2012 NFL Draft: The Best Draft Steal in the History of Every NFL Franchise
The NFL first started drafting players in 1936. In the 76 years since the inception of the draft, some teams have continued to excel at drafting players, while other teams have a very mixed history of drafting players that will stick on their roster.
The draft is designed to keep a competitive balance between all 32 NFL teams, so that the teams with the worst records have a chance to improve their team by having the best chance to draft the top talent coming out of college programs every year.
It is not a foolproof way to build a team, as we have seen draft busts in the first round every year. But, for some great insight by a NFL scout, some real gems are uncovered in the later rounds of the draft, and that is what we are most interested in talking about today.
Who was the best draft steal in the history of every NFL franchise? The deeper the round the player was drafted, the greater the chances are that they will be selected for the purposes of this presentation.
By the way, the focus is purely on players that were drafted, not on players that became stars who went undrafted. So if you wonder why they are not on here, you can hang on to those questions for now. On to the presentation.
Arizona Cardinals/St. Louis Cardinals — Larry Wilson, Jackie Smith
The best draft steal by the Cardinals franchise (considering both Arizona and St. Louis) has to be a pair of St. Louis Cardinals players that were drafted in the seventh round or later.
Larry Wilson was a safety for the St. Louis Cardinals that was drafted in 1960. Wilson was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1978. Wilson was a great draft day steal for the Cardinals because he wasn't drafted until the No. 7 round of the 1960 draft, where he was the drafted No. 74 overall. Wilson played for the Cardinals from 1960-1972.
Before you think that being drafted No. 74 isn't such a steal, which would be a round-three draft choice now, consider that the NFL had only 12 teams that drafted in 1960, which is why he went in round-seven.
Wilson was a dual threat at safety, in that he either was blitzing the quarterback from his safety spot, or he was picking off a pass, as Wilson wound up with 52 total interceptions in his career. Wilson was drafted as an offensive player out of college, but the Cardinals thought he could play at cornerback. That didn't work, so they tried him at safety in a preseason game, and when he was asked to blitz, Wilson showed that he excelled at the move, and the rest as they say is history.
Wilson was named to eight Pro Bowl games and to All-Pro seven times in his career. In 1966, Wilson intercepted passes in seven straight games. He wound up leading the NFL with 10 interceptions that year. In total, he returned five of his interceptions for touchdowns over his career. The NFL didn't keep track of sacks back then, so we don't know how many he was responsible for in total.
According to his entry in the NFL Hall of Fame, Jackie Smith was a tight end for the St. Louis Cardinals that was drafted in the No. 10 round of the NFL draft of 1963, and was drafted 129 overall that year. That was quite a draft day steal fro the Cardinals, considering that Smith went on to have a Hall of Fame career.
Smith was a 6'4" tight end that weighed 235 pounds. He played for the Cardinals for 15 years, and then hung around for one more year, when he played for the Dallas Cowboys in 1978. Unfortunately, he is mostly remembered for his one year with the Cowboys, due to a dropped pass in the end zone in Super Bowl XIII, despite all the years of excellent play with the Cardinals.
Smith was named to All-Pro teams twice and five Pro Bowl teams. When he retired following the 1978 season, he was the all-time leader in receptions for a tight end with 480 catches for 7,918 yards and 40 touchdowns. Smith had a career average of 16.5 yards per reception.
His best game came in his rookie year against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he gained 212 yards on nine catches. Smith also doubled as the Cardinals punter for his first three years with the team. Smith was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1994.
Atlanta Falcons — Jamal Anderson
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The Atlanta Falcons have drafted some great players over the history of the franchise. The top three draft picks in Falcons history that leap to mind off the bat are quarterback Brett Favre (No. 33 pick in 1991 draft), running back Jamal Anderson, (No. 201 pick in 1994 draft), and corner Deion Sanders, who lasted until the No. 5 overall pick in the 1989 draft.
We all know that Sanders is one of the greatest corners to have ever played in the NFL. His election to the Hall of Fame signifies that. But since he was one of the top five draft picks in 1989, that really doesn't qualify as a draft day steal in the spirit of this presentation.
