While the glamor and attention largely rests on the first few rounds of the draft, the final round of the draft is often forgotten in pre-draft speculation. While there is good reason to pay more attention to the earlier rounds than the later ones, we must not completely discount the later rounds.
While the sexy picks are in the first and second rounds, the most impressive picks for NFL executives are the low picks that outshine everybody picked ahead of them. To get a star at that low cost is incredible for a team, and it's always fun for the fans to see players rise above their expectations.
As the second half of the draft approaches, let's take a look at the 10 of the biggest steals in the 7th round.
Wide Receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens
Picked at no. 204 by the Bengals
Houshmandzadeh has provided amazing value for the 7th round pick, breaking out in the 2004 season. Until this past year, he had a six year streak of at least 70 catches and 900 yards, mostly as the second option on the team, as he was paired with Chad Johnson/Ochocinco.
In 2007 Houshmandzadeh was selected for the Pro Bowl, and his league-leading 112 catches that season still stands as a franchise record. He also has the franchise record for most punt return yards in a game.
Wide Receiver for the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs (1985-1994): 553 receptions, 8161 yards, 49 touchdowns
Picked at 179 overall by the Saints
Martin was a nine-year starter for the Saints, and ended up with several team records by the end of his career. Martin has the most catches and yards for any Saints receiver and is second only to Joe Horn in touchdowns and number of 100 yard games.
Martin was the 27th wide receiver taken in the 1985 Draft, but he outperformed all of the other receivers, except for Jerry Rice and Andre Reed. I'd say that's pretty good company for a seventh round draft pick.
Guard for the Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Rams (1995-2006)
Picked at pick 230 by the Green Bay Packers
After playing most of his rookie year as a backup and on special teams, Timmerman went on to start for both the Packers and Rams at guard. He was extremely durable, never missing a game until his final season, when he missed two. Timmerman started every game but two after his rookie year, starting over 170 games.
Timmerman won a Super Bowl with the Packers, and then made it to two more with the Rams, winning one. He was a large part of the offensive line for the "Greatest Show on Earth", being voted a Pro-Bowl alternate every season from 1999-2002, officially playing in the games in 1999 and 2001. In 2001 he was also selected to the All-Pro second team.
Kicker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans (1982-2004): 538 field goals, 820 PATs, career 80.1% kicking percentage
Picked at pick no. 171 by Pittsburgh
Gary Anderson's storied career lasted for over 20 years, and if he were any other position, he would likely have been number one on this list. However, kickers are usually taken late in the draft.
Anderson made it to four Pro Bowls, was named to three All Pro teams, and was a member of the 1990's and the 1980's All-Decade Team. Anderson is also a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time Team, named in 2007.
Anderson has held numerous records, including most points in a career, which he held from 2000 until 2006, when he was passed by Morten Andersen.
Free Safety for the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and Detroit Lions (1993-2004): 681 tackles, 31 interceptions, 3 touchdowns
Picked at no. 218 by the Cowboys
Marion's career truly began in 1995, as he got his first chance to start. He ended the season with six interceptions, including one in the Super Bowl. Marion was a part of that team, and also a role player in the 1993 championship season.
Starting in that third season, Marion started every game he played in, and missed a total of 7 games in 10 seasons (six in 1996, one in 2001).
But his career really took off when he signed with Miami in 1998. There he was selected for three Pro-Bowls, and was an All-Pro selection in 2000. There he was also used as the kick returner, and led the league in yards.
Defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens (1993-2002): 71 sacks, 1 interception, 7 forced fumbles
Picked at no. 170 by Seattle
McCrary got his first true chance to start in 1996 for the Seahawks, and made the most of it, posting 13.5 sacks. He then was signed by the Ravens, who used him and others to form the most fearsome defense in recent history.That defense helped propel the Ravens to a Super Bowl in 2000.
McCrary himself was a Pro Bowler in 1998 and 1999, and an All-Pro player in 1998. He is one of only three Ravens to end their career with over 70 sacks. He was loved by the fans, and has a place in the Baltimore Ravens Ring of Honor.
Wide Receiver for the New Orleans Saints (2006-present): 369 receptions, 5097 yards, 40 TDs
Picked at pick 252 by the New Orleans Saints
While Colston's career is still young, he has shown tremendous potential to have an incredible career. Since finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting, Colston hasn't looked back, posting 1,000 yard seasons in every season but 2008, where he was injured.
Colston played a large part in the Saints Super Bowl victory in 2009, with 7 receptions for 83 yards.
Colston is on the fast track to becoming the best wide receiver in Saints history. Though he's played only 5 seasons, he is over halfway to the career levels of Saints' leaders Joe Horn and Eric Martin. Another three seasons at his current pace, and he'll be right at those marks.
Wide Receiver for the Green Bay Packers (1999-present): 698 receptions, 9615 yards, 53 touchdowns
Picked at no. 213 by the Packers
Driver has been a constant in the NFL for a long time now. Since becoming the starter in 2002, Driver has only posted two seasons with less than 1,000 yards. He was a favorite target of Brett Favre's for years, and now has become Aaron Rodgers' security blanket.
Driver has made the Pro-Bowl 3 times, and was team MVP in 2002. He's won several other awards as well, such as the Ed Block Courage Award in 2005.
Driver is the current leader for Green Bay's all time receptions leader, and has a Super Bowl ring from the most recent Super Bowl.
Center for the Denver Broncos (1994-2008)
Picked at no. 218 by the Broncos
While John Elway was tearing up the league in the second half of his career, Nolan was the one anchoring the line. Ever since his rookie year, Nalen was the starter for the Broncos at center, playing in 194 games and starting 188 games (the six games not starting were during his rookie year).
Nalen was a part of the Broncos two Super Bowl teams in the late 90's, and a part of the line that started and continued a culture of a strong rushing attack. Six different running backs had 1,000 yard seasons behind Nalen's lines.
Nalen was a five-time Pro Bowler while in Denver, and was named to the Broncos' 50th Anniversary Team as the center (announced in 2009).
Tight end for the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens (1990-2003):815 receptions, 62 TD's, 10,060 yards
Picked at 192 overall by Denver
Regarded as one of, if not the best TE in NFL history, there's nobody who comes close to Sharpe's value as a seventh round pick.
Sharpe helped the Broncos and John Elway obtain two Super Bowl rings, and then aided Baltimore in winning Super Bowl XXXV before returning to Denver to finish his career. Sharpe was selected for the Pro Bowl eight times, was an All-Pro selection five times, was on the 1990's All-Decade Team, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame this past February.