After going over the worst picks in NFL Draft history, it’s also good to remember the good things – the steals, and players who turned out to be a lot better than anyone expected after getting picked in the sixth and seventh rounds, with legendary players like Dan Marino and Roger Staubach among those GM’s passed over and lived to regret it, while Tom Brady represents the more modern example of excellent and the opposite of it in pro prospect scouting.
10 – Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins
Being a first round pick doesn’t immediately make you a steal, but when you’re the 27th pick and five quarterbacks are taken before you, it does make you raise a few questions. Marino is probably the best player not to win a Super Bowl, but when he retired after 17 season in 1999, all played with the Miami Dolphins, he owned pretty much every record in the books when it came to passing, going on to win 61.3% of his 240 career starts. He was an All-Pro (1st & 2nd team) 8 times, making the pro and college football hall of fame.
9 – Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 66th pick in the 3rd round of the 1997 draft, Ronde Barber has lasted much longer than anyone has expected, shifting from cornerback to safety last season in order to keep him valuable on the field. He has started in 224 consecutive games including the postseason, appearing in 249 including the playoffs. He made five pro bowl teams and has been an All-Pro selection five times, the last of which in 2006. He won the Super Bowl with the Bucs, his only team since entering the league. He also has more quarterback sacks (28) than any other cornerback in NFL history.
8 – Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
The 252nd overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft still has plenty of years to give in the NFL, hopefully with Drew Brees still throwing to him. Colston, coming out of Hofstra college, was regarded too slow to succeed in the NFL, but has caught more than 70 passes for over 1000 yards in six of his seven NFL seasons, missing out only because on an injury in 2008. He won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season and holds the NFL record for most receptions in a player’s first two seasons with 168.
7 – Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys
A 10th round pick in both the NFL and the AFL, Staubach went on to lead the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories, eventually landing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College one as well, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1963. Staubach was named Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VI becoming the first of four players to win the Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP. He played 11 seasons for the Cowboys, making six Pro Bowl teams and leaving the game with the highest passer rating ever for a quarterback.
6 – Terrell Davis, Denver Broncos
Davis was the 196th pick in the sixth round of the 1995 NFL Draft, going on to have four monstrous seasons to kickoff his NFL career, winning two Super Bowls including two SB MVPs. He ran for over 2000 yards in 1998, earning him the regular season MVP as well, to go along with his 3 Pro Bowl and 3 All-Pro selections. An injury cut his career short, retiring after the 2001 season, failing to recapture the success of his early days, although he is still the team’s all-time leading rusher with 7607 yards.
5 – Will Shields, Kansas City Chiefs
The 74th pick in the third round of the 1993 NFL draft, Shields played his entire career (1993-2006) with the Kansas City Chiefs, which will probably land him in the pro football hall of fame, as he is already included in the College one after his time with Nebraska. A right guard for the Chiefs, Shields didn’t miss a single game game his entire career and started all but one of his 224. Including the playoffs, he’s fifth on the all-time list of consecutive starts with 231. He made 12 Pro Bowl teams and was an 8-time All-Pro selection.
4 – Thurman Thomas, Buffalo Bills
Thomas is part of the Bills’ losing legacy, reaching the Super Bowl four consecutive times. He was picked 40th overall, the second round in the 1988 draft, but went on to have a fantastic career for the Bills, rushing for over 1000 yards each season between 1989-1996, also leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage four consecutive times between 1989-1992. He made the Pro Bowl 5 times and was an All-Pro selection a further five, also winning the NFL MVP in 1991. He’s 14th in NFL history with 12,074 rushing yards.
3 – Deacon Jones, Los Angeles Rams
Jones was the 186th pick in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL draft. He played 11 seasons for the Rams before moving on to play for San Diego and Washington. When he retired in 1974, he was called the most valuable Ram of all-time and the greatest defensive end in modern football. He played before sacks were counted, although Pro Football Weekly reported he accumulated 194½ sacks over his career, and he is said to revolutionize the position, moving faster from sideline to sideline than anyone has ever seen from someone in his position. He made 8 Pro Bowl and 8 All-Pro teams, winning two defensive player of the year awards.
2 – Shannon Sharpe, Denver Broncos
Sharpe may have won himself a lot of enemies with his post-playing career and taking shots at pretty much anybody, but he is one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the sports. Teams weren’t sure if he is a receiver or a tight end, ending up falling to the 192nd pick (7th round) in the 1990 draft. He became a vaulable offensive piece for the Denver Broncos in their two Super Bowl runs, later moving to the Baltimore Ravens and winning a third ring before returning to Denver for two retirement seasons. Sharpe made 8 Pro Bowls, 5 All-Pro teams and ended up in the pro football hall of fame.
1 – Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Believe it or not, Brady was the 199th pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. It took a Drew Bledsoe injury for Brady to win the starting position for the Patriots, leading them to three Super Bowl victories in four season, later reaching two more NFL finals, losing to the New York Giants. He’s been named the AP Offensive player of the year twice and Super Bowl MVP twice, and has made 8 Pro Bowl teams. He’s ranked ninth all-time in passing yards and fifth in passing touchdowns. He also has the third highest career passer rating of all time (96.6) among quarterbacks with at least 1,500 career passing attempts.