It must have really hurt going undrafted for the guys who show up on this list. Though, going undrafted most definitely left a chip on their shoulder. That neglect, without a doubt, fueled some of these guys to have very successful careers.
Some of the guys who follow still are adding to their legacy, while others have retired from the game. For example, guys like Tony Romo and Brian Hoyer were both snubbed during their drafts, yet they both still remain in the NFL. But the majority of this list includes guys who have retired from the league, but we’re still looking at where they should have been drafted.
This list includes Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, and it includes some guys who you may not have heard of before. That’s the magic of the undrafted quarterback. Some have surprised organizations by taking over in a way you’d expect to see out of a No. 1 draft pick.
Each of the quarterbacks who follow deserved to be drafted. This might not have been evident back during their draft, but it sure is obvious now as we look back. With this list, we’re going to right those wrongs and find out where they should have gone.
This list ranks the 15 best undrafted quarterbacks and determines where each one of them should have been drafted. Surprisingly, some of the players on this list were still playing last season, and will most likely continue their careers in 2017. Even more surprising is the fact that a good chunk of the guys that follow should have been drafted in the first round.
15 Brian Hoyer: St. Louis Rams, No. 196
Three current quarterbacks fought it out for the last spot on the top 15 undrafted NFL quarterbacks. Brian Hoyer barely made the cut, and it was because he has a better touchdown to interceptions ratio than the other two guys – Shaun Hill and Matt Moore. This could change depending on how the next couple of seasons go, but for now Hoyer ranks above Hill and Moore.
Brian Hoyer is 16-15 as a starter and has a very respectable 44 passing touchdowns and just 26 interceptions with 8,608 passing yards. And he’s had winning records with the Browns (3-0 and 7-6) and the Texans (5-4) from 2013 to 2015.
Sure, Hoyer is no star and he’s lucky when he does get time as the starter. But that doesn’t mean he should have gone undrafted. In fact, his track record proves otherwise. He would have been a great pick and someone much needed for depth with the St. Louis Rams in the sixth round. The Rams originally drafted QB Keith Null.
14 Jim Zorn: New England Patriots, No. 116
Jim Zorn kicks off the list of guys who made were ranked in the top 15 because they put up meaningful playing time and had some good stats. Though, Zorn’s stats weren’t as good as the others because he threw a lot of interceptions during his time in the NFL. But he still deserved a draft spot in 1975. Zorn tossed 111 touchdowns in his career, but he also threw for 141 interceptions.
The biggest accomplishment Zorn had was that he threw for 21,115 yards. However, Zorn finished his career with a 44-62 record as a starting quarterback. Zorn, who is currently an quarterbacks coach for the Chiefs, would have been a suitable fifth-round pick for the New England Patriots, who picked Steve Grogan that year.
13 Gary Danielson: Miami Dolphins, No. 111
Gary Danielson nearly finished with a .500 record (28-31-1), but his career stats proved to be deserving of a later round pickup in the 1973 draft. Danielson finished his career with a somewhat respectable 81 touchdowns vs. 78 interceptions. The more impressive part is that he threw for 13,764. Of course, though, Danielson and the other guys this low down on the list never were deserving of a Pro Bowl appearance.
Plus, Danielson never got far into the postseason as his only start resulted in no touchdowns and five interceptions. The Miami Dolphins were the only team to draft a quarterback in the fifth round, and that’s the perfect fit for Danielson. So, he doesn’t provide much for the Dolphins, but it’s better than their original selection.
12 Erik Kramer: San Diego Chargers, No. 115
Erik Kramer continues the list of quarterbacks who finished their career with a subpar record. After more than a decade in the NFL, Kramer finished with a 31-36 record. It’s not terrible, but it’s not going to get you a high draft pick as we look back to 1987. But Kramer’s 15,337 career passing yards makes him a very appealing later-round draft pick.
Kramer also managed 92 touchdowns against just 79 interceptions in his career. Kramer even won a playoff game in his career, though he lost the other two games in the postseason that he started. But the Chargers would have welcomed Kramer in the fifth round, and they could have avoided their fourth-round mistake in drafting Mark Vlasic, who barely played during his time.