While Favre awaits the proper number of years to stay retired before he can be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame, he never really played for the Falcons. Although you can say he was technically the greatest draft day steal in Falcons history (and you would have an argument there), I am electing to go in a different direction.
Instead, we will go with Jamal Anderson, who lasted in the 1994 draft until overall pick No. 201 in the seventh round. Now, that is what I call a draft day steal.
Anderson was a star running back for the Falcons from 1994-2001. During his career, Anderson gained 5,336 rushing yards, 1,645 receiving yards and 41 career touchdowns. In 2001, Anderson suffered a torn ACL, and that ended his career.
Anderson was a workhorse for the Falcons. He carried the ball 410 times in 1998 and gained 1,846 yards while scoring 14 touchdowns. Anderson led the Falcons to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1998, but they lost that game to the Denver Broncos, who were led by John Elway and Terrell Davis.
Anderson is also remembered for his touchdown dances, when he would do the "Dirty Bird". Anderson was elected to the Pro Bowl team in 1998.
Baltimore Ravens — Adalius Thomas
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The very first year that the Baltimore Ravens franchise participated in the NFL draft was in 1996, and they had two draft picks in the first round. They wound up drafting tackle Jonathan Ogden (No. 4 overall) and linebacker Ray Lewis (No. 26 overall). How can you possibly have a better start to your franchise's draft history than that?
Since both of those great Ravens draft picks went in the first-round, we want to do some more digging and find a deeper draft day steal.
We think we uncovered one in linebacker Adalius Thomas, who the Ravens found in the sixth-round with the No. 186 overall draft pick in the 2000 draft.
It took Thomas about three years to finally crack the stout Ravens defensive starting lineup, but once he did, he quickly became one of the best at his position in the NFL. Thomas was elected to the Pro Bowl in both 2003 and 2006, which were also the two years he was elected to the All-Pro team.
Thomas played for the Ravens from 2000-2006, and then he played for the New England Patriots from 2007-2009. During his career, Thomas played in 132 games, made 517 tackles, forced 15 fumbles, made seven interceptions and had 53 sacks.
Thomas returned three turnovers for touchdowns in 2005, which was tops that year in the NFL.
Buffalo Bills — Stevie Johnson
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The Buffalo Bills have had their share of mixed results at the draft table in their franchise history. Bills fans know all too well about the many draft busts, so no point in creating a laundry list of all of them here.
But in terms of draft day steals, we could point to Thurman Thomas, who was still there with the No. 40 pick of the 1988 draft, or Andre Reed, who was drafted No. 86 in the 1985 draft. One other noteworthy steal was Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who was selected at No. 134 in the 2006 draft.
In my opinion, the biggest steal in the Bills franchise history still has a lot of his career left to prove how great he will become. He just signed a brand new contract this week to stay with the Bills, so we will select wide receiver Steve Johnson.
Johnson was drafted with the No. 224 pick in the seventh-round of the 2008 draft. Johnson is the first player in the history of the Buffalo Bills to record back-to-back 1,000-yards plus in receptions, as he has now accomplished the feat in 2010 and 2011. With the new deal signed that assures Johnson will be playing with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for at least a few more seasons, Johnson could easily string together four or five 1,000-yard plus seasons.
Johnson has caught 19 touchdown passes over his career, and is averaging 12.9 yards per catch. His new deal will make him one of the highest paid players on the Bills, as he signed a five-year deal that will pay him $36.25 million, of which $19.5 million is guaranteed.
Johnson has promised that his touchdown celebration antics are a thing of the past, so we will see if this new deal transforms him into a team leader going forward, or if it turns him into another rich diva receiver that we have witnessed from other recent examples in the NFL.
Carolina Panthers — Steve Smith
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The Carolina Panthers didn't start their NFL franchise until 1995, so there isn't a rich history of draft day steals to pull from. Some Panthers fans would point to players like Geoff Schwartz or Kris Magnum, who were both drafted in the seventh-round. But, when you stack them up to the quality of players we have on the other NFL teams, they pale in comparison.
