The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off April 29 from Cleveland and 259 players will be selected through seven rounds over three days. If we have learned anything since the first draft in 1936, it is that great talent can be selected with any pick.
Over the past 80 years, the amount of rounds and selections has fluctuated based on the number of teams and compensatory picks. However, the art of evaluating and selecting players remains constant whether there are 10 teams or 32. With that rationale in mind and in honor of the upcoming draft, here is a rundown of the best players to be taken with each pick, starting with No. 259. [Note: For consistency, tailbacks and halfbacks are listed as RB, all return specialists are listed as KR, and all split ends and flankers are listed as WR].
259. Jim Turner, K, Utah State
1963 Draft, Round 19 – Washington Redskins
Turner opted to sign with the AFL's New York Jets and played 16 seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors twice and a spot in the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame. He also accounted for 10 of the Jets 16 points in their upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
258. Curtis Duncan, WR, Northwestern
1987 Draft, Round 10 – Houston Oilers
The fourth receiver in Houston's Run & Shoot attack, Duncan scored 20 touchdowns during his seven-year career and made the Pro Bowl in 1992.
257. Pete Athas, CB, Orlando Panthers
1970 Draft, Round 10 – Dallas Cowboys
A journeyman if there ever was one, Athas walked on at Tennessee before dropping out and signing with the Orlando Panthers of the long-defunct Continental Football League. The Cowboys drafted him in 1970, but he broke his jaw during a fight with Reggie Rucker in training camp and was cut before the start of the season. He went on to play six season with the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints, snagging 16 interceptions along the way.
256. Ryan Succop, K, South Carolina
2009 Draft, Round 7 – Kansas City Chiefs
The 2009 Draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" has nailed 83 percent of his field goals in starting roles for the Chiefs and Tennessee Titans, and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. He currently holds the record for most consecutive field goals made under 50 yards with 56.
255. Don Majkowski, QB, Virginia
1987 Draft, Round 10 – Green Bay Packers
The "Majik Man" led the NFL in passing yards and the Packers to a 10-6 season in 1989, but battled injuries for the remainder of his career. He famously tore a ligament in his ankle in 1992 and Brett Favre came off the bench to win the game and keep the starting job.
254. Vai Sikahema, KR, Brigham Young
1986 Draft, Round 10 – St. Louis Cardinals
The first Tongan to ever play in the NFL started a little later because of his two-year service as a Mormon missionary. Once he got in the league, he was a stalwart return specialist for the Cardinals, the Green Bay Packers, and the Philadelphia Eagles. In Philly, he famously boxed the goal post after returning a punt for a touchdown.
253. David Givens, WR, Notre Dame
2002 Draft, Round 7 – New England Patriots
Givens scored touchdowns for the Patriots in both Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX. A knee injury cut short what was shaping up to be a very solid career.
252. Marques Colston, WR, Hofstra
2006 Draft, Round 7 – New Orleans Saints
Colston started Week 1 in 2006 and played with the franchise for 10 seasons. He is New Orleans’ career leader in receptions (711), receiving yards (9,759), and touchdowns (72).
251. Scott Wells, C, Tennessee
2004 Draft, Round 7 – Green Bay Packers
Wells became the Packers’ starting center in 2006 and held that spot for six seasons. Along the way, he earned a Super Bowl ring and made the Pro Bowl.
250. Scott Studwell, LB, Illinois
1977 Draft, Round 9 – Minnesota Vikings
In his 14 seasons with the Vikings, “Stud” was a three-time All-Pro and retired as the franchise’s all-time leading tackler.
249. Dwight Clark, WR, Clemson
1979 Draft, Round 10 – San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco head coach Bill Walsh saw Clark perform as he was evaluating Clemson quarterback Jeff Fuller and took him with his 10th-round pick. Clark became the anchor in the 49ers’ receiving corps and is immortalized in NFL history for making “The Catch.”
248. Chip Myers, WR, Northwestern Oklahoma State
1967 Draft, Round 10 – San Francisco 49ers
Myers played sparingly his rookie year with San Francisco and played minor league football the next season. He then signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1969 and caught 218 passes in eight seasons with the team.
247. Reyna Thompson, S, Baylor
1986 Draft, Round 9 – Miami Dolphins
Thompson stood out for his work on special teams and made the Pro Bowl with the New York Giants in 1990.
246. Gene Chichowski, QB/CB, Indiana
1957 Draft, Round 21 – Pittsburgh Steelers
In three seasons with the Steelers and Washington Redskins, Chichowski played quarterback, halfback and defensive back.
245. Chris Hanburger, LB, North Carolina
1965 Draft, Round 18 – Washington Redskins
Known as “The Hangman” for his clothesline tackles, Hanburger was one of the best outside linebackers of his era and made the Pro Bowl nine times. In 2011, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
244. John Madden, T, California Polytechnic
1958 Draft, Round 21 – Philadelphia Eagles
The all-conference lineman injured his knee in training camp and was never able to play. However, while he was rehabbing, he watched game film with Eagles quarterback Norm Van Brocklin and developed an affinity for coaching. The rest is history.
243. Lou Creekmur, G, William & Mary
1948 Draft, Round 26 – Philadelphia Eagles
Instead of joining the Eagles, Creekmur finished out his eligibility with William and Mary in 1948 and ‘49 and was acquired by the Lions in a deal coinciding with the draft of players from the recently defunct All-America Football Conference. Detroit’s iron man then played 168 straight games, blocking for Doak Walker and Bobby Layne en route to eight Pro Bowl appearances and three NFL titles. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
242. Brett Keisel, DE, BYU
2002 Draft, Round 7 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Keisel recorded 30 sacks in his career and made the Pro Bowl in 2010. In the lead-up to Super Bowl XLV, his mountain-man beard was one of the top stories.
241. Larry Stallings, LB, Georgia Tech
1963 Draft, Round 18 – St. Louis Cardinals
Stallings started at linebacker for 14 seasons with the Cardinals and made the Pro Bowl in 1970.
240. Shawn Jefferson, WR, Central Florida
1991 Draft, Round 9 – Houston Oilers
Jefferson was drafted in the ninth round by Houston, but did not make the roster. He was picked up by the San Diego Chargers and went on to play 13 seasons, catching 470 passes in the process.
239. Jerry Mertens, CB, Drake
1958 Draft, Round 20 – San Francisco 49ers
Mertens made the Pro Bowl his rookie season and played for San Francisco for eight years. His career ended when he broke his neck tackling Jim Taylor for a six-yard loss (he made a full recovery).
238. L.C. Greenwood, DE, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
1969 Draft, Round 10 – Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers drafted the foundation to its Steel Curtain defensive line in 1969. They got Joe Greene with the fourth pick and then took Greenwood in the 10th round. Greenwood was a sack machine in the era where sacks weren’t recorded and made the Pro Bowl six times.
237. Ali Haji-Sheikh, K, Michigan
1983 Draft, Round 9 – New York Giants
Haji-Sheikh set the record for most field goals in a season (35) his rookie year and was the starter for the Washington Redskins when they won Super Bowl XXII.
236. Tom Pridemore, S, West Virginia
1978 Draft, Round 9 – Atlanta Falcons
Pridemore ranks eighth on the Falcons’ all-time career interceptions list behind Deion Sanders. He also served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1980-82, making him the only NFL player to hold legislative office while active.
235. Mike Horan, P, Long Beach State
1982 Draft, Round 9 – Atlanta Falcons
Horan was cut by the Falcons and did not make an active roster until joining the Philadelphia Eagles in 1984. He went on to play for five different teams, make the Pro Bowl in 1988, and play for the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, his final game.
234. Tom Goode, C, Mississippi State
1961 Draft, Round 17 – Detroit Lions
Goode was drafted by the Lions, but opted for the Houston Oilers, who picked him in the AFL Draft. He went on to play for the Oilers, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Colts and made the Pro Bowl in 1969. Goode may be best remembered as the long-snapper for Jim O’Brien’s game-winning field goal in Super Bowl V.
233. Clyde Simmons, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
1986 Draft, Round 9 – Philadelphia Eagles
Simmons made the Pro Bowl four times and led the NFL in sacks in 1992 with 19. He ranks 21st in career sacks with 121.5.
232. Raymond Berry, WR, SMU
1954 Draft, Round 20 – Baltimore Colts
Berry caught only 33 passes while at SMU, but went on to become the best and most dependable receiver of his era. The Colts retired his number and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973.
231. Otto Schnellbacher, CB, Kansas
1947 Draft, Round 25 – Chicago Cardinals
The Cardinals drafted Schnellbacher before his senior year and he opted for the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) after graduation (he also played professional basketball at the same time). When the AAFC merged with the NFL in 1950, Schnellbacher went to the New York Giants, where made the Pro Bowl twice and led the league in interceptions in 1951.
