Amazingly enough, Tom Brady has spent two full decades in the NFL. The quarterback, for a variety of reasons, lasted until the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft. If every team had a do-over, they would be foolish not to select him.
That’s not to say this wasn’t a good draft class. There were a ton of future All-Pro’s picked and Brian Urlacher recently became the first member of the class to make the NFL’s Hall of Fame. Here are some of the best players selected before Brady.
LaVar Arrington – 2nd Pick – Washington Redskins
LaVar Arrington wasn’t the first pick of the 2000 NFL Draft. That honor went to his Penn State teammate Courtney Brown. Arrington was, however, the first pick from the 2000 draft to become a star in the NFL.
The linebacker was an impact player for the Washington Redskins from the start. During his career, he made the Pro Bowl 3 times. In 2007, he signed a megadeal with the New York Giants, but tore his Achilles tendon in his first season, ultimately ending his career.
Chris Samuels – 3rd Pick – Washington Redskins
The 2000 Draft goes down as one of the all-time greatest for the Washington Redskins. While the team had the benefit of selecting 2nd and 3rd, they also had to nail those picks. And they hit them both out of the park.
With the 3rd selection, Washington took offensive tackle Chris Samuels out of Alabama. Samuels would be a fixture for the Redskins for the next decade, making 6 Pro Bowls. The blindside protector was elected into the Redskins Ring of Honor in 2019.
Jamal Lewis – 5th Pick – Baltimore Ravens
A college teammate of Peyton Manning, Jamal Lewis spent his college career shredding SEC defenses for the Tennessee Volunteers. He soon joined an ascending Baltimore Ravens team and began doing the same thing against NFL defenses.
Lewis didn’t take long to smash records. He had his best season in 2003 when he became only the 3rd player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Named the 2003 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Lewis rushed for over 10,000 yards in his career.
Corey Simon – 6th Pick – Philadelphia Eagles
Today, defensive tackles that can clog running lanes but also rush the passer are all the rage. Back in the early 2000s, they were much more of a rarity. But Eagles pick Corey Simon from Florida State was that kind of player.
Simon was a key contributor to the Eagles from day one, notching 9.5 sacks as a rookie. He made the Pro-Bowl in 2004 after another big season where he tallied 7.5 sacks. Simon later left the Eagles for the Colts, but his career was derailed by injuries.
Thomas Jones – 7th Pick – Arizona Cardinals
Thomas Jones was a bruising running back from the University of Virginia who could also go the distance if he found a seam. Jones was drafted by an awful Cardinals team and looked like a bust until he moved to the Chicago Bears.
The halfback was a key contributor for Chicago and rushed for 112 yards during Super Bowl XLI. When Jones moved to the Jets, he continued his fine performance making the 2008 Pro-Bowl after running for 1,312 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns.
Plaxico Burress – 8th Pick – Pittsburgh Steelers
You can count on one hand the kind of receivers that have ever been quite like Plaxico Burress. Standing at 6-6, but with 4.5 speed, Burress was practically unstoppable. The only thing that could really stop the wideout was himself.
Plaxico played in some big games during his career catching the touchdown that sealed Super Bowl XLII. While he never made the Pro-Bowl, Burress caught 553 passes in his career amassing 8,499 yards and 64 TDs.
Brian Urlacher – 9th Pick – Chicago Bears
There were a lot of great players drafted in 2000 as it’s one of the best drafts in recent memory. The first player drafted in 2000 to make the Hall of Fame, though, was Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Urlacher was an absolute terror on the field. He made a total of 8 Pro-Bowls, was the 2005 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was a First-Team All-Pro 4 times. The Bear legend made the Hall of Fame in 2019 during his first year of eligibility.
John Abraham – 13th Pick – New York Jets
There are few things that are more valuable in the NFL than a player who can get pressure off the edge. Somehow, John Abraham, who was pretty incredible at that, lasted until the 13th selection of the 2000 draft.
The Jets, who had 4 selections in the 1st Round, were paid off almost immediately for taking the South Carolina backer. Abraham, who played for the Jets, Falcons and Cardinals, would make 5 Pro-Bowls and amass 133.5 sacks.
Julian Peterson – 16th Pick – San Francisco 49ers
Every team in the NFL looks for a jack-of-all-trades linebacker. The kind of guy who can not only set the edge but also get after the passer and be able to stay with a running back coming out of the backfield.
Julian Peterson did all these things for the Niners, Seahawks, and Lions during his 10-year career. That career saw him make the Pro-Bowl 5 times and make First-Team All-Pro in 2002 and 2003.
Sebastian Janikowski – 17th Pick – Las Vegas Raiders
A really good kicker is really important to an NFL team. But teams aren’t really willing to spend a lot of money or a high draft pick to get one. Unless, that team, of course, is the Raiders.
