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Who are the Best Hispanic Players in NFL Draft History?

When thinking of the best players in the NFL Draft, color, race, or descent does not matter one bit. At the end of the day, if you’re good, you’re good, and that’s what should matter most.

I think it’s about time we all recognize and embrace one of life’s biggest and most positive truths. Hispanic people, or Latinos, are everywhere and their presence can be felt through all walks of life, including, of course, professional football.

Who are the Best Hispanic Players in NFL Draft History?
Tight end Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Kansas City Chiefs | Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images North America / Getty Images via AFP

Take me for example, I’m from Costa Rica. Yes, Costa Rica, the beautiful paradisiac country in Central America where everybody likes to vacation and then brag about it for the rest of their lives.

When thinking of a league like the NFL, thinking of players of Hispanic descent that have left a true mark in the league is not an easy task, especially considering there haven’t been many. But, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some that have gone on to become legends in their own rights in pro football.

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• Tony Gonzalez, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

In order for tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce to run, former Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons superstar Tony Gonzalez had to walk.

For a player that initially didn’t want to pursue a career in football, Gonzalez would go on to become one of the most important offensive players in his 17-year career in the pros.

His accolades include six First Team All-Pro selections, 14 Pro Bowl nods, the career record for most receiving yards by a tight end with 15.127, most career receptions for a tight end with 1.325 and most receptions in the Pro Bowl with 49.

Picked 13th overall in the 1997 draft, Gonzalez will always continue to be the epitome of Latino excellence when it comes to pro football.

• Anthony Muñoz, OT, Cincinnati Bengals

Whenever the conversation arises about the best offensive linemen in the league’s history a Hispanic name always rises to the top. That name? Anthony Muñoz, Cincinnati Bengals legend and Hall of Famer.

Even while having an initial fondness for baseball, Muñoz would end up taking his talents to the football field, where he would become a force to be reckoned with for the USC Trojans before joining the Bengals in the 1980 draft.

Picked No. 3 overall in the first round of said draft, Muñoz would go on to become the benchmark of dominance in the offensive tackle position in the league.

Having nine First-Team All-Pro recognitions, 11 Pro Bowl nods, being a part of the 1980s All-Decade Team, the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and the NFL 100th All-Time Team, there’s no debate here, Muñoz, of Mexican-American descent, is by far and near the best offensive lineman to ever play the game.

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• Special Mention: Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

I don’t care if Antonio Ramiro Romo, aka Tony Romo, came into the league as an undrafted free agent. When you look at the list of NFL Draft players from the year Romo came into the pros (2003), he would have still crushed it if he had been picked.

After finally getting his chance to take over the Dallas Cowboys’ starting quarterback position, Romo made sure everybody felt his presence and went on to become one of the most notable players in team history.

Hailing from a Mexican-American family, Romo would go on to have an illustrious career in the pros before calling it quits to go on and become one of the most important mainstream NFL television analysts.

One can only wonder if Romo had been able to stay in the league longer if he would’ve been able to lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl title.

• Jim Plunkett, QB, New England Patriots

I know, the name Jim Plunkett doesn’t necessarily sound very Hispanic, but coming from Mexican-American parents, Plunkett makes this list, especially considering the career he would churn out after a first couple of years struggling with the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1971 draft after winning the Heisman Trophy with Stanford in his senior year.

After joining the Oakland Raiders as a backup QB, he was invited to stay by former head coach and Latino legend Tom Flores after thinking of leaving the team due to being constantly overlooked for the starting QB gig. Plunkett would take the job and lead his team to two Super Bowl wins, cementing his status as a Raiders legend.

• Manny Fernandez, DE, Miami Dolphins

After going undrafted in 1968, defensive end Manuel Jose Fernandez – Manny Fernandez for short – would go on to sign with the Miami Dolphins and become a pivotal part of the team’s early-’70s Super Bowl run.

A part of Miami’s famous “No-Name Defense” alongside linebacker Nick Buoniconti, defensive end Bill Stanfill,and safeties Dick Anderson and Jake Scott, Fernandez would become a legend in his own right in Miami.

With NFL news back in the day claiming that Fernandez should have been the MVP of Super Bowl VII, when the Dolphins would beat the Washington Redskins to complete their perfect 17-0 season, Fernandez would go on to repeat as Super Bowl champion the following season when the Dolphins would beat the Minnesota Vikings.

Recording 103 games played with the Dolphins, Fernandez would go on to become one of the team’s legends and was inducted into the Dolphins’ All-Time Team in 2007. He snagged the honor of being named to Pro Football Weekly’s All-Time Super Bowl Team in 2001 as well as receiving the same recognition in 2006 from USA Today.

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Questions Of The Day

Who Was The Best Latin Player In The 2023 NFL Draft?

Before suffering a season-ending injury in his rookie season, New England Patriots cornerback Christian Gonzalez, of Colombian descent, was the best Latin player to come out of the 2023 NFL Draft.

How Many Latin Players Were In The NFL Last Season?

A total of 25 players identifying as “Latinos” were a part of the 2023-24 season in the NFL.

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