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Rapid City’s Adam Vinatieri hangs up his cleats

The End Zone


Football fever is starting to flourish with both veterans and rookies prepare for Mini camps and trade deadlines appear to be quiet. A sweepstakes has taken place for bids on who will acquire All Pro WR Julio Jones. Jones, like Aaron Rodgers, wants out of his franchise. So far, the Seattle Seahawks are making a serious push to acquire the star receiver. Most teams take this time to examine talent that isn’t selected or otherwise known as Undrafted Free Agents. You know, the players that major scouting talent had completely miss out on. Sometimes players do not get drafted because they were from a smaller divisional school and fall down on the drafting ladder. Players drafted in the late sixth or seventh round continue to embarrass NFL scouts like Tom Brady and Terrell Davis along with Shannon Sharpe. Davis and Sharpe were selected 180th and 189th overall and are now Hall of Famers. With Tom Brady surely to be a first-round selection.  If you were not drafted as a player, that doesn’t obviously mean you didn’t make the cut. It could be several underlying reasons. Whatever the reasons, we know that superstars are born and are not deterred because they were not selected. With that in mind let’s take a look at the top ten draft picks of all-time.

Number 10: Jets WR Wayne Chrebet of the New York Jets. Considered to slow on routes, Wayne Chrebet proved his critics wrong. In preseason, the coaching staff noted this gritty, little receiver who would wrestle balls away from defenders. He wasn’t afraid to catch balls in the middle of the field while getting hammered and still holding on to it. During the regular season, he would always make the tough needed catch, which made him a starter.

Number 9: WR Wes Welker, Patriots/ Broncos. Wes Welker redefined football by mastering the slot position. A Slot position is when a receiver runs behind the defensive front line with a quick pass from his quarterback. This usually nets a first down nine out of ten times. Welker was unstoppable, always completing a 1,000-yard season. Welker was a huge aid in advancing his team in the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Number 8: QB Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys. What a blessing in disguise as Tony Romo sat on the bench as “walk on” behind started QB Anthony Carter. When Carter had gotten injured, Coach Bill Parcels looked to his bench for Romo. Romo had an immediate impact with his elusiveness of defenders, rushing and throwing for touchdowns. “You can tell on Romo’s first series that he would be the starter,” stated the Captain. Mixing his passing with key runs to keep drives alive made the Cowboys playoff contenders every year.

Number 7: TE Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers. Being a former basketball really helped Antonio Gates to make the squad with the Chargers. Gates was a monster of the gridiron, catching passes as high as the goal post and coming down with a touchdown. His size and speed made it really hard to tackle him. Gates played his entire 12-year career with the Chargers, terrorizing defenses. It wasn’t until the last two years of his career did, he slow down enough in which teams did not have to game plan for him anymore.

Number 6: WR Rod Smith, Denver Broncos. As stated, smaller colleges are largely left out of the draft. However, this WR out of Missouri Southern College made the cut with his staggering height at the time of 6’5″ and was easily able to outjump defensive backs. Smith received his big chance late in a game against Washington on Monday Night Football. In which he jumped high over two defending cornerbacks to come down in the end zone with the game winner with no time on the clock. A star was born and Smith would go on to being a Hall of Famer, with two Super Bowl rings. His name was also engraved on the Broncos Ring of Fame.

Number 5: QB Warren Moon, Houston Oilers. Warren Moon set a standard and changed in his day, the way the league viewed black quarterbacks. After playing several seasons with the Canadian Football League, Moon received a chance to start for the Oilers. Making an immediate impact, the Oilers designed the spread formation, or otherwise known as the “Run and Shoot.” This formation spreads out four receivers wide and Moon would pick the defenses apart. Moon held many passing records; he rarely missed a game and placed the Oilers in the playoffs almost every year he played.

Number 4: CB Chris Harris Jr. Denver Broncos. Chris Harris turned heads on the gridiron immediately by breaking up passes and intercepting them. This Kansas State walk on proved from the first snap that he would someday be in the Hall of Fame. Currently, Harris is in his tenth season and has been selected to the Pro Bowl six times in his career. Teaming up with CB Aquib Talib, also a Jay Hawker, took Harris under his wing and established the “No Fly Zone” in 2015. Some say it was the best defense of all time with team netting under 200 yards of passing per game.

Number 3: Kicker Adam Vinatieri, Patriots/Colts. It is always the smaller, undrafted players who stand out most with the most to prove and Vinatieri wasn’t any different. Coming from a small town of Rapid City, South Dakota, Vinatieri would not be deterred. In training camp, the Patriots had noticed his kicking accuracy and decided to give him a shot; the rest was history. Vinatieri was most noted for his two clutch kicks netting Super Bowl victories for the Patriots. He would also have clutch kicks for the Indianapolis Colts in whom he retired with after twenty-three seasons. “That is almost unheard of these days,” exclaimed the Captain. Adam is also looking to become a first round Hall of Famer as well.

Number 2: LB John Randle, Minnesota Vikings. Scouts and teams have kicked themselves many times over on this selection. Randle’s prowess in the defensive backfield was simply outmatched. We have seen super star linebackers in the past like Ray Lewis elevate his team in past seasons. There were very few like John Randle who would shut teams’ running game down completely. He was every down linebacker who played like it. His defensive play spread like a plague in the Vikings back defensive line. Teams would shyly run the ball to the opposite side in which he played.

Number 1: QB Kurt Warner, Los Angeles Rams. Undrafted players come from humble beginnings. Warner was a former checkout clerk and bagger in an Iowan grocery store. He also played in the USFL until walking on the field in Rams training camp. Warner was a catalyst in engineering what would be known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.” WR Terry Holt and RB Marshall Faulk were a terror for defensive coordinators. With Warner’s passing accuracy down the sidelines made him a household word. With back-to-back Super Bowls, he defied all the odds. This places Warner number one on the list.

 

(Contact Captain Kirk at editor@nativesunnews.today)

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