Who Is the Lowest-Drafted Player in the NFL Hall of Fame? (Updated 2024)

The lowest-drafted Hall of Fame players are some of the greatest to ever be inducted. If their drafts were held today, we may have paid them no attention.

The Hall of Fame is associated with the best players in the history of the NFL. Typically, the best NFL players were the best college players. That leads us to assume Hall of Famers were probably high-pedigree, early-round draft picks.

There’s a reason the NFL Draft is a spectacle on Day 1 and 2 but mostly just background noise on Day 3. The best players are drafted earlier. However, that doesn’t mean outliers don’t exist. There have been several Hall of Famers drafted in the later rounds.

Here are the lowest-drafted Hall of Fame players in NFL history. Given what round many of these men were drafted in, it’s a reminder that we shouldn’t ignore any prospects as you never know what they might turn into.

Lowest-Drafted Player In the NFL Hall of Fame

The lowest-drafted player to make it into the Hall of Fame is Roosevelt Brown. Brown was drafted No. 321 overall as an offensive tackle out of Morgan State in the 27th round of the 1953 NFL Draft.

In 1953, there were 20+ rounds more than there are now in the NFL Draft, but this was the equivalent of around an eighth- or ninth-round pick if his draft were held under today’s conditions. Given the seven rounds in the modern NFL Draft, Brown likely would’ve been a UDFA.

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Brown had a 13-year career entirely with the New York Giants and helped them win the NFL title in 1956, about a decade before the first Super Bowl was played. Brown was a nine-time Pro Bowler and nine-time All-Pro selection. He was a member of the 1950s All-Decade Team and named to both the NFL’s 75th and 100th anniversary All-Time teams.

In 1975, Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is in the New York Giants Ring of Honor.

Notable Late-Round Players in the Hall of Fame

Several other notable late-round players have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. The next four lowest-drafted Hall of Fame players are as follows:

  • Chris Hanburger (1965): No. 245 overall
  • Raymond Berry (1954): No. 232 overall
  • Andy Robustelli (1951): No. 228 overall
  • Ken Houston (1967): No. 214 overall

Chris Hanburger, a North Carolina linebacker, was selected during the 18th round of the 1965 NFL Draft at pick No. 245. This would have made him a seventh-round pick if his draft were held nowadays, which would still make him one of the lowest-drafted Hall of Fame players.

Hanburger spent the entirety of his 14-year NFL career with Washington. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler (the most in franchise history) and a six-time All-Pro selection. Hanburger was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

Raymond Berry was a 1973 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who later became the head coach of the New England Patriots. He served in that role from 1984 to 1989, leading them to Super Bowl 20 in 1985.

Berry was taken in the 20th round of the 1954 NFL Draft at pick No. 232. He spent his entire career with the Baltimore Colts. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro.

In the 1951 NFL Draft, Andy Robustelli was selected at No. 228. Like Hanburger, this is tantamount to a seventh-round selection by today’s draft process.

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To give you an idea of just how long ago this was, the former defensive end was taken in the 19th round from a college that doesn’t even exist anymore — Arnold College. A seven-time Pro Bowler and 10-time All-Pro, Robustelli was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. He helped both the Los Angeles Rams, who drafted him, and the Giants to NFL Championships.

Ken Houston was taken out of Prairie View A&M in the ninth round of the 1967 NFL Draft. At pick No. 214, Houston would be considered a sixth-round pick in the modern era. Houston was a 12-time Pro Bowler and 12-time All-Pro while being selected as a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1970s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Are There Any Hall of Famers That Went Undrafted?

An even more impressive accomplishment than becoming a Hall of Famer as a late-round draft pick is doing so after going undrafted. Most recently, in 2017, former Rams QB Kurt Warner was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Warner went undrafted in 1994 but was able to latch on with the Green Bay Packers as a UDFA. Unfortunately, he was quickly released and relegated to playing in the Arena Football League with the Iowa Barnstormers.

After three seasons, Warner caught the attention of the St. Louis Rams, but they dispatched him to play for their NFL Europe affiliate, the Amsterdam Admirals. Ahead of the 1999 season, the Rams made Warner one of their five unprotected players for the expansion draft necessitated by the Cleveland Browns reforming after the original Browns became the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns elected to not take Warner from the Rams.

Starting QB Trent Green tore his ACL in the preseason, thrusting Warner into the starting job. As essentially a 28-year-old rookie, Warner won NFL MVP and led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory. He is widely considered the greatest UDFA quarterback of all time.

We should be getting another UDFA inducted into the Hall of Fame soon. Former San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates, one of the five greatest tight ends in NFL history, came up short in his first year on the ballot, but there is little doubt Gates will get in eventually.

Is There a Mr. Irrelevant In the Hall of Fame?

No, a Mr. Irrelevant has never made the Hall of Fame. Perhaps the closest one was Jacque MacKinnon. He was drafted last in the 1961 NFL Draft but played in the AFL with the Chargers. MacKinnon played 10 seasons as a bruising fullback and pass-catching tight end and helped the Chargers win their only championship in 1963.

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