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Robert Mathis ranked one of best late-round draft picks since 2000

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NFL.com's Gil Brandt recently ranked the best late-round draft picks since 2000 (the Tom Brady draft), and the Colts' Robert Mathis came in at number five.

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When it comes to late-round NFL Draft picks, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is unquestionably the gold standard.  Taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady has since become one of the best quarterbacks in league history.  It's quite possible (and perhaps probable) that we'll never see a better late-round pick, but that doesn't mean that there haven't been other great picks that have come later in the draft.

Recently, NFL.com's Gil Brandt looked at the 16 best late-round draft picks since 2000, the year Brady was drafted.  For Brandt's list, he includes any player drafted in rounds four through seven.  On his list, Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis was ranked number five.

He does not seem as tall as listed; if there's such a thing as a short 6-foot-2 guy, Mathis is a short 6-2 guy. But he's got loads of speed and quickness, and plenty of competitive juices. Coming out of a small school (Alabama A&M), Mathis was kind of discovered at his pro day. The sack machine (he led the league with 19.5 sacks in 2013) is ranked here because of his production and longevity. Even after missing 2014 (suspension/Achilles tear), Mathis contributed seven sacks at age 34. Any time you can get 118 sacks (20th all time) out of anyone picked after the third round, you're doing well.

Mathis was drafted in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Colts and Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian.  An unheralded and unknown player out of Alabama A&M, the Colts gave him a chance and now, over a decade later, Mathis is the longest-tenured Colt and the franchise's all-time sack leader.  He has recorded 507 career tackles, 118 sacks, 49 forced fumbles, 15 passes defensed, and an interception while being a six-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro in 2013 after leading the league in sacks.  Mathis is the Colts' all-time sacks leader and the NFL's all-time leader in strip sacks.

On Brandt's list, Mathis is ranked behind only quarterback Tom Brady (sixth round, Patriots, 2000), defensive end Jared Allen (fourth round, Chiefs, 2004), wide receiver Brandon Marshall (fourth round, Broncos, 2006), and cornerback Richard Sherman (fifth round, Seahawks, 2011).  Whether or not you agree with the specific order of those rankings, Robert Mathis has without a doubt been a terrific player for the Colts over the past decade-plus and was an incredible pick by the franchise in 2003, absolutely warranting him a spot on this list.