Then based in Oakland, the Raiders shocked the world by taking Sebastian Janikowski in the middle part of the first round. As far as first-round success stories go, it’s gone pretty well. Sea-Bass was a Raider for 18 years and made the Pro-Bowl in 2011.
Chad Pennington – 18th Pick – New York Jets
Some years are quarterback heavy drafts and some years aren’t. 2000 wasn’t supposed to be a QB draft but it kind of ended up being one in the long run. The first quarterback selected was a slinger from Marshall with incredible accuracy and a top-notch intellect.
Chad Pennington stands as one of the most accurate quarterbacks in NFL history. He was limited in arm-strength but made up for it with toughness and smarts. Pennington, who retired with a 66% completion rate never became all he could be due to shoulder injuries.
Shaun Alexander – 19th Pick – Seattle Seahawks
Brian Urlacher was the first member of the 2000 NFL Draft to make the Hall of Fame. If it wasn’t for his 8-year career, we might be talking about Shaun Alexander as the second Hall of Famer.
In those 8 years, Alexander was a dominant force. His 2005 season was his best, as he ran for yards and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Alexander was a 5-time Pro-Bowler who scored 100 rushing TDs to go along with 9,453 rushing yards.
Keith Bullock – 30th Pick – Tennessee Titans
The later picks in the first round are often lucky. Unlike the earlier picks in the first round, the later picks get to join teams that are already ahead of the game. Syracuse’s Keith Bullock ended up being an essential piece for an already good Tennessee Titans team.
While Bullock might have been considered a bit undersized at only 235 pounds, he more than made up for it with heart and moxie. The 3-time All-Pro was an excellent player for Tennessee for nearly a decade.
Chad Clifton – 44th Pick – Green Bay Packers
The nice thing for some draft picks is that they get to join a team that is right in the middle of a dynasty. The Brett Favre-led Packers of the late 90s-early 2000s were pretty unstoppable.
Tackle Chad Clifton was drafted into that squad in 2000 and soon became an incredibly important member. The Packers hit a homerun with Clifton scoring a top-level left tackle with a 2nd round pick. Clifton would man the blindside in Green Bay for 11 years winning a Super Bowl in 2010 and making two Pro Bowls.
Laveranues Coles – 78th Pick – New York Jets
The New York Jets went into the 2000 Draft with a special opportunity as they had 4 first-round selections. And while they did pretty well with those picks, their best one may have come in the 3rd round when they nabbed Laveranues Coles from Florida State.
The blazing wideout quickly became a favorite target for Chad Pennington before moving to the Redskins in free agency, only to return to New York two years later. The 2003 Pro-Bowler caught 49 touchdown passes in his career.
Shane Lechler – 152nd Pick – Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders, who were a pretty loaded team at this point in their history, shocked the football world by selecting kicker Sebastian Janikowski with the 17th overall pick. That wouldn’t be their last special teams selection as they grabbed punter Shane Lechler in the 5th round.
And both picks would work out tremendously for the Raiders. Lechler became one of the greatest punters in NFL history, being named First-Team All-Pro 6 different times and playing in the league for 18 years.
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila – 149th Pick – Green Bay Packers
As the draft gets to the later rounds, it’s a good time for teams to take a shot on players with great athletic profiles. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was undersized for a defensive end but had a blend of speed and strength that intrigued the Green Bay Packers.
While he took a year to develop, KGB paid the Packers off big-time in 2001 when he recorded 13.5 sacks. That was the first year of 4 straight with double-digit sacks.
Dante Hall – 153rd Pick – Kansas City Chiefs
Dante Hall was an electric wide receiver from Texas A&M who was a bit too small at 5-8 and 170 pounds, to play full-time in the NFL. He only caught 126 passes during his 7 year NFL career.
Hall, though, was an incredible kick and punt returner who was nicknamed “The Human Joystick.” The return man was a phenomenon for the Chiefs, constantly breaking off huge returns and being named to the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2003.
Marc Bulger – 168th Pick – New Orleans Saints
Shockingly, Tom Brady wasn’t the only 6th Round quarterback from this draft to make the Pro Bowl. With their 6th rounder, the Saints selected Marc Bulger. He never suited up for New Orleans and moved to Atlanta before joining the Rams.
Bulger got his shot to be St. Louis’ starting QB in 2002 and remained their main guy for the next 7 seasons, making the Pro Bowl in 2003 and 2006. Bulger retired in 2010 having thrown 122 TD’s and close to 23,000 yards.
Adalius Thomas – 186th Pick – Baltimore Ravens
Adalius Thomas lasted until the 6th round of the NFL Draft because most teams thought he was a bit of a tweener. There was a ton of athleticism there too, though, as Thomas had played both basketball and football at Southern Miss.
The Ravens figured out how to fully unlock Thomas’ athleticism and versatility. A demon on special teams, Thomas played defensive line, linebacker and even cornerback at times. The two-time Pro-Bowler had a very solid 9-year career.