Nobody's still paying attention when the 6th or 7th round of the draft rolls around these days. Just imagine what it was like back in the day, when the 30th round rolled around.
Some of the greatest players in Eagles history were taken in the forgotten rounds. They were footnotes when they were selected. But not when they played.
Here's the length of the NFL draft throughout its history:
1936-1938: 9 rounds
1939-1942: 20 rounds
1943-1948: 30 rounds
1949: 25 rounds
1950-1959: 30 rounds
1960-1966: 20 rounds
1967-1976: 17 rounds
1977-1992: 12 rounds
1993: 8 rounds
1994-2020: 7 rounds
With this year's draft coming up in a couple weeks, we set out to find the top-10 late-round players in Eagles history.
We set the 6th round or later as the benchmark for "late-round" picks. And this list doesn't include guys like Pete Retzlaff, a 22nd-round pick in 1953, Timmy Brown, a 27th-round pick in 1959 or Harold Jackson, a 12th-round pick in 1968, because they were all drafted by other teams (Retzlaff Lions, Brown Packers, Jackson Rams).
Russ Craft, 15th round, 1943: Craft was a key two-way back on the 1948 and 1949 NFL Championship teams. He made two Pro Bowls as a 15th-round pick, intercepted 22 passes and in 1950 picked off seven passes. Brookshier, with 8 INTs in 1953, is the only other Eagle in history drafted in the 7th round or later with seven or more interceptions in a season. Craft is the only player the Eagles have ever selected in the 15th round or later to make more than one Pro Bowl.
Norm Willey, 13th round, 1950: “Wildman” Willey is the only player the Eagles have ever drafted after the 10th round to make 1st-team all-pro and the only player they’ve ever drafted after the 13th round to make two or more Pro Bowls. Willey played long before sacks were an official stat, but his prowess as a pass rusher is legendary. According to football lore, he once had 17 sacks in a game in 1952 against the Giants. After he retired, Willey taught for over 30 years at Pennsville High School in South Jersey.
Bobby Walston, 14th round, 1951: Walston was the 166th player taken in 1951 and went on to a fantastic 12-year career with the Eagles. He made two Pro Bowls, caught 30 passes during the 1960 NFL Championship season and finished his career with 311 catches, 5,363 yards, 46 touchdowns and 40 field goals. When he retired he ranked 11th in NFL history in catches and yards and second in scoring. Only four players in history taken in the 12th round or later had more yards than Walston, and three are Hall of Famers.
Tom Brookshier, 10th round, 1953: Brookie was the 34th defensive back taken in the 32-round 1953 NFL draft, but his 20 career interceptions were more than any of the 33 d-backs taken ahead of him. Interestingly, Fred Bruney – who years later would become Dick Vermeil’s defensive coordinator – was second with 15. Brookshier is only of only six players in NFL history drafted in the 10th round to make two Pro Bowls and one of only four to be a 1st-team all-pro.
Harold Carmichael, 7th round, 1971: Carmichael’s 8,985 career receiving yards are 9th-most in NFL history by a player taken in the 7thround or later, and his 79 career TD catches are 4th-most. Carmichael was the 161st player taken in the 1971 draft and the 19th wide receiver. Seven of the WRs selected ahead of Harold never caught an NFL pass. Harold caught 590. He’s one of only three WRs taken in the 7th round in the Hall of Fame, along with Bobby Mitchell and Bob Hayes.
Wilbert Montgomery, 6th round, 1977: Montgomery was the 25th running back taken in 1977 but one of only two multiple-Pro Bowlers in that group. The other was Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, the second player taken overall. The only 6th-round pick in NFL history with more rushing yards than Montgomery’s 6,789 is Hall of Famer Terrell Davis, who had 7,607. Davis is also the only 6th-round RB to make more Pro Bowls than Montgomery. He made three, Wilbert made two.
Charlie Johnson, 7th round, 1977: Johnson is the only defensive tackle in NFL history taken in the 7th round or later to make 1st-team all-pro twice. Jerry Mays, the Vikings’ 11th-round pick in 1961, also did, but he was a 5th-round pick of the Dallas Texans and made his all-pro teams in the AFL. Johnson is one of only two multiple all-pros in Eagles history drafted in the 7th round or later. Johnson was the 175th player and 25th defensive lineman taken in the 1977 draft.
Seth Joyner, 8th round, 1986: Seth Joyner, a familiar face to everyone who watches NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Eagles pre- and post-game shows, was the 208th player taken in 1986, but his 52 career sacks are 5th-most ever by any player drafted in the 8th round or later, and his 20 career INTs are 4th-most ever by a LB taken in the 8th round or later. Joyner was the 30th linebacker taken in 1986. He’s one of four 8th-round linebackers picked to at least three Pro Bowls.
Clyde Simmons, 9th round, 1986: Just 25 picks after taking Joyner, the Eagles took Simmons, who was the 233rd pick overall and the 24th of 31 defensive ends. Simmons finished his career with 121 ½ sacks, second-most in history by any player drafted after the 5th round. The only 8th-round defensive end picked to more Pro Bowls than Clyde was Ed Husmann, who played in the 1950s. There were three players drafted in the 8th round or later in 1986 who became multiple Pro Bowls and they were all teammates with the Eagles in 1993 – Joyner, Simmons and Vai Sikahema.
Jason Kelce, 6th round, 2011: Kelce is one of only 12 players in NFL history drafted in the 6th round to make 1st-team all-pro three times and one of just four offensive linemen to achieve that. The three others were all drafted by 1956. Kelce was the 191st player taken in the 2011 draft. He was the 30th of 40 offensive linemen taken in 2011 but the only one to make all-pro three times. The only player in that entire 2011 draft to make all-pro more than Kelce is J.J. Watt, the 11th pick overall.
Wayne Robinson, 8th round, 1952
Jerry Norton, 7th round, 1954
Irv Cross, 7th round, 1961
Tom Woodeshick, 8th round, 1963
Nate Ramsey, 14th round, 1963
John Bunting, 10th round, 1972
Carl Hairston, 7th round, 1976
Ray Ellis, 12th round, 1981
Andy Harmon, 6th round, 1991
Mark McMillian, 10th round, 1992