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Combine snubs can still make it in NFL, as Patriots prove

New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 29: Sebastian Vollmer #72 of the New England Patriots watches the action against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on September 29, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vollmer

Scott Cunningham

With the NFL Scouting Combine in the books, the league has now had the opportunity to poke and prod at 335 potential players in the last week.

That’s about 80 more than will be drafted, but as history has shown, being snubbed by the Combine doesn’t have to be bad sign for your NFL career.

As noted by Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com, the Patriots have been particularly good at ferreting out such players. Three times in the last five years, the Patriots have taken the highest-drafted non-combine-invitee, with varying degrees of success.

Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, their second-round pick in 2009, is clearly the best of the bunch. But they also used a second-rounder in 2012 (safety Tavon Wilson) and a third-rounder last year (safety Duron Harmon) on players who weren’t deemed interesting enough to bring to Indianapolis.

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was also never invited to the Underwear Olympics, and he managed to catch 105 passes last year.

Scouting is a look-under-every-rock business anyway, and the Patriots are among a group of teams (including the Colts and others) who seem to sometimes prefer the unconventional to the conventional.

But it’s also a reminder that players who aren’t noticed early in the process can still succeed.