We’re back with our top 10 6th round picks of the Super Bowl era. This round wasn’t heavily laden with Hall-of-Fame/future Hall-of-Fame talent, but there were a lot of very talented guys I had to cut in the end who I wish could have made the list.
Matt Birk – #75, #77, #78 Center – Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens
Matt Birk went to college at Harvard University. I know for some of these guys, when I say “went to college”, they didn’t actually attend class, but I need to give credit where it’s due. Matt Birk WENT to Harvard. He graduated in 1998 with a degree in economics, and was a member of the All Division I-AA team.
Ranked as the 16th best offensive tackle in the ’98 draft, Birk wasn’t taken until the 173rd pick when the Vikings scooped him up. He spent the first two years of his career as a backup offensive lineman, before taking over as the starting center in 2000.
In his first four seasons as a starter, Birk never missed a game, and was named a Pro Bowler three times in four years, as well as an All-Pro in 2003. The injury bug bit him hard in 2004, as he missed the last four games of the season due to a sports hernia, then missed the entirety of 2005 with hip surgery. Birk returned to his old self in 2006, and earned his fifth and sixth Pro Bowl selections in 2006 and 2007.
After the 2008 season, Birk became an unrestricted free agent and chose to sign with the Baltimore Ravens on a deal worth $12 million over 3 years. He started for the Ravens through the 2012 season, starting every game, and finally winning a ring against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
Birk retired after the Super Bowl, ending a highly decorated 14 year career. He finished with 6 Pro Bowls and 1 All-Pro selection, all with Minnesota, and started a total of 187 games. These days, Birk still works the NFL as the league’s Director of Football Development.
Tom Brady – #12 Quarterback – New England Patriots
Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr., Tom Terrific, Mr. Super Bowl, California Cool, The Comeback Kid, or my personal favorite, GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). Just a few names you can call Tom by if you get tired of having the same answer every time someone asks you who the best player in NFL history is.
Brady played at the collegiate level at Michigan. He faced an uphill battle to become the starting quarterback, but secured the job in his junior season, starting 25 career games as a Wolverine, finishing with a record of 20-5.
Coming out of college, Tom was very lightly regarded as a prospect, and his combine performance didn’t help. In what are now famous pieces of media, Brady showed up looking out of shape, and ran a hilariously slow and awkward 40 yard dash. Despite this, the New England Patriots drafted him with the 199th pick of the 2000 draft, the seventh quarterback off the board. Many analysts have stated, this was the best draft pick of all-time.
Brady started the 2000 season fourth on the Patriots’ depth chart, but rose to be veteran Drew Bledsoe’s backup by the end of the year. In week 2 of the 2001 season, Bledsoe was taken out by a hard hit by Jets’ linebacker Mo Lewis, he suffered internal bleeding, and was knocked out for the next few games. Brady got his opportunity, and after a few weeks, found his stride. New England finished the regular season with an 11-5 record.
The Patriots would go on to make a miraculous postseason run, culminating in a victory in Super Bowl XXXVI over the Rams. Tied at 17 with 1:30 left in regulation, Brady led the Patriots on a 52 yard drive to the St. Louis 31, where Adam Vinatieri would kick a 48 yard field goal to win the franchise their first championship. Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, and at the time was the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
After a lackluster 2002 season, Brady and the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004, defeating the Panthers and Eagles. Brady led the team on an NFL record 21 game win streak between week 3 of 2003 and week 7 of 2004. After a 236 yard, 2 touchdown performance, he won his 2nd Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina.
Brady continued to improve as a passer and in 2007, with the help of wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker, Brady set a then NFL record 50 touchdown passes in the regular season, as the Patriots became the first team to go undefeated in the regular season since the schedule was increased to 16 games. Brady won his 1st career MVP as well as Offensive Player of the Year, and was named a First-team All-Pro. The Patriots ultimately lost Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants.
In 2008, Brady tore both his ACL and MCL in week 1 of the regular season, but returned in 2009 and quickly regained his form, winning Comeback Player of the Year. In 2010, Brady again won both MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, and in 2011 he would lead the Patriots back to the Super Bowl, where they lost again to the Giants.
