Best 7th-round QBs in NFL Draft history: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel examples for Brock Purdy to follow


The 49ers appear to have landed a steal in the 2022 NFL Draft given how Brock Purdy played early in his career.

Purdy, who was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2022 draft, won his first start against the Buccaneers last week and has already established himself as the best Mr. Irrelevant quarterback to ever play.

It didn’t take much, but it will take a lot longer for him to be recognized as one of the best seventh-round quarterbacks in NFL history.

Finding great quarterbacks late in the NFL draft isn’t easy. It’s doable — as everyone from the legend knows, Tom Brady was picked 199th overall — but home runs in that range are rare.

In Round 7, teams are more likely to find solid reinforcements, if any. If they’re lucky, they might find someone who can win enough to start for a season.

It’s far too early to say which of these categories Purdy might fall into. However, if you look at the history of the draft, there are a handful of examples of what the high-end prospects are for a seventh-round passer.

Below are some of the best seventh-round quarterbacks since the modern drafting era began in 1970.

MORE: Why Brock Purdy is already the most successful Mr. Irrelevant QB of all time

The best quarterbacks of the seventh round

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick is easily the most productive seventh-round quarterback in NFL history. The Harvard product entered the league in 2005 as a Rams draft pick and was used in 166 games from 147 starts during his journeyman career. No other seventh-round quarterback has started more than 93 games.

During his career, Fitzpatrick completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 34,990 yards, 223 touchdowns and 169 interceptions. He started at least one game for nine different NFL teams in his 17-year career, and although he posted a 59-87-1 record as a starter, his teams were routinely competitive and he had a 10-6 season with the Jets in 2015.

Fitzpatrick is the youngest Ivy League quarterback drafted into the NFL. Not only is he known for his intelligence, but also for his gunslinger mentality and longevity, which allowed him to play well into his season at 39.


Matt Kassel

Fun Fact: Cassel never started a game in college. He went to USC and supported Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart during his four years there. During his collegiate career, he completed 20 of 33 passes for 192 yards and one interception.

Despite this, Cassel showed enough during the preliminary draft process that the Patriots selected him in the seventh round. He became Tom Brady’s backup and broke through in 2008 when he replaced Brady after the star tore his ACL in Week 1. Cassel’s Week 2 start was his first since his senior year of high school in 2000. He led the Patriots to a win in that game and a 10-5 record in 15 starts during the season.

From there, Cassel was traded to the Chiefs, where he served as a starter for nearly five years. He had a 10-6 season at Kansas City but was eventually replaced by Alex Smith. He then bounced through the league as a backup until his retirement after the 2018 season.

Cassel played 14 total NFL seasons and had a 36-45 record in 81 starts. The pro-style pocket passer completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 17,508 yards, 104 touchdowns and 82 interceptions and played for seven different teams.

Gus Frerotte

Frerotte wasn’t particularly accurate during his time in the NFL. He had a career-high 54.7 percent and only surpassed 60 percent once during his 15 seasons.

However, Frerotte was known for his toughness. He found a way to compete in the NFL and recorded three seasons with at least eight wins as a starter with three different teams. He reached the Pro Bowl with Washington in 1996 after leading the team to a 9-7 record and completing 57.4 percent of his passes for 3,453 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Frerotte played for seven different teams and made 93 starts during his career, second most from a seventh-round pick behind only Fitzpatrick. Given Frerotte’s longevity and his success last year as a fill-in starter at Miami and Minnesota, it’s hard to argue against him as one of the best seventh-round quarterbacks of all time.

MORE: Reconsidering 49ers’ decision to pick Brock Purdy as Mr. Irrelevant

Matt Flynn

Flynn probably has the best single play recorded by a seventh-round quarterback. In his second career start, which came in week 17 of his fourth season against the Lions, he threw for 480 yards, six touchdowns and one interception for the Packers.

A sought-after free agent after that outing, Flynn signed with the Seahawks, where he was famously beaten to a starting job by Russell Wilson. He remained a backup for the rest of his career, making just seven starts, all of which came with Green Bay.

The LSU product completed 61.3 percent of its passes for 2,541 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 53 games. He had a 3-4 record as a starter.

While Flynn’s numbers aren’t overly impressive, he will always have a place in history for his performance against the Lions.

Trevor Siemian

Trevor Siemian

Siemian was solid after being selected in the 2015 draft, but like Flynn, he’s making this list mainly because he has some history attached to his name.

Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season, and Siemian was selected to succeed the Hall of Famer quarterback. He kept the Broncos competitive through the 2016 season, posting an 8-6 record in 14 starts and completing 59.5 percent of his passes for 3,405 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Siemian fizzled out after that, but he remains in the NFL as a backup. He hasn’t won a start since 2017, but he has a 13-17 record with a 58.9 completion rate, 7,027 yards, 42 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Teams could do worse than Siemian in the seventh round.

Pat Haden

Haden is one of the more interesting quarterbacks on this list. He began his career as a third-stringer with the Rams but eventually rose to the No. 1 spot due to injuries. The 5-11, 182-pounder played for winning teams with the Rams in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but he had major trouble with turnovers, thanks in part to his smaller hands.

Selected from USC in the 1975 draft by Los Angeles, Haden had a 35-19-1 record with the Rams and was named a Pro Bowler in 1977 after posting an 8-2 record with 1,551 yards, 11 touchdowns and six had set up interceptions. That was one of only two seasons that Haden had more touchdowns than interceptions.

Overall, Haden threw for 9,296 yards in 65 games (55 starts) but completed just 53.6 percent of his passes. He also only had 52 touchdowns to 60 career picks. He retired due to injuries during his 28-year season and went into the broadcast booth with CBS.

MORE: Joe Montana thinks Brock Purdy can lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl

Koy Detmer

The Eagles took a flyer on Detmer in the 1997 draft in hopes he could turn into a useful player. He never became a starter, but he was a valuable asset to Philadelphia as a backup for eight years.

Detmer started just eight career games (3-5 record), completed 52 percent of his passes and threw for 1,944 yards, 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Those numbers are hardly inspiring, but he capped 103 games for the Eagles from 1997-2006.

Why? Because Philadelphia saw him as a solid support and a great keeper for their kicking unit. That might not be what teams expect from a Round 7 quarterback, but he’s at least carved a role during his 11-year career.

Tim Rattay

Rattay holds the distinction of being the only quarterback selected after Tom Brady in the 2000 draft to go through. The 49ers pick spent his first three seasons as a backup before being given a chance to start a few games in 2003.

The results weren’t bad. He had a 2-1 record and ended the season for a total of 1,105 passing yards, nine touchdowns and just two interceptions while completing 62.2 percent of his passes. The 49ers were willing to let him compete for the starting job.

After that things fell apart. Rattay went 3-12 for the next three seasons before blazing out of the league. Still, he wasn’t a bad substitute for a time, and the 40 games he’s dressed for is the 12th-most all time by a seventh-round QB.

Dave Gallo

Dave Gallo is a pioneering sports analytics expert, renowned for his revolutionary work in AI-driven sports simulations, projections, and advanced statistical analysis. With a profound passion for sports and technology, he crafts cutting-edge computer models that accurately predict outcomes. Dave's game-changing insights have reshaped strategy, player evaluation, and decision-making across various sports. His dynamic presentations make complex analytics accessible and inspiring, ensuring his legacy as a visionary in sports analytics. Check out Dave's Pick Record.

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