You’ve likely heard a time or two about the “Brady Six.” They are the quarterbacks drafted before Tom Brady in 2000.
Three years later, Tony Romo went undrafted, after not a half-dozen but a baker’s dozen quarterbacks. With Romo now stepping away (but not officially “retiring”), it makes sense to look at who the 13 drafted quarterbacks were.
In round one, the Bengals took Carson Palmer with the first overall choice. At pick No. 7, the Jaguars selected Byron Leftwich. Later in the round, the Ravens picked Kyle Boller and the Bears landed Rex Grossman.
In round two, the Texans took Dave Ragone and, nine spots later, the Bucs picked Chris Simms, the son of the man Romo will be replacing at CBS.
Round four saw the Seahawks select Seneca Wallace. In the fifth round, the Steelers took Brian St. Pierre. Three quarterbacks left the board in round six: Drew Henson (Texans), Brooks Bollinger (Jets), and Kliff Kingsbury (Patriots). The final round included Washington picking Gibran Hamdan and the 49ers adding Ken Dorsey.
All the while, some with the Cowboys had Romo on their radar. Here’s how Cowboys player personnel director Larry Lacewell explained it to Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 2006: “It was Parcells’ first draft with us, and I’m trying to make him happy, and get to know him, but I’ve got [former Cowboys assistant coach Sean] Payton, and one of our scouts, Jim Hess, constantly bugging the heck outta me about some kid named Tony Romo. . . . Everybody else is trying to decide if Terence Newman is our first pick, and how deep we could go and still get [Jason] Witten, but those two, Payton and Hess, they wouldn’t quit talking about this Tony Romo.”
So why didn’t the Cowboys take a late-round flyer on Romo?
“By the sixth round that year, Sean was practically standing on the table, telling us to take Romo,” Lacewell said in 2006. “We didn’t, and not in the seventh, either, but the good thing is both Sean and Hess were on the phone with Tony constantly, assuring him we still wanted him.”
In round six, the Cowboys instead cornerback B.J. Tucker (cut during his rookie training camp) and receiver Zuriel Smith (cut after one season with the team). In round seven, the Cowboys took guard Justin Bates (who never did anything with the team).
After the draft, landing Romo wasn’t a sure thing. As noted in the Bill Parcells autobiography (written with Nunyo Demasio), the Cowboys secured Romo in part because Payton persuaded Romo to take a $15,000 signing bonus in Dallas. The Broncos and coach Mike Shanahan, per the book, offered Romo $25,000.
Fourteen years later, Romo ended up being one of the best quarterbacks in Cowboys history. While not a Hall of Famer, Romo put together a special NFL career, especially in light of the fact that 262 players were drafted that year, and that none of them were him.