Best Quarterbacks Not Drafted in the Top Ten of the NFL Draft

An NFL franchise QB is hard to come by, and year after year we see teams at the top of the draft take QBs that might turn their franchise around. It's little wonder really that teams would reach to possibly land a competent QB, if they don't take them high in the draft, some other team surely will. But as I look back over the years, I ask myself this: How successful have those efforts been? For every John Elway and Peyton Manning going at the top of the draft and hitting big time, you'll also find many more JaMarcus Russells and Tim Couches, who never lived up to expectations. You'll see in the initial list below many examples of teams getting their great QBs outside of the top 10 of the NFL draft. We've all seen many lists focusing on the worst QBs drafted high and rightfully so, missing on these picks can set a franchise back many years. But with so many misses, maybe it's time for the NFLs highly paid brain trust to rethink their position on taking QBs so high. This list focuses on both great all time NFL QBs, and young QBs that appear headed for greatness. Feel free to add any that apply.
The Top Ten
1 Tom Brady Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr., is a retired American football quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League. Brady is known for being the only quarterback in history to win 7 Super Bowls, and was often considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Brady was also frequently considered to be the biggest steal in NFL history as a late 6th round pick. He had previously played for the New England Patriots from 2000 to 2019.

Still active of course, Brady was drafted in the 6th round, 199th overall. Quite a bargain. We all know the legacy he will leave behind, and it's still possible he may add to that.

Update: Brady has now officially retired. Seven Super Bowl rings. My gosh.

2 Joe Montana Joseph Clifford "Joe" Montana, Jr., nicknamed Joe Cool and The Comeback Kid, is a retired American football quarterback.

Joe Cool was drafted in the 3rd round, no. 82 overall. This picture is telling, take a look at that valuable right hand.

Why isn't Joe Montana #1? He is the best QB of all time.

He's quite the player.

3 Aaron Rodgers Aaron Charles Rodgers is an American football quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League.

It was a little hard to include Rodgers in the top 10, but that's because his numbers will never compare favorably to the all time greats. Remember, he sat for 3 years to start his career, and has had a spotty injury history, causing him to miss even more time. Still, in my eyes he belongs because he has made some of the most unbelievable throws I have ever seen, and in my opinion, he can throw more accurately on the run than any QB. Rodgers was drafted in the 1st round, but at no. 24 overall. One ring, 3 NFL MVPs, and who knows, maybe more on the way...

Update: Like Favre before him, Rodgers has been traded to the NYJ. The NFC North teams not in Green Bay breathe a collective sigh of relief... The Packers usher in the Jordan Love era. Love was drafted #26 overall in the 2020 Draft, as is a candidate to also appear on this list someday.

4 Johnny Unitas John Constantine Unitas, nicknamed "Johnny U", or "The Golden Arm", was an American professional football player from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Drafted in the 9th round no. 102 overall. 3x NFL champion, 1 SB ring and 3x NFL MVP.

5 Dan Marino Daniel Constantine Marino Jr. is a former American football player who was a quarterback for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League.

Drafted in the 1st round, but 27th overall. A nice bargain for the Dolphins. He's the first on this list to not have a ring, however he retired with many NFL records, and no one would doubt his arm talent and quick release. NFL MVP in 1984.

6 Brett Favre Brett Lorenzo Favre is a former American football quarterback who spent the majority of his career with the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League.

Favre was drafted in the 2nd round, no. 33 overall. The gunslinger took home one ring and 3 NFL MVPs.

Should be 3rd among the GB quarterbacks. If on the list at all.

7 Drew Brees Drew Christopher Brees is an American football quarterback for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League. He is the only player to have back to back to back 5,000 yards in three seasons straight. Brees also has the all time best completion percentage with 66.95%.

Drew Brees was drafted in the 2nd round, no. 32 overall, and won 1 Super Bowl ring. QB records have been broken by Brees in recent seasons, but it's important to note that the NFL has made significant rule changes over the last 20-25 years to open up the passing game, allowing Brees and other QBs to thrive. This is not to discredit Brees, who is an all-time great and a brilliant talent, but to acknowledge that QBs before these rule changes did not have the same benefits.

8 Kurt Warner Kurtis Eugene "Kurt" Warner is a former American football quarterback, a current part-time TV football analyst, and a philanthropist.

Not drafted at all. Signed by Green Bay as a free agent in 1994, but released before the season started. One of the greatest stories ever in NFL history, Warner spent 5 years in the Arena Football League, and/or stocking shelves at Hy-Vee. Picked up by the Rams in 1999, the rest is history. 1 ring, 2x NFL MVP.

9 Ben Roethlisberger Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger, Sr., nicknamed Big Ben, is an American football quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League.

1st round, no. 11 overall. 2x Super Bowl champion.

10 Fran Tarkenton

Drafted in the 3rd round, no. 29 overall. 1 NFL MVP.

The Contenders
11 Roger Staubach Roger Thomas Staubach, nicknamed Captain America and Captain Comeback, is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League.

10th round, 129th overall. 2x Super Bowl Champion.

12 Russell Wilson Russell Carrington Wilson is an American football quarterback for the Denver Broncos, and formerly for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League.

Drafted in the 3rd, 75th overall. What a steal for the 'Hawks... 1 Super Bowl championship.

13 Bart Starr

17th round, 200th overall. 2x Super Bowl champion, 1 NFL MVP. Arguably a better QB than Favre OR Rodgers, and certainly a much bigger bargain.

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