10 Best Late-Round QB Selections in NFL Draft History
The possibility of nabbing a future superstar quarterback in the later rounds of the draft are one in a million, but that doesn't mean it hasn't already happened on multiple occasions.
Ten quarterbacks were selected past the third round in the draft and later went on to win Pro Bowls and even Super Bowls. While their draft positions may have been low, it didn't stop them from being motivated enough to accomplish rare feats in NFL history
Many of these players were unable to blossom with the team that drafted them, but a change of scenery usually proved to be beneficial to their careers. There are, however, some players who managed to succeed with their draft teams and lead them to glory.
Here are the 10 best late-round quarterback selections in NFL draft history.
10. Marc Bulger
Draft year: 2000
Draft position: Round 6, pick 168
Team: New Orleans Saints
Marc Bulger's career in the NFL is a prime example of a practice-squad player making it to the big stage.
As the No. 168 pick in the 2000 draft, Bulger was taken by the New Orleans Saints, but he never made it past training camp. After a brief two-week stay with the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad, Bulger then earned a spot on the St. Louis Rams practice squad to finish the 2000 season. The West Virginia alum would be re-signed by the Rams in 2001.
Bulger would sit on the Rams' depth chart with limited playing time for two seasons before taking over the starting job in 2003. The Rams rode Bulger all the way to the playoffs with a 12-4 record, and while they didn't win a playoff game, Bulger did earn a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Bulger would enjoy six more seasons with the Rams and a second pro Bowl nod before he asked to be released in 2010. A one-and-done season with the Baltimore Ravens would be Bulger's last hurrah in the league before calling it quits.
9. Mark Brunell
Draft year: 1993
Draft position: Round 5, pick 118
Team: Green Bay Packers
Mark Brunell may have earned his Super Bowl XLIV ring on the arm of Drew Brees and stellar play of the New Orleans Saints, but that shouldn't take away from his multiple Pro Bowl career with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the late 90s.
Brunell was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 1993 draft out of the University of Washington. After being acquired by Jaguars in 1995 by way of a trade, Brunell would lead Jacksonville to four playoff seasons.
That era would never produce a Super Bowl title, but Brunell did get the Jaguars all the way to the AFC championship game in 1996.
After being traded away from Jacksonville in 2004, Brunell would play seven more seasons with the Washington Redskins, Saints and New York Jets. The former three-time Pro Bowler and Pro Bowl MVP in 1997 is now a free agent after being released by the Jets in 2011.
8. Rich Gannon
Draft year: 1987
Draft position: Round 4, pick 98
Team: New England Patriots
It took Rich Gannon 12 years to finally get somewhere in the NFL after being selected in the fourth round of the 1987 draft by the New England Patriots.
The former University of Delaware quarterback was initially taken by the Patriots to play defensive back, but Gannon's refusal to convert his position resulted in him being traded to the Minnesota Vikings.
Gannon would struggle for his first five seasons with the Vikings and Washington Redskins before taking a year off from football in 1994.
It wasn't until the 1999 season that Gannon would hit it big in the NFL. In six seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Gannon was selected to four Pro Bowls, named the AFC player of the year three times, won an NFL MVP award and led the Raiders to a Super Bowl appearance in 2002.
After a horrendous five-interception performance at Super Bowl XXXVII, Gannon would play two more injury-riddled seasons with the Raiders before retiring in 2005.
7. Brad Johnson
Draft year: 1992
Draft position: Round 9, pick 227
Team: Minnesota Vikings
Although he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 1992, Brad Johnson didn't start turning heads till he came into his own with the Washington Redskins.
In 1999, Johnson threw for over 4,000 yards and 24 touchdowns as part of a Pro Bowl season with the Redskins.
When Johnson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001, no one expected him to have the type of success that he did. Johnson won a Super Bowl and earned another Pro Bowl nod as quarterback of the Buccaneers. Not only that, but Johnson managed to break several franchise passing records in four seasons with Tampa Bay.
Johnson's career would later fizz out with the Vikings and Dallas Cowboys.
6. Matt Hasselbeck
Draft year: 1998
Draft position: Round 6, pick 187
Team: Green Bay Packers
The Packers would eventually trade Hasselbeck to the Seattle Seahawks in 2001, where he would flourish.