Instead, we have to go with wide receiver Steve Smith, who was the biggest draft day steal in the Panthers franchise history to date. Smith was selected in Round 3, with the No. 74 overall pick in the 2001 draft.
Smith was originally drafted to become a special teams star, but he worked at his craft, until he became a starter at wide receiver, and has continued to be among the very best in the NFL. He is not showing any signs of slowing down either.
Smith has already been in the league for 11 years. In 2011, Smith recorded the sixth 1,000-plus receiving yard season in his career. In fact, the 1,394 was the third-highest mark of his career. The average of 17.6 yards per catch was the second-highest average of his career, so you can thank the drafting of Cam Newton for putting a spark in Smith.
In total, Smith has now gained over 10,000 yards in receptions in his career, to go along with 59 touchdowns. Since he has spent his entire career with the Panthers, these are franchise records that may never be broken.
Chicago Bears — Richard Dent
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The Chicago Bears have had some historic drafts. How about their 1965 draft when the Bears selected Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers with consecutive draft picks? Butkus went on the No. 3 overall pick, while Sayers immediately followed with the No. 4 overall pick. There may never be a greater pair of back-to-back choices by the same team in the history of the NFL draft.
As for the Bears best draft day steal, I will go back to the 1983 draft, which saw the Bears draft Richard Dent with the No. 203 overall pick. Dent was selected in Round 8 that year, which is a great steal.
Dent was enshrined in the NFL Hall f Fame in 2011 and he was the MVP of Super Bowl XX.
Dent played for the Bears from 1983-1993, and then he wound up finishing his career by playing one year each for four different teams: San Francisco, the Bears again in 1995, Indianapolis, and then Philadelphia in 1997. Dent retired after the 1997 season.
During his career, Dent was named to five All-Pro teams and to four Pro Bowl teams. He wound up with 137.5 career sacks and had eight interceptions.
Cincinnati Bengals — T.J. Houshmandzadeh
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My choice for the biggest draft day steal in Cincinnati Bengals franchise history is wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who was drafted with the No. 204 overall pick in the 2001 draft. Houshmandzadeh went in Round 7 which was simply a steal.
Houshmandzadeh played for the Bengals from 2001-2008, and then has migrated to play for Seattle, Baltimore and Oakland for one year each.
Some of Houshmandzadeh's highlights include being named to both the NFL All-Pro team and Pro Bowl teams in 2007. That season, Houshmandzadeh was tied with Wes Welker for the most receptions in the NFL with 112.
He holds the Bengals franchise record for most punt return yards in a game with 126 and for the most receptions in a season with 112. Not bad for a 204-overall draft pick.
Cleveland Browns — Brian Sipe
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The Cleveland Browns biggest draft day steal in franchise history is quarterback Brian Sipe.
Sipe was the No. 330 overall draft pick in 1972, as he went in Round 13. To go from being selected with the 330 pick to becoming an NFL MVP easily qualifies him as the biggest steal in Browns franchise history.
Sipe won the NFL MVP award in 1980. He played for the Browns from 1974-1983, and then he moved on. Siper also played for two years in the USFL with the New Jersey Generals and the Jacksonville Bulls, before he retired following the 1985 season.
During his NFL career, Sipe helped the Browns to a number of stirring late comebacks, which helped earn the Browns team the nickname of "The Kardiac Kids". Siper was named to All-Pro teams in 1979 and 1980, and was voted to the Pro Bowl team in 1980.
For his career, Sipe threw 154 touchdown passes to 149 interceptions. Sipe passed for 23,713 yards over his career. He wasn't always the most accurate passer, but he could make things happen, sometimes good and sometimes bad.
Dallas Cowboys — Roger Staubach
I think that Roger Staubach has to get the call here as the biggest draft day steal in the history of the Dallas Cowboys franchise history.
We also wanted to acknowledge another great steal by the Cowboys, which was the drafting of Larry Brown in Round 12 of the 1991 draft. Brown was selected with overall draft pick No. 320 that year. To go from the No. 320 pick to later becoming Super Bowl MVP also qualifies as a draft day steal.
