Ever hear that saying, "better late than never?" That holds true for these star athletes, who were drafted late and become all-stars, legends and hall of famers.
963 games, 484 W, .906 SV%
Drafted: Not drafted in the 1987 draft
Drafted ahead of him: Pierre Turgeon, Brendan Shanahan, Joe Sakic
Belfour was not drafted after playing amateur hockey at the University of North Dakota. He was signed as a free agent by the Blackhawks before the 1988 season and remained with the team until 1997. His 484 wins ranks third among goalies and he won two Vezina Trophies and one Stanley Cup. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011, his first year of eligibility.
34,744 yards, 261 TDs, 103 INTs (as of 2010)
Drafted: Sixth round of the 2000 draft by the New England Patriots
Drafted ahead of him: Thomas Jones, Brian Urlacher, Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington
Who knew a hit by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis on Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe would change the landscape of the NFL for the next decade? One year after being drafted, Tom Brady filled in for Bledsoe and won Super Bowl XXXVI. He would go on to win Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX. His postseason record is 14-5 with two Super Bowl MVP trophies. Want more? He also holds the record for most touchdown passes in a season. Oh, and he led the Patriots to a perfect 16-0 season in 2007 before losing to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
1,655 carries, 7,607 yards, 60 TDs
Drafted: Sixth round of the 1995 draft by the Denver Broncos
Drafted ahead of him: Steve McNair, Kerry Collins, Warren Sapp, Ty Law
Davis played only seven season in the NFL, but won two Super Bowl titles and was named All Pro three times. He was the 1998 NFL MVP, rushing for 2,008 yards, the fourth-highest total in league history.
698 receptions, 9,615 yards, 53 TDs (as of the 2010 season)
Drafted: Seventh round of the 1999 draft by the Green Bay Packers
Drafted ahead of him: Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Edgerrin James, Champ Bailey
The four-time Pro Bowl selection became the Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver in catches during the 2009 season. He has spent his entire career in Green Bay and was a member of their Super Bowl XLV championship team. Despite leaving the game early with an injury, Driver had two catches in the Packers' win over the Steelers.
1,474 games, 450 G, 964 A, 1,414 PTS
Drafted: Seventh round of the 1982 draft by the St. Louis Blues
Drafted ahead of him: Gord Kluzak, Scott Stevens
Gilmour played 20 seasons with seven teams and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011. He was the captain of the Calgary Flames when they won the Stanley Cup in 1989. Gilmour also won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward in 1989. He also captained the Maple leafs and Blackhawks.
633 games, 15.3 PPG, 3.9 APG, 44.9 FG%
Drafted: 57th pick in the second round of the 1999 draft by the San Antonio Spurs
Drafted ahead of him: Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, Lamar Odom
Ginobili was the second-to-last pick of the 1999 draft and possibly one of the best steals in NBA history. The Spurs drafted him out of the Italian League following back-to-back MVP awards. Ginobili has been a huge part of the Spurs' success and three NBA titles in the 2000s.
735 games, 389 W, .922 SV%
Drafted: 10th round of the 1983 draft by the Chicago Blackhawks
Drafted ahead of him: Pat LaFontaine, Steve Yzerman, Cam Neely
Hasek was dubbed "The Dominator" for his outstanding work as one of the best goalies in the NHL in the 1990s and 2000s. His .922 career save percentage is the highest in NHL history. Hasek won six Vezina Trophies for being the best goaltender in the NHL. He retired from the NHL in 2008 only to make a comeback in 2009 for the Czech Extraliga in the Czech Republic.
.296 AVG, 162 HR, 1,071 RBIs
Drafted: 42nd round of the 1971 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals
Drafted ahead of him: Frank Tanana, Jim Rice, George Brett, Mike Schmidt, Ron Guidry
Hernandez's offensive numbers might not jump out at you, but the first baseman’s 11 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1978-88 is a major league record for that position. He batted .300 or better seven times and was the NL MVP in 1979. He will best be remembered for his seven seasons with the Mets, helping to lead them to the 1986 World Series title. He was named the franchise's first-ever captain in 1987.
579 receptions, 10,372 yards, 76 TDs
Drafted: 12th round of the 1968 draft by the Los Angeles Rams
Drafted ahead of him: Ron Yary, Larry Csonka
Jackson (bottom left in this photo) emerged as one of the top wide receivers in football during his tenure with the Eagles from 1969-72. His best season came in 1969 when he caught 65 receptions for a league-best 1,116 yards. In 1972, he led the NFL in receiving yards and receptions. He was traded back to the Rams in 1973 and led the NFL in touchdowns with 13. Jackson was selected to five Pro Bowls.
.307 AVG, 222 HR, 1,099 RBIs
Drafted: 19th round of the 1979 draft by the Yankees
Drafted ahead of him: Andy Van Slyke, Tim Wallach, Steve Howe
To be nicknamed "Donnie Baseball" you had to make an impact not only on your team, but to the game itself. Mattingly was just that for the Yankees from 1982-95. The six-time All-Star won the batting title in 1984 with a .343 average, edging out superstar teammate Dave Winfield. The following year, he won the MVP Award at 24 with a .324 average, 35 homers and 145 RBIs. He was named captain of the Yankees in 1991 and held that position until his retirement in 1995.
