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25 Best NFL Players Not Drafted in the First 2 Rounds

Tony SantorsaSenior Writer IIJanuary 20, 2017

25 Best NFL Players Not Drafted in the First 2 Rounds

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    Not being drafted in the first two rounds does not mean that you're not going to turn out to be a great NFL player—in fact, there have been quite the handful of players that were selected in the first two rounds but never panned out.

    Drafting is such a key component to building a successful franchise and drafting well deep into the draft is what will win you championships.

    In that spirit, let's take a look at the top 25 best NFL players ever not drafted in the first two rounds. 

25. Joe Schmidt

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    Drafted: 1953, Round 7, Pick 85

    Joe Schmidt had himself one incredible career as he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973 after being named to 10 Pro Bowls as a linebacker.

    Schmidt played his entire career with the Detroit Lions as he was named the team's MVP four times. 

24. Norm Van Brocklin

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    Drafted: 1949, Round 4, Pick 37

    Hall of Fame quarterback Norm Van Brocklin was selected in the fourth round back in 1949 by the Los Angeles Rams and ultimately went on to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

    Van Brocklin not only spent time with the Rams but he was also a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and retired in 1960 after throwing for 23,611 yards and 173 touchdowns. 

23. Emlen Tunnell

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    Drafted: 1948, Undrafted

    Seventy-nine career interceptions is pretty impressive for a defensive back, as Emlen Tunnell was one of the best of his time.

    Tunnell play with the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers and was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 after his incredible career. 

22. Art Shell

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    Drafted: 1968, Round 3, Pick 80

    Art Shell was certainly not drafted in the top two rounds in the 1968 NFL draft and went on to be one of the greatest offensive tackles that we have ever seen in the NFL.

    Shell had an incredible career with the Oakland Raiders as he was named to eight Pro Bowls while being named All-Pro twice. 


21. Marion Motley

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    Drafted: Undrafted, 1946

    Marion Motley was not only a Pro Football Hall of Fame fullback but he was also a World War II veteran.

    Motley lead the AAFC in rushing once and then went onto lead the NFL is rushing in 1950.

    Motley played the majority of his career with the Cleveland Browns and then spent 1955 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

20. Mel Hein

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    Drafted: Undrafted, 1931

    Mel Hein is one of the greatest centers in NFL history as he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963.

    Hein spent all of his seasons with the New York Giants as he was named the NFL's top center from 1933 until 1940. 

19. Mike Webster

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    Drafted: 1974, Round 5, Pick 125

    Being nicknamed "Iron Mike" has to mean something—and in Mike Webster's case, it means that he's one of the greatest centers in NFL history.

    The Hall of Famer anchored the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line from 1974 until 1988 and then went to play one season with the Kansas City Chiefs. 

    Webster won four Super Bowls with the Steelers. 

18. Willie Brown

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    Drafted: Undrafted, 1963

    It's truly remarkable that Willie Brown went undrafted in 1963 as he went onto have one hell of a career with the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders.

    Brown retired in 1978 after winning one Super Bowl while being named to four Pro Bowls and picking off 54 passes. 

17. Red Grange

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    Drafted: 1925, Undrafted

    Red Grange may have been before his time but he was certainly one of the best running backs to ever play the game of football.

    Grange was so good that he was nicknamed "The Galloping Ghost."

    Grange played with the Chicago Bears and the New York Yankees and ultimately was so impressive that his No. 77 jersey is retired with the Bears. 

16. Ray Nitschke

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    Drafted: 1958, Round 3, Pick 36

    Ray Nitschke is one of the greatest Green Bay Packers ever.

    Nitschke was a standout linebacker as he was named All-Pro three times while winning two Super Bowls and being named the MVP of the 1962 NFL Championship Game. 

15. Raymond Berry

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    Drafted: 1954, Round 20, Pick 232

    How many times do you see a Hall of Fame wide receiver being drafted in the 20th round? Never.

    Raymond Berry retired in 1967 after an incredible career with the Baltimore Colts as he caught 631 passes for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns. 

14. Bronko Nagurski

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    Drafted: Undrafted, 1930

    Being a fullback and having the name "Bronko" pretty much sums you up as one of the meanest guys on the field—and that's exactly what Bronko Nagurski was.

    Nagurski had an incredible stint with the Chicago Bears and not only was he a great fullback but he was a pretty successful professional wrestler. 

