Image: Jeffrey Beall
5. Wes Welker
Star wideout and return specialist Wes Welker went undrafted in 2004, but he managed to sign with the San Diego Chargers as a free agent that same year. Welker then had two years with the Miami Dolphins, but his career really took off in 2007 when he was signed by the New England Patriots. Welker excelled as one of quarterback Tom Brady’s top targets and, indeed, was the league’s leading receiver in receptions in 2007, 2009 and 2011. Brave, tough and willing to take a big hit in order to get his team a first down, Welker was one of the key components of the Patriot’s top-ranking offense during his years with New England. He also made a record-equaling 11 receptions in Super Bowl XLII, when the Patriots narrowly lost to the New York Giants. In 2013 the five-time Pro Bowl pick signed with the Denver Broncos, where he will be catching passes from quarterback Peyton Manning.
4. James Harrison
At first considered too small for defense, linebacker James Harrison (wearing 92 in the image) went undrafted in 2002 – but that didn’t stop him from ultimately being picked for five Pro Bowls and winning two Super Bowl rings as a Pittsburgh Steeler player. Memorably, a record-breaking interception for a 100-yard score against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII left him totally out of breath. Harrison signed with the Steelers as a free agent in 2002, and after a brief stint with the Baltimore Ravens as well as a spell in NFL Europe, he returned to the Steelers in 2004, going on to establish himself as one of the most feared linebackers in the league. He is a ferocious hitter with a nose for the ball and a knack for making big plays, and he was an integral part of a defensive unit that dominated much of the 2000s. Harrison signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013, and he is still able to make crunching hits, even aged 35.