It seems like only yesterday when Peyton Manning lifted the Lombardi trophy high above his head in sunny Santa Clara at Super Bowl 50- signaling the end of yet another pulsating season of NFL action.
However, two months have passed quickly as we now enter a brand new season, starting with the draft in Chicago which is just a little over two weeks away. It’s a chance for teams to pick out the next superstar player that will push their team closer to the promised land of Super Bowl 51.
Los Angeles Rams hold this year’s first draft pick after trading with the Tennesse Titans - with a lot of pundits predicting that the Rams will draft a quarterback to become their new franchise leader.
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But even though the opportunity for first pickings is crucial to the ‘smaller’ teams, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the best choice for the long-run.
So without further ado, here are the top six draft picks which no one saw coming.
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In the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Russell Wilson was drafted by Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks. Coming in as the 75th pick, little did the world know that the Seahawks were about to draft arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League today. In his rookie year, Wilson shone in pre-season encounters against the Titans and the Chiefs and by the end of August, he was announced as Seattle’s starting quarterback.
The following year, he led the Seahawks to only their second Super Bowl appearance- a game where Wilson and co. absolutely demolished the elder statesman Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-8 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. And now, going into his fifth year in the NFL, Wilson is considered to be one of the league’s biggest stars.
There have been many world class wide receivers that have come in as the number one draft pick and gone on to lead very lucrative successful careers. Players like Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, and Calvin Johnson are just a few names that have ruled the roost since being drafted early in the first round of their respected drafts.
But then there’s Terrell Owens.
Owens was the 89th pick of the 1996 NFL Draft. Coming out of Chattanooga College in the third round, the controversial wideout went from little-known college starter to one of the best receivers of all time. Ranking in second in all-time receiving yards, Owens became a six-time Pro Bowler and five-time first team all-pro, despite never winning a Super Bowl throughout his career. But even with the lack of Lombardi jewelry upon his knuckles, Terrell Owens is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all-time.
Okay so way back before Von Miller made Cam Newton’s life a misery at Super Bowl 50, and even further back before the times of JJ Watt sacking more people then Alan Sugar- there was a man that reigned supreme amongst opposing O-Lines and Quarterbacks.
Kevin Greene had to wait till round five to be drafted by the St Louis Rams. With the 113rd pick in the 1985 Draft being a little-known linebacker from Auburn, Greene played through his college football years as a walk-on. Without being recruited or being rewarded any scholarship, Kevin Greene went on to surprise many by dominate opposing offensive lines.
The linebacker went on to become the third all-time sack leader in the league- whilst also recording 773 tackles, 160 sacks, five interceptions and 23 forced fumbles. The five-time Pro Bowler then swapped playing for coaching, landing a role in Green Bay as an outside linebacker coach.
Greene’s power and influence on the field had been replicated off it as well, having gelled to his role as outside linebacker coach almost immediately. He’s overseen the development of such talent as secondary monster Clay Matthews and, in 2011, he won his only Super Bowl accolade when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers at Super Bowl XLV.
It doesn’t get much later than this pick. In the 2006 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected Marques Colston out of Hofstra College. Coming dangerously close to falling out of the draft and into free agency, pick number 252 was brought in to bolster Saints wide receiver core.
What was to follow would be a record-breaking spell down in Louisiana for the wide receiver.
He burst onto the scene in his rookie year with a 1038 yard season- one of six seasons which saw Colston break 1000+ yards. He became New Orleans’s all-time leader in receiving yards and played a vital part of Sean Payton’s offense, especially through 2009 which saw New Orleans reach Super Bowl XLIV in Miami where the Saints beat the Colts 31-17.
Arguably one of the greatest quarterback steals of all time, Joe Montana was picked by the San Fransico 49ers in the third round of the 1979 Draft. Selected as a back-up to starter Steve DeBerg, no-one could have foreseen just how special Montana would be down in the Bay Area.
Having spent the majority of his playing career in Santa Clara- the Comeback kid led the 49ers to four Super Bowl championships. Montana will forever be ensconced in NFL history when he steered the 49ers past the dominant Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game of '82. A game which is better known by the 'The Catch', a game-winning touchdown pass to Dwight Clark, the game signified the end of the Cowboys era and the beginning of the Montana and the 49ers' dominance of the NFL.
The three-time Super Bowl MVP would then go on to make eight Pro Bowls and three AP First Team All-Pros amongst many other illustrious awards and accolades throughout his distinguished career. Joe Cool ended is time at the snap in 1994 at the Kansas City Chiefs, ending an incredible career with the tagline of ‘Greatest of All Time’.
Did someone say Greatest of All Time?
There are many theories about Mr. Brady such as is the four-time Super Bowl champion actually human? And does Superman really wear Tom Brady PJ’s?
In the 2000 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected Tom Brady at pick number 199 in the sixth round. Little known and barely looked at during the combine, Brady was selected from Michigan College by Bill Belichick as a fourth-string quarterback to the starting quarterback at that time- Drew Bledsoe. But when Bledsoe suffered internal bleeding from a huge hit from Jet’s linebacker Mo Lewis in 2001, Brady stepped in as first team starter and the rest as they say- is history.
Brady led the Patriots from there all the way to Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Dome in New Orleans. In just his second season, Brady became the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl, beating Kurt Warner’s St Louis Rams 20-17. From then on- Brady would then go on to win three more Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl MVP awards and make eleven Pro Bowls. Carlsberg doesn't do draft steals but if they did, it would probably be Tom Brady. The greatest draft steal of all-time.