You never know what you’re going to get in the NFL Draft. Sometimes you get Jamarcus Russell with the first overall pick, and then sometimes you get Tom Brady in the sixth round. You can scout all you want, but you never truly know how a player will pan out in the NFL until they’re on the field.
The NFL Draft moved to seven rounds in 1994 and has stayed at that mark ever since. Long gone are the days when there were 20 rounds since there are so many teams. After the first couple of rounds, the casual fan tends to stop paying attention, but there have still been some amazing players to be drafted in the seventh, and what is now the final, round. Here are our picks for the best seventh-round selections in NFL Draft history.
Before we get to the list, here are our honorable mentions for the players that just missed the cut: Donald Driver, Marques Colston, Julian Edelman, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Scott, Bo Jackson, Jim Ringo, and Joe Schmidt.
5. Harold Carmichael
Harold Carmichael was an incredibly tall wide receiver coming out of Southern University in 1971 at 6’8”, but was considered a raw talent. The Philadelphia Eagles took the chance on him based on his size, using the 161st overall pick on Carmichael. He would end up leading the NFL in yards in 1973 and reached four Pro Bowls with the Eagles.
Carmichael was also a two-time All-Pro in Philadelphia, playing for more than a decade with the Eagles. One of his crowning achievements was winning the 1980 NFL Man of the Year Award, as well. Carmichael finished with 8,985 receiving yards and 79 touchdowns before ending his career in 1984 with the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys.
4. Rayfield Wright
Nicknamed “The Big Cat” because he could move incredibly nimbly for someone his size (6’6”, 270 pounds), Rayfield Wright was a force at Fort Valley State in the 1960s. The school didn’t play in Division-I at the time, however, so not many people got a chance to see Wright before he made it to the NFL Draft and was selected 182nd overall by the Dallas Cowboys.
Wright was a home run pick for the Cowboys as he was named an All-Pro in six seasons, with half of those being First-Team honors. Wright was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after winning two Super Bowl rings with the Cowboys and was inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Honor.
3. Gary Anderson
The seventh round is usually when teams are taking kickers off the board, and some turn out to be amazing at their job. South African native and Syracuse graduate Gary Anderson was the 171st overall pick in 1982 by the Buffalo Bills but actually started his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1984.
Anderson spent more than 20 years in the NFL playing for a total of six franchises, and was selected as an All-Pro on three occasions and made two All-Decade Teams. His best season came in 1998 when he connected on all 35 of his field goal attempts in the regular season (don’t ask about the NFC Championship Game, however).
2. Larry Wilson
It might be cheating since Larry Wilson was drafted into a much smaller NFL, as he was only the 74th overall pick in the 1960 NFL Draft and a first-rounder in the AFL Draft. Regardless, Wilson was still a seventh-round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals, and spent his entire career with the franchise.
The Hall of Famer finished his career with 52 interceptions and was named to the All-Pro team seven times, with six of those being on the First-Team. Wilson was also on two All-Decade Teams, as well as the 75th and 100th NFL Anniversary All-Time Teams.
1. Shannon Sharpe
Known by the younger crowd as an analyst, Shannon Sharpe is one of the best tight ends ever and was selected 192nd overall out of Savannah State. Most of his career was spent with the Denver Broncos, though he did play for the Baltimore Ravens for two seasons.
Sharpe was a five-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowl player who holds the tight end record for most receiving yards in a game with 214. Sharpe finished his career with over 10,000 yards and hauled in 62 touchdowns.