In sports, every championship team can be traced back to smart drafting. Teams that can identify great players that others miss have a leg up on the competition. Anyone can recognize that players like LeBron James and Sidney Crosby are destined for greatness, but teams that can find quality players late in the draft set themselves up for success.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the final draft rounds in the modern era of the four major American sports leagues — NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL — to determine the best athletes drafted in the last round. We used sources such as the Sports Reference family of sites and Baseball Almanac.
Players are often overlooked if they play at smaller schools or come from outside the U.S. While many high draft picks have had breakout rookie years, some players who have been missed by most teams and selected in the final rounds just needed professional coaching to maximize their natural gifts.
And every once in a while, players who had barely made it onto a team have become terrific players. Talent evaluation is never an exact science. Discounted players can become successful pros, while even the most highly-touted amateurs can end up as one of the most disappointing draft busts of all time.