|Charlie Joiner was a key component to the electric "Air Coryell" offense in San Diego.|
With the 2012 NFL Draft just weeks away, we're looking at the some of the greatest draft picks in league history.
Finding talent in the middle rounds of the draft can often be the difference in creating a championship team or not. The 10 players listed below accounted for 14 combined Super Bowl wins, proving that players found in the fourth round can help a team earn that elusive Super Sunday triumph.
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Defensive end, Idaho State
2004 NFL Draft: 126th overall (Kansas City Chiefs)
During the 2011 season, Allen came a half sack away from breaking Michael Strahan's single-season mark of 22.5 sacks. It was Allen's sixth double-digit sack season since entering the league in 2004. Allen is known as one of the game's biggest characters, and one of his most famous plays was chasing Lions QB Dan Orlovsky out of the back of the end zone for a safety in 2008.
Wide receiver, Colorado
1972 NFL Draft: 98th overall (Oakland Raiders)
The late Al Davis was a huge proponent of the vertical passing game in his time in Oakland. The player who helped make it work for three Raiders Super Bowl-winning teams was Branch, who collected two touchdown receptions in Super Bowl XV and another in Super Bowl XVIII. In 1983, Branch caught a 99-yard touchdown pass from Jim Plunkett.
Linebacker, South Carolina State
1976 NFL Draft: 105th overall (New York Giants)
As an anchor for the Giants defense in the 1980s, Carson was a nine-time Pro Bowler, including earning seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1982 through 1988, and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. While Lawrence Taylor was chasing down quarterbacks, Carson served as the Giants' go-to run stopper. En route to triumph in Super Bowl XXI, Carson made an integral play in the Giants' goal line stand of the Broncos, stuffing running back Gerald Willhite for no gain.
1987 NFL Draft: 98th overall (New England Patriots)
Gannon was a classic late-bloomer, spending 12 seasons with four different teams before finding a consistent starting spot under coach Jon Gruden with the Raiders. Gannon excelled in Gruden's West Coast offense, leading the Raiders to three consecutive AFC West crowns. Oakland reached Super Bowl XXXVII following Gannon's MVP campaign in 2002.
Defensive end, James Madison
1986 NFL Draft: 96th overall (San Francisco 49ers)
In addition to being one of the most feared pass rushers of his era, Haley also has the distinction of being the only player to have been a part of five Super Bowl-winning teams. Haley won Super Bowl XXIII and XXIV with the 49ers, and then after a trade to the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVII, XXVIII and XXX. In 13 NFL seasons, Haley recorded 100.5 sacks.
Wide receiver, Grambling State
1969 NFL Draft: 93rd overall (Houston Oilers)
The Oilers initially targeted Joiner to be a defensive back when they selected him in 1969. Instead, he became one of the most prolific and durable receivers in NFL history. Joiner played for 18 seasons, playing in 239 games, and accounting for 12,146 yards receiving. As a part of Don Coryell's revolutionary offense in San Diego, Joiner enjoyed his most productive seasons, catching 586 passes with the Chargers. Joiner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.
Wide receiver, Tulsa
1976 NFL Draft: 117th overall (Houston Oilers)
Largent was acquired in a preseason trade by the expansion Seattle Seahawks, and 14 years later held six major career receiving records (most receptions, consecutive games with a reception, receiving yards, most seasons with 50 or more receptions and touchdowns -- a record previously held by Don Hutson that stood for 44 years). Largent was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.
Running back, Kansas State
2005 NFL Draft: 130th overall (San Diego Chargers)
A triple-threat playmaker as a runner, receiver and return specialist, Sproles became one of the game's most dangerous offensive weapons in each phase after signing with the Saints in 2011. Sproles set an NFL record for all-purpose yards in a season (2,696) in 2011, after posting career highs in rushing, receiving and punt return yardage.
Wide receiver, Alabama A&M
1974 NFL Draft: 82nd overall (Pittsburgh Steelers)
The Steelers had arguably the greatest draft haul in NFL history in 1974, selecting four future Hall of Famers. The class helped establish the Steelers as the dynasty of the 1970s. Stallworth was selected 61 spots after the Steelers picked Lynn Swann. Together, the two anchored Pittsburgh's passing attack en route to four Super Bowl victories. Stallworth was enshrined in Canton in 2002.
Quarterback, Notre Dame
1971 NFL Draft: 99th overall (Miami Dolphins)
An era of unprecedented success for the Redskins was ushered in when Theismann directed the offense. Theismann led the Redskins to two consecutive Super Bowl berths, winning Super Bowl XVII -- the Redskins' first championship in 40 years. En route to Super Bowl XVIII, Theismann had his best season, earning league MVP honors after throwing for 3,714 yards and 29 touchdowns for a team that set a then-NFL record for points in a season (541).