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Undrafted rookies continue to have impact


With all the focus on the seven rounds of draft picks that will start unfolding in five days, it’s easy to forget that, when the draft ends, plenty of NFL careers are born.

Every year, teams launch a land rush for undrafted players. And some of them are much more than tackling dummies.

Last year, 37 percent of the 622 undrafted rookies signed by the 32 franchises won Week One jobs, either on the practice squad (131) or the 53-man roster (98). Per a source with knowledge of the numbers, the Rams led the way in 2012 with seven on the active roster. The Texans, Seahawks, and Vikings had none.

As the 2013 draft approaches, the NFL is urging agents to maximize the signing bonuses and guaranteed money the undrafted players receive. Last year, undrafted rookies obtained an average signing bonus of $4,268. The average guarantee per player was $5,733.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo joined the team 10 years ago as an undrafted free agent. Potential Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner also was undrafted, as was Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle -- who was undrafted at a time when the draft had 12 rounds.

Thus, after Mr. Irrelevant’s name is called, there are still potentially some very relevant players to be found.