Tom Brady

9 Best Quarterbacks in NFL History Drafted After the First Round

People are always looking for their gunslingers of the future in the first round, but there is always gold later in the draft. There are always plenty of success stories following the first day. Even if you exclude legends like Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr, there are numerous Pro Bowlers and champions who started their career outside the top round.


Here are the nine best quarterbacks who heard their names called in the second round or later.

9. Matt Hasselbeck, 6th Round, 1998

Hasselbeck went from a player who was destined to sit behind Brett Favre for his entire career to a perennial threat in the playoffs. The sixth-round pick received a new lease on life in the NFL when he was traded to Seattle and thrived. Hasselbeck threw for over 36,000 yards, 212 touchdowns, made three Pro Bowls, competed in 11 playoff games, and brought Seattle to the Super Bowl. Not a bad career for someone who was supposed to sit on the bench. 

8. Randall Cunningham, 2nd Round, 1985

Cunningham wasn't drafted in the first round, and plenty of teams surely wish they would've snagged him then. He landed in Philadelphia and spent the majority of his career there as one of the more athletic quarterbacks of his generation. Cunningham's freakish skills helped him reach the Pro Bowl four times with All-Pro honors in 1998. With 207 throwing touchdowns to go along with 35 rushing scores, Cunningham changed the way dual-threat QBs were perceived in the NFL. 

7. Rich Gannon, 4th Round, 1987

Gannon's career is one of the more interesting ones in the history of the league. He was initially selected by the Patriots to play defensive back and was shipped away to Minnesota where he did mostly nothing. Gannon missed a year in the NFL before coming back with the Raiders, where he made four Pro Bowls and was named First-Team All-Pro twice in six seasons. Along with bringing Oakland to the Super Bowl, Gannon was named MVP in 2002. Talk about an unlikely story. 

6. Russell Wilson, 3rd Round, 2012

That's right, the highest-paid player in the history of the NFL wasn't selected in the first round. Wilson was expected to sit behind Matt Flynn but took the starting job and ran with it. In his seven seasons in the league, he has 25,000+ passing yards and 213 total touchdowns. He's made the Pro Bowl five times, went to two Super Bowls, and brought the Seahawks their first title in franchise history. It's hard to ask for more from any player, let alone someone drafted as late as he was. 

5. Brett Favre, 2nd Round, 1991

He had his name pronounced incorrectly on draft night and made that man feel foolish the rest of his career. Favre went down as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. He brought a title home to Green Bay, was an 11-time Pro Bowler, received All-Pro honors three times, was a three-time MVP, once held the record for most passing yards and touchdowns in NFL history, and is a Hall of Famer. That's a pretty good career for someone not worthy of a first-round pick. 

4. Drew Brees, 2nd Round, 2001

Speaking of that passing record for most yards of all time, that title belongs to Brees. To go along with his record, he has 520 touchdowns, 12 Pro Bowls, and a Super Bowl ring. He'll go down as the best New Orleans Saint in the history of the franchise, although he wasn't drafted by them. The Chargers made the right move stealing him in the second round, but they definitely failed when they let an all-time great walk away.

3. Roger Staubach, 10th Round, 1964

Staubach was selected in the future's portion of the NFL Draft and had a one-year tour in Vietnam. After serving he became one of the best quarterbacks in the history of football. Staubach helped lead the Cowboys to two Super Bowls and earned MVP honors in one of them. Add in six Pro Bowls, and NFL and College Hall of Fame honors, and you can't ignore the fact that every single team should've snagged him. 

2. Joe Montana, 3rd Round, 1979

Montana slipped out of the first and second rounds, which means every team missed out on drafting arguably the greatest player in NFL history. He's viewed as the GOAT by many and for good reason. Montana finished his career with over 40,000 yards, 273 touchdowns, eight Pro Bowl appearances, three All-Pro honors, four Super Bowls, three Super Bowl MVPs, and more memories than you can count. 

1. Tom Brady, 6th Round, 2000

Everyone who doesn't believe Montana is the GOAT anymore knows that title belongs to Tom Brady. He somehow lasted up until the sixth round and has ended up compiling together an incredible career. Brady right now is third in passing touchdowns, fourth in passing yards, has broken an incredible amount of playoff and regular season records, and is the only player in the history of the NFL to win five Super Bowls. He will forever be remembered as the best draft pick of all time and the league's greatest player.