Inviting undrafted free agents to compete in training camp is common practice in the NFL and while most rookies fail to make the most of their chance, there’s always that one rookie that goes on to have a successful NFL career. The Denver Broncos have had a few of these players develop into solid contributors over the years, but few undrafted rookies went on to have a great Broncos career like nose tackle Greg Kragen.

After a stellar career at Utah State University, Kragen went undrafted in 1984 because scouts believed that he was too undersized to play along the defensive line in the NFL, but that didn’t stop the Broncos from giving him a tryout that summer. Despite his best efforts, Kragen was one of the team’s early cuts and ultimately sat out the 1984 season.

Failing to make the roster the first time around didn’t deter Kragen from pursuing his NFL dreams. After another year of training and preparation Kragen again tried out for the Broncos and earned a well-deserved roster spot thanks to an impressive camp performance.

Kragen took full advantage of the opportunity given to him and became a mainstay on the Broncos vaunted “Orange Crush” defense that made three Super Bowl appearances in the late 80s and early 90s. While he never won that elusive Super Bowl championship, Kragen achieved several personal accolades along the way, including a sole Pro Bowl appearance in 1989 and a Second Team All-Pro selection in 1991.

The Broncos opted not to re-sign Kragen after the 1993 season and the Utah State product signed with the Kansas City Chiefs for one year before being selected by the Carolina Panthers in the 1995 NFL Expansion Draft. He would go on to spend the last three years of his career in Carolina before retiring after the 1997 season.

Broncos training camp is less than a month away and there will be plenty of fresh faces fighting for their chance at an NFL career. Odds are that few will even come close to succeeding, but the ones that do could follow a similar path to greatness and help bring the Broncos back to Super Bowl glory.

Mike Esposito is the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos Staff Writer at Follow him on Twitter @espo6891

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