11 Jay Fieder: New Orleans Saints, No. 116
Jay Fiedler had a career that wasn’t great, but it was better than a lot of guys who have worn an NFL jersey. In fact, Fiedler was a 2002 National Jewish Museum Sports Hall of Fame Inductee. Fiedler, who went undrafted in 1994, managed a winning record as a starter, 37-23, and totaled 11,844 passing yards in his career. He finished with 69 passing touchdowns and 66 interceptions.
Fiedler went undrafted the same year as Kurt Warner (who appears on this list as well), but Fiedler didn’t play nearly as well as Warner. Fiedler, looking back, would have been drafted in the later rounds. But not too late. The Saints should have gone with Fiedler in the fourth round instead of QB Doug Nussmeier, who played in just eight regular season games in his five-year career.
10 Mike Tomczak: Los Angeles Raiders, No. 107
The biggest thing hurting Mike Tomczak was that he couldn’t consistently maintain a starting spot. Tomczak did have a lengthy career. He played for 15 seasons and went 42-31 as a starter. But he never played the entire season as a starter. The closest he came was back in 1989 when he started 11 games (he played in all 16 games that year).
Tomczak also started five playoff games in his career and won three of them, though he only threw two touchdowns and nine interceptions in those postseason games. That was a somewhat consistent theme in his career. He always tended to throw more interceptions than touchdowns, and he finished his career with 88 touchdowns and 106 interceptions.
There were a few quarterbacks drafted in the early rounds this year. Tomczak shouldn’t have been one of them, but the Raiders selected Rusty Hilger, who didn’t do much at all in the NFL, in the sixth round. The Raiders would have been better off using their fourth round pick and selecting Tomczak instead.
9 Jon Kitna: Philadelphia Eagles, No. 85
Jon Kitna had an average career, at best. If you’re comparing him to guys who didn’t play more than a few seasons, he had a great career because his lasted for 14 seasons. But for guys who played more than a handful of years, Kitna was very underwhelming. In 124 games that Kitna started, he won just 50 games. He did throw for 169 touchdowns, but that included 165 interceptions. He never made the Pro Bowl and his best season included an 8-8 record (that was in Cincinnati, 2003). During that season he threw for 26 touchdowns with just 15 interceptions, but that was by far the best season of his career.
Kitna proved he could consistently compete as an NFL quarterback. But other than a couple of good seasons, Kitna would have been better suited on the bench. That’s why Kitna gets drafted in the end of the third round as we look back to the 1996 draft.
8 Bobby Hebert: Kansas City Chiefs, No. 61
The New Orleans Saints decided that Bobby Hebert had a career that was deserving enough to be inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1999. Although Hebert’s career was nowhere near worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was good enough to be considered an early third round draft pick. The Chiefs missed the mark as they drafted a dud in the first round (this draft had three Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the first round – John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino).
Hebert was a one-time Pro Bowl selection and finished his career with a 56-44 record. Hebert, who tossed 21,683 yards, recorded 135 touchdowns and 124 interceptions in the 11 seasons he played in the NFL. So, it’s obvious that Hebert isn’t the best of this group, but he’s not nearly the worst either.
7 Jake Delhomme: San Francisco 49ers, No. 55
Jake Delhomme was deserving of an upper-round draft pick after what turned into a lengthy NFL career. Delhomme went from being undrafted, to spending 11 seasons in the league. During his career, Delhomme made the playoffs in three different seasons and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2005 when he threw for 3,421 yards and 24 touchdowns. Delhomme had a better year in 2004 (3,886 yards and 29 touchdowns) but the Panthers finished with a 7-9 record, hurting Delhomme’s shot at a Pro Bowl selection.
He didn’t have a career worthy of a first round draft pick. But he did deserve to be drafted by the end of the second round, and it would have been fitting for him to go to San Francisco, who dropped the ball by drafting Jim Druckenmiller, who tossed just one career touchdown, in the first round.
6 Jeff Garcia: Atlanta Falcons, No. 45
Jeff Garcia had a career with a lot of ups and downs. His career out of college was rough. Garcia went undrafted in 1994 and didn’t find a spot in the NFL until the 1999 season, when he began playing with the San Francisco 49ers. Garcia finished his career with a 58-58 record and had four playoff appearances. Garcia first made the Pro Bowl in 2000 and was selected in 2001 and 2002. He followed up with a stretch of lackluster seasons before he made the Pro Bowl for the final time in 2007 with Tampa Bay.