Brady has led the Patriots to six consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances from 2011-2016, including two more Super Bowl appearances in 2014 and 2016, winning both games in multiple possession, comeback victories over the Seahawks and Falcons.
At 39, Tom is still a top-three quarterback in the NFL and is showing no signs of slowing down after a dominant 2016 season where he nearly won MVP after only playing in 12 games. He currently sits at 2nd all-time in touchdown to interception ratio (3.00), 3rd all-time in passer rating (97.2), 4th all-time in touchdown passes (456), and 4th all-time in passing yards (61,582)
Brady has won 5 Super Bowls, tied with defensive end Charles Haley for most all-time, has been named Super Bowl MVP a record 4 times, is a 2-time NFL MVP, a 2-time NFL OPOY, has been selected to 12 Pro Bowls, and has been named an All-Pro 4 times.
And he isn’t done yet.
Antonio Brown – #84 Wide Receiver – Pittsburgh Steelers
I know what you’re thinking. AB? He’s only played since 2010. How can he possibly be on this list? That’s just it, he’s only played for seven seasons and is the best wide receiver (by far) to ever be drafted in the 6th round. That’s how good he is.
Brown went to Central Michigan University where he was a walk-on as a freshman. Brown was quickly offered a scholarship, and finished his time as a Chippewa with a school record 305 receptions in three seasons. Antonio was the 22nd receiver taken in 2010, going to Pittsburgh with the 195th pick.
Brown was mostly a return specialist as a rookie, only catching 16 passes for 167 yards. His numbers picked up in 2011, recording 69 catches for 1,108 yards, making his first Pro Bowl. He seemed to be on pace for a better season in 2012, before an ankle sprain in early November caused him to miss three games.
After Mike Wallace chose to sign with the Miami Dolphins prior to the 2013 season, Brown exploded into stardom. Antonio caught 110 passes for 1,499 yards, and 8 touchdowns, going to his 2nd Pro Bowl. He would further elevate his game in 2014, leading the NFL with 129 receptions, 1,698 yards, and 13 touchdowns. In 2015, he was somehow even better, catching 136 balls for 1,834 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Last season, Brown fell off slightly, but was still a top receiver in the league with over 100 catches, over 1,000 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
Brown is a 5-time Pro Bowler, including four straight since 2013, and has been selected to four consecutive All-Pro teams. Still only 28, AB has 8,377 career reception yards, and 55 total touchdowns including returns.
He may not be the best wide receiver in the NFL, (calm down Julio Jones) but Brown is on his way to being the best wide receiver in Steelers’ history.
Terrell Davis – #30 Running Back – Denver Broncos
Terrell Davis, the story of a man who was unstoppable on the field, before injuries ruined his career. Davis went to the University of Georgia where he graduated with a degree in Consumer Economics. He was injury prone in college, which made his draft stock plummet. The Broncos finally took him with the 196th pick in the 1995 draft.
Davis likely made Mike Shanahan’s career. The coach’s first year in Denver coincided with Davis’ rookie season. Over the first four years of his career, Davis started 16 games, and had three 1,000 yard seasons. The one season he didn’t rush for 1,000 yards? That would be 1998 when he only rushed for a mere 2,008 yards, 21 touchdowns, and was named NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
Davis suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in 1999, a stress fracture in his right leg in 2000, and had surgery on both of his knees in 2001. He only played in 17 games across the final three seasons of his career before retiring in the preseason of 2002.
Davis rushed for 6,413 yards and 56 touchdowns in only FOUR seasons. The only other running backs to have better statistics in their first four seasons are Erick Dickerson and Earl Campbell, both Hall of Famers.
Davis won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998 with the Broncos, was a 3-time Pro Bowler and a 3-time First-team All-Pro from 1996-1998, won two Offensive Player of the Year awards in 1996 and 1998, and won MVP in 1998. He was declined entrance to the Hall of Fame for several years due to how short his tenure in the NFL was, but will finally be enshrined this summer, at the age of 44.