Staubach wasn't drafted until overall pick No. 129 in the 1964 draft. Staubach went in Round 10, which qualifies as a major steal for the Cowboys.
Staubach was voted on to six Pro Bowl teams and was All-NFC five different times. He was selected to be on the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1970's and was named the MVP of Super Bowl VI.
NFL.com rated Staubach as the No. 46 NFL Player of all-time. In his career, Staubach passed for over 22,700 yards and threw 153 touchdown passes to 109 interceptions. His career QB Passer Rating was 83.4. Staubach was voted in to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985.
Staubach played for the Cowboys from 1969-1979 and never played for another NFL team.
Denver Broncos — Terrell Davis/Shannon Sharpe
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Denver Broncos fans seem to be divided as to who is the biggest draft day steal in franchise history, so we pay tribute to both players in question.
Running back Terrell Davis was the overall No. 196 draft pick in the 1995 draft, going in Round 6 that year. Davis played his entire career with Denver, from 1995-2002.
Some of Davis career highlights include:being named to three All-Pro teams and three Pro Bowl teams. He won two Super Bowls while with Denver, in Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII. He was named as the NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year in two consecutive seasons (1997 and 1998). He was the NFL MVP in 1998 and was voted to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1990's.
During his career, Davis rushed for 60 touchdowns, maintained a career average of 4.6 yards per rush and ran for a career total of 7,607 yards.
Tight end Shannon Sharpe was drafted in Round 7 of the 1990 draft and he was selected with the overall No. 192.
Sharpe played with the Broncos from 1990-1999, then left for a two-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens from 2000-2001, before returning back to the Broncos, where he played from 2002-2003 until he retired.
Sharpe also had a long list of accomplishments, which included: named to eight Pro Bowl teams, was voted to four All-Pro teams, member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1990's and was a three-time Super Bowl champion (Super Bowls XXXII, XXXIII and XXXV).
For his career, Sharpe made 815 catches for 10,060 yards and 62 career touchdowns. In reviewing the accomplishments of both Sharpe and Davis, especially when you consider where they were both drafted, it is easy to see how Broncos fans could be split about which one is the biggest draft day steal.
Detroit Lions — Joe Schmidt
If you draft a player that winds up being voted as one of the NFL All-Time Player of the Decade, you know that you drafted a blue-chip player. If you drafted that same player in the seventh-round of the NFL draft, you know that you came up with a huge steal.
That is the case for Detroit Lions linebacker Joe Schmidt, who was drafted with overall pick No. 85 in Round 7 of the 1953 draft.
Schmidt played for the Lions from 1953-1965. During his career, he made 24 interceptions and scored two touchdowns. Schmidt was named to 10 Pro Bowl teams, and was named First-Team All-Pro eight times. He was a member of two NFL Championship teams in 1953 and 1957.
The Detroit Lions named him their team MVP four different times and Schmidt was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1950's. Schmidt was voted to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1973.
Green Bay Packers — Bart Starr
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The Green Bay Packers have had some wonderful drafts, particularly the draft class of 1958, but the biggest draft day steal in my mind was that of drafting Bart Starr in Round 17 of the 1956 draft. Starr was the overall No. 199 pick in that draft, which is a huge steal for the Packers.
Starr played for Green Bay from 1956-1971. He also went on to become the Packers head coach from 1975-1983. Starr threw for 24,718 yards during his career. He threw 152 touchdowns compared to 138 interceptions over his career. His career QB Passer Rating was 80.5.
Some of Starr's highlights include: named to four Pro Bowl teams and four All-Pro teams. Led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships. Was the MVP of two Super Bowls, Super Bowl I and II. Was the NFL MVP in 1966 and was voted to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960's.
NFL.com ranked Starr as the No. 51 player in the NFL of all-time. He was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1977.
