AFC’s best seventh-round picks of Super Bowl era

In 2023, Purdy threw for 4,280 yards (fifth in the NFL) and 31 touchdowns (third) and led the league in passer rating (113). Not bad for “Mr. Irrelevant,” the 262nd and final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.  

Purdy, however, is far from the only seventh-round draft pick to stand out in the NFL. As determined by Yardbarker NFL writers, here are the best seventh-round draft picks of the Super Bowl era (since 1966) for each AFC team. (The year drafted is in parenthesis.)

AFC East 

BUFFALO BILLS | WR Stevie Johnson (2008) | Kicker Gary Anderson is the most successful player Buffalo has drafted in the seventh round, but the four-time Pro Bowler never played a game for the team. Johnson, on the other hand, was one of the NFL’s more underrated receivers during his Bills career, enjoying a three-season stretch (2010-12) in which he racked up 3,123 yards receiving and 23 touchdown catches.

MIAMI DOLPHINS | DB Jake Scott (1970) | The five-time Pro Bowler played the first six seasons of his career with the Dolphins and was one of the most impactful players in team history. In addition to ranking as the franchise’s all-time leader in interceptions (35), Scott was named to five All-Pro teams with the Dolphins, won two Super Bowl titles and earned MVP honors in Super Bowl VII.

NEW YORK JETS | DL Jason Ferguson (1997) | Although a four-game steroid suspension clouds his legacy, Ferguson proved to be a hidden gem for the Jets and was one of their more productive players for his seven-year tenure. Ferguson notched 374 tackles — 18 for loss — and 20.5 sacks in 101 games with the Jets before going on to play parts of five seasons with Dallas and Miami.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS | WR Julian Edelman (2009) | The former Kent State quarterback emerged as future Hall of Famer Tom Brady’s go-to receiver for three championship-winning Patriots teams and was named MVP of Super Bowl LIII. Despite never making a Pro Bowl in his career, Edelman ranks third in NFL playoff history in receptions (118) and receiving yards (1,442). — Colum Dell

AFC West

DENVER BRONCOS | TE Shannon Sharpe (1990) | Before he became a sports commentator, Sharpe made a name for himself as one of the best TEs in league history. In 14 seasons with the Broncos and Ravens, the Pro Football Hall of Famer won three Super Bowls and earned four first-team All-Pro nods.

 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS | RB Isiah Pacheco (2022) | Pacheco helped the Chiefs win their third championship, rushing for 76 yards and one TD in Super Bowl LVII against the Eagles. In 14 games this season, he set career highs in rushing yards (935) and rushing TDs (seven).

 LAS VEGAS RAIDERS | RB Bo Jackson (1987) | Jackson was drafted with the first overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, but he refused to sign with the Buccaneers, so the Raiders picked him in the next draft. Arguably the greatest athlete of all time, he starred for them for four seasons and also played in MLB for the Kansas City Royals. The one-time Pro Bowler averaged 73.2 rushing yards per game before a hip injury ended his football career.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS | RB Marion Butts (1989) | In five seasons with the Chargers, Butts made two Pro Bowls. His best season came in 1990 when he finished third in the league in rushing yards (1,225 in 14 games) behind future HOFers Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders and earned a second-team All-Pro nod. — Clark Dalton

AFC North 

BALTIMORE RAVENS | Safety Geno Stone (2020) | The 24-year-old had a breakout year in 2023 with the second-most interceptions in the NFL (seven). Only Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed has more interceptions in a season for the Ravens.

CINCINNATI BENGALS | WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (2001) | Houshmandzadeh put together an impressive 11-year NFL career, eight with the Bengals. He ended his career with the fifth-most receptions (507), ninth-most receiving yards (5,782) and sixth-most receiving touchdowns (37) in Cincinnati’s franchise history.

CLEVELAND BROWNS | Kicker Zane Gonzalez (2017) | Cleveland has an inglorious history of seventh-round picks, with the best of the bunch being Gonzalez, who only played in 18 games with the Browns. Over a seven-year career, which included stops in Arizona and Carolina, he had 400 points and a field-goal percentage of 80.5.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS | DE Brett Keisel (2002) | Keisel was a cornerstone and fan favorite on the Steelers’ defensive line for 13 seasons. He recorded 408 tackles, 30 sacks, seven forced fumbles, two interceptions and one touchdown and helped Pittsburgh win two Super Bowls (XL and XLIII). — Aaron Becker

AFC South 

HOUSTON TEXANS | CB Andre Hal (2014) | Hal didn’t spend much time in Houston, but in his five seasons, he made a solid impression in the secondary. He had 12 interceptions in his last four seasons (with three or more INTs in three of those four years) and 31 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a pick-six. 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS | WR Alvin Moore (1983) | The Colts don’t have a rich history of hitting on seventh-round picks. Moore played just two seasons for the team, totaling 332 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 95 carries and adding 15 receptions and 90 yards receiving.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS | DE Bobby McCray (2004) | Getting a double-digit sack season out of a seventh-rounder is likely more than Jacksonville hoped for when it took McCray out of Florida. In four seasons with the Jags, McCray logged 93 tackles, 25 QB hits, 22 sacks (including 10 in 2006), eight forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. 

TENNESSEE TITANS | CB Cortland Finnegan (2006) | Finnegan played six seasons for the Titans (mostly as their CB1), totaling 472 tackles, 68 passes defensed, 14 interceptions, four defensive touchdowns, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. He was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection in his third season. — Michael Gallagher

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