In 10 seasons with the Seahawks, Hasselbeck accumulated 11 playoff appearances, three Pro Bowl selections and several team records. Hasselbeck and the Seahawks would also appear in Super Bowl XL but lose 21-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Perhaps the most infamous playoff quote came from Hasselbeck during a 2005 Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers. After winning the overtime coin toss, Hasselbeck replied with,
"We want the ball, and we’re gonna score!"
However, Hasselbeck would regret those words as he watched Packers cornerback Al Harris return an interception 52 yards for a score and a 33-27 win in overtime.
The former Boston College quarterback would leave Seattle in 2011 and sign with the Tennessee Titans, where he remains today.
5. Mark Rypien
Draft Year: 1986
Draft Position: Round 6, pick 146
Team: Washington Redskins
Former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien enjoyed a brief stint of success during the late 80s and early 90s.
Little was expected from the sixth-round pick out of Washington State in the 1986 draft, but Rypien remained patient despite being placed on injured reserve his first two seasons.
In his first year as the starter during the 1989 season, Rypien threw for 3,768 yards and 22 touchdowns en route to his first Pro Bowl.
In 1991, Rypien had another phenomenal year passing for 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns. That same year, Rypien led the Redskins to a 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills in an MVP performance at Super Bowl XXVI.
Rypien would be released by the Redskins after the 1993 season and try his luck with six different teams before leaving the NFL.
4. Joe Theismann
Draft Year: 1971
Draft Position: Round 4, pick 99
Team: Miami Dolphins
Joe Theismann was literally a handshake away from joining the Miami Dolphins his rookie season.
The Notre Dame standout and Heisman runner-up was selected in the fourth round of the 1971 draft as the No. 99 overall pick by the Dolphins, but failure to negotiate a contract prevented Theismann from coming to Miami. Instead, Theismann elected to sign with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
After three seasons in the CFL, Theismann's rights were obtained by the Washington Redskins in 1974. It would take Theismann four seasons to win the starting quarterback job with the Redskins after serving as a punt returner, but it was well worth the wait.
In 11 seasons with Washington, Theismann led the Redskins to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 1983 and 1984 with a victory at Super Bowl XVII.
Theismann was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003 and is a member of the Redskins Ring of Fame.
3. Bart Starr
Draft year: 1956
Draft position: Round 17, pick 199
Team: Green Bay Packers
When you think of the Green Bay Packers during the Vince Lombardi era, you think of No.15 Bart Starr.
Widely considered as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, Starr led the Packers to victories in five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls.
Among his many personal recognitions, Starr was named Super Bowl MVP twice, NFL MVP in 1966 and selected to four Pro Bowls.
After 15 seasons with the Packers, Starr would call it quits in 1971.
Starr would have his number retired by the Packers in 1973 and be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973, his first year of eligibility.
2. Roger Staubach
Draft year: 1964
Draft position: Round 10, pick 129
Team: Dallas Cowboys
There have been very few players in the NFL who exemplify a hero mentality among peers, and Roger Staubach was, without a doubt, on of those players.
As a 10th-round draft pick out of the Naval Academy in 1964, Staubach would not be able to join the Dallas Cowboys until the 1969 season because of a military commitment.
Staubach also volunteered for a one-year tour of duty in Viet Nam for his required service time. When the 27-year-old rookie finally joined the Cowboys in 1969, he didn't disappoint.
Staubach led America's team to two Super Bowl titles while earning six Pro Bowl selections and an MVP at Super Bowl VI.
The former Heisman trophy winner would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. He is considered to be one of the greatest players of all-time.
1. Tom Brady
Draft year: 2000
Draft position: Round 6, pick 199
Team: New England Patriots
By far, the biggest draft steal in NFL history has to be Tom Brady.
As the No. 199 overall pick in the 2000 draft, Brady overcame some of the biggest obstacles in his football career.
While attending the University of Michigan, Brady struggled to get playing time but worked his way to the starting role in 1998. Brady would lead the Wolverines to two bowl wins as the starter in 1998 and 1999.
Brady would face adversity yet again when he was listed as the fourth-string quarterback on the Patriots' depth chart in 2000. By season's end, Brady would eventually work his way up the depth chart to back up Drew Bledsoe.
Then, in 2001, Brady would come in relief for an injured Bledsoe, and the rest is history.
Among other personal honors, Brady would go on to win three Super Bowl titles, two Super Bowl MVPs, two NFL MVPs and seven Pro Bowl selections.
Thirty-one general managers have been banging their heads against the wall ever since.