Greg Lloyd Sr. – #95 Outside Linebacker – Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers
Greg Lloyd played college ball at Fort Valley State University, just like our 7th round friend Rayfield Wright. He was drafted 150th overall by the Steelers in the 1987 draft, but missed the first year and a half of his career due to a foot injury.
By 1989, when Lloyd was finally healthy, and a starter at right outside linebacker, he was an instant playmaker. His first full season, he made 92 tackles, recorded 3 interceptions, and got to the quarterback 7 times.
Over the next eight years, Lloyd and fellow class of 1987 teammate Rod Woodson were the fiery leaders and dominant players on a loaded Steelers’ defense. (FYI, the linked video uses some vulgar language. Don’t let your children or pets watch.) Lloyd was a 5-time Pro Bowler from 1991-1995, and was a 3-time First-team All-Pro from 1993-1995. He was able to play in one Super Bowl in 1995, but lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27-17.
Lloyd missed 15 games in 1996 due to a knee injury, and never recovered. He was injured again in 1997, and joined the Carolina Panthers in 1998 before retiring.
In 11 seasons, Lloyd racked up 707 tackles and 54.5 sacks. His best seasons came in 1993, when he totaled 111 tackles, and 1994 when he hit 10 sacks.
Wilbert Montgomery – #28, #31 Running Back – Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions
Wilbert attended Abilene Christian University, a Division I FCS school in Abilene, Texas. He was a four year starter for the Wildcats, scoring 76 touchdowns in his college career. Montgomery was drafted 154th overall by the Eagles in 1977.
Montgomery was primarily a kick returner is a rookie in 1977, but in his second season he was promoted to starting running back. In 14 games, Montgomery ran 259 times for 1,220 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He was named a Second-team All-Pro, and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.
He continued to play at a high level in 1979, rushing 338 times for 1,512 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He also caught 41 passes for 494 yards and 5 touchdowns. Again, Wilbert earned a trip to the Pro Bowl, and was a Second-team All-Pro.
Possibly the NFL’s first modern dual-threat running back, Wilbert continued to play at a high level, reaching over 1,000 all-purpose yards in both 1980 and 1981. Unfortunately he was sidelined by injuries in both 1982 and 1983, but managed to come back for one more season in Philadelphia, earning 1,290 all-purpose yards in 1984.
Montgomery played in 7 games for the Lions in 1985 before retiring after a 9 year career. He amassed 9,291 yards from scrimmage in his career, and 58 total touchdowns. The two-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro still holds Eagles records for career rushing attempts (1,465), attempts in a season (338), career 100 yard rushing games (26), 100 yard rushing games in a season (8), and touchdowns in a game (4).
Bryce Paup – #95 Linebacker – Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bryce Paup played college football at Northern Iowa, and was drafted 159th overall by the Green Bay Packers in the 1990 NFL Draft. Paup didn’t get much play time in 1990, and was a backup in 1991, though he managed to record 7.5 sacks in 12 games.
He became a starter midway through the 1992 season, totaling 43 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 10 starts. In 1993, he hit double digit sacks, finishing the season with 11. Paup got to the quarterback 32.5 times in 64 games with Green Bay before leaving to Buffalo in free agency.
In his first season with the Bills in 1995, Paup recorded 70 tackles and sacked the quarterback a league leading 17.5 times. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a First-team All-Pro, as well as being selected to his 2nd Pro Bowl.
Paup played two more years in Buffalo, making the Pro Bowl in both 1996 and 1997. He played two seasons with Jacksonville in 1998 and 1999, and retired in 2001 after appearing in 10 games for the Vikings.
Paup ended his 11 year career with 75 sacks and 444 tackles, having his most productive seasons in the Bills blue and red. He made four consecutive Pro Bowls between 1994 and 1997, and is considered one of the top 50 all-time Buffalo Bills.
