If you're a smart head coach or general manager, then for the last five weeks, since the NFL draft reached its conclusion, you've been studying or, at the very least, pondering your next move. Because your're not finished trying to find the next crop of talent for your franchise.
Typically, the draft comes to an end, and almost instantly it triggers the run on undrafted free agents. This year, teams have had time to think it over, with the lockout putting business as usual on hold. The goal is still the same, though: You hope to find yourself the next Kurt Warner, or the next Warren Moon, or the next John Randle.
Or, more recently, the next Tramon Williams. The Green Bay Packers' undrafted cornerback out of Louisiana Tech found his way in his fifth season to make the Pro Bowl in 2010. Not only that, but Williams was instrumental in Green Bay's playoff march to the Super Bowl, coming up with the game-sealing interception against the Eagles in the wild-card round and a big-time 70-yard interception return for a touchdown in the divisional round at Atlanta.
When you make big plays like that, you get noticed, as you'll find that Williams is now included in my list of the 100 greatest undrafted free agents of all time.
1. Kurt Warner, QB, Northern Iowa
Signed by: St. Louis Rams
First year: 1998
NFL seasons: 12
Pro Bowls: 4
All-Pro selections: 2
Notes: In addition to being perhaps the greatest Cinderella story in NFL history, Warner is a two-time league MVP who has posted the three best passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history.
2. Dick "Night Train" Lane, CB, Scottsbluff (Neb.) Junior College
Signed by: Los Angeles Rams
First year: 1952
NFL seasons: 14
Pro Bowls: 7
All-Pro selections: 3
Notes: Hall of Famer still owns rookie record for interceptions (14 in 1952) ... Had 68 career interceptions with three teams (Rams, Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions).
Top 10 undrafted players
Whether overlooked or from tiny schools -- such as "Night Train" Lane from Scottsbluff (Neb.) Junior College -- these players rose from obscurity to become NFL greats. More ...
8. Lou (The Toe) Groza, OT/PK, Ohio State
Signed by: Cleveland Browns
First year: 1946
NFL seasons: 21
Pro Bowls: 9
All-Pro selections: 4
Notes: Groza doubled as an offensive tackle and kicker for 14 years on Cleveland's championship teams of the 1950s before becoming a kicking specialist in 1961 ... Hall of Famer played until he was 43 years old.