Houston Texans — Owen Daniels
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Some teams are difficult to find a draft day steal for, because their sample size is so small. Such is the case with the Houston Texans, who just came into the NFL in 2002. In case Texans fans are wondering why we didn't select Arian Foster, it is because he was never drafted by anybody, meaning that he doesn't qualify for a draft day steal.
So, after considering all of the above, we are going with tight end Owen Daniels, who was a fourth-round draft pick in 2006. Daniels was selected at No. 98 overall in 2006, and so far he seems to represent the best draft day steal in Texans' franchise history.
Daniels led the Texans in receptions and receiving yards in 2011. For his career, Daniels has made 299 catches for 3,649 yards, 20 touchdowns and has picked up 205 first downs.
Indianapolis Colts/Baltimore Colts — Raymond Berry/Robert Mathis
The biggest draft day steal in the Colts franchise history has to be Raymond Berry, who was a Round 20 draft selection and went No.232 overall in the 1954 draft.
As far as the Indianapolis Colts fans go, we wanted to acknowledge their two biggest draft day steals, which were Cato June (No. 198 overall in the 2003 draft) and Robert Mathis (No. 138 in the 2003 draft).
Berry played for the Colts from 1955-1967. He also wound up becoming a head coach for four different NFL teams, but never served the Colts organization as a head coach.
During his playing career, Berry made 631 receptions for 9, 275 yards and 68 touchdowns.
Berry was named to six Pro Bowl teams and was also voted to six All-Pro teams. He is a member of not only the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1950's, but is also a member of the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. Berry was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1973.
Jacksonville Jaguars — Maurice Jones-Drew
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Like we have detailed before with the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers, the Jacksonville Jaguars are another NFL expansion team that doesn't have a long tradition yet in the NFL. As such, their draft history is quite small, and that is reflected in their draft day steals.
The best draft day steal that I can ascertain is running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who was drafted No. 60 overall in the 2006 draft.
I did consider Josh Scobee for a brief second, who went in the fifth-round of the 2004 draft, at No. 137 overall. But after further reflection, I am really not sure why he would be considered a steal there, as that is probably right around when he should have been drafted. I also considered Jeremy Mincey, as he was a sixth-round draft pick, but he doesn't work either because he was drafted by New England.
So, we keep coming back to Maurice Jones-Drew. Where would the Jaguars be without him?
After six years in the NFL, Jones-Drew has amassed 6,854 rushing yards, 62 rushing touchdowns and an average rush of 4.6 yards per carry. Not only that, but he has scored 10 touchdowns on pass receptions and has gained just shy of 2,500 yards in pass receptions for his career to date.
Jones-Drew has been named to the Pro Bowl team and to the All-Pro team for the last three straight years. He was also the 2011 NFL rushing champion. At No. 60, Jones-Drew has proved to be a draft day steal for the Jaguars.
Kansas City Chiefs — Jared Allen
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In my opinion, there were two draft day steals by the Kansas City Chiefs in their franchise history, but only one of the two steals played for any reasonable time with the franchise, so we will focus on him.
The two steals are Jared Allen, who was drafted in the fourth-round of the 2004 draft, going to Kansas City with the No. 126 overall pick. The other steal was wide receiver Joe Horn, who the Chiefs drafted with the No. 135 overall pick in the 1996 draft, but Horn is most commonly connected with the New Orleans Saints. Horn did register 51 catches in four years at Kansas City, and had 603 receptions in his career.
Allen played for the Chiefs from 2004-2007. During his stay with the Chiefs, Allen was named to both the Pro Bowl team and the All-Pro teams in 2007. He also led the NFL in sacks that year with 15.5.
After four years with the Chiefs, Kansas City placed a franchise tag on him, and then promptly traded him to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round draft pick and two third-round draft picks. Allen had increased his market value enough so that the Vikings were willing to surrender three-high draft picks to acquire him.
Allen has been playing for the Vikings ever since. Over his entire career, Allen has registered over 100 sacks in just eight seasons (105 total) and he shows no signs of slowing down, as he came up with a personal best of 22 sacks for the Vikings in 2011.
Allen has now come up with five-straight years of double-digit sacks. He was clearly a draft day steal.
