The NFL Combine continues today in downtown Indy (I’m sure St. Elmo’s was bustling last night). Some of this draft class’s finest will be showcasing their skills for scouts around the league. But what about the guys who aren’t invited to the Crossroads of America in February? Is there any hope for them? History would say yes. Today, we’re going to take a look at the top ten current NFL players who didn’t receive invitations to the Combine.
1. Seattle Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin (who made a couple of incredible plays during the 2014 postseason) wasn’t highly regarded out of high school when he signed with Stanford and remained a perimeter player entering the draft in 2011. The Seahawks ultimately signed Baldwin as an undrafted free agent. That’s worked out well.
2. New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman played QB at Kent State, but he lacked the skills necessary to make it in the pros (hence no Combine invite). The Pats, though, saw Edelman’s potential as a wideout and took him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft. Not a bad call, Belichick.
3. New York Giants WR Victor Cruz has become a salsa-dancing phenomenon in the end zone, but he wasn’t always so highly touted. In fact, Cruz didn’t even receive a Combine invitation when he played for Massachusetts; he wound-up being signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers veteran LB James Harrison may hang-up his cleats after the 2014 season, but he’s had an illustrious career on the gridiron. Harrison played his college ball at Kent State and was signed as an undrafted free agent his rookie season in the NFL.
5. Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson played for Coe, a Division II school in Iowa (I wasn’t familiar with it either, so don’t feel bad), and wasn’t even on NFL teams’ radars following his 2003 senior season. Ultimately, Jackson was signed by the Buffalo Bills in 2006 when fellow Coe alum Marv Levy was the franchise’s GM.
6. Atlanta Falcons LB Osi Umenyiora spent his college years at Troy State and was not invited to the Combine prior to the 2003 NFL draft. Despite this, the New York Giants took Umenyiora in the second round. Although Umenyiora is likely at the tail end of his career, he was one of the scariest pass rushers in the league for quite a few seasons.
7. Denver Broncos WR (and former New England Patriot) Wes Welker might be thinking about leaving the gridiron behind for good, but he’s had one heck of a career catching balls from both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Welker spent his college years on Texas Tech’s team and was signed as an undrafted free agent.
8. Green Bay Packers CB Sam Shields (you might recall him from some top ten lists just a few months ago during the 2014 NFL season) played only a single season at CB during his time at The U. Nonetheless, the Pack signed him as an undrafted free agent and their gamble has definitely paid-off.
9. New England Patriots OT Sebastian Vollmer was a second round draft pick out of Houston, despite lacking a Combine appearance to back-up his talent. In fact, Vollmer was one of three Super Bowl XLIX Patriots’ starters who didn’t attend the Combine. I’ll give them this, New England sure does know how to pick ‘em.
10. Atlanta Falcons LB Paul Worrilow played his college ball at Delaware. Worrilow wasn’t invited to the Combine, nor was he drafted in 2012. In Worrilow’s two years with the Falcons, he’s racked-up 269 tackles, proving that they made the right choice in signing him to the roster.