230. Vern Den Herder, DE, Central College (Iowa)
1971 Draft, Round 9 – Miami Dolphins
Den Herder was the Dolphins’ unofficial sacks leader for many of his 12 seasons with the franchise. Legendary head coach Don Shula stated that he was "one of the most dependable players I've ever coached."
229. Jason Ferguson, NT, Georgia
1997 Draft, Round 7 – New York Jets
Ferguson tested positive for marijuana in the pre-draft Combine and 17 defensive tackles were taken ahead of him. He overcame those issues and started at nose tackle for the Jets, Dallas Cowboys, and Miami Dolphins over his 12 seasons in the NFL.
228. Andy Robustelli, DE, Arnold College
1951 Draft, Round 19 – Los Angeles Rams
Drafted in the 19th round, Robustelli defied low expectations and made seven Pro Bowls with the Rams and New York Giants. He was inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
227. Brad Johnson, QB, Florida State
1992 Draft, Round 9 – Minnesota Vikings
Johnson played 15 seasons with the Vikings, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Dallas Cowboys and made two Pro Bowls. He also won Super Bowl XXXVIII with the Bucs.
226. Steve Tasker, WR, Northwestern
1985 Draft, Round 9 – Houston Oilers
Tasker played a season and a half with the Oilers before being released and picked up by the Buffalo Bills. There, he became arguably the greatest special teams player in NFL history.
225. Jerrel Wilson, P, Southern Miss
1963 Draft, Round 17 – Los Angeles Rams
Wilson was drafted by the Rams, but chose the Kansas City Chiefs, who picked him in the AFL draft. He led the AFL in punting average in 1965 and ‘68 and was chosen for the AFL All-Time First Team in ‘70. After the AFL/NFL merger, he led the league in punting average in 1972 and ‘73.
224. Jeremiah Ratliff, DT, Auburn
2005 Draft, Round 7 – Dallas Cowboys
Better known as Jay Ratliff, which he went by until 2013, the standout Auburn defensive tackle was considered too small for the NFL and dropped to the seventh round. But in 2007, he was moved to nose tackle, where he was just the right fit. Ratliff made four straight Pro Bowls before his career was shortened by injuries.
223. Mark Clayton, WR, Louisville
1983 Draft, Round 8 – Miami Dolphins
Picked in the same draft as Dan Marino, Clayton became a favorite target of the Hall of Fame quarterback and caught more than 500 passes and scored 88 touchdowns during his 11-year career.
222. Trent Green, QB, Indiana
1993 Draft, Round 8 – San Diego Chargers
Green is best remembered for injuring his knee in a 1999 preseason game and being replaced by Kurt Warner who turned the St. Louis Rams into “The Greatest Show on Turf.” However, he also made the Pro Bowl twice in two playoff runs with the Kansas City Chiefs.
221. Ted Cook, WR, Alabama
1944 Draft, Round 22 – Brooklyn Tigers
Cook was drafted by the Tigers (formerly the Brooklyn Dodgers) in 1944, but served in World War II, and played his senior season for Alabama in ‘46. Meanwhile, the Tigers folded so he signed with the Detroit Lions in 1947. He played one season there and three years with the Green Bay Packers, catching 61 passes.
220. Andy Russell, LB, Missouri
1963 Draft, Round 16 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Russell played in 1963 and then fulfilled his ROTC commitment in Germany. When he got back, he became an early member of Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” defense, making seven Pro Bowls and helping the franchise win its first two Super Bowls.
219. Mark Bortz, G, Iowa
1983 Draft, Round 9 – Chicago Bears
Bortz started on the Bears’ offensive line for 11 seasons, making two Pro Bowls and winning Super Bowl XX along the way.
218. Tom Nalen, C, Boston College
1994 Draft, Round 7 – Denver Broncos
In addition to making five Pro Bowls and winning two Super Bowls, Nalen blocked for six different running backs that had 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
217. Dick Daugherty, G/LB, Oregon
1951 Draft, Round 18 – Los Angeles Rams
Daugherty was a guard on the Rams’ 1951 championship team, but had to miss the ‘54 and ‘55 seasons because of service in the Air Force. He returned and made the Pro Bowl as a linebacker in 1957.
216. Eric Warfield, CB, Nebraska
1998 Draft, Round 7 – Kansas City Chiefs
Warfield snagged 20 picks and had three straight seasons with more than 70 tackles during his career.
215. Mosi Tatupu, RB, USC
1978 Draft, Round 8 – New England Patriots
Tatupu played primarily on special teams and as a fullback, making the Pro Bowl in 1986. He led the league in average yards per carry in 1983 with 5.5.
214. Ken Houston, S, Prairie View A&M
1967 Draft, Round 9 – Houston Oilers
Houston snagged 49 interceptions and recovered 21 fumbles en route to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 1971, he returned four picks and one fumble for touchdowns and his record for touchdown returns in a season stood until Devin Hester broke it in 2006.
213. Donald Driver, WR, Alcorn State
1999 Draft, Round 7 – Green Bay Packers
The Packers’ all-time leader in receptions (743) had seven 1,000-yard seasons and made four Pro Bowls.
212. Harry Galbreath, G, Tennessee
1988 Draft, Round 8 – Miami Dolphins
Galbreath was a fixture on the offensive line during nine seasons with the Dolphins, Green Bay Packers and New York Jets.
211. David Tyree, WR, Syracuse
2003 Draft, Round 6 – New York Giants
In addition to making the greatest catch in Super Bowl history, Tyree also made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player in 2005.
210. Stan Walters, T, Syracuse
1972 Draft, Round 9 – Cincinnati Bengals
Walters played solidly for the Bengals before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1975. There, he started every game at left tackle from 1975-82, made the Pro Bowl twice, and was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
209. Joe Kapp, QB, California
1959 Draft, Round 18 – Washington Redskins
The Redskins did not even bother to contact Kapp – much less sign him – so his only option was to go the CFL, where he won a Grey Cup with BC Lions in 1964. Kapp then went to the Minnesota Vikings in 1967 through a rare multi-team trade between the NFL and CFL. In ‘69, he threw seven touchdowns in a game and led the Vikings to Super Bowl IV.
208. Seth Joyner, LB, UTEP
1986 Draft, Round 8 – Philadelphia Eagles
Joyner made the Pro Bowl twice with the Eagles and once with Arizona Cardinals and is a member of the NFL’s 20/20 Club (20 sacks and 20 interceptions).
207. Jessie Armstead, LB, Miami (Fla.)
1993 Draft, Round 8 – New York Giants
A knee injury his sophomore year impacted his draft status, but Armstead proved he belonged in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl five years in a row and retired with 967 tackles over an 11-season career.
206. Kevin Gogan, T, Washington
1987 Draft, Round 8 – Dallas Cowboys
Gogan was in and out as a starter at tackle and guard during the first five seasons of his career. Then he became a starter at right guard and part of the “The Great Wall of Dallas” in 1993 and would go on to make three Pro Bowls with the Los Angeles Raiders and San Francisco 49ers.
205. Sam Gash, FB, Penn State
1992 Draft, Round 8 – New England Patriots
Gash was such a dominant blocker that in 1999, he became the first running back to make the Pro Bowl without carrying the ball once during the regular season.
204. Art Donovan, DT, Boston College
1947 Draft, Round 22 – New York Giants
The Giants drafted Donovan early in his collegiate career. After he graduated in 1950, “Fatso” began the first of three single-season stints with teams that folded the year he played for them. He signed with the Baltimore Colts in 1953 and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
203. Richard Dent, DE, Tennessee State
1983 Draft, Round 8 – Chicago Bears
Dent won two Super Bowls with the Bears and San Francisco 49ers and was one of the league’s fiercest pass rushers in his prime. He led the ’85 Bears and the NFL in sacks that season with 17.5 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
202. Earnest Jackson, RB, Texas A&M
1983 Draft, Round 8 – San Diego Chargers
Jackson had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons and made the Pro Bowl twice during his six-year career.
201. Jamal Anderson, RB, Utah
1994 Draft, Round 7 – Atlanta Falcons
The workhouse back and inventor of the “Dirty Bird” touchdown celebration led the NFL in rushing yards and carried the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 1998.
200. Bart Starr, QB, Alabama
1956 Draft, Round 17 – Green Bay Packers
Starr suffered a back injury after his sophomore year and rarely played his junior and senior seasons. The Packers took him mainly on a recommendation from Alabama’s basketball coach, but he managed to stay on the roster. Then in 1959, Vince Lombardi arrived, put Starr in the top spot, and Green Bay went on to win five championships.
199. Tom Brady, QB, Michigan
2000 Draft, Round 6 – New England Patriots
With Brady’s seven Super Bowl rings and a truckload of other honors, he may be the best player on this list. The fact that he wasn’t taken until the 199th pick will always be part of his legend.