Miami Dolphins — Zach Thomas
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When you think of draft day steals and the Miami Dolphins, there are three players that come to mind. Dan Marino, from the great quarterback draft class of 1983, safety Jake Scott, who went in the seventh-round of the 1970 draft at overall pick No. 159, and linebacker Zach Thomas, who was drafted No. 154 overall in Round 5 of the 1996 draft.
While there is no denying that Dan Marino is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, and he was a steal compared to some of the other quarterbacks drafted ahead of him, we set out in this presentation to find players were drafted much lower than the first round, so we will excuse Marino from this study and focus on Thomas instead.
Thomas played for the Dolphins from 1996-2007. He played one final year for the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, and attempted to play for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009, but he never played a down for them.
Thomas proved to be a steady, consistent performer for the Dolphins. He was on seven Pro Bowl teams and also named to seven All-Pro teams. He is a member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000's.
Thomas started 182 of the 184 games that he played in and made 1,076 tackles in his career, along with 20.5 sacks and 17 career interceptions. Thomas was also voted as NFL Alumni Linebacker of the Year in both 1998 and in 2006.
Minnesota Vikings — Matt Birk
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Our pick for the Minnesota Vikings draft day steal is center Matt Birk.
Birk was drafted in the sixth-round of the 1998 draft, selected at No. 173 overall.
Birk played for the Vikings from 1998-2008, serving the team for 11 years. During that time, Birk was elected to six Pro Bowls and made two All-Pro teams.
Following the 2008 season, Birk was an unrestricted free agent, so he signed a contract to join the Baltimore Ravens. Birk signed a three-year deal for $12 million. Birk is still playing for the Ravens today and is planning to come back again to play for them in 2012, assuming that both parties are able to work out a new deal.
After the 2011 season, Birk was voted as the Walter Payton Man of the Year in the NFL, which is a very prestigious award to win.That speaks to Birk's character, as he also won the Vikings Man of the Year award for six-straight years running from 2002-2007. He was a draft day steal at No. 173.
New England Patriots — Tom Brady
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In the modern era, is there any bigger NFL star that was a draft day steal than Tom Brady? Every NFL passed over Brady time and again in the 2000 draft, as the Patriots finally selected him in the sixth-round with the No. 199 overall draft pick. The NFL hasn't been the same ever since.
Since joining the Patriots in 2000, Brady has led the Patriots to five Super Bowl appearances. Brady has won the Super Bowl three times, (XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX) and was voted MVP of the Super Bowl twice (XXXVI and XXXVIII). Brady's record in the postseason is 16-5.
Brady is the only person in NFL history, along with Joe Montana, to win multiple MVP trophies and multiple Super Bowl MVP's (won each award twice). Brady and John Elway are the only quarterbacks to lead their team to five Super Bowl appearances.
Brady is equally good in the regular season as he is in the postseason. Examples of that include him leading the Patriots to 21-straight victories in a stretch of games from 2003-2004. In addition to that, Brady led the Patriots to the first undefeated-16 game regular season games record in the NFL history.
Brady has been elected to seven Pro Bowl teams and has been voted to three All-Pro teams. We could continue to go on and on, but the bottom line point here is that Tom Brady was an absolute draft day steal at No. 199.
New Orleans Saints — Marques Colston
The New Orleans Saints draft day steal (is stealing something a Saint should be doing?) has to be wide receiver Marques Colston.
Unfortunately, this year might very well mark the end of Colston's run in New Orleans, as he appears to be headed towards joining another NFL team when free agency begins later this month.
Colston was drafted in the seventh-round of the 2006 draft, with the No. 252 overall pick. Since then, all Colston has done is perform. In six seasons with New Orleans, Colston has averaged over 1,000-yards in receiving yardage per season. In total, Colston has gained 6,240 yards on 449 receptions for an average gain of 13.9 yards per catch. He has also scored 48 touchdown passes for the Saints in his career.
While it is still possible that a deal could be reached before Colston reaches free agency, the reality doesn't seem promising. It is a shame, because Colston is going to be putting some amazing career numbers when it is time to retire, especially for a player drafted with the 252 overall pick.
