The Best NFL Draft Picks of All Time

The centennial NFL campaign is in full swing and it’s becoming clear what some teams might need in the next draft but rather than focus on that, we’re going to have a little tribute to those picks over years gone by who weren’t necessarily tipped for greatness when they arrived on the scene but now have a place in the history books for all the right reasons. 


Feb 1, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit of NFL former commissioner Pete Rozelle with the jerseys of Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr (15), Oakland Raiders center Jim Otto (00), Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (12) and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jack Ham (59) at the Super Bowl LII Experience at Minneapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In 1956 Starr had to sit through 199 names being called before finally being picked by the Green Bay Packers. They say good things come to those who wait and that’s how it proved as Starr went on to accomplish remarkable things with his team; he lead the league in passing yards on five occasions, scooped a season MVP award and was on the winning side of the first and second Super Bowls, turning in MVP worthy displays on both occasions. 

To stay loyal to a solitary side for 15 years as a player is one thing but to follow that up with eight years as a coach is even more special. All that after only being chosen in round 17 of the draft as well!


Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach throws a football from the stage prior to the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Staubach was a round 10 pick in 1964 but it wasn’t until five years later that he lined up for the Dallas Cowboys due to his service in the navy. When he finally graced the NFL with his presence, he ensured he made up for lost time.

Staubach stayed in Dallas for 11 years and was part of the team who reached the Super Bowl on five occasions during that time, with Staubach the lead quarterback in four with one MVP winning performance. In 1978 he was named NFL man of the year and he’s since been picked in a seventy’s decade team.


Jan 20, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs former player Joe Montana pumps up the fans during the first quarter of the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Montana was a reasonably late pick given he didn’t find a team until call 82 and leaving things late followed Montana throughout his career as he became known for throwing match winning passes with as little as a few seconds on the clock. 

Most of Montana’s career was spent with the San Francisco 49ers and it was with them that not only did he win four NFL Super Bowls but he also became the first man ever to rank as the games MVP three times. He was more than a big game player though and his consistency saw him win back to back MVP awards in the 1989 and 1990 campaigns.


Sep 8, 2018; Hattiesburg, MS, USA; Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre warms up before the game between the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at M. M. Roberts Stadium. Favre played for Southern Miss. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

As a round two pick, 33rd overall, Favre is our earliest pick but there was no way anyone saw him going on to set the records he did. The quarterback spent most of his time with the Packers, although played for four teams in total and was named in the Pro-Bowl on 11 occasions. Favre scooped a trio of consecutive MVP awards between 1995 and 1997 but his greatest legacy is unquestionably his record-breaking appearance run of 321 games and the near on 72,000 yards he threw.


Dec 8, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) shouts out after running for a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Who else could it have been? Brady, remarkably, wasn’t chosen until pick 199 when the New England Patriots opted for him and what a shrewd move it has proven. Brady has since carried the team to nine Super Bowls, which is more than anyone else has achieved, winning six of them – another record. On top of that, Brady has 14 Pro-Bowls under his belt, a hat-trick of MVP awards as well as leading the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns in a combined seven seasons. For a man to be the 199th pick and go on to widely be considered the greatest player of all time is bordering on the unbelievable.

There you have it, five players who were deemed to be a mere runt of the litter in their respective drafts who turned out to establish themselves as legends of the game.

About Marcelo Villa

Marcelo is an associate editor at The Sports Daily, and has covered the San Diego Chargers for Bleacher Report. He also writes for Sportsdirect Inc.