Who was the greatest seventh-round NFL draft pick ever?
MLB Joe Schmidt. Selected by the Detroit Lions in 1953, Schmidt became one of the first true middle linebackers as we know the position today. In the mid-1950s the NFL stood up the nose tackle in 5-2 fronts and backed him off the line, creating a new position (MLB) and a new alignment (4-3). Few adapted to the position better or quicker than Schmidt, who would play in 10 Pro Bowls and was named to the 1950s NFL all-decade team. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.
S Larry Wilson. Selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1960, Wilson would go on to play 13 seasons and was voted to eight Pro Bowls. He was selected to both the 1960s and 1970s NFL all-decade teams and also was named to both the league’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams. He intercepted 52 passes in his career and was the originator of the safety blitz. The definition of toughness, Wilson once played with two broken wrists and casts on both arms. He was voted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1978.
OLB Bobby Bell. Selected by Kansas City in 1963, Bell chose to play in the AFL rather than the NFL, having been selected in the second round by Minnesota that same year. Bell won an Outland Trophy in college at Minnesota and would play at that same high level in the AFL. He was voted to the 1960s AFL all-decade team and would go on to play in nine Pro Bowls for the Chiefs. He intercepted 26 passes, scored nine touchdowns and sacked 40 quarterbacks. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983.
K Gary Anderson. Selected by Buffalo in 1982, Anderson didn’t survive training camp with the Bills. But he was signed within days of his release by the Pittsburgh Steelers and went on to fashion one of the finest careers by an NFL kicker. Anderson kicked 23 seasons for five teams, scoring 2,434 points. That puts him second on the NFL’s all-time scoring list behind Morten Andersen. Anderson was voted to both the 1980s and 1990s NFL all-decade teams.
TE Shannon Sharpe. Selected by Denver in 1990, the Broncos spent a year converting Sharpe from a small-school (Savannah State) wide receiver into an NFL tight end. He would go on to catch 815 passes (third best in NFL history among tight ends), play in eight Pro Bowls and win three Super Bowl rings. He won his first two rings with the Broncos and then led Baltimore in receiving in 2000 when the Ravens won their first Lombardi Trophy. Sharpe was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.