198. Troy Brown, WR, Marshall
1993 Draft, Round 8 – New England Patriots
Brown’s clutch play as receiver, return specialist and cornerback helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls in four years. He is New England’s all-time leading punt returner and ranks second in receptions with the franchise.
197. Gus Frerotte, QB, Tulsa
1994 Draft, Round 7 – Washington Redskins
Frerotte made the Pro Bowl in 1996 and was one of the NFL’s most reliable backups during his 15-season career.
196. Terrell Davis, RB, Georgia
1995 Draft, Round 6 – Denver Broncos
Nagging injuries and feuds with Georgia head coach Ray Goff dropped Davis’ draft status so the Broncos got the eventual Hall of Famer at a steal. In addition to winning two Super Bowls and being the MVP of Super Bowl XXXII, Davis was the league’s best back from 1996-98.
195. Antonio Brown, WR, Central Michigan
2010 Draft, Round 6 – Pittsburgh Steelers
In his first nine seasons, Brown grew into arguably the best receiver in the league. He then proceeded to lose his mind, but bounced back to win a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
194. Leonard Thompson, WR, Oklahoma State
1975 Draft, Round 8 – Detroit Lions
Thompson caught 277 passes and scored 38 touchdowns during his 12-year career with the Lions.
193. Mitch Berger, P, Colorado
1994 Draft, Round 6 – Philadelphia Eagles
The Canadian restaurateur made the Pro Bowl twice in a career that spanned eight teams and won Super Bowl XLIII as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
192. Shannon Sharpe, WR, Savannah State
1990 Draft, Round 7 – Denver Broncos
The Broncos moved Sharpe to tight end, where he flourished, making eight Pro Bowls and winning three Super Bowls with Denver and the Baltimore Ravens. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
191. Jason Kelce, C, Cincinnati
2011 Draft, Round 6 – Philadelphia Eagles
Kelce has been the Eagles’ starting center for 10 seasons, earning first team All-Pro honors, making four Pro Bowls, and winning a Super Bowl along the way.
190. George Atkinson, SS, Morris Brown College
1968 Draft, Round 7 – Oakland Raiders
The strong safety was a perfect fit in the Raiders’ nasty, hard-hitting secondary and is tied with Jack Tatum for fifth in career interceptions with the franchise.
189. Tom Banks, C, Auburn
1970 Draft, Round 8 – St. Louis Cardinals
Banks played 10 seasons with the Cardinals and made the Pro Bowl four times.
188. Andy Lee, P, Pittsburgh
2004 Draft, Round 6 – San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers’ all-time leader in punting yards has made the Pro Bowl three times and is currently the punter for the Arizona Cardinals.
187. Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Boston College
1998 Draft, Round 6 – Green Bay Packers
Hasselbeck backed up Brett Favre his first three seasons before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks. He became the Seahawks’ permanent starter in 2003, leading them to the playoffs six times and an appearance in Super Bowl XL.
186. Deacon Jones, DE, Mississippi Valley State
1961 Draft, Round 14 – Los Angeles Rams
The man who coined the phrase, “sacking the quarterback,” had 173.5 unofficial sacks in the era where the stat was not recorded. Jones was a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the Rams retired his jersey.
185. Cedric Peerman, RB, Virginia
2009 Draft, Round 6 – Baltimore Ravens
Peerman was cut by the Ravens, but eventually found a role as a special teams player with the Cincinnati Bengals, making the Pro Bowl in 2015.
184. Billy Shaw, G, Georgia Tech
1961 Draft, Round 14 – Dallas Cowboys
Shaw chose to sign with the Buffalo Bills, who picked him in the AFL draft. In Buffalo, he helped the franchise win two titles and was named to the AFL All-Time First Team. Shaw also was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
183. Bo Jackson, RB, Auburn
1987 Draft, Round 7 – Los Angeles Raiders
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Jackson with the first pick in 1986, but held meetings with him that violated NCAA rules and made him ineligible to finish his senior season on Auburn’s baseball team. Jackson felt that he was misled and said he would never play for Tampa Bay, opting to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals. The next year, the Raiders took him in the seventh round and gave Jackson a contract that allowed him to join the team after the baseball season. In four abbreviated seasons, Jackson wowed NFL fans, making amazing runs and averaging 5.4 yards a carry. A hip injury that ended his career will always leave us wondering what might have been.
182. Rayfield Wright, T, Fort Valley State
1967 Draft, Round 7 – Dallas Cowboys
Wright won the starting right tackle job after a great performance against Deacon Jones in 1969. From there, he made the Pro Bowl six straight years and won two Super Bowls. In 2006, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
181. Willie Davis, DE, Grambling
1956 Draft, Round 15 – Cleveland Browns
The late Davis spent two years in the Army before joining the Browns, who couldn’t decide if he was an offensive or defensive lineman and traded him to the Green Bay Packers in 1960. He found his role as defensive end, wreaking havoc on quarterbacks, winning five NFL titles, and making the Pro Football Hall of Fame along the way.
180. Fred Beasley, FB, Auburn
1998 Draft, Round 6 – San Francisco 49ers
During his eight seasons with the 49ers, Beasley was considered to be one of the best blocking fullbacks in the NFL.
179. Steve Jordan, TE, Brown
1982 Draft, Round 7 – Minnesota Vikings
Jordan made six consecutive Pro Bowls and caught 498 passes during his career with the Vikings.
178. Larry Grantham, LB, Mississippi
1960 Draft, Round 15 – Baltimore Colts
Grantham chose to sign with the New York Titans (New York Jets) who picked him in the AFL draft. With New York, he was a five-time AFL All-Star and helped beat the NFL team who drafted him in Super Bowl III.
177. Justin Bethel, CB, Presbyterian
2012 Draft, Round 6 – Arizona Cardinals
Bethel has been a standout special teams player and has made the Pro Bowl three times during his nine-season career.
176. Pat Haden, QB, USC
1975 Draft, Round 7 – Los Angeles Rams
After playing one season with the World Football League’s Southern California Sun, Haden led the Rams to three playoff appearances before taking a broadcasting job after the 1981 season.
175. Delanie Walker, TE, Central Missouri
2006 Draft, Round 6 – San Francisco 49ers
Walker played in a utility role with the 49ers before signing as a free agent with the Tennessee Titans in 2013. In Nashville, he became one of the top tight ends in the NFL before being released by the team in 2020.
174. Bruce Van Dyke, G, Missouri
1966 Draft, Round 12 – Philadelphia Eagles
Van Dyke was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1967 and was a nine-year starter for Pittsburgh and the Green Bay Packers, making the Pro Bowl in ‘73.
173. Matt Birk, C, Harvard
1998 Draft, Round 6 – Minnesota Vikings
The first lineman from Harvard to be drafted since 1985 made the Pro Bowl six times and won Super Bowl XLVII with the Baltimore Ravens.
172. D.J. Alexander, LB, Oregon State
2015 Draft, Round 5 – Kansas City Chiefs
Alexander has found a role on special teams and made the Pro Bowl for his play in 2016.
171. Gary Anderson, K, Syracuse
1982 Draft, Round 7 – Buffalo Bills
After being cut by the Bills, Anderson signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers and enjoyed a 23-year career with five different teams. He ranks third in career points and field goals made.
170. Mike Nelms, DB/KR, Baylor
1977 Draft, Round 7 – Buffalo Bills
Nelms was cut by the Bills and played three seasons in the CFL before signing with the Washington Redskins in 1980. There, he became a standout return specialist, making the Pro Bowl three times and winning a Super Bowl.
169. Efren Herrera, K, UCLA
1974 Draft, Round 7 – Detroit Lions
After being waived by the Lions, Herrera signed with the Cowboys. He would go on to receive All-Pro honors with both Dallas and the Seattle Seahawks and win a Super Bowl ring.
168. Daryle Lamonica, QB, Notre Dame
1963 Draft, Round 12 – Green Bay Packers
Lamonica chose to go with the Buffalo Bills, the AFL team who drafted him, and backed up Jack Kemp before being traded to the Oakland Raiders in 1967. With Oakland, “The Mad Bomber” made owner Al Davis’ vision of extending the field with the long passing game a reality.
167. Reggie Roby, P, Iowa
1983 Draft, Round 6 – Miami Dolphins
The late Roby’s name was synonymous with power punting during his 16 seasons in the league.
166. La’Roi Glover, DT, San Diego State
1996 Draft, Round 5 – Oakland Raiders
Glover was cut by the Raiders in 1997 and signed with the New Orleans Saints. In the Big Easy and in Dallas, he dominated at his position, making the Pro Bowl six straight seasons. Glover also led the league in sacks in 2000, a rarity for a defensive tackle.
165. Tyreek Hill, WR/KR, West Alabama
2016 Draft, Round 5 – Kansas City Chiefs
Hill has caught 368 passes in his first five seasons in the league, making the Pro Bowl each year.
