Seventy-four players participated in the Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie minicamp over the weekend. Only 10 of those players were drafted by Kansas City this year.
The Chiefs signed 10 more players who were not drafted last month, including former Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross, a former Central-Phenix City star.
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That left undrafted players attending on a tryout basis as the bulk of Kansas City’s roster during the rookie minicamp, including former Alabama State defensive tackle Christian Clark and former Boston College nose tackle TJ Rayam, who was a Thompson High School standout and selected by the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL supplemental draft last week.
While most of the undrafted players at the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp will never play in an NFL regular-season game, every offseason starts a new group of undrafted players on its way into the league. During the 2021 season, 1,527 drafted players and 783 undrafted players appeared in at least one NFL game.
Some of those undrafted players have managed to forge long careers despite their humble beginnings, including two who rank among the top 10 in NFL games played by undrafted players from Alabama high schools and colleges – Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Addison and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Steve McLendon. Addison has signed with the Houston Texans for the 2022 season while McLendon remains a free agent.
The 10 players from Alabama high schools and colleges who were not drafted who have played in the most NFL regular-season games include:
Al Del Greco, Auburn: 248 games
Green Bay Packers 1984-1987, St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals 1987-1990, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 1991-2000
When “Automatic Al” left Auburn after the 1983 season, the place-kicker was the Tigers’ all-time scoring leader with 236 points. He caught on with the Packers during the 1984 season and spent 17 seasons in the NFL. His 1,584 points ranked ninth in league history at the end of his career and are 24th on the league’s list today. Del Greco scored 1,060 of his points for the Oilers/Titans and remains the franchise’s career leader.
Tony Richardson, Daleville High School, Auburn: 234 games
Kansas City Chiefs 1995-2005, Minnesota Vikings 2006-2007, New York Jets 2008-2010: After rushing for 249 yards and blocking for James Bostic and Stephen Davis as a fullback on Auburn’s 1993 undefeated team, Richardson didn’t play in an NFL game until 1995. Then he played in 233 more, rushing for 1,727 yards, catching 210 passes and earning three Pro Bowl selections.
Dwight Stone, Florala High School: 216 games
Pittsburgh Steelers 1987-1994, Carolina Panthers 1995-1998, New York Jets 1999-2000: After his collegiate career at Middle Tennessee State, the wide receiver went on to a 14-year NFL career, mainly as a kickoff returner and a special-teams standout. While he piled up nearly 4,000 kickoff-return yards in his career, Stone also caught 41 passes for the Steelers in 1993. Benjamin Russell’s Terrell Owens is the only player from an Alabama high school has appeared in more NFL games than Stone.
Ed West, Colbert County High School, Auburn: 211 games
Green Bay Packers 1984-1994, Philadelphia Eagles 1995-1996, Atlanta Falcons 1997: After catching 16 passes as a tight end for Auburn’s SEC championship team as a senior in 1983, West spent 14 seasons in the NFL, earning a reputation as a good blocker and a red-zone target. He caught 237 passes for 2,665 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Marcus Pollard, Valley High School: 192 games
Indianapolis Colts 1995-2004, Detroit Lions 2005-2006, Seattle Seahawks 2007, Atlanta Falcons 2008: Pollard wasn’t drafted because he didn’t play football in college. He played basketball at Bradley. The Colts signed him anyway as a tight end. Pollard caught 16 passes in his first three seasons. In the next eight seasons, he caught 293 passes for 3,705 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Chris Martin, J.O. Johnson High School in Huntsville, Auburn: 178 games
New Orleans Saints 1983, Minnesota Vikings 1984-1988, Kansas City Chiefs 1988-1992, Los Angeles Rams 1993-1994: The linebacker played 12 seasons in the NFL with four teams. He spent four of those seasons as a starter for the Chiefs. Martin recovered 13 fumbles in his 178 career games, starting 90 of the contests.
Woody Peoples, Ullman High School in Birmingham: 168 games
San Francisco 49ers 1968-1977, Philadelphia Eagles 1978-1980: After playing for Eddie Robinson at Grambling State, Peoples spent a season with the semi-pro Richmond Rebels and two years in the Army before joining the 49ers in 1968. In his second season, he became a starter at guard and kept that status until his retirement, with his last game coming for the Eagles in Super Bowl XV. Peoples was a Pro Bowler in 1972 and 1973.
Steve McLendon, Carroll High School in Ozark, Troy: 165 games
Pittsburgh Steelers 2010-2015, New York Jets 2016-2020, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2020-2021: After three seasons as a backup with Pittsburgh, McLendon joined the Steelers’ starting lineup in 2013. He’s been a regular starter at nose tackle for seven of his NFL seasons, and he helped the Buccaneers cap the 2020 season by winning the Super Bowl.
Mario Addison, Tarrant High School, Troy: 158 games
Chicago Bears 2011, Indianapolis Colts 2011-2012, Washington Redskins 2012, Carolina Panthers 2012-2019, Buffalo Bills 2020-2021: It took Addison a couple of years to find a spot in the NFL with the Panthers, but he’s coming off a seven-sack season for the Bills and has 67 in his career.
Ronald McKinnon, Elba High School, North Alabama: 157 games
Arizona Cardinals 1996-2004, New Orleans Saints 2005: The linebacker played on three NCAA Division II national title teams and won the 1995 Harlon Hill Trophy as the division’s best player, the only defensive winner in the award’s history. That didn’t get him drafted. McKinnon made the Cardinals and spent eight seasons as the team’s starting middle linebacker, recording more than 1,000 tackles during his NFL career.
Four of the players in the top 10 played at Auburn, and another former player for the Tigers is about to join the list. Los Angeles Chargers long snapper Josh Harris will enter the 2022 season with 156 NFL regular-season games in his career, which started as an undrafted rookie with the Atlanta Falcons in 2012.
Another Auburn alumnus, linebacker Dave Edwards, played in 181 NFL regular-season games and was not picked in the NFL Draft. But he was picked in the AFL Draft.
Alabama has produced two undrafted players who have appeared in at least 100 NFL regular-season games during the draft era – defensive end Wallace Gilberry from Baldwin County High School with 124 and defensive tackle Damion Square with 100.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.