There is gold to be found in the seventh round of NFL drafts

Ryan Fitzpatrick photo courtesy of the New York Jets

Less than half of all seventh-round draft picks make NFL rosters but some turn out to be gems

History says that fewer than half of all NFL draft picks selected in the seventh round make their teams as rookies – 46.7 percent, to be exact. But that doesn’t mean those selections should be throwaway picks.

There are still jewels to be found in the seventh round.

Historically, the seventh round has produced 10 NFL all-decade performers. Nine Pro Football Hall of Famers. A member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team (safety Larry Wilson). A member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team (middle linebacker Joe Schmidt). Two NFL receiving champions (wide receiver Dick Gordon and running back Rickey Young), a Rookie of the Year (running back Johnny Johnson) and an NFL scoring champion (kicker Gary Anderson).

Four teams intrigued me with selections in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL draft last Saturday – Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Miami. All chose running backs in the seventh round – and that’s the position with the greatest “hit” rate in seventh-round history. The Dolphins even increased their odds by selecting two running backs on consecutive picks – Chandler Cox of Auburn and Myles Gaskin of Washington.

Bo Jackson was a seventh-round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders. He electrified the NFL with his speed and power, scoring touchdowns on runs of 92, 91 and 88 yards before a hip injury ended his career after four seasons.

Jamal Anderson also was a seventh-round selection. His legs powered the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl in 1999. He’s one of three seventh-round running backs to start in a Super Bowl along with Ahmad Bradshaw (Giants) and Patrick Pass (Patriots). Marion Butts and Justin Forsett both had 1,200-yard rushing season from their humble seventh-round beginnings, and the pass catching hands of Kelvin Bryant helped the Redskins win a Super Bowl in 1988.

The seventh round of NFL drafts also produced Super Bowl head coaches (Ray Malavasi, Bill Parcells and Jim Fassel), a basketball Hall of Famer (John Havlicek) and a World Series hero (Kirk Gibson).

In addition, the Packers (Donald Driver) and the Saints (Marques Colston) both found their franchise's all-time leading receiver in the seventh round.

The Cowboys, in particular, have benefitted from their seventh-round selections with a Hall of Fame blocker (Rayfield Wright), a Hall of Fame receiver (Bob Hayes), two Pro Bowl defensive tackles (Leon Lett and Jay Ratliff) and a Pro Bowl safety (Brock Marion).

Here's the NFL’s all-time seventh-round team:

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (2005), 15 seasons, 29,357 passing yards, 190 TDs

RB Bo Jackson (1987), 3 TD runs of 88 yards or longer

RB Jamal Anderson (1994), 1998 NFC rushing champ with 1,846 yards

WR Bobby Mitchell (1958), Hall of Fame

WR Bob Hayes (1964), Hall of Fame

TE Shannon Sharpe (1990), Hall of Fame

T Rayfield Wright (1967), Hall of Fame

T Joe Walter (1985), 13 seasons, 136 starts

G Gene Hickerson (1957), Hall of Fame

G Max Montoya (1979), 16 seasons, 4 Pro Bowls, 195 starts

C Jim Ringo (1953), Hall of Fame

DE Carl Hairston (1976), 15 seasons, 94 ½ sacks, 1 Lombardi Trophy

DE Brett Keisel (2002), 13 seasons, 1 Pro Bowl, 2 Lombardis

DT Jay Ratliff (2005), 11 seasons, 4 Pro Bowls

DT Leon Lett (1991), 11 seasons, 2 Pro Bowls, 3 Lombardis

OLB Bobby Bell (1963), Hall of Fame

MLB Joe Schmidt (1953), Hall of Fame

OLB Joe Fortunato (1952), 1950s NFL all-decade team

CB Carl Lee (1983), 12 seasons, 2 Pro Bowls, 31 INTs

CB Kevin Ross (1984), 14 seasons, 2 Pro Bowls, 38 INTs

S Larry Wilson (1960), Hall of Fame

S Eddie Meador (1959), 1960s NFL all-decade team

K Gary Anderson (1982), NFL’s No. 3 all-time scorer with 2,434 points

P Pat McAfee (2009), 575 career punts, 46.4-yard average

KR LaRod Stephens-Howling (2009), 3 KR for TDs, 25.0-yard average

ST Sean Morey (1999), ST ace with Eagles, Steelers and Cardinals

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