164. Carl Nicks, G, Nebraska
2008 Draft, Round 5 – New Orleans Saints
Nicks started four seasons with the Saints, won a Super Bowl, and made the Pro Bowl twice. After winning Super Bow XLIV, he famously declared he was “going to MF-ing Disneyland.”
163. Lemar Parrish, CB/KR, Lincoln University of Missouri
1970 Draft, Round7 – Cincinnati Bengals
Parrish made the Pro Bowl eight times with the Bengals and the Washington Redskins and returned four punts, four interceptions, three fumbles, one kickoff, and one blocked field goal for touchdowns.
162. Kenny Graham, S, Washington State
1964 Draft, Round 12 – Baltimore Colts
Graham went with the San Diego Chargers, who took him in the AFL draft. In San Diego, he snagged 28 interceptions and was a four-time AFL All-Star.
161. Harold Carmichael, WR, Southern University
1971 Draft, Round 7 – Philadelphia Eagles
The 6’8” Carmichael was force at wide receiver and set a then-NFL record of catching a pass in 127 consecutive games in 1980. He also scored 79 touchdowns during his 14-year Hall of Fame career.
160. Frank Wycheck, TE, Maryland
1993 Draft, Round 6 – Washington Redskins
After being released by the Redskins for testing positive for steroids in 1995, Wycheck signed with the Houston Oilers, who were in the process of making the move to Nashville. As a Tennessee Titan, Wycheck became one of the franchise’s most popular players and caught more than 500 passes. He also threw the “Music City Miracle” to Kevin Dyson in 2000.
159. Jake Scott, S/KR, BC Lions
1970 Draft, Round 7 – Miami Dolphins
Scott is one of best the defensive backs in the University of Georgia’s history, but left after his sophomore season to play for the BC Lions in the CFL. He was then drafted by the Dolphins in 1970 and became an immediate starter. Scott would go on to snag 49 picks and make the Pro Bowl five years in a row. He also recorded two interceptions in Super Bowl VII and was the game’s MVP.
158. Jay Novacek, TE, Wyoming
1985 Draft, Round 6 – St. Louis Cardinals
Novacek struggled with injuries in his first five seasons with the Cardinals before signing with the Dallas Cowboys as a Plan B Free Agent in 1990, and his career took off. In his five seasons as Dallas’ starting tight end, Novacek made the Pro Bowl five years in a row and won three Super Bowls.
157. Mark Chmura, TE, Boston College
1992 Draft, Round 6 – Green Bay Packers
A spinal injury in 1999 cut short a great career, which included three Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl ring.
156. Ed Newman, G, Duke
1973 Draft, Round 6 – Miami Dolphins
Newman became the Dolphins’ starting guard in 1979 and held the position for six seasons, making the Pro Bowl four times before retiring after the ‘84 season.
155. Galen Fiss, LB, Kansas
1953 Draft, Round 13 – Cleveland Browns
Fiss played minor league ball for the Cleveland Indians and spent two years in the Air Force before joining the Browns in 1956. He proved to be reliable linebacker, making the Pro Bowl twice and helping win the Browns’ last NFL title in 1964.
154. Zach Thomas, LB, Texas Tech
1996 Draft, Round 5 – Miami Dolphins
The AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year was dominant at the middle linebacker position in 13 seasons with the Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys, recording more than 1,100 tackles.
153. Matthew Slater, WR, UCLA
2008 Draft, Round 5 – New England Patriots
The son of Hall of Famer Jackie Slater has made the Pro Bowl nine times as a special teams player.
152. Bruce Laird, S/KR, American International College
1972 Draft, Round 6 – Baltimore Colts
Laird made the Pro Bowl as a return specialist his rookie season and played 12 seasons with the Colts and San Diego Chargers.
151. Hewritt Dixon, RB, Florida A&M
1963 Draft, Round 11 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Dixon opted for the Denver Broncos, who picked him in the AFL draft, and amassed 5,909 rushing and receiving yards in eight seasons with the Broncos and Oakland Raiders.
150. Greg Lloyd Sr., LB, Fort Valley State
1987 Draft, Round 6 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Lloyd is one of the best linebackers in Steelers’ history (and that’s saying something) and may have been a Hall of Famer had injuries not slowed his career.
149. Elbie Nickel, TE, Cincinnati
1949 Draft, Round 17 – Pittsburgh Steelers
To give you a sense of Nickel’s productivity in the 1950s, the three-time Pro Bowler’s 329 receptions are the most by any Steelers’ tight end except Heath Miller.
148. John Wade, C, Marshall
1998 Draft, Round 5 – Jacksonville Jaguars
Wade started 110 games in 11 seasons with the Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders.
147. Mel Gray, WR, Missouri
1971 Draft, Round 6 – St. Louis Cardinals
Not to be confused with the return specialist who played for the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions in the 1980s and ‘90s, Gray caught a pass in 121 straight games for the Cardinals and made four Pro Bowls.
146. Mark Rypien, QB, Washington State
1986 Draft, Round 6 – Washington Redskins
A master of the long bomb, Rypien was 47-31 as a starter and MVP in the Redskins win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI.
145. Winston Hill, T, Texas Southern
1963 Draft, Round 11 – Baltimore Colts
After choosing to forgo the Colts and sign with the New York Jets in the AFL, he started 174 straight games at left tackle, protecting Joe Namath’s blind side and weak knees and opening holes for the team’s rushing attack. In addition to winning Super Bowl III, Hill was a four-time AFL All-Star and four-time Pro Bowler. In 2020, the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted Hill for his efforts.
144. Joe Klecko, NT, Temple
1977 Draft, Round 6 – New York Jets
Klecko made the Pro Bowl as a defensive end, defensive tackle, and nose tackle, making him only the second player in NFL history to make the roster at three different positions after Frank Gifford. In 2004, the Jets retired his number, an honor only previously given to Joe Namath and Don Maynard.
143. Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
2012 Draft, Round 5 – Carolina Panthers
In addition to finishing as a runner-up in Season 26 (spring 2018) of Dancing with the Stars, Norman also has been one of the better cornerbacks in the league during his eight seasons with the Panthers, Washington Redskins, and Buffalo Bills.
142. Shane Lechler, P, Texas A&M
2000 Draft, Round 5 – Oakland Raiders
Lechler’s average of 47.6 yards per punt over his 18-year career with the Raiders and Houston Texans is an NFL record.
141. Stephen Boyd, LB, Boston College
1995 Draft, Round 5 – Detroit Lions
Boyd replaced Chris Spielman as the Lions’ middle linebacker and filled those shoes well. He made the Pro Bowl from 1998-2000 before retiring during the 2001 season because of chronic back pain.
140. Terance Mathis, WR, New Mexico
1990 Draft, Round 6 – New York Jets
Mathis served as return specialist for the Jets before signing with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent in 1994. He retired as the Falcons’ all-time leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.
139. Jack Gregory, DE, Tennessee-Chattanooga
1966 Draft, Round 9 – Cleveland Browns
The Browns drafted Gregory as a junior and he chose to play his senior year at Delta State in Cleveland, Miss., before joining the Browns in 1967. He is credited with 103 unofficial sacks during his 13-year career with the Browns and New York Giants.
138. Robert Mathis, LB, Alabama A&M
2003 Draft, Round 5 – Indianapolis Colts
Mathis helped add some toughness to the Colts’ weak defense. During his 14-year career in Indy, he made the Pro Bowl six times, won a Super Bowl, and was named AFC Defensive Player of the year in 2013 when he led the NFL in sacks.
137. Johnny Morris, RB, UC Santa Barbara
1958 Draft, Round 12 – Chicago Bears
The Bears moved Morris to wide receiver in 1961 and to this day, his 5,059 career receiving yards is still an all-time franchise record.
136. Bill Nelsen, QB, USC
1963 Draft, Round 10 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Nelsen battled injuries during his five seasons in the Steel City before being traded to the Cleveland Browns in 1968. In Cleveland, he went 34-16-1 as a starter.
135. Josh Sitton, G, Central Florida
2008 Draft, Round 4 – Green Bay Packers
Sitton made the Pro Bowl four times and won a Super Bowl in his career with the Packers, Chicago Bears, and Miami Dolphins.
134. Rob Goode, RB, Texas A&M
1948 Draft, Round 15 – Chicago Bears
The Bears drafted Goode as a junior, but the Redskins took him the next year with the eighth pick and that is where he played. Goode missed two of his prime years (1952 and ‘53) because of service in the Marines, but retired as Washington’s all-time leading rusher at the time with 2,257 yards.
133. Kyle Williams, DT, LSU
2006 Draft, Round 5 – Buffalo Bills
Considered too small for the NFL, Williams made the Pro Bowl six times in his 13 seasons with the Bills.