New York Giants — Harry Carson
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For New York Giants fans wanting to see a picture of Victor Cruz here, you need to be reminded that Cruz was never drafted by any team out of college. The Giants player we are honoring here as the biggest draft day steal is linebacker Harry Carson, who was selected at No. 105 overall, in the fourth-round of the 1976 draft.
Carson played for the New York Giants from 1976-1988. The Giants were the only team that he ever played for. Carson appeared in 173 games in New York, and totaled 19 sacks, 14 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions in his career.
Carson was best known for being a strong run stopper at middle linebacker. He was named to nine Pro Bowl teams, and was named to six All-Pro teams. Carson was on the Giants team that won Super Bowl XXI.
Carson was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2006, which isn't too bad for a player picked at No. 105 overall. Nice steal for the Giants.
New York Jets — Joe Klecko
The best draft day steal in New York Jets franchise history is defensive lineman Joe Klecko. Klecko was drafted No. 144 overall in the 1977 draft, going in the sixth-round of the draft.
Klecko played for the Jets from 1977-1987 and then he played one final year for the Indianapolis Colts in 1988. Klecko was great at rushing the passer, and he led the NFL with 20.5 sacks in 1981, which is one of the reasons he was voted as NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Klecko was named to four Pro Bowl teams and was named to two All-Pro teams. His jersey number, 73, is one of only three jerseys that have ever been retired in New York Jets team history.
Pretty good return for a sixth-round draft pick.
Oakland Raiders/Los Angeles Raiders — Bo Jackson
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Of all the great players that have played for the Raiders franchise, whether in Oakland or in Los Angeles, the greatest draft day steal, was when the Raiders drafted running back Bo Jackson in the seventh-round of the 1987 draft. Jackson wound up going with the No. 183 overall pick that year. We should point out that Jackson was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft of 1986, but he never signed a contract, as he decided to play baseball instead of football.
Al Davis took a chance the following year that he could convince Jackson to play both sports, but the fact that he was able to get him with the 183 draft pick was an absolute steal.
Jackson played for the Raiders from 1987-1990, but in those four years Jackson flashed amazing talent. He played in usually just 10 or 11 games a season due to playing in the NFL and in MLB at the same time. Despite playing in just 38 games in his entire NFL career, Jackson amassed 515 carries for 2,782 rushing yards, good for an average of 5.4 yards per rush and 16 rushing touchdowns.
The longest run that Jackson had from scrimmage in three of his four years in the NFL were: 88 yards, 91 yards and 92 yards. He was literally a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
What is more impressive about Jackson's totals, is that he was the Raiders second-string running back, as he was backing up Marcus Allen during his career in Los Angeles.
Jackson's football career ended due to an injury he suffered in a playoff game versus the Cincinnati Bengals in 1990. Jackson suffered a serious hip injury and he would never play another down in the NFL.
Philadelphia Eagles — Harold Carmichael/Cris Carter
My choice for the biggest draft day steal of the Philadelphia Eagles has to be a wide receiver the Eagles found sitting there in the seventh-round of the of the 1971 draft, when they drafted Harold Carmichael with the No. 161 overall pick in the draft.
Another draft day steal that we wanted to acknowledge was Cris Carter, who the Eagles grabbed in the fourth-round of the supplemental draft in 1987. Carter is still on the doorstep of waiting to be enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame, but was an absolute steal to go to the Eagles in the fourth-round.
Carmichael played for the Eagles from 1971-1983 and finished out his career playing one year with the Dallas Cowboys in 1984. Carmichael retired after the 1984 season.
During his career, Carmichael caught 590 passes for 8,985 yards and 79 touchdowns. Carmichael was elected to four Pro Bowl teams and was named to three All-Pro teams. He was also named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1970's.
Pittsburgh Steelers — Mike Webster
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The Pittsburgh Steelers had the best draft class of any NFL team in history in 1974, when four of their first draft picks wound up being elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. The four Steelers that were inducted were Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster.
