My All-Time Undrafted NFL Team: Offense

Just because the 2013 NFL Draft has concluded, that does not mean that NFL teams are done trying to find rookie players.  Immediately following the draft we saw storylines emerge about Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray signing with the Chiefs and Cris Carter’s son Duron Carter going to the Vikings.  The best NFL teams not only find exceptional value in the draft but the best also find value outside of it.  Recently Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo received a 6 year $108 million extension from the Dallas Cowboys.  He was an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois University.  The New York Giants hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in 2012 thanks largely to the efforts of undrafted Victor Cruz out of the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.  Who knows what future superstar teams may discover in the coming days but it has prompted me to throw together my all-time undrafted NFL team.

Below you will find my all-time undrafted offense.   Defense and Special Teams will be released later this week.

Quarterback

Kurt Warner, University of Northern Iowa
St. Louis Rams (1998 – 2003); New York Giants (2004); Arizona Cardinals (2005 – 2009)
Super Bowl XXXIV Champion; Super Bowl XXXIV MVP;  2x NFL MVP; 2x All-Pro; 4x Pro-Bowl
Fun Fact: Holds the record for the most yards passing in a Super Bowl (XXXIV), 2nd most yards passing in a Super Bowl (XLIII), and you guessed it – third most yards passing in a Super Bowl (XXXVI)

Runner-Up: Warren Moon, Washington
Houston Oilers (1984-1993); Minnesota Vikings (1994-1996); Seattle Seahawks (1997-1998); Kansas City Chiefs (1999-2000)

Running Backs

Joe Perry, Compton College
San Francisco 49ers (1948 – 1960; 1963); Baltimore Colts (1961 – 1962)
3x Pro-Bowl Selection; 2x First Team All-Pro; 2x Rushing Champion; NFL 1950’s All-Decade Team; San Francisco 49ers #34 retired; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: In 1954 Joe Perry rushed for over 1,000 yards becoming the first NFL player to every rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons

Priest Holmes, Texas
Baltimore Ravens (1997 – 2000); Priest Holmes (2001 – 2007)
Super Bowl XXXV Champion; 3x Pro Bowl; 3x All-Pro; 2001 Rushing Title; 2002 NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Fun Fact: In 2001, Priest Holmes became the first undrafted player to ever win a rushing title.  Arian Foster duplicated this feat 2010.

Runner-Up: Arian Foster, Tennessee
Houston Texans (2009 – Present)

Fullback

Marion Motley, Nevada
Cleveland Browns (1946 – 1953); Pittsburgh Steelers (1955)V
4x AAFC Champion; 1948 AAFC Rushing Champion; 1950 NFL Rushing Champion; 1950 Pro-Bowl Selection; 1950 NFL Champion; NFL 1940’s All-Decade Team; NFL 75th Anniversary Team; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: Motley holds the best career average for yard per rushing attempt at 5.7.  He was also the Browns starting linebacker when he played.

Runner-Up: Vonta Leach, ECU
Green Bay Packers (2004 – 2006); New Orleans Saints (2006); Houston Texans (2006 – 2010); Baltimore Ravens (2011 – Present)

Offensive Guards

Larry Little, Bethune-Cookman
San Diego Chargers (1967 – 1968); Miami Dolphins (1969 – 1980)
2x Super Bowl Champion; 5x Pro Bowl selection; 5x First team All-Pro; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: In 1969, Little was upset with a trade that sent him from the Chargers to the Dolphins because he wanted to go somewhere he could win a championship.  Little went on to win two Super Bowls including being an integral part of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team.

Brian Waters, North Texas
Kansas City Chiefs (2000 – 2010); New England Patriots (2011 – 2012)
6x Pro Bowl Selection; 2x All-Pro
Fun Fact: Waters played tight end and defensive end at North Texas before the Chiefs converted him into an offensive lineman.

