Going into the NFL Draft every year, there are the players who dominate in college, run a 4.3 forty or impress scouts with physical attributes and in-game technique. This kind of player usually gets drafted in the first or second round.
Whether those players pan out is a different story, but where great teams are truly made are the later rounds of the draft. This is where teams find hidden gems. It doesn’t happen all the time, but every once in a while a player, for whatever reason, slips far in the draft. Yet, goes on to have an incredible NFL career.
Below are some of the best “value picks” in NFL history. Players who were drafted in the fourth round or later, but were still able to make an impact in the league.
Who else could it be? The New England Patriots starting quarterback for nearly the past two decades was not a star prospect coming out of Michigan. Brady was panned for his lack of NFL athleticism and less than stellar arm strength.
Not expected to be a high draft pick in the first place, Tom Brady fell to New England at pick No. 199 in the sixth round.
Since then, Brady has developed into arguably the best quarterback in NFL history. At 42 years old, Brady is still on the field and his six Super Bowl rings are more than any other player in NFL history.
A lot of NFL fans today have probably never even heard of Deacon Jones — a true shame considering Jones was one of the most dominant players in NFL history.
Jones was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams with the No. 186 pick in the 1961 NFL Draft. Despite being a 14th round pick, Jones would dominate the ’60s.
Sacks wouldn’t become an official NFL stat until 1982, but if they would have been recorded when Jones played, the 6-foot-5 , 265-pound defensive end would have 173.5 for his career — good for the third best mark in NFL history.
The two-time defensive player of the year had an insane 43.5 sacks in a two-year span between 1967-68.
Now known for his antics on Skip and Shannon: Undisputed, Sharpe is one of the best tight ends of all time.
In 1990, the Denver Broncos would take a flier on a 6-foot-2, 228-pound tight end from small school Savannah State, selecting Sharpe in the seventh round with the 192nd pick.
By the end of his career, Sharpe would win three Super Bowls, be named to the NFL’s All-Pro first-team four times and at the time, hold NFL career records for most receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns by a tight end.
The NFL Hall of Famer wouldn’t be selected in the 1956 draft until pick No. 200. Starr would go on to lead the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowls in history.
The former Alabama quarterback was named to four Pro Bowls and was named league MVP in 1966. It was a different game back then but regardless, Starr was one of the best players of his time.
The second Bronco on this list, Davis was never a star for the University of Georgia. As a result, he wouldn’t be selected until pick No. 196 in the 1995 draft.
Regardless, the 5-foot-11 back would become a star almost immediately into his NFL career.
In 1998, Davis would rush for 2,008 and 21 touchdowns — a yardage mark that ranks fifth most in NFL history.
The former sixth-round pick would win two championships with Denver, earn Offensive Player of the Year honors twice and end his career with 7,607 rushing yards and 60 touchdowns.
Despite not starting his NFL career until the age of 27 due to military service commitment, 10th round pick Roger Staubach was one of the best quarterbacks of the 1970s.
Staubach would go on to be a six-time Pro Bowler. He also won two Super Bowls for the Cowboys and would lead the NFL in passing touchdowns in 1973.
One of only 15 players in NFL history with over 130 career sacks, Allen did pretty well for a fourth round pick out of Idaho State.
At 6-foot-6 and 256 pounds, Allen wreaked havoc in the NFL from 2004 until 2015. In his 12-year career, Allen would be named to the NFL’s All-Pro first-team four team and would lead the NFL in sacks in both 2007 and 2011.
Allen’s 22 sacks in 2011 is the second most in a single season since sacks became an official stat in 1982 and remains one of the best individual single seasons in NFL history.