NFL Draft picks who turned into Hall-of-Fame Players

Fans and experts alike love to throw around buzz words in regards to the NFL draft. Players’ draft stock is determined by pre-draft workouts. There are players who are considered a steal or a bust. The steals are usually those who were expected to go at a specific pick but fell. Those terms are also used when it comes to determining a player’s value after a certain period of time.

Some like to react after a few games or even the rookie season. That’s typically unfair. Like other businesses, if someone fails a task or doesn’t perform up to standards, they’re usually given an opportunity to learn from it and try to improve and hit the next benchmark. Good leadership will recognize failure as someone who doesn’t improve upon mistakes, not that they didn’t hit their benchmarks initially.

That being said, there are a number of NFL careers that turned out to be great steals or even just great picks. Here are a few who were selected and turned into Hall-of-Famers.

Tom Brady, QB

A former sixth-round pick, 199th overall, Brady went on to win seven Super Bowls between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s a 15-time Pro Bowler, five-time Super Bowl MVP, and three-time NFL MVP, and he’s not finished yet. Brady recently announced he is returning for his age 45 season after leading the league in passing a season ago.

Bart Starr, QB

Starr was selected 200th overall in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL Draft. He was a two-time Super Bowl champion and five-time NFL champion over his 16-year career with the Green Back Packers. He was named MVP in 1966 and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. He threw for 24,718 yards and 152 touchdowns over his career.

Joe Montana, QB

Montana was a third-round pick, 82nd overall, and turned into a four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback. The 49ers great was an eight-time Pro Bowler, two-time MVP, and won three Super Bowl MVP awards. He threw for 40,551 yards and 273 touchdowns over his 15-year career split between San Francisco and Kansas City.

Jim Brown, RB

Before passing transformed the game over the last decade-plus, running backs were all the rave. Jim Brown was picked sixth overall in 1957 and went on to lead the league in rushing in eight of his nine seasons. He made the Pro Bowl each year of his career, and was a one-time champion and three-time MVP, including his first two seasons. He finished with 12,312 rushing yards and 106 rushing touchdowns.

Jerry Rice, WR

Widely considered the greatest receiver of all time, Rice was picked 16th overall in 1985. He wrapped up a  20-year career as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), and receiving touchdowns (558). Rice was a three-time Super Bowl champion, once Super Bowl MVP, two-time Offensive Player of the Year winner, and 13-time Pro Bowler.

Lawrence Taylor, LB

One of the most feared defensive players in league history, “L.T.” was selected second overall in 1981 and lived up to his billing. Taylor was a two-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner, won an MVP, and was a 10-time Pro Bowler. He had 142 sacks, 11 fumble recoveries, and nine interceptions in his 13-year career.

Deacon Jones, DE

Jones was selected in the 14th round, 186th overall, of the 1961 NFL Draft. He was a feared pass rusher, finishing with 173.5 sacks and 15 fumble recoveries in his Hall-of-Fame career. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection for the Rams.

Jack Lambert, LB

Lambert, quarterback of the great Steelers’ defenses in the 1970s, was selected 46th overall in the second round of the 1974 draft. In 11 seasons with the Steelers, he had 28 interceptions and 17 fumble recoveries while winning four Super Bowls, a Defensive Player of the Year selection, and was selected to nine Pro Bowls.

Richard Dent, DL

Bucky Dent was picked 203rd overall in the eighth round of the 1983 NFL Draft. He made a name for himself with the famed 1985 Monsters of the Midway Bears’ defense during his 15-year career. He was Super Bowl MVP during that 1985 champion and was a two-time Super Bowl champion overall. He was selected to four Pro Bowls.

Shannon Sharpe, TE

Sharpe is one of the best tight ends in NFL history, and he was selected 192nd overall in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL Draft. He went on to become a three-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowl pick. He finished his career with 10,060 receiving yards and 62 touchdowns. Of his 815 receptions, 399 of them (49%) went for first downs.

These are just some of the so-called steals of previous drafts, and some who lived up to their high selections. With the draft around the corner, and scouting has advanced compared to these picks, perhaps the next Hall-of-Fame selections will be uncovered late in the game.

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