Runner-Up:  Kris Dielman, Indiana
San Diego Chargers (2003 – 2011)

Center

Jim Langer, South Dakota State
Miami Dolphins (1970 – 1979); Minnesota Vikings (1980 – 1981)
2x Super Bowl Champion; 6x Pro Bowl Selection; 6x All-Pro; NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: The award for the top offensive lineman in Division II is the Jim Langer Award.  Interestingly, he was a middle linebacker in college and became a lineman once he joined the Dolphins.

Runner-Up: Jeff Saturday, North Carolina
Indianapolis Colts (1999 – 2011); Green Bay Packers (2012)

Offensive Tackles

Lou Groza, Ohio State
Cleveland Browns (1946 – 1959; 1961 – 1967)
4x AAFC Champion; 4x NFL Champion; 9x Pro Bowl Selection; 4x All-Pro; NFL 1950’s All-Decade Team; Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor; Cleveland Browns #76 retired; Pro Football Hall of Fame
Fun Fact: Nicknamed “The Toe”, Lou Groza was also the placekicker for the Browns, leading the league in field goals on five occasions and retired as the all-time points leader in the NFL.

Nate Newton, Florida A&M
Dallas Cowboys (1986 – 1998); Carolina Panthers (1999)
3x Super Bowl Champion; 6x Pro Bowl Selection; 2x All-Pro
Fun Fact: While in Dallas he was nicknamed “The Kitchen”, the reason being he was larger than the Bears’ William “The Refrigerator” Perry.

Runner-Up: Jason Peters, Arkansas
Buffalo Bills (2004 – 2008); Philadelphia Eagles (2009 – Present)

Wide Receivers

Rod Smith, Missouri Southern State University
Denver Broncos (1994 – 2006)
2x Super Bowl Champion; 3x Pro Bowl; 2x All-Pro
Fun Fact: Rod Smith is the only undrafted player to ever eclipse the 10,000 career receiving yards mark.

Wes Welker, Texas Tech
San Diego Chargers (2004); Miami Dolphins (2004 – 2006); New England Patriots (2007 – 2012); Denver Broncos (2013 – Present)
5x Pro Bowl; 2x First Team All-Pro; 2x Second Team All-Pro; 3x NFL Receptions Leader
Fun Fact: Wes Welker was widely considered “too small” to be successful at the college level.  Only 1 Division I school offered him a scholarship (Texas Tech) and it was only offered to him after another recruit backed out of the offer right before Welker’s freshman year.  That same disrespect apparently followed him to the NFL Draft.

Drew Pearson, Tulsa
Dallas Cowboys (1973 – 1983)
Super Bowl XII Champion; 3x First Team All-Pro; 1x Second Team All-Pro; 3x Pro Bowl Selection;  Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor; Pearson’s #88 reserved for Best Cowboy’s Receivers (worn by Michael Irvin & Dez Bryant)
Fun Fact: In the 1975 Playoffs in a game against the Minnesota Vikings, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach threw a 50 yard game winning touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with seconds left on the clock.  Afterwards he said of the pass, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary” and the Hail Mary pass was born.

Wayne Chrebet, Hofstra
New York Jets (1995 – 2005)
New York Jets #80 Discontinued
Fun Fact: In 1995, Wayne Chrebet became the first player from Hofstra University to make an NFL roster since 1964

Runner-Up: Victor Cruz, University of Massachusetts
New York Giants (2010 – Present)

Tight Ends

Antonio Gates, Kent State
San Diego Chargers (2003 – Present)
8x Pro Bowl Selection; 5x All-Pro; NFL 2000s All-Decade Team; San Diego Chargers 50th Anniversary Team
Fun Fact: Antonio Gates played basketball at Kent State but after his agent told him he wouldn’t make the NBA he arranged private NFL workouts with as many as 19 NFL teams.  His first was with the Chargers, they signed him on the spot.

Zeke Mowatt, Florida State
New York Giants (1983 – 1989; 1991); New England Patriots (1990)
Super Bowl XXI Champion
Fun Fact: Upon his retirement, Zeke Mowatt founded Mowatt, Inc. – a janitorial service in the New Jersey area.

Runner-Up: None.

