“Super” Undrafted WR’s
82 receptions, 1536 yards, 9 TD’s
122 receptions, 1569 yards, 9 TD’s
Two of the most statistically gaudy seasons by NFL WR’s in recent memories. Both undrafted players, both playing in Super Bowl 46 in less than two weeks. The Giants’ Victor Cruz and the Patriots’ Wes Welker are a reminder that many of our favorite sports’ best players have not been coveted draft prospects. However, before we start anointing every middling 2012 WR prospect as the “next Welker (or Cruz),” we should put these two Super Bowl wide receivers’ numbers in perspective.
Since the AFL/NFL merger there have been 561 undrafted wide receivers to appear in at least 1 NFL game.
156 of them never caught a single pass
55 caught 1 pass
151 caught between 2 and 9 career passes
Wes Welker, in 2011 alone, caught more passes than 518 of the 560 (92.5%) other receivers to play in a game since 1970 have in their entire careers.
Victor Cruz, with 82 receptions in his career, has more career receptions than 502 of the 560 other receivers.
Of the top 10 undrafted WR’s with the most career receptions, only 3 have ever won a Super Bowl – Rod Smith (2), David Patten (3) and Drew Pearson (1)
The Top 20 undrafted WR’s (below) account for 40.1% of all undrafted WR receptions and 40.5% of all undrafted WR receiving yards:
Two other names on that list stand out: Lance Moore and Davone Bess. It’s very likely that within 5 years, both guys will be in the Top 10, possibly Top 5, all time. Of course, finding a quality undrafted WR is a little bit easier since the draft was cut down from 12 rounds, so it’s not surprising that many of the top guys in this list are from recent years.
Who will be the next great undrafted WR? An undersized guy like Fresno State’s Devon Wylie, Oregon State’s James Rodgers, Connecticut’s Kashif Moore or Tulsa’s Damaris Johnson? A position change, like Appalachian State QB DeAndre Presley? Or maybe a smaller school guy like Liberty’s Chris Summers? Maybe a guy who is projected to be a mid-late rounder who slides out of the draft entirely.
One thing is for certain: the success of Cruz and Welker will ensure that scouts leave no stone unturned in the yearly quest to find the best long-shot receiver in the nation.