All Time UDFA Team: Offense & Defense
By Michael Stewart
Over the years the GM Jerry Reese has done a great job finding UDFA (undrafted free agents) prospects after the draft. His most notable find was Victor Cruz who emerged as an elite star with the Giants amassing 303 receptions for 4,549 yards and 25 TDS. Many times this part of the post NFL draft process is often not headline news, however; a closer look at this phase of talent searching has produced future stars in the NFL and Hall of Famers. So with that in mind, I wanted to put together my version of an all-time UDFA team. Currently; there are roughly over 500 undrafted players on NFL rosters and a total of 15 former UDFA have been inducted into football hall of fame. So here’s a look at my all-time UDFA team.
QB-Kurt Warner: Warner came out of Northern Iowa and got his chance when starter Trent Green had a season ending injury and he never looked back as he went on to have magical career & was inducted in the Football HOF.
RB-Joe Perry: Perry played at Compton Jr. College was the 1st RB to rush for 1,000 rush in consecutive seasons (only 12 games) in 1953-54. Perry retired, as the all-time rushing leader with 9,723 yards.
RB-Marion Motley: Motley played at Nevada in college and enjoyed a 9 year career in the NFL. Motley was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 1968.
WR-Rod Smith: Smith played at Missouri Southern State and ended up playing 12 seasons in the NFL. Still holds the record in Denver with most catches, yards and TDS.
WR-Drew Pearson: Pearson came out of Tulsa as an UDFA, member of the Cowboys SB win over Denver. Pearson made the 1970 all decade team.
TE-Antonio Gates: Gates played at Kent State and has earned 8 Pro Bowl selections. Gates will be a Hall of Famer once his playing career is over.
OT/K-Lou “The Toe” Groza: Groza played at Ohio State in college and played 21 seasons in the NFL. A 9x Pro Bowler Groza won 8 championships with the Browns and was inducted in the Hall of Fame.
OG-Larry Little: Played at Bethue-Cookman college and appeared in 5 Pro Bowls & a member of the Hall of Fame.
OC-Jim Langer: South Dakota State college and was a 6 time Pro Bowler for the Dolphins & a member of the Hall of Fame.
OG-Brian Waters: Walters came out North Texas College and earned 6 Pro Bowls playing for the Chiefs and Patriots.
OT-Joe Jacoby: Louisville grad, Jacoby was a member of the infamous “Hogs” in Washington. A 4 time Pro Bowler and a member of the 1980’s all decade team.
DT-John Randle: Randle played at Texas A&M-Kingsville and went on to have a great career with Minnesota with 7 Pro Bowl selections and a member of the Hall of Fame.
DE/DT-Bill Willis: Willis played at Ohio State and played OL and DL with Cleveland. A 8 time All-Pro and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
DE-Cameron Wake: Wake played at Penn State and found his stride with the Dolphins with multiple Pro Bowl appearances thus far in his career.
OLB-James Harrison: Kent State Grad who was cut 3 times by Pittsburgh and also by the Ravens before returning to Pittsburgh for the 4th time to become a 2x SB champion and Pro Bowler.
MLB-London Fletcher: Fletcher came out of John Carroll Univ. & had a 16 year career with the Rams,Bills & Rekskins. A 4x Pro Bowler and holds the record of 265 consecutive games played by a linebacker.
OLB-Jessie Tuggle: Valdosta State was Tuggle college team as he enjoyed a 14 year career with the Falcons & a 5x Pro Bowler.
DB-Dick “Night Train” Lane: Lane played at Western Nebraska Community College-Scottsbluff & went on to have a great 14 year career with the Rams, Cardinals and Lions. Lanes 68 INTS is currently 4th in NFL history.
DB-Willie Wood: Wood played at USC as a QB, but was switched to Safety by the Packers. A 8x Pro Bowler and 5x champion with Packers; Wood was inducted in the Football Hall of Fame.
DB-Emlen Tunnell: Tunnell played Iowa and played a total of 14 years in NFL (11-Giants/3-Packers). A 9x Pro Bowler and was inducted in the Football Hall Of Fame.
DB-Willie Brown: A Grambling star, Brown had a fabulous 16 year career (4-Broncos/12-Raiders) & a 9x Pro Bowler and a member of the Football Hall of Fame.
K-Adam Vinatieri: South Dakota State star, Vinatieri quietly emerged as one of the most clutched kickers in NFL history with two game winning FG’s in the Super Bowl.
P-Jeff Feagles: Feagles played at Miami (the “U”) and enjoyed a 22 year career with a variety of teams. Feagles retired with the most points in NFL history with 1,713.
Honorable Mention: Wes Walker (WR)/Chris Harris (CB)/Dave Grayson (DB)/Nate Newton (OG)/Priest Holmes (RB)/Coy Bacon (DL)/Donnie Shell (DB)/Tony Romo (QB)/Warren Moon (QB)/Emmitt Thomas (CB)/Cornell Green (DB)/Cliff Harris (S)/ Jason Peters (OT)
Final Thoughts: Will GM Jerry Reese find a future star with this year’s cast of UDFA signings or better yet; will there be a future Hall of Famer among the hundreds of UDFA prospects hoping for the opportunity to have a chance to show what they can do in the NFL.