NFL teams are often built through the draft, but franchises often find undrafted gems. Here are 25 of the best undrafted free agents in NFL history.
Undrafted out of Southwestern Louisiana in 1997, Delhomme spent time with the Saints and NFL Europe before getting his shot with the Panthers in 2003. He was the team's starter from 2003-2009, making one Pro Bowl and leading the team to a Super Bowl appearance.
An undersized linebacker out of John Carroll, Fletcher had a highly productive, 16-year NFL career that included four Pro Bowl appearances. He won the Super Bowl as the Rams' starting middle linebacker in only his second season and had productive stints with Buffalo and Washington too.
Foster was a three-year starter at the University of Tennessee but still went undrafted in 2009. Houston signed him, and he led the NFL in rushing and rushing touchdowns the following year. He briefly became a star, making three straight Pro Bowls and four total, but injuries eventually cut his career short.
Arguably the NFL's greatest tight end, Gates went undrafted after playing basketball at Kent State. It didn't take him long to become a star in the NFL — he had 81 catches for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns in his second NFL season. He had a streak of eight straight Pro Bowls and had nearly 12,000 yards and 116 touchdowns in 16 seasons.
Harris was an undersized safety at Kansas who converted to cornerback after his arrival in the league in 2011. He's had an outstanding career through nine seasons in Denver, making four Pro Bowls before recently signing with the Chargers.
Harrison wasn't considered an NFL prospect out of Kent State because of his lack of size, but his hard work eventually paid off. A late bloomer, he earned significant playing time in 2004 after time in NFL Europe. He was 2008 Defensive Player of the Year (16 sacks) and made five Pro Bowls during his career (84.5 sacks).
Injuries and playing alongside Ricky Williams at Texas caused Holmes to go undrafted in 1997. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards for Baltimore in 1998 but didn't make his biggest impact until joining the Chiefs in 2001. He had one of the greatest three-year runs by any running back, with three straight seasons of over 2,100 yards from scrimmage and 61 touchdowns. Injuries eventually ended his career following the 2007 season.
After going undrafted in 1952, Lane played for the Rams, Cardinals and Lions. The Pro Football Hall of Famer, who played 14 seasons in the NFL, made seven Pro Bowls and led the league in interceptions twice, including 14 picks in his rookie season.
Langer was Miami's center during its historic perfect season in 1972. He was an All-Pro four times for the team. The Hall of Famer also won two Super Bowls.
An undersized linebacker out of Montclair State, Mills signed as an undrafted free agent with the Browns in 1981 but established his pro career in the USFL before becoming a starter for the Saints in 1986. Over 12 NFL seasons between the Saints and Panthers, Mills recorded more than 100 tackles seven times and made five Pro Bowls.
Moon was a great quarterback at the University of Washington, but his performance wasn't convincing enough for the NFL. Instead, Moon became a five-time Grey Cup champ for the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL before joining the Houston Oilers in 1984. During his 17-year NFL career, Moon made nine Pro Bowls and was the 1990 Offensive Player of the Year.
A key part of the dominant Cowboys offensive lines of the 1990s, Newton made six Pro Bowls as the team's starting guard after launching his career in the USFL. He originally signed as an undrafted free agent with Washington in 1983.
Pearson signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent out of Tulsa in 1973, and it didn't take him long to become an elite wideout. He was an All-Pro three times and had two 1,000-yard seasons with the Cowboys.
Perry signed with the San Francisco 49ers for $4,500 in 1948 and went on to have a Hall of Fame career over 16 seasons. The running back led the league in rushing yards three times and was an All-Pro in 1953 and 1954.
Peters transitioned from tight end to tackle and signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas in 2004. He moved on to Philadelphia after five years in Buffalo. A likely Hall of Famer, he has nine Pro Bowl appearances.
One of the greatest defensive tackles, Randle went undrafted out of Texas A&M Kingsville and failed to make the Bucs as a free agent. The Vikings gave him a chance in 1990, and Randle went on to become an All-Pro in six straight seasons, from 1993-1998. He had 137.5 tackles in his 14-year career.
Romo joined the Cowboys in 2003 as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois. He went from holder to starting quarterback in 2006 and made the Pro Bowl in three of his first four seasons as a starter. Romo had four career Pro Bowl appearances but retired after the 2016 season to become an NFL broadcaster for CBS.
Saturday signed with the Ravens after going undrafted in 1998. He emerged with the Colts the following year and was the team's starting center from 2000-2011, snapping to Peyton Manning. He made six Pro Bowls for his career.
Thomas spent his entire 13-year career in Kansas City after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent out of Bishop College in 1966. He made the Hall of Fame following five Pro Bowl appearances. He went on to have a long career as an NFL coach.
Tucker went undrafted out of Texas, signing with the Ravens in 2012. He has arguably become the league's best kicker over eight seasons, earning All-Pro four times and making 91 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Vinatieri has won four Super Bowls between the Patriots and Colts. He has been an elite and clutch kicker since starting his career as an undrafted free agent in 1996.
Warner signed as an undrafted free agent with the Packers in 1994 before joining the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League. He eventually reemerged as a backup quarterback for the St. Louis Rams in 1998 and was thrust into a starting role in 1999 after starter Trent Green suffered a knee injury in the preseason. Warner won the MVP and Super Bowl in his first season as a starter and two MVPs for his career. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2017.
Waters played tight end, fullback and defensive end at North Texas before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Cowboys in 1999. He converted to the offensive line and became a six-time Pro Bowl guard, spending most of his career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Welker went undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2004 but found a roster spot with the Chargers and Dolphins early on. After serving as a returner and backup wideout for the Dolphins, Welker was traded to the Patriots in 2007 and became a star. He led the league in receptions three times and made five straight Pro Bowls.
A quarterback at USC, Wood moved to defensive back after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Packers in 1960. His transition was successful — Woods was a five-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler in 12 seasons, winning five NFL championships.
Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.