The Miami Hurricanes are known for being NFL U after having some of the league’s best players regardless of position in NFL history. From names like Michael Irvin and Ray Lewis to Jim Kelly and Ed Reed- the Hurricanes have produced NFL talent on a consistent basis since the early 1980’s. That being said, not every Hurricane-turned-NFL star was taken in the first round like a Russell Maryland or Jerome Brown. Five former Hurricanes were draft steals who were taken late and turned out good if not great NFL careers.
Chris Myers, 6th round, 2005
Chris Myers came to Miami as an undersized lineman but someone with a ton of potential. Myers redshirted during the 2000 season and was a reserve on the 2001 national title team. Myers took over the starting right guard spot for the 2002 season, and started at center, guard and tackle over his Miami career. Myers was named to the 2003 All Big East second. Myers was then drafted in the 6th round by the Denver Broncos. The Broncos at the time were known for having undersized, more athletically based offensive linemen who could zone block and were fast enough to chase down linebackers at the second level. Myers fit that mold and started for the Broncos by his third year in the league.
Myers proceeded to start all sixteen games from 2007-2014 when he retired with the Houston Texans. He was named to two Pro Bowl teams (2011, 2012) and started 128 of 153 games he played in. For a 6th round pick Myers really panned out and is considered a draft steal.
Ronnie Lippett, 8th round, 1983
Ronnie Lippett was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 8th round of the 1983 NFL Draft. Lippett started 111 of the 122 games he played in over his NFL career from 1983-1991. A native of Melbourne, FL, Lippett lettered for the Miami Hurricanes from 1980-1982 playing with Miami stars like Lester Williams, Jim Kelly and Fred Marion. During his time at Miami, Lippett recorded ten interceptions as a three year starter and is a UM Sports Hall of Famer.
The 8th round of the draft doesn’t even exist anymore so it’s hard to not say Lippett was a draft steal. Lippett was named the AFC player of the week after intercepting Dan Marino twice in a game in 1986, and actually intercepted Marino seven times over his career.
Fred Marion, 5th round, 1982
Fred Marion, a Gainesville, FL native, played at the University of Miami from 1978-1981. Marion was a first team All-America honoree for the 1981 season. He set records for career interceptions with sixteen over his career in Coral Gables and held numerous Miami records like the career interceptions record which was broken by Bennie Blades. Marion is a member of the UM Sports Hall of Fame.
Marion was also a New England Patriot alongside Ronnie Lippett. Marion played for the Patriots from 1982-1991 alongside his former Miami teammate for all but the 1982 season. Marion was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro for the 1985 AFC Championship season. Marion intercepted seven passes with 198 return yards during his All Pro season in 1985.
Marion was named to the Patriots All-1980’s team and their 35th and 50th anniversary teams. Marion ended his NFL career with 29 interceptions at free safety. A player that makes a franchises all decade team is a steal in the 5th round.
Kevin Fagan, 4th round, 1986
Kevin Fagan was drafted in the 4th round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Fagan lettered for the Miami Hurricanes from 1983-1985 winning the 1983 National Championship. Fagan recorded nine tackles in Miami’s upset win over Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl Game, and led the team in tackles for loss and sacks for the 1985 season.
Fagan became a member of the 49ers during their dynasty and won Super Bowl XXIII and Super Bowl XXIV as a starting defensive end. Fagan started 74 games in San Francisco and played in 83 total accumulating 25.5 sacks over his career. Fagan’s NFL career was cut short by a variety of nagging injuries.
In the community, Fagan has gone on to be the College of Central Florida softball coach and has coached high school football and softball. Fagan was inducted into the Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
Jessie Armstead, 8th round, 1993
I’ve written a lot about Jessie Armstead over the past two years on SOTU. Armstead is one of if not my favorite Hurricane of all time. Jessie Armstead was part of the Dallas Carter High School football team that’s now featured in “What Carter Lost” as well as in the book and movie versions of Friday Night Lights. Armstead was considered the country’s top prospect when he signed with Miami in 1989.
Armstead played immediately but it took him time to become a full-time starter. Armstead worked his way into the starting lineup for the 1991 season and held that position for his final two seasons in Coral Gables winning the 1989 and 1991 national titles. While Jessie didn’t receive All-American honors like Darrin Smith or Micheal Barrow, he was drafted by the New York Giants in 1993. Armstead was an 8th rounder, again, a round that doesn’t exist anymore in the current draft system. Jessie turned that set back into five Pro Bowl appearances and a career that spanned ten seasons in the NFL. Armstead finished his career with 967 tackles, 40 sacks and 12 interceptions as a four time All-Pro.
Armstead is in the Miami Hall of Fame and the Giants Ring of Honor.