132. Dave Meggett, RB/KR, Towson
1989 Draft, Round 5 – New York Giants
Meggett played for head coach Bill Parcells with the Giants, New England Patriots, and New York Jets and retired with nearly 14,000 all-purpose yards.
131. Sammy Winder, RB, Southern Miss
1982 Draft, Round 5 – Denver Broncos
Winder was a key component of a Broncos offense that made three Super Bowl appearances in the 1980s.
130. Brian Mitchell, RB/KR, Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana)
1990 Draft, Round 5 – Washington Redskins
In his 14 seasons with the Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants, Mitchell was one of the top return specialists in the league. He currently holds the career records for kick, punt, and total return yardage.
129. Roger Staubach, QB, Navy
1964 Draft, Round 10 – Dallas Cowboys
After Staubach won the Heisman Trophy in 1963 as a junior, Dallas head coach Tom Landry drafted him even though he knew he could not join the team until ‘69 because of a four-year military commitment. Staubach proved to be worth the wait, winning two Super Bowls during his Hall of Fame career.
128. Barry Foster, RB, Arkansas
1990 Draft, Round 5 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Foster led the AFC in rushing in 1992 with 1,690 yards and had posted a Steelers’ record 12 100-yard games. Sadly, injuries ended what was shaping up to be a very promising career.
127. Charlie Conerly, QB, Ole Miss
1945 Draft, Round 13 – Washington Redskins
Conerly left Ole Miss after his sophomore year to serve in World War II. Meanwhile Washington drafted Conerly in 1945, which would have been his senior year. He returned to play for Ole Miss in 1946 and finished fourth in the Heisman voting in ‘47. Since the Redskins were already secure at quarterback with Sammy Baugh, they traded his rights to the New York Giants. In the Big Apple, Conerly was a star, winning an NFL title in 1956 and being named the league MVP in ‘59. After retiring in 1961, he portrayed the “Marlboro Man” in advertisements.
126. Jared Allen, DE, Idaho State
2004 Draft, Round 4 – Kansas City Chiefs
In his 12-season career with the Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, and Carolina Panthers, Allen led the league in sacks twice, tying an NFL record. He also holds league records for most consecutive games with a sack (11) and most safeties in a career (four, tied with Ted Hendricks and Doug English).
125. Mike Webster, C, Wisconsin
1974 Draft, Round 5 – Pittsburgh Steelers
One of the best centers in NFL history was the anchor of the Steelers’ offensive line that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Webster was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997 after retiring in ‘91. Sadly, he also was the first player to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after his death in 2002.
124. Ben Coates, TE, Livingstone
1991 Draft, Round 5 – New England Patriots
One of the best tight ends of the 1990s was a favorite target of quarterback Drew Bledsoe, and made the Pro Bowl five straight years. He retired with 499 receptions and 50 touchdowns.
123. Eddie LeBaron, QB, Pacific
1950 Draft, Round 10 – Washington Redskins
LeBaron joined the Redskins in 1952 after serving in the Korean War. He was named Rookie of the Year and went on to make four Pro Bowls.
122. Hardy Nickerson, LB, California
1987 Draft, Round 5 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Nickerson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent in 1993 and had his best years. He made five Pro Bowls and was instrumental in turning the franchise around.
121. Michael Carter, NT, SMU
1984 Draft, Round 5 – San Francisco 49ers
As he liked to say, Carter “kept the middle quiet” during his nine-year career, which included three Pro Bowls and three Super Bowl rings.
120. Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia
2010 Draft, Round 4 – Cincinnati Bengals
If Atkins finds life after Cincinnati, he could potentially have a Hall of Fame career.
119. George Blanda, QB/K, Kentucky
1949 Draft, Round 12 – Chicago Bears
Pro football’s “Grand Old Man” retired in 1958 after Bears owner and coach George Halas would only use him as a placekicker. He came back to play for the AFL’s Houston Oilers in 1960 and won the league’s first two championships. In 1967, he signed with the Oakland Raiders, playing primarily as placekicker and backup quarterback, coming off the bench to give clutch performances that defied his age. All in all, his 26 seasons in pro football is a record that will likely never be broken.
118. Stephen Gostkowski, K, Memphis
2006 Draft, Round 4 – New England Patriots
Gostkowski is the most accurate kicker in Patriots history and the ninth-most accurate of all time. His 523 consecutive extra points are a league record.
117. Steve Largent, WR, Tulsa
1976 Draft, Round 4 – Houston Oilers
The Oilers traded Largent to the Seattle Seahawks right after the 1976 preseason. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. When he retired in 1989, he was the all-time leader in receptions (819), yards (13,089), and touchdowns (100).
116. Zak DeOssie, LB, Brown
2007 Draft, Round 4 – New York Giants
DeOssie became the Giants’ long snapper his rookie season, and while he filled in on defense on occasion, that was his primary role before leaving the team after the 2019 season. In that capacity, he has made two Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowl rings.
115. Len Hauss, C, Georgia
1964 Draft, Round 9 – Washington Redskins
Hauss became the starting center his rookie season and held that position until his retirement in 1977, starting 192 straight games. He also made the Pro Bowl six years in a row.
114. Herschel Walker, RB, New Jersey Generals
1985 Draft, Round 5 – Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys suspected that the USFL would fold and drafted Walker in 1985. When it did dissolve, the Heisman Trophy-winning back joined the Cowboys in 1986. While he is best remembered for the trade with the Minnesota Vikings that launched the Cowboys’ dynasty, it was Walker’s play in 1987 and his league-leading 1,514 rushing yards in ‘88 that made that deal possible.
113. Kevin Greene, LB, Auburn
1985 Draft, Round 5 – Los Angeles Rams
Greene played for four different teams during his 15-year career and retired as the all-time leader in sacks by a linebacker. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
112. Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama
2017 Draft, Round 4 – Chicago Bears
Jackson has made the Pro Bowl twice and returned three fumbles and three interceptions for touchdowns during his young career.
111. Grady Alderman, T, Detroit Mercy
1960 Draft, Round 10 – Detroit Lions
Alderman went to the newly launched Minnesota Vikings in the 1961 Expansion Draft to fill the roster. He started 13 seasons for the franchise and made the Pro Bowl six times.
110. Leroy Kelly, RB, Morgan State
1964 Draft, Round 8 – Cleveland Browns
Kelly became Cleveland’s starting running back after Jim Brown retired in 1966. While he did not match Brown’s success, Kelly did have a Hall of Fame career, rushing for more than 7,000 yards and 74 touchdowns.
109. Don Maynard, WR, Texas Western (now UTEP)
1957 Draft, Round 9 – New York Giants
The Giants cut Maynard after one season and he played a year in the CFL before signing with the AFL’s New York Titans (now Jets). With the Jets, he caught 627 passes for more than 11,000 yards, averaging 18.7 yards a reception. In 1987, Maynard was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
108. Jahri Evans, G, Bloomsburg
2006 Draft, Round 4 – New Orleans Saints
Evans made the Pro Bowl six times during his 12 seasons with the Saints and Green Bay Packers.
107. Walt Sweeney, G, Syracuse
1963 Draft, Round 8 – Cleveland Browns
Sweeney went to the San Diego Chargers, who took him with the second pick of the AFL draft and he went on to be an AFL All-Star or Pro Bowler nine years in a row. Merlin Olsen once said he would “rather sell used cars” than face Sweeney every game.
106. Don Perkins, FB, New Mexico
1960 Draft, Round 9 – Baltimore Colts
The newly formed Dallas Cowboys were unable to participate in the 1960 draft and went ahead and signed Perkins. The NFL allowed it but made Dallas give Baltimore its ninth round pick in the 1962 draft. During his eight-year career, Perkins was an outstanding blocker who finished in the top 10 in rushing in the league every year.
105. Harry Carson, LB, South Carolina State
1976 Draft, Round 4 – New York Giants
Carson was captain of the Giants in 10 of his 13 seasons with the franchise, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Bill Belichick has said that Carson was the best all-around linebacker that he ever coached.
104. Dwight White, DE, East Texas State (now Texas A&M-Commerce)
1971 Draft, Round 4 – Pittsburgh Steelers
“Mad Dog” was a vital member of the “Steel Curtain” defense that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. He was so intense that he came back from pneumonia to sack Fran Tarkenton for a safety in Super Bowl IX.
103. Dante Lavelli, WR, Cleveland Browns
1947 Draft, Round 12 – Los Angeles Rams
Lavelli only played three games at Ohio State before serving in World War II and signing with the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference in 1946. The Rams still tried to make a run at him in the 1947 draft, but Lavelli stayed with Cleveland. There, “Glue Hands” won seven championships, making clutch plays when it mattered, en route to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also helped form the NFL Players Association.
