Undrafted NFL free agents have made their mark from OU and OSU
The NFL Draft ended Saturday with 255 players selected, counting compensatory picks at the end of the last four rounds.
Many players were disappointed that their name was not called – starting with cornerbacks A.J. Green of OSU and Parnell Motley of OU. But their phone still rang, with franchises rushing to sign undrafted free agents.
Green signed with the Browns, and Motley signed with Buccaneers, and those players have a fighting chance to make a roster.
In fact, many Bedlam veterans have had good NFL careers even though they were bypassed in the draft. I found 16 former Sooners or former Cowboys who went undrafted, then had an NFL career that registered at least double digits in profootball-reference.com’s approximate value. Pro football reference attempts to give each player a rating, based on their accomplishments. It’s not an exact science, and it’s not meant to go over the cliff, arguing that someone with a 46 is automatically better than someone with a 44. But it’s an invaluable tool to gauge the general value of a career.
So here are the NFL’s top 16 players from either OU or OSU, who went undrafted:
1. Tony Banfield, OSU: The defensive back from the 1950s went undrafted in 1960 but caught on with the Houston Oilers of the fledgling American Football League. Banfield became an AFL mainstay, playing five years as a cornerback and making 27 interceptions. He three times was first-team all-AFL.
2. Wahoo McDaniel, OU: Played in the NFL (or AFL) from 1960-68 and did more in the pros than he did at OU. The linebacker played 150 games, with 13 career interceptions. He also punted for the ’66 Dolphins.
3. Juqua Parker, OSU: The Bob Simmons-era defensive end signed with the 2001 Tennessee Titans and began a 12-year career, mostly as a pass-rush specialist. Parker made 46 starts but played in 162 games and had 42.5 sacks and 266 tackles total.
4. Duane Wood, OSU: The Banfield story – another Cowboy defensive back who caught on with the AFL in 1960. Wood played five years for the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs and had 20 career interceptions.
5. Dan Bailey, OSU: You know him well, as one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. In nine seasons with the Cowboys and Vikings, Bailey has made 234 of 268 attempts, a percentage of .873 that ranks sixth-best in NFL history.
6. Lane Taylor, OSU: A guard on the Cowboys’ great 2010 and 2011 teams, Taylor went undrafted in 2013 but signed with Green Bay and has become one of the Aaron Rodgers’ prime protectors. Taylor has played 78 career games and made 49 starts.
7. Tony Jefferson, OU: Hard-hitting safety has played the last seven years, with the Cardinals and Ravens. He’s made 66 starts and has 451 career tackles.
8. Cary Blanchard, OSU: Before Bailey, there was Blanchard. A nine-year kicker, 1992-2000, Blanchard made 165 career field goals and scored 683 NFL points.
9. James Allen, OU: How did Allen go undrafted? A blue-chip tailback at Wynnewood High School, Allen didn’t have a great Sooner career, but he had a good career. A solid runner and solid citizen. Allen rushed for 1,120 yards for the 2000 Bears and in a five-year career (1998-2002) he had 2,497 rushing yards, 964 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns.
10. Remi Ayodele, OU: A mostly-forgotten defensive lineman as a Sooner, Ayodele went undrafted in 2007 but hooked on with the Dallas Cowboys and played five years in the league as a nose guard, making 42 starts over his final three seasons. He had 90 career tackles at a position mostly designed to take up space.
11. Damien Williams, OU: Sooner career ended with a suspension in 2013, but Williams has forged a good NFL career, including Super Bowl heroics this February (two touchdowns). In six NFL seasons, Williams has rushed for 1,231 yards and 12 TDs, including a 91-yard run in 2019 for Kansas City. Williams also has 138 catches for 1,196 yards.
12. Brandon Moore, OU: Linebacker from the early Bob Stoops years played seven NFL seasons, mostly with the 49ers. He made 26 starts and 249 career tackles.
13. Jacob Lacey, OSU: Cornerback hooked on with the 2009 Colts and played four NFL seasons, making 36 starts and six interceptions.
14. Corey Ivy, OU: The defensive back from Moore High School signed with the 2001 Buccaneers and last nine years in the NFL, making 21 starts. He had three interceptions and 280 tackles.
15. Tress Way, OU: The Redskins’ punter for six straight seasons has averaged 46.6 yards for his career, sixth-best in NFL history. He twice has led the league.
16. Charlie Durkee, OSU: This is becoming a trend. Another Cowboy kicker. Durkee signed with the 1967 Saints and kicked four years, making 52 field goals.