Top 15 Undrafted Rookies of the 2013 NFL Season So Far
Top NFL Undrafted Rookies Through Week 7
Everyone who’s a real NFL fan loves the NFL Draft. It’s an opportunity to see where the future of your favorite franchise is headed, and it gives you a good idea of what direction the brass are taking the team in.
What about the guys who slip through the cracks of the draft, though?
Each and every year, numerous NFL-caliber players fail to hear their names call on draft day. These undrafted rookies typically catch on with a team, hoping to turn heads during either rookie minicamp or training camp. More often than not, their road to NFL relevance is long and tedious. Sometimes, though, these capable players catch on quickly and reward the team that gave them a chance to shine.
The past has shown us what can become of these talented undrafted rookies. Look no further than Arian Foster, an undrafted running back who has already proven to be one of the best at his position. Or maybe Wes Welker, a dynamic slot receiver who is still lighting up NFL defenses. Even for any old-timers out there, you have to look at Hall of Famers such as Warren Moon or John Randle, who watched draft day come and go without hearing their names called.
Put simply, your draft position (or lack thereof) isn’t a reliable gauge of talent.
Here’s a look at 15 of the best undrafted rookies this season and what they’ve done since the regular season kicked off that has 31 other teams wondering why they decided to skip them on draft day.
15. Wes Horton, DE, Carolina Panthers
Playing time has been a bit scarce for Horton through six games, but the young defensive end has showed well and has earned snaps among one of the best young defensive lines in the NFL. The former Trojan has potential to develop into a quality edge rusher behind Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy.
14. Paul Worrilow, ILB, Atlanta Falcons
A tackle machine during the preseason, Worrilow has since cooled down for the Falcons. He’s seen limited action during the regular season, but has still been productive when he does manage to see the field. It might be a quiet rookie season for the Delaware alum, but the future is bright.
13. Andy Mulumba, OLB, Green Bay Packers
The loss of Clay Matthews was huge for the Packers, but they appear to have found a capable fill-in while they wait for the Pro Bowler to return. Mulumba certainly isn’t the pass rusher that Matthews is, but he plays the run very well and is quietly making the most of his opportunities.
12. Robert Lester, FS, Carolina Panthers
So far this season, Lester has only seen the field during two games for the Panthers. In those two games, though, he’s played a combined 115 snaps and has made an impressive impact for an undrafted rookie. Not only has he provided capable run support, but his two interceptions have been huge for the Carolina defense.
11. Benny Cunningham, RB, St. Louis Rams
While he failed to steal the Rams’ starting running back job when he had the opportunity, Cunningham has enjoyed some success in St. Louis. The Mid Tennessee State alum has 46 rushing yards on 17 carries, but has made his biggest impact as the Rams’ top kick returner – he’s averaging 24.9 per return.
10. Ryan Allen, P, New England Patriots
Zoltan Mesko wasn’t cutting it in New England, so the Patriots chose to go with undrafted rookie Allen as their punter moving forward. Since taking over, he has proven to have a quality leg, averaging 45.6 yard per punt while landing 14 boots inside of the 20-yard line.
9. Tony Jefferson, FS, Arizona Cardinals
While the Cardinals were without Rashad Johnson, Jefferson filled in at free safety and played surprisingly well for an undrafted rookie. The Oklahoma product was touted as one of the top undrafted rookies when the 2014 NFL Draft ended and Arizona is now reaping the rewards.
8. Jahleel Addae, FS, San Diego Chargers
Stepping in as an extra defensive back on passing downs, Addae has quickly become a reliable part of the San Diego secondary. Although he still needs work as a run defender, the Central Michigan product has proven to be a capable cover man for the Chargers.
7. Marlon Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
After the injury to Jacoby Jones in the season opener, Brown was forced into a prominent role in the Ravens’ passing game. It didn’t take long for him to catch on, though. The former Georgia standout has been a reliable weapon for the Baltimore passing game and still has plenty of potential to unlock.
6. Joe Vellano, DT, New England Patriots
It’s been an up-and-down year for Vellano, who was seeing significant snaps early in the season even before nose tackle Vince Wilfork went down for the year. Since then, the undrafted rookie out of Maryland has taken over the starting role. It hasn’t all been pretty, but he’s held up fairly well against stiff competition.
5. Khiry Robinson, RB, New Orleans Saints
Year after year, the Saints struggle to find some sort of consistency at running back. Robinson, however, could eventually provide some continuity. Despite limited snaps, Robinson has picked up 137 rushing yards and one touchdown on 26 carries and could earn even more touches as the season progresses.
4. Nickell Robey, CB, Buffalo Bills
Measuring in at a pint-sized 5’8’’, Robey wasn’t really taken seriously as an NFL prospect. Fortunately for the Bills, the former USC star is out to prove the rest of the league wrong. Serving as a sub-package cornerback, Robey has played significant snaps in all six games and has yet to give up a touchdown on 24 targets.
3. Joseph Fauria, TE, Detroit Lions
The NFL’s best dancer, Fauria has been using his big frame and athleticism to score touchdowns all season long. The UCLA product only has seven catches on the season, but five of them have ended in the end zone. He’s still a work in progress, but the early production speaks for itself.
2. Joplo Bartu, OLB, Atlanta Falcons
Like so many of the other names on this list, Bartu inherited snaps after an injury opened up a spot in the starting lineup. Since then, the Texas State product has been a reliable run defense who can pitch in as a blitzer ever so often. Overall, he doesn’t have that “undrafted” look to him that most undrafted rookies do.
1. Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, New England Patriots
After injuries depleted the Patriots’ wide receiver unit, Thompkins was thrust into a prominent role as Tom Brady’s go-to pass-catcher. Although the undrafted rookie has had his fair share of struggles, his 21 catches for 318 yards and four touchdowns – and four drops – far exceed typical undrafted rookie production. Given time, Thompkins could easily develop into a quality No. 1 receiver for the Patriots.