If an NFL player goes undrafted they are not allowed to enter another draft year. However, they can be signed by an NFL team as a free agent.
What is the NFL Draft?
Every year more than 2000 thousand young football players declare their eligibility for the draft. Then all 32 NFL teams receive 7 draft picks and a total of 224 players get drafted.
Any person in the world can declare for the draft as long as they are at least 3 years out of high school. However, NFL teams are typically only interested in star college players and the odd freak athlete from another sport.
What Are Undrafted Free Agents?
If a player is not selected in the NFL draft they can still earn a spot on an NFL roster by signing as a free agent. NFL teams will often invite players for a tryout or to training camp and if they impress they can sign them to the team as a free agent.
Undrafted free agents are like the diamonds in the rough. NFL scouts are good at their job but they do occasionally miss some amazing players who then go on to have long NFL careers.
Is it Good to Be an Undrafted Free Agent?
It is far better to be drafted in the early rounds than being an undrafted free agent. Early draft picks get big signing bonuses and coaches are going to do everything to help them win their starting spot and develop as a player.
However, it is typically more advantageous to sign as an undrafted free agent than be drafted in the 6th or 7th round. This is because undrafted free agents can choose which team they go to which gives them a greater chance at making a roster. For example they could choose a team which has a similar offense style to what they played under in college.
What Undrafted Free Agents Have Been Signed in the NFL?
It is very common for undrafted free agents to be signed and ever make the roster. However, not that many undrafted players go on to have incredible careers. Two examples include Wes Welker and Tony Romo.
Wes Welker is an incredible wide receiver who went undrafted due to his size and maybe his skin color! Wes Welker proved the doubters wrong and was selected for five Pro Bowls and won a number of Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.
Did you know that long time legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo went undrafted? Romo wasn’t even initially invited to the 2003 NFL Combine. Scouts were not impressed with the Californian but he proved them wrong and was a four-time Pro Bowler and even had the highest QB rating in the 2014 season.
Who Are the Best Free Agents of All Time?
Warren Moon, who played as quarterback for Houston was selected for nine Pro Bowls. Moon didn’t both with the NFL Draft and instead went to the CFL.
Moon played in the CFL from 1978 to 1983 for the Edmonton Eskimos where he won 5 Grey Cups. He then came to the NFL and played from 1984 until 2000! What a career!
The most legendary undrafted free agent has to be Kurt Warner who no team wanted in 2003. He ended playing arena football for a number of years before signing an NFL contract and leading the St Louis Rams to the Super Bowl!
He won the Super Bowl MVP award and the NFL MVP two times! He is the first and only undrafted player to win the Super Bowl and NFL MVP award.
Can an NFL Player Refuse To Be Drafted?
If an NFL player refuses to be drafted then they can be locked out of the NFL. This is because a drafted player can not be talked to by other teams.
A player could be drafted and then perform poorly on purpose at training camp to get themselves cut. Then they could be signed as a free agent by another team.
If a player doesn’t want to be drafted they can request the team trades them. Eli Manning made the San Diego Chargers trade him to New York. You better have some serious star power if you are going to try to pull off this move.
Can Players Refuse to Enter the Draft and Sign As Free Agents?
All eligible players who want to play in the NFL must declare for the NFL Draft. Only once a player has gone through the draft unselected can they negotiate with teams as a free agent.
Can You Play In The NFL Without Playing College Football?
You do not need to play college football to play in the NFL. To play in the NFL you just need to be 3 years or more out of high school.
Stephen Neal played high school football but then became a college wrestling star and even World Champion. He never played college football but was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots in 2001 and became a 3 time Super Bowl Champion.
Efe Obada is a Nigerian NFL player who grew up in London. When he was 22 he decided to play American football for the first time for the London Warriors. The next year he signed an NFL contract with virtually zero experience. He is still in the NFL and plays for the Washington Commanders and has almost 80 NFL tackles.
You Can Always Get a Tryout
If you have never played college football but possess some freaky athletic talent then NFL teams will offer you a tryout. NFL teams are always looking for giant people who are incredibly strong but at the same are fast and explosive. If you fit the bill, email an NFL team, show them some videos and post your stats and they will give you a shot!