The NFL Draft is only seven rounds long. For those who find a home, it's joy. For those who don't hear their names called, it's tantamount to a tragedy! Or is it? Come to think of it, there have been several NFL stars who had the misfortune of being passed over in the draft. Yet, they not only survived, but lived long and prosperous NFL careers. Here are some the greatest. — Sid Saraf and Ross Jones
He was Peyton Manning's rock for a dozen years in Indianapolis, but this center still wasn't drafted in 1998. No matter, he made up for it by winning the Colts' first Super Bowl in the 2006 season. He's a two-time, first-team All-Pro and was named to the second team two more times. He finally announced his retirement following the 2012 season with five Pro Bowls on his resume. Not bad for the unwanted, eh?
Vinatieri kicked the Patriots to Super Bowl wins with late clutch kicks in 2001 and 2003, and earned another title with New England in 2004. He won another title with the Colts in 2006 to become the first kicker with four Super Bowl rings. Not bad for a guy who went unclaimed in the 1996 NFL Draft. Nicknamed "Mr. Clutch," Vinatieri has displayed his steely resolve in tense situations, nailing game-winning field goals with ease. He's a two-time All-Pro, a two-time Pro Bowler and was named to the Patriots' all-1990s and all-2000s teams.
Foster was a three-year starter at Tennessee, and finished second in school history in rushing yards. Although Foster had all the accolades coming out of college, he was not selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. Foster was signed by the Texans, but released just months later and was given an opportunity to play on the practice squad. A few injuries and impressive practices later, Foster made his debut. In 2010, he won the NFL rushing title. Foster signed a new deal worth $43.5 million in the 2012 offseason and now has three Pro Bowl berths in four seasons.
Romo flashed his gunslinger-style of play at Eastern Illinois University, breaking school and conference records with 85 touchdown passes. Romo was invited to the 2003 NFL Scouting Combine but went undrafted. The Cowboys signed Romo as a free agent and he entered training camp third on the depth chart. After beginning the 2006 season as the backup to Drew Bledsoe, head coach Bill Parcells decided Romo had what it took to take over the starting job. Romo has been the Cowboys starter ever since.
Gates was a big-time college basketball talent, playing for Kent State and averaging double-digit points a game. NBA scouts thumbed their noses at him, so Gates arranged workouts for NFL teams. Gates first tried out for the Chargers and they wouldn’t let him leave the building. Gates has gone on to a successful career, racking up eight Pro Bowl appearances and could be a Hall of Famer.
A talented running back out of Texas, Holmes went unclaimed in the 1997 NFL Draft but signed with Baltimore. It didn't take him long to make his presence felt. In 1998 he compiled more than 1,000 yards rushing including one game with more than 200 yards. In a 10-year career spent with the Ravens and Chiefs, Holmes was a three-time All-Pro and was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2002. He also was selected to the Pro Bowl three times.
Nobody wanted the guard from North Texas in the 1999 NFL Draft. But Waters caught on with the Cowboys for a year before joining the Chiefs in 2000. That's when the success rolled in. During a decade spent in Kansas City, he made the Pro Bowl six times and was an All-Pro twice. He joined the Patriots in 2011 and helped the team reach the Super Bowl.
Warner went undrafted in 1994, was invited to try out for the Packers and was released. Quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci told Warner that he had great potential, but wasn’t ready. Warner famously went on to stock shelves at a grocery store before turning to the Arena Football League. In 1998 he was signed by the St. Louis Rams. One season later, Warner led the team to a Super Bowl XXXIV win against the Titans. The rest is history.
Moon led the Washington Huskies to a Rose Bowl win in his senior season, but went undrafted in 1978. With no takers, Moon went to the Canadian Football League where he played six seasons for the Edmonton Eskimos. Moon decided to turn to the NFL and the Houston Oilers bid the highest. Moon went on to a Hall of Fame career that spanned 17 seasons, and retired with NFL all-time marks for TDs, completions and attempts before being surpassed by Brett Favre.