Well there you have it, my all-time great NFL undrafted offense.  For some positions the options available is astounding (quarterback), while there are other locations where there is a surprising lack of choices (tight end and offensive tackle) but that does not change the fact that in hindsight every one of these players deserved to be drafted (and would’ve been high draft picks) but have succeeded in spite of it.   We often hear about the first round guys that don’t pan out but these are the undrafted guys who did.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!
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Cafe 101: The 4th Course

Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant is the Cafe 101. As the name suggests there are only 101 tables, each reserved for the greatest to don that number.

Imagine there’s a sports heaven;
It’s easy if you try.
Where sports’ greatest legends
Depart to when they die.

Imagine all the athletes, of past and present day.

Now imagine a Cafe;
It’s not that hard to do.
There’s only 101 tables;
It’s open to a select few.

Imagine all the athletes, hoping to get a seat.

You may say I’m a dreamer;
But I’m not the only one.
Deciding the greatest athletes by number;
Who get to enter the Cafe 101.

<< PREVIOUS

So far 12 tables at the Cafe 101 have been spoken for.  There are some athletes left wondering why they’ll never get into the Cafe 101 while many still remain hopeful that the hostess will call their name and that they will gain entrance to the most exclusive restaurant in Sports Heaven.  Today 4 more will get the call as I dive into exploring the greatest athletes to ever wear the numbers 19, 26, 62, & 98.

TABLE

JOHNNY UNITAS

Quarterback, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Colts & San Diego Chargers (1956-1973)
Super Bowl V Champion, 2x NFL Champion, 10x Pro Bowl Selection, 3x NFL MVP, 3x Pro Bowl MVP, 3x Bert Bell Award, 6x 1st Team All-Pro, 1x 2nd Team All-Pro, 1x 2nd Team All-Conference, NFL 75th Anniversary Team, NFL 1960’s All-Decade Team, Hall of Fame – 1979

19 is a number that has been worn by two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, one of the greatest hockey players of all time, one of the greatest pitchers, one of the greatest outfielders,  and one of the all-time greatest shortstops, among several other athletes.  This was definitely the toughest decision of this installment because there are easily 5 or 6 players you could argue as the greatest 19 but for me it kept coming back to “The Golden Arm”, Johnny Unitas.

There are many who still consider Johnny Unitas the greatest QB to ever play the game. Originally drafted by Pittsburgh in 1956, the Steelers thought he was too dumb to play quarterback and cut him before the season even began.  The rest as they say, is history.  Johnny Unitas was the 1st Quarterback in NFL history to pass over 40,000 yards and his 10 Pro Bowl selections as a QB were a record until Brett Favre got his 11th in 2009.  At the time of his retirement, his 118 regular season wins were an NFL record.  Along with Kurt Warner, he is one of only 2 quarterbacks to have attained a QB Rating of 120 in 4 consecutive games. His 3 NFL MVP awards were also a record that was later tied by Brett Favre and broken by Peyton Manning.  It is a good thing that Unitas did not live long enough to see Peyton break his record as he severed all ties with the Colts once they left Baltimore and in his final years embraced the Ravens.  There is no doubt in my mind that Johnny U is the greatest to ever wear 19.

RUNNER-UP: STEVE YZERMAN, Detroit Red Wings (1983 – 2006)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Bob Feller, Tony Gwynn, Robin Yount, Lance Alworth, Joe Sakic, Tommie Frazier (College), Bernie Kosar, Jose Bautista, Greg Luzinski, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, & Joe Montana

TOO SOON TO TELL: Jonathan Toews, Miles Austin, Scott Kazmir, Eddie Royal, Ted Ginn, Jr., Brandon Marshall,  & Joe Thornton

TABLE

WADE BOGGS

Third Baseman, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, & Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1982-1999)

1996 World Series Champion, 2x AL Pennant Winner, 12x MLB All-Star, 8x Silver Slugger Award, 2x Gold Glove Award, 5x AL Batting Champion, 3,000 Club, Hall of Fame – 2005

