The first few rounds of the NFL Draft is exciting. What sure-to-be superstar is your team going to take? It’s filled with highlights of collegiate moments and fans going crazy over the franchise superstar their team just selected. But what about the later rounds? The picks aren’t really celebrated and the names become obscure. The highlights begin to dwindle because no one really paid attention to these guys. Most of the time these players struggle to make the team and, at best, might one day become a starter.
Occasionally, there are exceptions. Here are ten of the greatest steals in NFL Draft history. Consider all of the players that no one remembers or recognizes that were taken before this list. The next Hall of Famer could fall right into your team’s lap.
1. Tom Brady – Patriots, 6th Round 2000
No surprise here. The Patriots got Brady from Michigan in the 6th round of the draft and he’s gone on to win three Super Bowls, the NFL MVP award, he had 50 touchdown passes in a season, and also led the Patriots to an undefeated regular season. He’s got a pretty good personal life from what I hear as well.
2. Joe Montana – 49ers, 3rd Round 1979
One of the most recognizable athletes in sports history, Montana led the 49ers to four Super Bowl wins and, of course, is in the NFL Hall of Fame. It doesn’t sound ridiculously low that Montana was drafted in the third round until you realize that means 81 players were selected before him.
3. Bo Jackson – Raiders, 7th Round 1987
The greatest two-sport athlete of our lifetime, Jackson fell to the Raiders in the seventh round, as many teams did not know if he would ever play football over baseball. His career was cut short due to injury but the game where he ran for 221 yards is still a Monday Night Football record.
4. Shannon Sharpe – Broncos, 7th Round 1990
Apparently more teams should have sent scouts to Savannah State college. Sharpe dropped to the Broncos in the 7th round and went on to catch 815 passes in his career as a tight end. He was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
5. Terrell Davis - Broncos, 6th Round 1995
Although his career was severally damaged by an injury, Davis was unstoppable for the first four years of his career averaging 1,600 yards per season and is also the all-time leading rusher for the Denver Broncos.
6. Roger Staubach – Cowboys, 10th Round 1964
Due to Staubach’s military service he didn’t enter the league until he was 27. In spite of that he went on to be the MVP of Super Bowl VI and was a six-time pro bowler. Not bad for the 129th overall draft pick.
7. Ken Houston – Oilers, 9th Round 1969
Houston set an NFL record in 1971 with five touchdown returns. That record stood until 2006 when Devin Hester broke it. The 9th round pick was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1986 and is a member of the NFL’s all-time team.
8. Dwight Clark - 49ers, 10th Round 1981
Joe Montana’s go-to receiver, at least in the 1982 NFC Championship, was Dwight Clark. Everyone will always remember him for what was quite possibly the greatest catch in NFL history, but it’s crazy to think the 49ers picked up both Clark and Montana in the same draft.
9. Donald Driver – Packers, 7th Round 1999
Arguably the most recognizable receiver in Packers history was a bargain in the 7th round of the draft. He’s accumulated seven 1,000-yard seasons and won a Super Bowl ring, but more importantly he kicked ass at Dancing with the Stars.
10. Matt Hasselbeck - Packers, 6th Round 1998
Although drafted by the Packers, Hasselbeck eventually landed in Seattle where he took the Seahawks to the playoffs five years in a row during which he was selected to the Pro Bowl three different times. The Packers did OK with their quarterback, so don’t worry. Between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers I’d say they’re quite pleased.