Every single year when the NFL draft comes around, pundits, commentators, and fans are understandably fixated on who will be taken in the very first round. However, we prefer those surprising picks that are taken later on in the draft but still go on to perform well. There’s nothing better than a good surprise. Whether that be being pleasantly surprised by the latest sign-up bonuses in poker or a seventh-round pick that goes on to dominate the NFL. With that in mind, here are the top three most surprising draft picks of the last decade.
Malcolm Smith – Taken 242nd overall by the Seattle Seahawks
No one expected all that much from line-backer Malcolm Smith when he snuck into the NFL as the 242nd pick in the 2011 draft. He was the 30th line-backer taken overall – not exactly what you would expect from an elite defender.
However, Smith would go on to shock everyone over the course of his outstanding career. After a slow start he broke into the team in the 2013 season, racking up 15 appearances and making 54 combined tackles.
One year later, the Seahawks won the Superbowl and Smith played a vital role in bringing the trophy to Seattle. During the game he accounted for 10 tackles, recovered a vital fumble and even returned an interception for a touchdown in a 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos. His performance saw him awarded with the Super Bowl MVP award. He remains one of just seven defensive players to be bestowed this honour.
Trent Brown – Taken 244th overall by the San Francisco 49ers
After being taken 244th in the 2015 draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Trent Brown’s NFL career got off to an innocuous start. The offensive tackle made 28 appearances during his first three seasons, which although impressive for a seventh-round pick, did not suggest he would be catapulted to superstardom.
Things changed in 2018 when he was traded to the New England Patriots for a draft pick. Patriots coach Bill Belichick had long been a fan of Brown and wanted to add him to his team’s devastating power-running offence. He made an immediate impact as well, excelling at left tackle and helping the Pats win the 2019 Super Bowl. Since then, he’s signed a big money deal with the Raiders which made him the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. Not bad for the 244th overall pick.
Jason Kelce – Taken 191th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles
Shaggy looking center Jason Kelce was taken in the sixth round by the Philadelphia Eagles back in 2011 and has remained loyal to the Birds ever since.
Since arriving in the league, Kelce has been an immovable presence in his teams offensive line, becoming the first rookie in Eagles history to start every single game of the season at center. He’s also not missed a game since 2014.
Kelce was awarded for his incredible longevity and loyalty when he helped his beloved Philadelphia win their first NFL championship for 52 years in 2018.