102. Johnny Unitas, QB, Louisville
1955 Draft, Round 9 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Unitas was cut by Pittsburgh and spent 1955 working construction and playing semi-pro ball. He decided to try out for the Baltimore Colts in 1956 and made the team. Unitas got the starting job later that season after George Shaw broke his leg. From there, he ushered in the modern passing game and became the standard for which future quarterbacks would be measured.
101. Jack Rudnay, C, Northwestern
1969 Draft, Round 4 – Kansas City Chiefs
Rudnay made the Pro Bowl four times during his 13-season career with the Chiefs.
100. Mark Bavaro, TE, Notre Dame
1985 Draft, Round 4 – New York Giants
Bavaro became a starter and fan favorite for his toughness and low-key personality during his rookie season. His blocking and clutch play helped the Giants win two Super Bowls in five years.
99. Joe Theismann, QB, Notre Dame
1971 Draft, Round 4 – Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins drafted Theismann but could not agree to a contract so the quarterback went to the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. After three standout seasons, the Washington Redskins traded a first-round pick to the Dolphin to acquire Theismann’s rights and signed him. He got the starting job in 1978 and quarterbacked the team to a Super Bowl win in ‘82 and another appearance in ‘83.
98. Cliff Branch, WR, Colorado
1972 Draft, Round 4 – Oakland Raiders
Branch averaged 17.3 yards a catch over his 14-year career and was a deep threat on three Raiders teams that won Super Bowls.
97. Vince Newsome, S, Washington
1983 Draft, Round 4 – Los Angeles Rams
Newsome snagged 16 picks during his 10-year career and was second-team All-NFC in 1986.
96. Charles Haley, LB, James Madison
1986 Draft, Round 4 – San Francisco 49ers
The first player to win five Super Bowls was a vital component of the 49ers’ back-to-back championships in the late 1980s and the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the ‘90s. His play at linebacker and defensive end for both teams earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
95. Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami (Fla.)
2010 Draft, Round 3 – New Orleans Saints
Graham has been one of the top tight ends in the NFL during his 11 seasons with the Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Bears.
94. Thomas Everett, S, Baylor
1987 Draft, Round 4 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Everett was one of the better safeties in the league during his nine-year career and won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys.
93. Charlie Joiner, WR, Grambling
1969 Draft, Round 4 – Houston Oilers
Joiner had solid success in Houston and with the Cincinnati Bengals before being traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1975. The Hall of Famer flourished in San Diego’s “Air Coryell” offense and retired as the NFL leader in receptions (750) and yards (12,146) in 1986.
92. Hines Ward, WR, Georgia
1998 Draft, Round 3 – Pittsburgh Steelers
The MVP of Super Bowl XL retired in 2012 with 1,000 career receptions. Ward also is Pittsburgh’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards (12,083), and touchdown catches (85).
91. NaVorro Bowman, LB, Penn State
2010 Draft, Round 3 – San Francisco 49ers
Bowman was a four-time, First-Team All-Pro and winner of the 2013 Butkus award for NFL linebackers.
90. Pat Donovan, DE, Stanford
1975 Draft, Round 4 – Dallas Cowboys
Drafted as a defensive end, Donovan was move to tackle to make up for the issues on the Cowboys’ offensive line. He was named the starting left tackle in 1978 and made four straight Pro Bowls before retiring after the ‘83 season.
89. Terrell Owens, WR, Tennessee-Chattanooga
1996 Draft, Round 3 – San Francisco 49ers
T.O.’s shenanigans overshadowed his remarkable play and Hall of Fame career.
88. Bob Hayes, WR, Florida A&M
1964 Draft, Round 7 – Dallas Cowboys)
“Bullet Bob” is the only player to win a Super Bowl and an Olympic gold medal. He averaged 20 yards a catch over his 11-season career and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
87. Vic Washington, WR, BC Lions
1970 Draft, Round 4 – San Francisco 49ers
After attending Wyoming, Washington played three seasons in the CFL and won two Grey Cups with the Ottawa Rough Riders. The 49ers drafted him in 1971 and he made the Pro Bowl that season, which would be the high-water mark of his six-year NFL career.
86. Morten Andersen, K, Michigan State
1982 Draft, Round 4 – New Orleans Saints
Andersen played 25 seasons and retired as the all-time leader in scoring (2,544) and field goals made (565). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
85. Joe Schmidt, LB, Pittsburgh
1953 Draft, Round 7 – Detroit Lions
The prototype of the modern middle linebacker made the Pro Bowl 10 seasons in a row and won two NFL championships. The Lions retired his jersey number and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973.
84. Bobby Mitchell, RB, Illinois
1958 Draft, Round 7 – Cleveland Browns
Mitchell shared the backfield with Jim Brown, rushing for almost 2,300 yards in his first four seasons. Then he was traded to the Washington Redskins, where he was moved to flanker and had nearly 6,500 yards receiving. Needless to say, he is in the Hall of Fame.
83. Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma
2018 Draft, Round 3 – Baltimore Ravens
Brown has made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons and the Kansas City Chiefs ponied up a first-round pick to put him on their offensive line in 2021.
82. Joe Montana, QB, Notre Dame
1979 Draft, Round 3 – San Francisco 49ers
Montana’s arm strength lowered his standing in the draft, but 49ers head coach Bill Walsh saw his potential to run the West Coast offense. He was right to the tune of four Super Bowls, in three of which “Joe Cool” was MVP.
81. Jerry Norton, RB/S/P, SMU
1954 Draft, Round 7 – Philadelphia Eagles
A three-way player, Norton snagged 35 picks, rushed for 341 yards, and averaged 43.8 yards a punt during his 11-season career.
80. Art Shell, T, Maryland State (now Maryland-Eastern Shore)
1968 Draft, Round 3 – Oakland Raiders
The first African-American head coach in NFL history also was one of the greatest left tackles to ever play the game. This 1994 Sports Illustratedarticle shows how seriously the Hall of Famer took his approach to his work.
79. Jim Ringo, C, Syracuse
1953 Draft, Round 7 – Green Bay Packers
Ringo won two championships with Vince Lombardi’s Packers and made 10 Pro Bowls with Green Bay and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
78. Gene Hickerson, G, Ole Miss
1957 Draft, Round 7 – Cleveland Browns
So respected was Hickerson’s blocking and leadership that when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007, Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Kelly brought the ailing lineman onstage.
77. Elvin Bethea, DE, North Carolina A&T
1968 Draft, Round 3 – Houston Oilers
Bethea did not miss a game from 1968-77 and recorded 105 unofficial sacks during his Hall of Fame career.
76. Ahman Green, RB, Nebraska
1998 Draft, Round 3 – Seattle Seahawks
In his 12-year career, Green rushed for 9,205 yards and averaged 4.5 yards a carry. The majority of that success came after the Seahawks traded Green to the Green Bay Packers in 2000.
75. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
2012 Draft, Round 3 – Seattle Seahawks
Wilson has 107 regular and postseason victories, including Super Bowl XLVIII, in his nine-season career.
74. Will Shields, G, Nebraska
1993 Draft, Round 3 – Kansas City Chiefs
A first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2012, Shields started 231 consecutive games and played in 12 straight Pro Bowls.
73. Jason Taylor, DE, Akron
1997 Draft, Round 3 – Miami Dolphins
Over the course of his 15-season career, Taylor record 139.5 sacks, 47 forced fumbles, 29 fumble recoveries, and eight interceptions. He also holds the NFL record for fumbles returned for touchdowns with six and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
72. Jeremiah Trotter, LB, Stephen F. Austin
1998 Draft, Round 3 – Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles made two NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl with Trotter at middle linebacker. He also is one of only four linebackers in Eagles history to receive four or more Pro Bowl invites.
71. Randy Starks, DT, Maryland
2004 Draft, Round 3 – Tennessee Titans
Starks started 147 games at defensive tackle, nose tackle, and defensive end over 12 seasons with the Titans, Miami Dolphins, and Cleveland Browns and made two Pro Bowls.
70. Erik Williams, T, Central State
1991 Draft, Round 3 – Dallas Cowboys
Williams was vital part of “The Great Wall of Dallas” that won three Super Bowls and may have been a Hall of Famer if not for a 1994 car accident that slowed his career.
69. Jason Witten, TE, Tennessee
2003 Draft, Round 3 – Dallas Cowboys
Witten is second in career receptions and receiving yards for a tight end behind Tony Gonzalez. It is a safe bet that he will wind up in Canton five years from now.
68. Lance Briggs, LB, Arizona
2003 Draft, Round 3 – Chicago Bears
Briggs made the Pro Bowl seven seasons in a row during his 12-year career.
67. Ken Anderson, QB, Augustana College
1971 Draft, Round 3 – Cincinnati Bengals
Under Bengals quarterbacks coach Bill Walsh, Anderson was one of the first field generals to run the “West Coast offense.” He was the league MVP in 1981 and led the NFL in passer rating four times during his 16-season career.
