UDFA Cup Runneth Over

Just how good are the Chargers at finding the cream of the undrafted crop? Not only is San Diego's roster littered with former UDFAs, but many players whose careers began in Chargers training camp have gone on to make big impacts across the league.

The best example of a former Chargers UDFA who went on to star elsewhere is Wes Welker. Welker spent a week on San Diego's active roster before he was released and scooped up by the Miami Dolphins, who later traded him inside the division to the New England Patriots.

Welker has averaged 108 catches over the last four years; no Chargers receiver has ever caught more than 90 balls in a single season.

Welker is not the only established receiver to begin his career as an UDFA with the Chargers. Ruvell Martin, who spent last season with the Seattle Seahawks, started with the Chargers in 2004. He's still going and has compiled 65 catches, 1,006 yards and seven TDs while also playing for the Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Rams.

DT Brandon McKinney
Mitch Stringer/US Presswire
There are more finds on the defensive side of the ball. The Baltimore Ravens are big beneficiaries, as tackles Lamar Divens and Brandon McKinney both started as UDFAs in San Diego. McKinney played three seasons with the Chargers before he was let go; Divens didn't even survive his rookie season.

Perhaps the shiniest defensive gem is Nick Roach. He lost a hotly contested battle with Brandon Siler in 2007 and was relegated to the practice squad, where the Chicago Bears quickly scooped him up. Over the last three years, he has started 30 games and racked up 127 tackles.

There are other examples scattered across the NFL. RB Eldra Buckley is a vital part of the rotation with the Philadelphia Eagles. FS C.J. Spillman is a core member of the San Francisco 49ers' special teams. WR Charly Martin is in the pass-catching mix with the Carolina Panthers.

There are more examples across the league; and all of them are examples of the tremendous job done by San Diego's scouting department. The Chargers will get another crack at uncovering some star undrafted free agents as soon as the lockout finally ends. Hopefully, this time, San Diego will find a way to hang onto them.

Did San Diego err by letting these players walk? Discuss in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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