At #26, sit two of the greatest shutdown corners to ever play in the NFL but for me #26 is Wade Boggs.  Wade Boggs was one of the greatest MLB players of all time and one of the best to ever play the hot corner.  His 12 consecutive appearances in the All-Star as a third baseman is third best all-time behind George Brett and Brooks Robinson.  Between 1982 and 1988 he had only one season where he batted below .349 (he batted .325 in 1983) and had 7 consecutive seasons in the 80’s where he collected 200 hits and 100 runs.  In his 18 year career he had only 3 sub-.300 batting seasons.  In 1996, Wade Boggs helped the Yankees win their first World Series in 18 years. The most noted achievement of Wade Boggs’ is that he was the first player in MLB history whose 3,000th hit was a Home Run.  While there are several athletes you can make an argument for – to me Wade Boggs is the most deserving of Table #26.

RUNNER-UP:  ROD WOODSON, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, & Oakland Raiders (1987-2003)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Antoine Winfield, Billy Williams, Gene Autry, Herb Adderly, Johnny Oates, Sean Taylor (College) & Clinton Portis

TOO SOON TO TELL: Dan Uggla, Chase Utley, Antrel Rolle, Beanie Wells, & Taylor Mays

TABLE

JIM LANGER

Center/Guard, Miami Dolphins & Minnesota Vikings (1970 – 1981)

2x Super Bowl Champion, 3x AFC Champion, 6x Pro Bowl Selection, 4x 1st Team All-Pro, 2x 2nd Team All-Pro, NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team, Hall of Fame – 1987

When it came down to #62, I knew I was going with Jim Langer.  He is one of the greatest centers of all time.  Only one team in NFL history has pulled off the perfect season (the 1972 Dolphins) and the line that led to that success was anchored by Jim Langer.  He is remembered primarily as a quick blocker.  What made Langer so unusual and so good is that he was a converted middle linebacker.  He had the strength and speed of a linebacker combined with the size of lineman which made him an incredibly productive pass protector.  Yes, #62 belongs to Langer.

RUNNER-UP: CHARLEY TRIPPI, Chicago Cardinals (1947 – 1955)

ON THE WAITING LIST:Guy McIntyre & Casey Wiegmann

TOO SOON TO TELL: Terrence Cody & Joba Chamberlain

TABLE

TOM HARMON

Halfback, University of Michigan (1938-1940)

1940 Heisman Trophy Winner, 1940 Maxwell Award, 1940 AP Male Athlete of the Year, College Football Hall of Fame – 1954

There are few college football programs that are more storied than the University of Michigan Wolverines.  Many greats such as Desmond Howard, Ron Kramer, and Tom Brady played their ball there but if you ask most Michigan fans the greatest Wolverine of all time they will tell you it was “Old 98”, Tom Harmon – the first Michigan Wolverine to win the Heisman.  Tom Harmon was the original dual threat player.  He finished his time at Michigan with 2,134 yards rushing, completed 100 passes for 1,304 yards and 16 touchdowns.  He led the nation in scoring in 1939 and 1940 (a feat that has never been matched). To understand how good Harmon was, all you need to do is take a look at his last collegiate game which came in Columbus against Ohio State.

In that game, he scored 3 rushing touchdowns, 2 passing touchdowns, 4 extra points, intercepted three passes, and punted 3 times with an average of 50 yards per punt.  Due to his love of broadcasting, Harmon only spent one season playing professionally and then pursued a career in acting and broadcasting.  He could have been just as legendary as a pro as he is as a collegiate athlete.   Table 98 has to be given to “Old 98”.

RUNNER-UP: TONY SIRAGUSA, Indianapolis Colts & Baltimore Ravens (1990 – 2001)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Robert Mathis

TOO SOON TO TELL: Brian Orakpo, Nick Fairley, Phil Taylor, & Sedrick Ellis

Agree? Disagree? Tweet @can_of_corn with hashtag #Cafe101 to tell us your picks!

Click to enlarge the seating chart for Sports Heaven's most exclusive restaurant

 Will your favorite athletes be able to get a table at the Cafe 101? Keep reading to find out!  If you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks please comment below or tweet them to @can_of_corn! Courtesy of Devan Dignan+