13. Mel Blount

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    Drafted: 1970, Round 3, Pick 53

    Mel Blount is one of most physical cornerbacks to ever play the game of football as back in his era of football, cornerbacks were allowed to be much more physical than they can be today.

    Blount played his entire career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was named to five Pro Bowls while winning a total of four Super Bowls. 

12. Jim Thorpe

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    Drafted: Undrafted, 1915 

    Jim Thorpe is just an all-time great. He's a classic.

    Thorpe is one of the greatest athletes in the history of mankind as he not only was such a successful football player but he won gold medals in the 1912 Olympics for the pentathlon as well as the decathlon. 

11. Fran Tarkenton

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    Drafted: 1961, Round 3, Pick 29

    Fran Tarkenton was arguably one of the very first quarterbacks in NFL history to actually not only be able to be an effective runner but he able to throw the ball consistently.

    Tarkenton played from 1961 all the way until 1978 as he retired with 47,003 passing yards, 342 touchdowns and an impressive 80.4 quarterback rating. 

10. Roger Staubach

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    Drafted: 1964, Round 10, Pick 129 

    Roger Staubach was the face of the Dallas Cowboys from 1969 all the way until 1979.

    Staubach is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL as he won two Super Bowls while being named to six Pro Bowls and retiring with an 83.4 quarterback rating to go along with 153 touchdowns. 

9. Kurt Warner

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    Drafted: 1994, Undrafted

    Kurt Warner was a true diamond in the rough.

    Warner may have went undrafted but he won one Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams and then led the Arizona Cardinals to a Super Bowl appearance in 2009.

    Warner is one of the best passers to ever play the game as he accumulated 32,344 passing yards as well as 208 touchdowns and posted a remarkable 93.7 quarterback rating. 

8. Night Train Lane

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    Drafted: 1952, Undrafted

    Night Train Lane was simply a scary dude.

    Lane was one of the most feared cornerbacks in NFL history for not only record 68 interceptions but for being such a physical defender. 

    Lane spent his career with the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Cardinals as well as the Detroit Lions and then ultimately was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

7. Deacon Jones

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    Drafted: 1961, Round 14, Pick 186

    Deacon Jones is the man that coined the term "sack."

    He was a sack machine.

    Jones retired in 1974 after spending time with the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers and the Washington Redskins and unofficially recorded an incredible 173.5 sacks. 

6. Jim Otto

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    Drafted: Undrafted, 1960

    Jim Otto was one man that you did not want to mess with on the playing field.

    No team had any interest in Otto back in 1960 but he ultimately signed with the Oakland Raiders and went on to have an incredible career that got him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

5. Don Hutson

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    Drafted: Undrafted, 1935

    When I think about it, Don Hutson was so ahead of his time.

    Hutson was by far the greatest wide receiver of his generation as he not only won three NFL Championships but also reeled in 488 receptions for a whopping 7,991 yards and 99 touchdowns. 

4. Bart Starr

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    Drafted: 1956, Round 17, Pick 199

    Really? Bart Starr was selected in the 17th round? Wow—teams really missed on this guy. 

    Starr is one of the most winningest quarterbacks in NFL history as he won five NFL Championships with the Green Bay Packers while tossing 152 touchdowns and retiring with a solid 80.5 quarterback rating. 

3. Johnny Unitas

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    Drafted: 1955, Round 9, Pick 102

    It really amazes me that so many teams missed on Johnny Unitas.

    Unitas played with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers but most notably with the Baltimore Colts.

    Unitas retired in 1973 after throwing for a whopping 40,239 yards, 290 touchdowns and posting a stellar 81.2 quarterback rating. 

2. Tom Brady

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    Drafted: 2000, Round 6, Pick 199

    Who would have thought that a three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback could be drafted in the sixth round? 

    Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game and he truly is the greatest draft steal in NFL history as the New England Patriots simply lucked out with this selection. 

    Brady didn't necessarily have all the tools to be a great passer, but everyone overlooked his heart and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. 

1. Joe Montana

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    Drafted: 1979, Round 3 Pick 82

    It's certainly hard to believe that the greatest quarterback in NFL history was not picked in the first two rounds: He was picked in the third round.

    Montana went onto to win four Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers as he was named Super Bowl MVP three times while being named All-Pro six times. 

    There is no question in my mind that Montana is the greatest quarterback ever but it's rather amazing that he wasn't even considered a top prospect back in 1979. 

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