NFL Draft: The Quarterbacks Drafted Ahead of Notre Dame’s Joe Montana

Joe Montana
Joe Montana /

With the NFL Draft right around the corner, we take a trip back to 1979, when three quarterbacks went off the board before Notre Dame’s Joe Montana.

This may come as a suprise to some of you, but the NFL is not very good at evaluating quarterbacks coming out of college who enter the NFL Draft.

One name that always gets kicked around in terms of players misevaluated and overlooked at the position is Tom Brady. In fact — basically every year since Brady won his first Super Bowl — the hosts of the NFL Draft show you are watching will always remind you at pick No. 199 in the sixth round that Tom Brady was selected at that spot.

Brady was not the first legendary quarterback to be disrespected by the NFL Draft process. His idol — Notre Dame alum Joe Montana — belongs in that club as well.

Montana was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 82nd overall pick in the third round of the 1979 NFL Draft.

Think about that.

In 1979, NFL general managers, coaches and scouts had 81 players rated higher on their draft boards than Joe Montana. That’s mind boggling.

Only two of those 81 players would go on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: defensive tackle Dan Hampton and tight end Kellen Winslow. Only 14 of those 81 would ever even play in a Pro Bowl.

Amongst the 81 players drafted ahead of Montana were three quarterbacks. You’ve heard the stories and possibly seen the documentary on “The Brady Six.”

Here are The Montana Three of 1979:

Jack Thompson, Washington State

Thompson was selected No. 3 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. He would go on to start in five total games for the Bengals in three seasons before being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccanneers in 1983. He started a total of 16 games in Tampa before losing his job to Steve DeBerg. He never played another snap in the league after the 1984 season. Thompson finished his career with 33 touchdown passes and 45 interceptions.

Phil Simms, Morehead State

Before becoming the well-known color-commentator and analyst he is today, Simms was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick by the New York Giants. It’s safe to say he was an above average quarterback in the NFL, but really nothing more. He was selected to two Pro Bowls in his career and won a Super Bowl as a starter in 1987, when he led the Giants to a victory over John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. Simms was named the MVP of that game. He finished his career with 199 touchdown passes and 157 interceptions.

Steve Fuller, Clemson

Fuller was taken with the 23rd overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent seven seasons in the league, starting only 42 combined games for the Chiefs and Chicago Bears. He finished his career with 28 touchdown passes and 41 interceptions.

The rest is history. A whole 59 picks later, the 49ers selected Joe Montana. All he did was play 15 seasons, win four Super Bowls and become the G.O.A.T. in the eyes of many fans and media members.

Next: Notre Dame Spring Game Stories to Watch

Who could end up being the Thompson, Simms, Fuller or Montana of the 2018 draft class? The NFL Draft is only ten days away.