry signed with the San Francisco 49ers for $4,500 in 1948. The extraordinarily fast winger was nicknamed the jet and it became the first African-American to be named NFL MVP and the first player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. He retired in 1963 as NFL all-time leading rusher and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.

Warren Luna*


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After an impressive college career in Washington, Moon failed to convince the NFL and headed north to Edmonton. He became a Canadian soccer legend, winning five consecutive Gray Cups, still a CFL record, and was twice named MVP. This got the attention of the Houston Oilers and they signed him and he immediately set the NFL on fire. During his 17-year NFL career, Moon made nine Pro Bowls and was the 1990 Offensive Player of the Year. He is the only player to be in both the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, as well as the NFL Hall of Fame.

Adam Vinatieri



Vinatieri went undrafted out of South Dakota State in 1996 and spent a year in Amsterdam before being drafted by the Patriots. He became an elite clutch kicker and was the deciding factor in two of his three Super Bowl wins during his tenure, gifting a legacy to Tom Brady. Moving on to the Colts, he won another Super Bowl making five overall. In 2021 he ended his spectacular 24-year career as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer with 2673 points. He becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2025 and is an absolute shoe.

Tony Romo


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The eastern Illinois standout wasn’t even invited to the combine in 2003 and was signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. at the insistence of then assistant coach Sean Payton. When Payton left for the Saints, he tried to take Romo with him, but Jerry Jones refused. Going from starter to starter in 2006, he made four Pro Bowl appearances and finished his 14-year career with the NFL record for highest fourth-quarter passer rating.

kurt warner*

Easily the standout on this list, best undrafted player in NFL history It’s Kurt Warner. Undrafted in 1994, he was signed and released by the Green Bay Packers and wound up in Arena Football. Support his former Navy wife and his two sons, one disabled, by working in a minimum wage supermarket jobHe spent two seasons in Europe and was picked up in 1998 by the St Louis Rams. Becoming their starting quarterback after Trent Green’s knee injury, Warner took the Rams to the Super Bowl. and won MVP in his first season as a starter. He returned to the Super Bowl two years later, only to lose to a kick from Adam Vinatieri. He moved to Arizona and became the second-fastest quarterback to reach 20,000 yards in NFL history, needing just one more game than Dan Marino to pull off the feat. Enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2017, he is the greatest that almost never was.


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