Who was the greatest fifth-round NFL draft pick ever?
C Mike Webster. Selected by the Steelers in 1974, Webster did not start until the 1976 season. But he quickly made up for lost time – earning nine Pro Bowl invitations and a spot on the NFL’s 75th anniversary team. He also was named to the NFL’s all-decade teams for both the 1970s and 1980s and started on two Super Bowl championship teams. Webster played 17 seasons, the first 15 with Pittsburgh and the final two with Kansas City. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.
CB Dick LeBeau. Selected by the Browns in 1959, LeBeau didn’t last training camp with the Browns so he headed north and signed two months later with the Detroit Lions. From 1960 through 1972 he started 171 consecutive games and intercepted 62 passes, seventh among all defenders in NFL history and third among pure cornerbacks. LeBeau then went into coaching and coordinated four defenses that led the NFL and also won his first two Super Bowl rings. LeBeau was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
OLB Kevin Greene. Selected by the Rams in 1985, Greene ranks third all-time in sacks with 160. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and a member of the 1990s NFL all-decade team. He played with five teams in his 15-year career, specializing as a strongside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He helped the Rams, Steelers, Panthers and 49ers reach conference title games but never played in a Super Bowl. A staggering 97 ½ of his sacks came in his 30s. Greene has been a Hall of Fame finalist four times.
MLB Zach Thomas. Selected by the Dolphins in 1996, Thomas became a walk-in starter and set a franchise record with 1,720 tackles in his 12 seasons in Miami. He led the NFL in tackles in both 2002 (156) and 2006 (165). He was selected to play in seven Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL’s 2000s all-decade team. He is already a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and was on the preliminary ballot for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015.
DE Robert Mathis. Selected by the Colts in 2003, Mathis overcame a lack of size to become a dominant pass rusher. He arrived in the NFL at 6-0, 236 pounds and the Colts used him as a designated pass rusher in his first three seasons. After back-to-back double-digit sack seasons n 2004 and ’05, the Colts made him a starter. He has since played in six Super Bowls and led the NFL with 19 ½ sacks in 2013. Still active, and now carrying 246 pounds, Mathis ranks 21st all-time in sacks with 111.