156 wins, 3.19 ERA, 1,726 K (as of Aug. 22)
Drafted: 23rd round of the 1996 draft by the Houston Astros
Drafted ahead of him: Kris Benson, Eric Chavez, R.A Dickey, Gil Meche, Jimmy Rollins
Oswalt spent his first nine seasons with the Astros, leading them to the playoffs twice, including the franchise’s only World Series appearance. He won 20 games in 2004 and 2005. He won 13 or more games nine times. He was traded to the Phillies last year.
.308 AVG, 427 HR, 1,335 RBI
Drafted: 62nd round of the 1988 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers
Drafted ahead of him: Jim Abbott, Robin Ventura, Tino Martinez
The 12-time All-Star holds the record for home runs hit by a catcher with 396 and was the Rookie of the Year in 1993. It's hard to believe that 1,389 players were drafted ahead of him. Piazza's father, Vince, asked then-manager and good friend Tommy Lasorda to draft his son as a favor. He played eight seasons (1998-2005) with the Mets and hit 220 home runs. Piazza will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2012.
.328 AVG, 439 HR, 1,307 RBIs (as of Aug. 22)
Drafted: 13th round of the 1999 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals
Drafted ahead of him: Josh Hamilton, Josh Beckett, Barry Zito, Brian Roberts
Pujols became a superstar almost overnight, winning the Rookie of the Year Award and hitting 37 homers with 130 RBIs. He has won three MVP Awards and been selected to nine All-Star games in just 11 seasons.
.285 AVG, 282 HR, 1,061 RBIs
Drafted: 20th round in the 1978 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies
Drafted ahead of him: Kirk Gibson, Rex Hudler, Cal Ripken, Steve Balboni
Sandberg played 15 of his 16 years on the north side of Chicago, where he redefined the second base position with his Gold Gove work and power. He was only the third second basement in history at the time to hit 40 home runs. Sandberg was a 10-time All-Star and won the NL MVP award in 1984. Sandberg was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
815 receptions, 10,060 yards, 62 TDs
Drafted: Seventh round of the 1990 draft by the Denver Broncos
Drafted ahead of him: Jeff George, Junior Seau, Emmitt Smith
Sharpe played 12 seasons for the Broncos (1990-99, 2002-03) and two years with the Ravens (2000-01), winning three Super Bowls. When Sharpe retired in 2003, he was the all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns by a tight end. Tony Gonzalez has since passed him in each of those categories. Sharpe was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
213 wins, 3.33 ERA, 3,084 K, 154 SVs
Drafted: 22nd round of the 1985 draft by the Detroit Tigers
Drafted ahead of him: B.J. Surhoff, Will Clark, Barry Larkin, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro
Smoltz was a prolific pitcher for the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s and one of the three number one aces for the team (the other two being Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine). After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2000, he was converted to a reliever and became a successful closer, saving 55 games in 2002. Smoltz became only the second pitcher in history to have had both a 20-win season and a 50-save season (Dennis Eckersley is the other). Smoltz later returned to the starting rotation before retiring in 2009 after 21 seasons.
24,718 yards, 152 TDs, 138 INTs
Drafted: 17th round of the 1956 draft by the Green Bay Packers
Drafted ahead of him: Lenny Moore, Forrest Gregg, Sam Huff
Starr was the 199th pick in the 1956 draft and went on to win two Super Bowls for the Green Bay Packers under legendary coach Vince Lombardi. Before the Super Bowl, the Packers won five NFL championships with Starr at the helm. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977.
.277 AVG, 601 HR, 1,664 RBIs (as of Aug. 22)
Drafted: 13th round of the 1989 draft by the Cleveland Indians
Drafted ahead of him: Mo Vaughn, Chuck Knoblauch
Thome was originally a third basemen and moved to first base in 1997. The five-time All-Star is only the eighth player in baseball history to hit 600 home runs. Thome was one of the most feared hitters during the late 1990s and early 2000s and has finished in the top 10 for MVP four times during his 21 years. He led the NL in home runs in 2003 with 47. Thome hit a career-high 52 homers in 2002, his last season with the Indians.
40,239 yards, 290 TDs, 253 INTs
Drafted: Ninth round of the 1955 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers
Drafted ahead of him: Alan Ameche, Frank Varrichione, Dick Bielski
If being the 102nd pick of the 1955 draft wasn't bad enough, the Steelers released Unitas, arguably the best quarterback of all-time. Pittsburgh's lost was the Baltimore Colts' gain as Unitas won four MVP awards and become a Hall of Famer. Perhaps his most astonishing feat was throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games from 1956-60. He was the first quarterback to throw for more than 40,000 yards.