Marco Rivera – #62 Guard – Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys
Rivera attended Penn State University from 1992 to 1995, where he was a three year starter, and an All-Big Ten player in his junior and senior seasons. He graduated with a degree in Administration of Justice, and was drafted by the Packers 208th overall in the 1996 draft.
In 1996, Rivera was never active during a game, but was still on the roster for Green Bay’s Super Bowl win over the Patriots. In 1997, Marco played spring ball for the Scottish Claymores of the World League of Football before joining the Packers in the summer. In ’97, Marco served on the field goal and kickoff units in 14 regular season, and 3 playoff games.
By the 1998 season Rivera was ready to start at guard, and did so for 15 games. Between 1999 and 2004, Rivera started every game for the Packers, even playing through two torn MCLs in 2002. (I guess that’s possible) Rivera was named to three straight Pro Bowls from 2002 to 2004, and was an All-Pro in 2003.
Prior to the 2005 season, Rivera was acquired by the Dallas Cowboys in free agency. He signed a 5 year, $20 million contract with a huge $9 million signing bonus, and played 30 games for Dallas over the next two seasons, however repeated injuries to his back, neck, and elbows cut Rivera’s career short after 10 seasons.
Rivera started 141 games in his career. His play greatly impacted the performance of Brett Favre in the late ’90s and early 2000s. In 2011, Marco was inducted into the Green Bay Packers’ Hall of Fame.
Michael Sinclair – #70, #75 Defensive End – Seattle Seahawks
Sinclair went to school at Eastern New Mexico University, a Division II college in Portales, New Mexico. He was taken 155th overall by the Seattle Seahawks, in the 1991 NFL Draft.
Michael was a backup for his first three seasons with Seattle, accruing 13.5 in that time. In 1995, he started 15 games at left defensive end, but it wasn’t until the next season when he would break out as a high level player. Between 1996 and 1998, Sinclair had three seasons with at least 12 sacks, including a league leading 16.5 sack season in 1998. He was named to 3 consecutive Pro Bowls during this time, and was a Second-team All-Pro in 1998.
He started three more seasons for Seattle, but his sack numbers dwindled. In 2002, Sinclair attempted to continue playing for the Eagles, but only appeared in 4 games, and was only involved in one assisted tackle.
Sinclair retired after 11 years in the NFL, totaling 273 tackles and 73.5 sacks in 148 games played. He was later named one of the Seahawks’ top 10 defensive players of all-time, and was added to the Seatle All Time Team.
Adalius Thomas – #96 Linebacker – Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots
Adalius Thomas played college ball at Southern Miss, where he won C-USA Defensive Player of the Year in both 1998 and 1999. He was taken 186th overall in the 2000 draft by the Ravens.
Adalius had to compete with veterans Michael McCrary and Peter Boulware to get playing time with the Ravens. He only appeared in 3 games as a rookie, but in 2001 he played in all 16 games, grabbing 3.5 sacks and 30 tackles.
Thomas became a starter at defensive end in 2002, but moved permanently to linebacker in 2003. That year he was voted to the Pro Bowl based on his special teams performance, having led the Ravens with 23 tackles on kickoffs and punt coverage. In 2005, Thomas led the NFL in non-offensive scoring as he returned an interception and two fumbles for touchdowns. He also sacked the quarterback 9 times and had a career high 69 tackles.
In 2006, Thomas had his statistically best season as a pass rusher. In 16 games, sacked the quarterback 11 times, and tallied 64 tackles, and 19 assisted tackles. Thomas also scored a touchdown on a 58 yard fumble recovery, and added a safety to his stat line. He was voted to his 2nd Pro Bowl and was named a First-team All-Pro.
After 2006, Thomas signed a huge, 5 year, $35 million contract with the Patriots, including $20 million in guaranteed money. The move never worked out as planned, as Thomas’ best season in New England was a 6.5 sack, 57 tackle season in 2007. Thomas never seemed to buy into the Belichick coaching style, and was released in 2010.
Over his 10 years in the NFL, Thomas racked up 53 sacks and 405 tackles. He scored 6 defensive touchdowns in his career. He was named to two Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro in 2006.