Commentary

Beyond Brady and T.D.

The sixth round hasn't provided many marquee names, but plenty of quality exists

Originally Published: April 13, 2010
By Sheldon Spencer | ESPN.com

Davis/Brady/Riley US Presswire, Getty ImagesDenver's Terrell Davis (left) and New England's Tom Brady (center) are the more celebrated sixth-round finds, but Cincinnati's Ken Riley (right) was a great discovery, too.
Whenever there's discussion about the best sixth-round draft picks in NFL history, Tom Brady (2000, New England Patriots) and Terrell Davis (1995, Denver Broncos) are the easy answers.

But the next time this subject comes up at a party, don't be afraid to hail other sixth-rounders who became Super Bowl standouts, including Mark Rypien (1986, Redskins), Mark Chmura (1992, Packers), George Andrie (1962, Cowboys) and Lee Woodall (1994, 49ers).

Of course, starting conversations about these things might be one reason you're not invited to parties.

As we discovered researching this, the NFL draft's sixth round is speckled with few other Hall of Fame-caliber talents but lots of solid performers. The only sixth-round selection currently in Canton is Jack Christiansen (1951, Detroit Lions). A left safety with great size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) and speed (11 career touchdowns), Christiansen spurred the Lions to NFL titles in 1952, 1953 and 1957. The former Colorado State star was a five-time Pro Bowl selection.

Finding a safety to pair with Christiansen in the secondary with at least some of the necessary qualities -- excelling with the team that drafted him, a title or two on the résumé -- was a challenge. But Indianapolis Colts safety Antoine Bethea (2006) fills the bill. The former Howard University standout played a significant role in the Colts' Super Bowl XLI-winning season, made the Pro Bowl the next season, and helped his team advance to its second title game in four years this past February.

Any NFL team would be happy to draft the types of solid talents peppering our sixth-round all-stars, even the relatively obscure. Consider Ken Riley (1969, Bengals).

A Florida A&M quarterback converted to cornerback, Riley provided solid defense for 15 seasons. His 65 career interceptions rank fifth in NFL history. Fellow Bengals cornerback Lemar Parrish made six Pro Bowls between 1970 and '77, but Riley was never invited.

While Brady and Davis one day will join Christiansen in Canton, Riley probably never will. He's still appreciated by those searching for diamonds in the rough.

See the charts below for our Round 6 all-stars. Click here to read about Round 7 (and beyond).

Sheldon Spencer is an NFL editor at ESPN.com. Thanks to ESPN's Stats & Information crew for their researching efforts, as well as Pro-Football-Reference.com and the Pro Football Hall Of Fame's Web site.