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Sometimes great pro athletes don’t get recognized straight out of college, but rather develop later in life. Here are 9 high-level pro athletes who were undrafted.
1. Wes Welker. Although he had an impressive college career, Wes Welker was not drafted or even invited to the NFL Combine. However, the San Diego Chargers signed him, but cut him after one game. The New England Patriots signed him and he became a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL Super Bowl champion.
2. Jeremy Lin. He wasn’t drafted in 2010 after he attended harvard University, but the Golden State Warriors signed him as a free agent in 2011. He almost gave up on the NBA after a year sitting on the bench, but wowed New York City in 2012 when he signed with the Knicks.
3. Dan Girardi. He wasn’t drafted when he finished college in 2002 because teams thought he was injury prone. But Dan Girardi worked his way up for five years to end up with the New York Rangers in 2007.
4. Tony Romo. Although he took Eastern Illinois University to Ohio Valley Conference championship game in 2001, Tony Romo wasn’t drafted when he entered the NFL Draft in 2003. The Dallas Cowboys signed him as a free agent to be their third-string quarterback later in the year. He worked his way to the starting job and now he’s a four time Pro-Bowler.
5. Ben Wallace. After he graduated from Virginia Union University in 1996, he wasn’t drafted when he entered the NBA Draft. The Washington Bullets signed him as a free agent later in the year, but he drifted from team-to-team until he won an NBA Championship on the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
6. Adam Vinateri. While was wasn’t drafted in the NFL, Adam Vinateri is one of the league’s most well regarded kickers and Super Bowl champions, as he scored over 2,000 points as a player.
7. Peter Šťastný. He was under Communist rule in Czechoslovakia until he defected to Canada in 1980. He was one of the country’s brightest hockey players, but the NHL couldn’t touch him because of his Communist ties. Once in Canada, the NFL signed him, as he immediately became the Rookie of the Year.
8. John Starks. he bounced around from college-to-college and didn’t get the attention of the NBA in 1988. However, John Starks was later signed as a free agent in 1990, as he became one of the marquee players for the New York Knicks.
9. Kurt Warner. After he graduated from University of Northern Iowa in 1994, Kurt Warner wasn’t drafted by any NFL team. He wasn’t signed as a free agent either. Instead he worked in a grocery store until he made his way to the Arena Football League. He was noticed by the NFL in 1998 when the St. Louis Rams signed him to a contract. Two years later, he won the Super Bowl and was awarded MVP of the Big Game.