Who was the greatest third-round NFL draft pick ever?
MLB Ray Nitschke. Selected by Green Bay in 1958, Nitschke became the toothless face of a Packers defense that would send six players to Canton and help Green Bay win five NFL titles in a span of seven years (1961-67). Green Bay allowed the fewest points in the league in 1962, 1965 and 1966 and the fewest yards in both 1964 and 1967. Nitschke was named to both the 1960s NFL all-decade team and the 75th anniversary team. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1978.
OT Art Shell. Selected by Oakland in 1968, Shell stepped into the starting lineup in 1970 and stayed there for 13 seasons, teaming with guard and fellow Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw to give the Raiders one of the most formidable left sides of an offensive line ever assembled. Shell was voted to eight Pro Bowls, won two Super Bowl rings and was named to the 1970s NFL all-decade team. Shell also became the first African-American head coach in the NFL (Raiders) in the game’s modern era.
CB Mel Blount. Selected by Pittsburgh in 1970, Blount became the NFL’s prototype for the big cornerback (6-3, 205 pounds). He mauled wide receivers in the era of the bump-and-run, intercepting 57 career passes. Blount went to five Pro Bowls and started on four Super Bowl championship teams on his way to NFL all-decade acclaim in the 1970s. He started 200 career games and also recovered 13 fumbles. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1989.
QB Joe Montana. Selected by San Francisco in 1979, Montana quarterbacked the 49ers to four Super Bowl victories and was named the MVP in three of them. He engineered 92 career fourth-quarter game-winning drives, including a 92-yard march over the final three minutes for the deciding touchdown in a 20-16 victory over Cincinnati. Montana won two NFL MVP awards, two passing titles and was named to both the 1980s and 75th anniversary teams. He was enshrined in Canton in 2000.
WR Terrell Owens. Selected by San Francisco in 1996, Owens caught 153 career touchdown passes to rank third all-time behind former teammate Jerry Rice (197) and Randy Moss (156). Owens also ranks second all-time in receiving yardage (15,934) and sixth in catches (1,078). He played 15 seasons with five teams and was selected to six Pro Bowls. He hit double-digits in touchdowns in eight seasons and was selected to the 2000s NFL all-decade team. He is eligible for Canton in 2016.