NFL teams usually go into a new season with a roster that is filled with veterans, vets they may have acquired via trade, vets they may have acquired via free agency, and first-year players they selected in the college draft. Another group of players, albeit ones that normally don’t get a lot of attention, are the first-year undrafted players that teams invite to their training camp.
In most cases, undrafted first-year players fill a role by taking a roster spot during training, but many are not expected to make the final roster. There have been, however, cases where an undrafted rookie not only makes a team, but gets significant playing time during the regular season.
Last season 20 different undrafted rookies played in all 16 of his team’s games (a total of 82 rookies played in all 16 of its teams games last season). Five teams, Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, New England and Tampa Bay, each had two undrafted rookies play in all 16 of their games. For the Atlanta Falcons, their two undrafted rookies, linebackers Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow, not only played in all 16 games, but Bartu started 13 games while Worrilow started 12 for the team.