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April 20, 2020

Many NFL fans would be quick to give credit to Tom Brady for being the most accomplished player in football history. With six Super Bowl rings and a host of other accolades, it's hard to argue. But in 2000, Brady was an afterthought for NFL scouts and general managers.

Enrolling at the University of Michigan and joining the Michigan Wolverines football team, Brady immediately found himself in a precarious situation with six other players ahead of him on the depth chart. As a backup quarterback, Brady and the Wolverines won a share of the National Championship with Brian Griese leading the team to an undefeated season.

Brady finally earned his opportunity to be a full-time player, starting every game in the 1998 and 1999 season. Although Brady was the starter, he still had to fend off Drew Henson as Wolverines head coach Lloyd Carr played both quarterbacks frequently. Despite mixing and matching quarterbacks, Brady managed to set school records for pass attempts and completions in a single season along with earning All-Big Ten honorable mentions in 1998 and 1999.

Overall, Brady went 20-5 with two bowl wins during his time as a starter for the Wolverines football team. He finished his Michigan Wolverines career ranked third in attempts and completions, fourth in passing yards and completion percentage and fifth in touchdown passes.

Entering the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady failed to impress scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine by posting subpar numbers. He ran a 5.28 40-yard dash and posted a vertical of 24.5 inches. His NFL Scouting Combine also produced one of the more memorable images in NFL history.

 

As the 2000 NFL Draft moved along, Brady's name failed to be called as the NFL Commissioner read draft pick after draft pick. All told, six quarterbacks were selected prior to Brady finally being picked at pick number 199 by the New England Patriots.

Obviously Brady going at pick 199 and going on to become the best quarterback of all time is the biggest steal in NFL Draft history. But it's a notion that's only further cemented by the careers of the six quarterbacks selected ahead of Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft.

Chad Pennington, New York Jets

The New York Jets were the only team to take a quarterback in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft. The Jets selected Chad Pennington from Marshall and hoped he'd be the quarterback to lead them back to greatness.

Pennington didn't play initially but took over the starting gig until 2002. He helped turn around a season that seemed destined for failure, taking the Jets from a 1-4 start to a 9-7 record and an AFC East division championship. Pennington managed to throw for over 3,000 yards and set a franchise record for quarterback rating despite not playing for a full season.

Pennington's early success had many analysts projecting great things for the Jets but an injury in the 2003 preseason sent the Jets in a tailspin. Pennington returned to form in 2004 and signed a big deal with the Jets but another injury set Pennington's career back.

Injuries would prove to be the Achilles heel of Pennington's NFL career. He would win NFL Comeback Player of the Year twice but most would agree that his career would've looked much different without the debilitating injuries.

Pennington finished his NFL career with 17,823 passing yards and 102 touchdowns with 64 interceptions.



Giovanni Carmazzi, San Francisco 49ers

The next quarterback taken was Hofstra's Giovanni Carmazzi in the third round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. The pick proved to be a total miss by the 49ers organization as Carmazzi never appeared in an NFL game. He bounced around in NFL Europe and the Canadian Football League before stepping away from football entirely in 2005.

Chris Redman, Baltimore Ravens

When the Baltimore Ravens selected Chris Redman in the 2000 NFL Draft, it looked like the pick had plenty of potential to be a good investment for the franchise.  Redman was fresh off winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (top senior quarterback), was the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year and had just completed three-straight seasons with 3,000 passing yards.

Redman wasn't asked to play right away and Ravens fans hoped he'd learn to play at an NFL level. The Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV and reloaded the quarterback position with Redman, Elvis Grbac and Randall Cunningham.

Redman wasn't able to separate himself from the veterans but did have his best performance as a pro when the Ravens defeated the division rival Cleveland Browns on ESPN's Sunday Night Football in 2002.

When his time with the Ravens was up, Redman bounced around the league and wound up finishing his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He finished his NFL career with 273 pass completions, 21 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and 3,047 passing yards.



Tee Martin, Pittsburgh Steelers

Out of the quarterbacks selected before Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft, Tee Martin had perhaps the best resume for NFL teams. Martin led the Tennessee Volunteersto a 13-0 record and a National Championship in 1998.

Martin followed that up with another successful campaign, leading the 1999 Volunteers football team to a second consecutive BCS bowl game. All told, Martin earned a National Championship and was a 2x SEC Champion. Martin also broke numerous NCAA records including most consecutive completions in a single game and most consecutive completions over multiple games. Martin also set the mark for completion percentage in a single game with 95.8%.

Despite his college success, Martin struggled to find success in the NFL. He was cut from the Pittsburgh Steelers after two seasons and eventually retired from the NFL in 2004.

Martin's NFL career finished with just 69 passing yards, zero touchdowns and an interception.



Marc Bulger, New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints took a flier on Marc Bulger in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. However, they quickly moved on from Bulger and waived him from the team.

Bulger spent two weeks on the practice squad of the Atlanta Falcons before winding up the with St. Louis Rams. It was with the Rams where Bulger found most of his NFL success.

Bulger came in to relieve Kurt Warner in the first game of the 2003 NFL season and led the Rams to a 12-4 run. The Rams would lose in heartbreaking fashion to the Carolina Panthers in the playoffs but Bulger earned the first of two Pro Bowl honors.

The Rams and Bulger struggled for the next few seasons but Bulger bounced back in the 2006 NFL season. He became the fasted quarterback to reach 1,000 completions in NFL history, doing so in only 45 games.

Bulger struggled for the remainder of his NFL career and eventually retired in 2011. His NFL career finished with 122 touchdowns and 22,814 passing yards.



Spergon Wynn, Cleveland Browns

Spergon Wynn entered the NFL with the hopes of transforming his big throwing arm into a complete package quarterback. The Cleveland Browns took Wynn in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, hoping he'd have time to develop before seeing the field.

However, injuries forced the Browns' hands and Wynn saw action in his rookie campaign. Wynn's rookie season proved to be disastrous for Wynn and the Browns franchise as he completed just 40.7% of his passes for no touchdowns and an interception.

Wynn was sent to NFL Europe by the Browns to fine-tune his skills but he was eventually traded to the Minnesota Vikings. With the Vikings, Wynn completed his lone NFL touchdown pass to Byron Chamberlain in 2001.

Wynn bounced around between a few teams in the CFL before stepping away from football entirely following the 2006 season. His NFL career ended with just 70 pass completions, 585 passing yards and a single touchdown.

The story of the quarterbacks selected before Tom Brady is one that is retold almost every year in the buildup to the NFL Draft. It's the go-to story for coaches, players and others looking to motivate players to not get down on themselves if they don't hear their name called early during the draft.

It's a testament that NFL scouts and general managers don't always hit a home run with their draft picks and sometimes miss out on potential superstars. While there's only one Tom Brady, each NFL Draft brings the potential for another cinderella story to be told by a late-round pick.

(Cover photos via AP, USA Today)

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