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Tom Brady is sort of the 'patron saint' of NFL late-round picks


Go ahead and admit it: You were saying "Who is that guy and why is he being drafted?" when the names of some of those sixth- and seventh-round picks were being announced Saturday during the final day of the 2014 draft.

Don't be surprised if a handful of those sixth- and seventh-rounders end up being key players over the next three or four seasons.

Four sixth-rounders from the 2013 draft -- Jacksonville Jaguars safety Josh Evans (from Florida), Houston Texans tight end Ryan Griffin (Connecticut), New England Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones (Bowling Green) and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Vince Williams (Florida State) -- started at least eight games as rookies, with all but Griffin starting at least 10. (Jones was drafted by Houston, released in August, picked up by Tampa Bay, released in September, then signed by the Patriots in late September.)

While New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- a sixth-round pick in 2000 -- is held up as the patron saint of late-rounders, a perusal of recent drafts shows a bunch of late-round picks have made it big.

Here's a "Dandy Dozen" of late-rounders who have hit it big from the past 10 drafts (and this is not a complete list, by any means). One name not here: Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith, the Super Bowl MVP. His overall body of work isn't as strong as the other guys' on this list.

S Antoine Bethea, San Francisco

The pick: 38th pick of sixth round (207th overall), out of Howard, in 2006 by Cleveland.
The buzz: Despite coming from a mediocre FCS program, Bethea was a starter from the time he set foot on the field for Indianapolis eight seasons ago. He had 14 picks and 46 pass breakups for the Colts in those eight seasons and was known for his big hits in run support. He signed with the 49ers in free agency this offseason.

WR Marques Colston, New Orleans

The pick: 44th pick of seventh round (252nd overall), out of Hofstra, in 2006 by New Orleans.
The buzz: He made an immediate impact as a rookie with the high-powered Saints, starting 12 games in 2006 and turning in his first 1,000-yard season. He has remained a starter and has had five more 1,000-yard seasons. For his career, he has 607 receptions for 8,337 yards and 63 TDs.

WR Pierre Garcon, Washington

The pick: 39th pick of sixth round (205th overall), out of Mount Union (Ohio), in 2008 by Indianapolis.
The buzz: He is a prime example of using a late-round pick on a developmental prospect (this one from a Division III school), then having him develop quickly. Garcon became a starter in his second season in Indianapolis and started for five seasons for the Colts. He signed with the Redskins in 2013, then proceeded to turn in the best season of his career (113 receptions, 1,346 yards).

DE Greg Hardy, Carolina

The pick: sixth pick of sixth round (175th overall), out of Mississippi, in 2010 by Carolina.
The buzz: Hardy showed flashes of living up to his vast potential in college, but his intensity level, maturity and focus often was questioned. He was a situational player as a rookie with the Panthers, but he has started in each of the past three seasons and had a combined 26 sacks in 2012 and '13. He is one of the most-feared pass rushers in the NFC now.

C Jason Kelce, Philadelphia

The pick: 26th pick of sixth round (191st overall), out of Cincinnati, in 2011 by Philadelphia.
The buzz: He's considered a bit undersized at 295 pounds, but he is an excellent technician and has started all 34 of his NFL games.

RB Alfred Morris, Washington

The pick: third pick of sixth round (173rd overall), out of Florida Atlantic, in 2012 by Washington.
The buzz: Morris handled a heavy workload in college and that has continued with the Redskins. He won the starting job as a rookie and shows no signs of giving it up. Morris has rushed for 2,888 yards and 20 TDs in his two seasons. He lacks breakaway speed, but he's durable and runs downhill.

CB Captain Munnerlyn, Minnesota

The pick: seventh pick of seventh round (216th overall), out of South Carolina, in 2009 by Carolina.
The buzz: Munnerlyn started for the past three seasons for Carolina and signed a free-agent deal with the Vikings this offseason. He had four picks and 21 pass breakups combined in the past two seasons.

C Chris Myers, Houston

The pick: 26th pick of sixth round (200th overall), out of Miami, in 2005 by Denver.
The buzz: After serving as a reserve in his first two seasons in the league, Myers has started every game the past seven seasons. He began the streak in 2007 with Denver, and has continued it since moving to Houston in '08.

DE Ahtyba Rubin, Cleveland

The pick: 24th pick of sixth round (190th overall), out of Iowa State, in 2008 by Cleveland.
The buzz: After serving as a backup in his first two seasons, he has been a starter the past four seasons for the Browns. He's stout against the run in Cleveland's 3-4 set.

OT Zach Strief, New Orleans

The pick: second pick of seventh round (210th overall), out of Northwestern, in 2006 by New Orleans.
The buzz: He spent five seasons as a reserve for the Saints before becoming the starting right tackle in 2011. He has started all 38 of his games in the past three seasons and recently signed a five-year deal to remain in New Orleans.

LB Danny Trevathan, Denver

The pick: 18th pick of sixth round (188th overall), out of Kentucky, in 2012 by Denver.
The buzz: Trevathan was a tackle machine for some bad Kentucky teams in college, and after serving as a sub as a rookie, he blossomed as a starter in 2013. He had 129 tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and 10 pass breakups in '13.

CB Cary Williams, Philadelphia

The pick: 22nd pick of seventh round (229th overall), out of Washburn (Kan.), in 2008 by Tennessee.
The buzz: He didn't see much time in his first three seasons, not surprising considering how raw he was out of a Division II school. All of a sudden, Williams became a key player in Baltimore's secondary in 2011. He started again in 2012 for the Ravens before leaving in free agency for the Eagles in '13. He had three picks and 12 pass breakups last season, and has 47 PBUs in the past three seasons.

Brady is a lock to become just the second sixth-round pick to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are nine former seventh-rounders, including Bob Hayes, Gene Hickerson and Shannon Sharpe, and 24 other players who were drafted in the eighth round or later.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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