NFL stars with so-so college careers 

June, 29, 2011

In response to's "Simply Saturday" series, which looks at college stars who never made it in the pros, I figured I'd flip things around for this week's list: the biggest "upside" guys in the NFL. The criteria: The top players in the NFL who didn't even make all-conference during their college careers. One caveat to keep in mind: I'm picking from guys who played big-time college football -- which we'll define here as the AQ conferences.

1. Tom Brady, Michigan Wolverines

The guy many NFL analysts call the best player in pro football never made first-team or even second-team All-Big Ten in his days at Michigan. Brady, then a lanky Californian, started two seasons in Ann Arbor and was good, performing well enough to rank fifth all-time on the school's list in completions, sixth in passing yards and seventh in touchdowns, but in 1998, it was Drew Brees who made second-team all-conference and Ohio State's Joe Germaine who was the first-team pick. In 1999, it was Brees getting the first-team honors and Indiana's dynamic Antwan Randle El, then a sophomore, who got second-team honors. Brady entered the NFL as the 199th player taken, and yeah, the Patriots struck gold with this pick.

To read the rest of Bruce Feldman's list of players who didn't have great college careers but went on to become NFL stars, become an ESPN Insider today.