NFL impact players from the sixth round are rare, but finding one can be a huge boost for a franchise. These 25 sixth-round picks put together superb NFL careers despite their draft statuses.
Kelce has emerged as one of the best centers in the NFL, being named an All-Pro three times with the Eagles. The Cincinnati alum was an immediate starter in his rookie season despite being picked in the sixth round.
Brown dropped in the 2010 draft due to behavioral concerns but soon became one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. He led the league in receiving yards twice during a run of six straight Pro Bowls from 2013-2018, but myriad off-field issues and on-field distractions caused him to get traded by the Steelers and then cut twice during the 2019 season. The Central Michigan alum is hoping to reenter the league in 2020.
Bethea has had a long and accomplished career, making three Pro Bowls over 14 seasons. He was a starter for Indianapolis during his rookie season and found his way to the Pro Bowl in his second year. Bethea was selected 207th overall out of Howard in 2006.
Perhaps the greatest and most notorious NFL draft pick in history, Brady was chosen by the Patriots in the sixth round out of Michigan in 2000. He replaced the injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001, and the rest is history. Over 20 seasons in New England, Brady led the team to nine Super Bowls and won six of them. He's also won three MVPs and been named to 14 Pro Bowls. Brady finally left the Patriots in 2020, signing with the Buccaneers.
Bulger failed to make the Saints roster after he was drafted in the sixth round out of West Virginia and later spent the year on the practice squads of the Falcons and Rams. Rams head coach Mike Martz saw talent in Bulger, and he eventually replaced the legendary and injured Kurt Warner as the team's starter in 2002. Bulger took over the starting job for good the following season and went 12-3 as a starter during the regular season. That season was his first of two career Pro Bowls, but Bulger's play declined several years later when he was in his early 30s.
Thomas was a great find for Baltimore's legendary 2000s defenses. He made the Pro Bowl twice, including an 11-sack, 83-tackle season in 2006. The Southern Miss alum finished his career in 2009 after three seasons in New England.
After playing at Boston College, Hasselbeck backed up Brett Favre for two seasons in Green Bay. Former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren acquired Hasselbeck via trade to be Seattle's starter in 2001. Hasselbeck had a great 10-year run as the Seahawks starter, making three Pro Bowls, before wrapping up his career with the Titans and Colts.
Birk took the reins as Minnesota's starting center in his third season out of Harvard and went on to make six Pro Bowls during his 14-year career on the field. He capped off his career after the 2012 season.
Rivera developed into an excellent starting guard for the Packers and Cowboys and made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2002-2004. He developed in the World League following his first professional season, and the Penn State alum was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 2011.
Davis fell to the sixth round in 1995 due to injuries and limited playing time at Georgia, and he turned out to be a great find for Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. The running back ran for 1,117 yards in 14 games during his rookie season and would rush for more than 1,500 yards in each of the next three years, culminating with a 2,000 yard season in 1998 and league MVP. He also won two Offensive Player of the Year Awards and two Super Bowls during that string, but Davis' body finally broke down beginning in 1999 until he called it quits in the 2002 preseason. The short string of success was still enough for Davis to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
Bates was not only a great NFL kick returner but he also was the bronze medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1992 Olympics. The Arizona alum played for six different teams in 11 seasons and made the Pro Bowl in all five of his seasons with the Panthers.
Paup was an elite pass rusher for a stretch of his career, making the Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons from 1994-1997. The Northern Iowa alum was also the 1995 Defensive Player of the Year in his first season with the Bills, recording a league-high 17.5 sacks.
A New Mexico alum, Mathis was a role player for four seasons with the Jets before joining the Falcons in 1994. He immediately became a star in Atlanta, making the Pro Bowl with 111 receptions fro 1,342 yards and 11 touchdowns. He never returned to the Pro Bowl after 1994, but Mathis did have four 1,000 yard seasons in his 13-year career.
Lloyd had an excellent 11-year career, making five straight Pro Bowls from 1991-1995 with the Steelers. He was drafted out of Fort Valley State and finished his career with 791 tackles and 54.5 sacks.
Rypien spent his first two years as a pro on the injured reserve after his college career at Washington State. He finally found the field in 1988 and made the Pro Bowl one year later. He lasted as the Redskins starter from 1989-1993, making two Pro Bowls and claiming MVP of Super Bowl XXVI. He finished his career an impressive 47-31 as a regular-season starter.
Novacek was a role player in five seasons with the Cardinals before jump-starting his career as the Cowboys starting tight end in 1990. He proved an excellent outlet receiver for Troy Aikman, making five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1991-1995 and winning three Super Bowls with the team. He's one of the most successful NFL alums of Wyoming.
Betters had a short but spectacular prime with the Dolphins, winning Defensive Player of the Year with a league-leading 16 sacks in 1983. That was also his only Pro Bowl appearance despite making 14 sacks the following season. His career lasted 10 seasons with the Dolphins. The Nevada alum was inducted into the Miami Dolphins Ring of Honor in 2008.
Klecko was a terrific interior defensive lineman over 12 NFL seasons, making four Pro Bowls in five years from 1981-1985. The Jets selected him in 1977 out of Temple.
Montgomery had an impressive four-year stretch as the Eagles running back, rushing for more than 1,200 yards three times. Drafted out of NAIA Abilene Christian, Montgomery turned in a nine-year NFL career with two Pro Bowl appearances.
Newman played guard for Miami for his entire career and was a late bloomer, only starting regularly during the second half of his career. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his last four seasons from 1981-1984, but a knee injury ended his career. Newman was drafted by the Dolphins out of Duke.
Gray played his college ball at Missouri and didn't have to travel far for his NFL career, going to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971. He played his entire 12-year career in St. Louis and made four Pro Bowls, including in 1975 when he led the NFL with 11 touchdown receptions.
Riley was an All-Pro only once and never made the Pro Bowl, but his numbers for his 15-year NFL career stack up well. The Florida A&M alum had 65 career interceptions, fourth-most in history at the time of his retirement.
Andrie spent his entire career in Dallas, making five Pro Bowls in 11 seasons. The Marquette alum was also an All-Pro in 1969.
Gray was drafted by the Packers out of Howard Payne University but was cut by the team before appearing in a game. He signed with the Cardinals and played there for 12 seasons, making six Pro Bowls and then wrapping up his career with Houston in 1970.
Christiansen played all eight of his NFL seasons with Detroit, winning three NFL championships and making five Pro Bowls en route to the Hall of Fame. He led the league in interceptions twice, including 12 picks in 1953.
Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.