66. Ronde Barber, CB, Virginia
1997 Draft, Round 3 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Barber started 224 consecutive games, the most ever by a defensive back, and is the only player in NFL history with more than 45 interceptions and 25 sacks.
65. Frank Gore, RB, Miami (Fla.)
2005 Draft, Round 3 – San Francisco 49ers
Gore ranks third in career rushing yards with 16,000 behind Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
64. Dan Fouts, QB, Oregon
1973 Draft, Round 3 – San Diego Chargers
As the leader of San Diego’s “Air Coryell” offense, Fouts showed what was possible with a pass-oriented attack. The Chargers retired his number and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.
63. Jerry Ball, DT, SMU
1987 Draft, Round 3 – Detroit Lions
The 330-pound Ball was an almost immovable force at nose tackle for four teams during his 14-year career.
62. Ken Gray, G, Howard Payne University
1958 Draft, Round 6 – Green Bay Packers
The Packers cut Gray before the start of the 1958 season. He signed with the Chicago Cardinals and went on to make six Pro Bowls.
61. Brian Dawkins, S, Clemson
1996 Draft, Round 2 – Philadelphia Eagles
One of the best safeties of his era made nine Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
60. Pat Swilling, LB, Georgia Tech
1986 Draft, Round 3 – New Orleans Saints
Swilling was part of the Saints’ famed “Dome Patrol” linebacker corps and one of the best outside linebackers of the late 1980s and early ‘90s.
59. Aeneas Williams, CB, Southern University
1991 Draft, Round 3 – Phoenix Cardinals
Williams is regarded as one of the greatest shutdown cornerbacks of all time. He made the Pro Bowl eight times with the Cardinals and St. Louis Rams before being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
58. Dick LeBeau, CB, Ohio State
1959 Draft, Round 5 – Cleveland Browns
Before he became one of the NFL’s most beloved defensive coordinators and inventor of the zone blitz, LeBeau was a Hall of Fame cornerback. After being cut by the Browns in training camp, LeBeau signed with the Detroit Lions, where he played 14 seasons and retired as the franchise’s all-time leader in interceptions with 62.
57. Devin Hester Sr., WR/KR, Miami (Fla.)
2006 Draft, Round 2 – Chicago Bears
Hester retired after the 2016 season as the career leader in kick and punt returns with 20. Imagine how high that number would be if teams had not gone out of their way to kick away from him.
56. Todd Christensen, RB, BYU
1978 Draft, Round 2 – Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys wanted to move Christensen to tight end, but he did not agree with the idea, and was cut after the 1978 season. He spent two weeks with the New York Giants before signing with the Oakland Raiders, where he got on board with playing tight end. It was a wise move. Christensen led the league in receptions twice and became the first tight end to have 90 catches two seasons in a row.
55. Andrew Whitworth, T, LSU
2006 Draft, Round 2 – Cincinnati Bengals
Whitworth has been a starter since his rookie season and has made the Pro Bowl four times in his 14 seasons with the Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams.
54. Stan Jones, T, Maryland
1953 Draft, Round 5 – Chicago Bears
The first NFL player we know of to use weight training for conditioning was moved to guard in 1954 and made the Pro Bowl at that position seven years in a row. He then played defensive tackle from 1963-65 and was so respected by owner George Halas that he traded Jones to the Washington Redskins so he could he play his final season in 1966 near his home in Rockville, Md. Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
53. Mel Blount, CB, Southern University
1970 Draft, Round 3 – Pittsburgh Steelers
So dominant was Blount in the era of “bump and run” pass defense that the NFL banned it beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage and it became known as the “Mel Blount Rule.” The Hall of Famer made the Pro Bowl three times and won two Super Bowls... after that rule went into effect.
52. Henry Jordan, DT, Virginia
1957 Draft, Round 5 – Cleveland Browns
Jordan was traded to the Green Bay Packers in 1959 and flourished. He was a seven-time All-Pro, won five NFL titles, and was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
51. Rickey Jackson, LB, Pittsburgh
1981 Draft, Round 2 – New Orleans Saints
In 2010, one day before New Orleans won Super Bowl XLIV, Jackson became the first player to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame primarily for his play as a Saint. No induction has ever seemed more poetic.
50. Willie Lanier, LB, Morgan State
1967 Draft, Round 2 – Kansas City Chiefs
Lanier made two AFL All-Star Games and six Pro Bowls and helped the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame in 1986.
49. Roger Craig, RB, Nebraska
1983 Draft, Round 2 – San Francisco 49ers
In 1986, Craig became the first player to record 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving in one season. His more than 8,000 rushing yards and nearly 5,000 receiving were a huge factor in three 49er Super Bowl victories.
48. Dwight Stephenson, C, Alabama
1980 Draft, Round 2 – Miami Dolphins
With Stephenson the starting center, the Dolphins gave up the fewest sacks from 1982-87, an NFL record. Even though a knee injury ended his career after the 1987 season, Stephenson’s play during his relatively short career was exceptional enough to warrant induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
47. Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
2012 Draft, Round 2 – Seattle Seahawks
Wagner has been the Seahawks’ starting middle linebacker since his first game and has made the Pro Bowl each of the past seven seasons.
46. Jack Lambert, LB, Kent State
1974 Draft, Round 2 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Before Lambert, middle linebackers were not expected to both stop the run and drop back and play zone in pass coverage. After Lambert made nine straight Pro Bowls and won four Super Bowls with the Steelers, all middle linebackers were required to be that versatile.
45. Dave Casper, TE, Notre Dame
1974 Draft, Round 2 – Oakland Raiders
Casper was a star receiver at tight end during the era where the position was still primarily used for blocking. He made five straight Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
44. Dermontti Dawson, C, Kentucky
1988 Draft, Round 2 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Dawson started 170 consecutive games and made the Pro Bowl seven seasons in a row. For his dominance at center, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
43. Dan Dierdorf, T, Michigan
1971 Draft, Round 2 – St. Louis Cardinals
Dierdorf was selected as the Offensive Lineman of the Year by the NFLPA from 1976-78. He also made the Pro Bowl six times and was inducted into Hall of Fame in 1996.
42. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
2010 Draft, Round 2 – New England Patriots
Twenty years from now, “Gronk” may be looked upon as the most transformational tight end in NFL history.
41. Pete Pihos, QB/RB, Indiana
1945 Draft, Round 5 – Philadelphia Eagles
Pihos was a standout player on both offense and defense in nine seasons with the Eagles, winning two NFL titles and leading the league in receptions three times. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970.
40. Michael Strahan, DE, Texas Southern
1993 Draft, Round 2 – New York Giants
During his 15-year Hall of Fame career, Strahan led the league in sacks twice and set the single-season record in 2001 with 22.5. In his final game, he sacked Tom Brady in the Giants’ upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
39. Fred Biletnikoff, WR, Florida State
1965 Draft, Round 3 – Detroit Lions
Biletnikoff chose to sign with the Oakland Raiders, who took him in the second round of the AFL draft. The Hall of Famer caught 40 or more passes in 10 straight seasons – a first in the run-oriented 1960s and ‘70s – and was MVP of Super Bowl XI.
38. Mike Singletary, LB, Baylor
1981 Draft, Round 2 – Chicago Bears
A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Singletary was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the leader of the Bears legendary “46 Defense.”
37. Norm Van Brocklin, QB, Oregon
1949 Draft, Round 4 – Los Angeles Rams
Even though he was a junior at Oregon, Van Brocklin was eligible for the draft because of his service in World War II. However, NFL teams were not certain if the All-American quarterback was going to stay in college or go pro so he fell in the draft. Van Brocklin would go on to win championships with the Rams and Philadelphia Eagles and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. He also threw for 554 yards against the New York Yanks in 1951, a record that still stands today.
36. Ray Nitschke, LB, Illinois
1958 Draft, Round 3 – Green Bay Packers
As middle linebacker with Vince Lombardi’s Packers, Nitschke was the linchpin of a defense that won five NFL titles in nine years. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978.
35. Mike Alstott, FB, Purdue
1996 Draft, Round 2 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The “A-Train” may be the last fullback of the era when backfields had two running threats. Sharing the backfield with tailback Warrick Dunn, Alstott rushed for more than 5,000 yards, made six straight Pro Bowls, and won Super Bowl XXXVII with Tampa Bay.
34. Jack Ham, LB, Penn State
1971 Draft, Round 2 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Considered to be one of the smartest outside linebackers to ever play the game, Ham was rarely out of position as the Steelers won four Super Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
33. Brett Favre, QB, Southern Miss
1991 Draft, Round 2 – Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons drafted Favre, but he played very little and was traded to the Green Bay Packers after his rookie season. Well, I guess you can say hindsight is 20/20.
32. Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
2001 Draft, Round 2 – San Diego Chargers
Brees made the Pro Bowl with the Chargers in 2004, but it appeared as if his career was winding down when he signed with the New Orleans Saints in ‘06. On the contrary, he has had what will be a Hall of Fame career in the Big Easy, making 12 more Pro Bowls and winning the city’s only Super Bowl. He also broke Johnny Unitas’ “unbreakable” record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
31. Tommy McDonald, WR, Oklahoma
1957 Draft, Round 3 – Philadelphia Eagles
McDonald played 12 seasons with the Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns, winning an NFL title with Philadelphia in 1960. When he retired after the 1968 season, the Hall of Famer ranked second in career touchdown receptions with 84.
30. Sam Huff, LB, West Virginia
1956 Draft, Round 3 – New York Giants
Giants’ defensive coordinator and future Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry created the 4-3 defense to fully utilize Huff, who went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
29. Fran Tarkenton, QB, Georgia
1961 Draft, Round 3 – Minnesota Vikings
When he retired after 18 years in pro football, Tarkenton was the career leader in completions (3,686), passing yards (47,003), and touchdowns (342). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
28. Derrick Brooks, LB, Florida State
1995 Draft, Round 1 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brooks made the Pro Bowl 11 times during his Hall of Fame career and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in the 2002, the same year the Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII.
27. Dan Marino, QB, Pittsburgh
1983 Draft, Round 1 – Miami Dolphins
Rumors of drug use caused Marino to drop in the draft, and Dolphins head coach Don Shula said that being picked after five other quarterbacks made him want “to show everybody else what a mistake that they had made." Marino definitely did that.
26. Ray Lewis, LB, Miami (Fla.)
1996 Draft, Round 1 – Baltimore Ravens
Lewis led the Ravens in tackles 12 out of his 14 seasons and his 31 career interceptions are the fifth most in league history by a linebacker. One of the greatest middle linebackers to ever play the game, he won two Super Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
25. Stanley Morgan, RB/WR, Tennessee
1977 Draft, Round 1 – New England Patriots
After being moved to wide receiver full time, Morgan went on to catch 557 passes for 10,716 yards and score 72 touchdowns over his 14-season career.
24. Ed Reed, S, Miami (Fla.)
2002 Draft, Round 1 – Baltimore Ravens
Reed is one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game and his 1,590 interception return yards are an NFL record. He also was a human highlight reel and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.
23. Bill George, LB, Wake Forest
1951 Draft, Round 2 – Chicago Bears
The first true middle linebacker in NFL history, George was a nine-time Pro Bowler and NFL champion in 1963. Rick Reilly also called the Hall of Famer “the meanest Bear ever,” which is no small feat.
22. Ernie Stautner, DT, Boston College
1950 Draft, Round 2 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Stautner retired as the NFL leader in career safeties and fumble recoveries and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
21. Randy Moss, WR, Marshall
1998 Draft, Round 1 – Minnesota Vikings
Moss holds the record for most touchdown receptions by a rookie (17) and most in a season (23). He finished his career with more than 15,000 receiving yards and 156 touchdown catches and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
20. Jack Youngblood, DE, Florida
1971 Draft, Round 1 – Los Angeles Rams
Youngblood had 151.5 sacks and played in 201 consecutive games – including a Super Bowl run in the 1979 playoffs with a fractured fibula – during his Hall of Fame career.
19. Randall McDaniel, G, Arizona State
1988 Draft, Round 1 – Minnesota Vikings
The low-key McDaniel started a record 11 straight Pro Bowls and made 12 overall with the Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Hall of Famer was so versatile that he would play fullback for the Vikings in short-yardage situations.
18. Paul Krause, S, Iowa
1964 Draft, Round 2 – Washington Redskins
Krause holds the all-time NFL record for interceptions with 81 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
17. Emmitt Smith, RB, Florida
1990 Draft, Round 1 – Dallas Cowboys
Smith is the NFL’s all-time rushing leader and was the engine that propelled Dallas to three Super Bowl wins in four seasons.
16. Jerry Rice, WR, Mississippi Valley State
1985 Draft, Round 1 – San Francisco 49ers
The greatest receiver – and arguably player – in NFL history also holds the records for most games played by a position player (303) and most seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards (14).
15. Alan Page, DT, Notre Dame
1967 Draft, Round 1 – Minnesota Vikings
In 1971, Page became the first defensive player to be named league MVP and made nine straight Pro Bowls. The former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
14. Gino Marchetti, DE, San Francisco
1952 Draft, Round 2 – New York Yanks
The Yanks moved to Dallas in 1952 and became the Dallas Texans. Then in 1953, that franchise was sold to Carroll Rosenbloom and became the Baltimore Colts. There, Marchetti was a nine-time First-Team All-Pro and won two NFL championships. When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972, he was universally considered at the time to be the greatest defensive end to ever play the game.
13. Tony Gonzalez, TE, California
1997 Draft, Round 1 – Kansas City Chiefs
Gonzalez is all-time leader in receptions (1,325) and receiving yards (15,127) by a tight end and second only to Jerry Rice in catches. He also only fumbled once in the final 14 seasons of his career.
12. Warren Sapp, DT, Miami (Fla.)
1995 Draft, Round 1 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A unique combination of size and speed at defensive tackle, Sapp recorded 96.5 sacks and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
11. Leo Nomellini, T, DT, Minnesota
1950 Draft, Round 1 – San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers first-ever draft pick played both offensive and defensive tackle and earned All-Pro honors at both positions, along with making the Pro Bowl 10 times during his career. In 1969, he was named to the NFL 50th Anniversary as a first-team defensive tackle and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the same year.
10. Rod Woodson, CB/KR, Purdue
1987 Draft, Round 1 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Woodson held out in contract negotiations until late October of the 1987 season. On Nov. 22, he showed Steelers’ fans that he was worth the wait, snagging his first interception and returning it 45 yards for a touchdown. It was the first of the Hall of Famer’s NFL-record 12 interceptions returned for touchdowns over his 17-year career. Along the way, he won a Super Bowl ring as part of the Baltimore Ravens’ legendary 2000 defense.
9. Bruce Matthews, G, USC
1983 Draft, Round 1 – Houston Oilers
Over his 19-year career, Matthews started 99 games at left guard, 67 at right guard, 87 at center, 22 at right tackle, and 17 at left tackle. He was selected to 14 Pro Bowls, tying Merlin Olsen’s record, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
8. Ronnie Lott, S, USC
1981 Draft, Round 1 – San Francisco 49ers
Lott started at cornerback his rookie year and returned three interceptions for touchdowns as the 49ers’ defense went from second worst to second best in the league and helped win Super Bowl XVI. The first-ballot Hall of Famer was part of the 49ers’ four Super Bowl teams during the 1980s and was one of the hardest-hitting defensive backs to ever play the game.
7. Champ Bailey, CB/WR/KR, Georgia
1999 Draft, Round 1 – Washington Redskins
Bailey was a threat on defense, offense and special teams at Georgia, but the Redskins and Denver Broncos, who acquired him in a trade in 2004, just played him at cornerback. In his single role, Bailey was selected to more Pro Bowls (12) than any other defensive back in NFL history.
6. Jim Brown, FB, Syracuse
1957 Draft, Round 1 – Cleveland Browns
Other running backs have retired with more yards, but none of them were as dominant as Brown. He led the league in rushing eight of his nine seasons, averaging 5.2 yards a carry, and is the only player to average more than 100 rushing yards a game for an entire career.
5. Deion Sanders, CB/KR, Florida State
1989 Draft, Round 1 – Atlanta Falcons
What makes “Neon Deion’s” career even more remarkable as that he also played professional baseball through most of it. Even with his “side gig,” he was one of the best shutdown cornerbacks and return specialists to ever play the game and was the difference maker in back-to-back Super Bowl wins with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys.
4. Walter Payton, RB, Jackson State
1975 Draft, Round 1 – Chicago Bears
In addition to being many coaches’ and fans’ choice as the greatest running back to ever play the game, Payton also retired with the most career receptions at the time by a non-receiver and eight touchdown passes.
3. Dick Butkus, LB, Illinois
1965 Draft, Round 1 – Chicago Bears
The most feared tackler in NFL history also was the model for the modern middle linebacker and held the record for most fumble recoveries when he retired.
2. Lawrence Taylor, LB, North Carolina
1981 Draft, Round 1 – New York Giants
Widely considered by players, coaches, and journalists as the greatest defensive player of all time, Taylor’s play changed defensive and offensive schemes for good. L.T. is also one of only two players to be named league MVP (the other is Alan Page).
1. Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee
1998 Draft, Round 1 – Indianapolis Colts
Many No. 1 picks have gone on to have Hall of Fame careers, but I’m going with Manning because he is the only player to win a Super Bowl as the starting quarterback with two different teams and retired as the all-time career leader in passing yards (71,940) and touchdown passes (539). The Associated Press also named him NFL MVP a record five times.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.