Garcia is deserving of a second-round pick from the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons did draft a quarterback later in the fourth round, but they would have been better off selecting the eventual Pro Bowler in the second round back in 1994.
5 Jim Hart: Cleveland Browns, No. 29
Jim Hart is another Pro Bowler who joins the list of those who went undrafted. Hart, however, was worth of a upper-round draft pick with the career he had. Originally, Hart went undrafted in 1966 and was signed by the St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals, where he’d play through the 1983 season. Hart finished his career with nearly 35,000 passing yards and 209 touchdowns. The biggest knock against Hart was the number of interceptions he accumulated over the course of his career. By the time Hart retired he racked up 247 interceptions.
So, to find Hart’s draft position we look back to the teams that selected a quarterback. Cleveland was first to select a quarterback in round two. The Browns would have been much better suited with Hart, instead of Rick Norton, who tossed just seven touchdowns and 30 interceptions in his short career.
4 David Krieg: Oakland Raiders, No. 15
David Krieg is another guy on this list who should have been drafted been drafted in the first round of the draft. Krieg was in the league for 19 seasons. Although Krieg didn’t play in three of those seasons, he played longer in the league than most guys do. Plus, he was selected to the Pro Bowl in three different seasons. Krieg had just a 3-6 record in the postseason with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. But Krieg deserves praise for his track record of success in the regular season. He finished with a 98-77 record and threw for 38,147 yards, with 261 touchdowns and 199 interceptions. That means he ranks 16th in NFL history for passing touchdowns and 19th overall for passing yards.
Back during the 1980 draft, Oakland was the only team to select a quarterback in the first round. They would have benefited greatly from selecting Krieg. But the Raiders original pick, Marc Wilson, played eight seasons with the team and had a 31-19 record, so the team wasn’t hurting too bad for talent back then.
3 Tony Romo: Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 7
Even though Tony Romo lost his spot as the Cowboys starting quarterback (partly because of injury and partly due to rookie-sensation Dak Prescott), he still deserves a spot on a starting roster and has the numbers that exemplify success. Romo, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, has a won a lot with a career record of 248-117. Romo has just one season with a subpar record. That was in 2010 when he won just one game, but that was also because he played in just six games.
The only knock against Romo is that he’s had a few seasons where injuries have kept him off the field. Other than that, he’s been a star. Romo went undrafted in the 2003 NFL Draft. Looking back, Romo is deserving of a first-round pick. With the seventh overall pick, Jacksonville would have been much better off with Romo instead of Byron Leftwich.
2 Warren Moon: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, No. 17
No doubt about it, Warren Moon should have been a first round draft pick. In 1978, there was only one QB drafted in the first round, and that was by Tampa Bay. Moon had one of the best careers in quarterback history. Moon was the first undrafted quarterback (and African-American quarterback to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And he was at the top of the game when he retired. Upon retirement, Moon held a host of records: pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and touchdowns. All have since been broken, but the nine-time Pro Bowler proved his greatness.
Currently, Moon ranks 12th with 291 career passing touchdowns, and he’s seventh with 49,325 passing yards. Moon went undrafted in 1978, and looking back to that draft, a quarterback was taken by Tampa Bay with the 17th overall pick (Doug Williams). No matter how you look at it, the Buccaneers would have been much better off by drafting Moon.
1 Kurt Warner: Washington Redskins, No. 3
Kurt Warner had the best career and proved to be the most talented quarterback who went undrafted. Warner was a Super Bowl champion, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, the two-time MVP, a two-time passing touchdowns leader and led the league in passing yards once.
Warner’s postseason performances really set him apart from the rest of the guys on this list. Warner, who won a Super Bowl and was the MVP of that game, ranks first all-time in playoff completion percentage, 66.5 percent, first in yards per attempt with 8.55 and second in passer rating, 102.8.
That’s an amazing career for a guy who was signed by the Packers in 1994, then dropped. Warner didn’t reappear in the NFL until the Rams signed him in 1998. But Warner was another guy deserving of a first-round draft pick. In this re-draft, the Redskins forgo their original pick, Heath Shuler, and end up in a much better suited for success with Warner.
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