Since Webster was the last guy drafted from this quartet that went into Canton, we will select him as the biggest draft day steal in team history. Webster was drafted in the fifth-round, draft pick No. 125 overall in the 1974 draft.
Webster played for the Steelers from 1974-1988 and then he finished up with two years playing for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1989-1990. Webster had the nick name of "Iron Mike" due to being the anchor of the offensive line for the Steelers that won four different Super Bowls from 1974-1979. According to his entry in Wikipedia, Webster is considered to be one of the best centers in NFL history.
Webster was voted to nine Pro Bowl teams and nine All-Pro teams. He is a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, in addition to being named to the NFL All-Decade Teams of both the 1970's and the 1980's. Webster was enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame in 1997.
San Diego Chargers — Rodney Harrison
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The San Diego Chargers defensive back Rodney Harrison was drafted in the fifth-round of the 1994 draft with the No. 145 overall pick. Harrison is our choice to represent the biggest draft day steal for the Chargers franchise.
Harrison played for San Diego from 1994-2002, and then played another six years with the New England Patriots from 2003-2008. Harrison was a tough, hard-hitting defensive back that excelled at laying opponents out, along with sacking the quarterback and coming up with interceptions.
During his career, Harrison had 1,205 tackles, 30.5 sacks and 34 interceptions. Harrison was named to two Pro Bowl teams and was named to four All-Pro teams. He was on two New England Patriots teams that won a Super Bowl, which were Super Bowl XXXVIII, and XXXIX.
Harrison is unique in that he was elected to be a member of both the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots 50th Anniversary teams. It is special for a player to make just one team's list, but making two teams list is very rare. He was also voted on to the Patriots All-2000's Team.
Pretty heady stuff for a draft pick that went 145 overall.
Seattle Seahawks — Dwayne Harper
While some Seattle Seahawks fans wonder why Steve Largent isn't pictured on this slide, the answer is pretty simple. Largent wasn't drafted by Seattle, he was drafted by the Houston Oilers.
Instead, we found a draft day steal in the 1988 draft, which was corner Dwayne Harper, who was selected with the No. 299 overall pick in Round 11.
Harper played for Seattle from 1988-1993, and he he played in 93 consecutive games. He started in 61 straight games in Seattle, before he ultimately moved on to play for the San Diego Chargers from 1994-1998. His final NFL season was a three-game stint with the Detroit Lions in 1999.
During his career, Harper played in 148 games, and started in 128 of those. He amassed 536 career tackles, had 24 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and one career sack.
San Francisco 49ers — Dwight Clark
There are so many great draft picks that were considered steals for the San Francisco 49ers, how do you decide? You have Joe Montana, drafted in the third-round of the 1979 draft (No. 82 overall), which is the same round the 49ers drafted Terrell Owens, with the No. 89 overall draft pick in the 1996 draft.
But as we stated in the beginning of the presentation, the later they were drafted, the bigger the steal, and we have two other 49ers greats that need to be discussed. One is Jesse Sapolu, who went in Round 11 of the 1983 draft with the No. 289 overall pick. Finally, we have Dwight Clark, who the 49ers drafted with the No. 249 overall pick in the 1979 draft. We will go with Dwight Clark as the biggest steal in 49ers history.
Clark played for the 49ers from 1979-1987. That was the only team that he ever played for. During his career, Clark caught 506 passes for 6,750 yards and caught 48 touchdown passes.
Of course Clark is most famously remembered for "The Catch", which we shared on the picture of this slide. The play occurred in the 1981 NFC playoffs game against the Dallas Cowboys and the touchdown pass form Joe Montana to Clark in the final minute of regulation allowed the 49ers to defeat 28-27 and advance to the Super Bowl. Clark caught eight passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, further demonstrating how big he was for the 49ers.
In 1981 and 1982 Clark was voted to the Pro Bowl team and the All-Pro teams both years. He was on two Super Bowl winning teams, Super Bowls XVI and XIX. The 49ers retired his No. 87 jersey. Not too shabby for a draft pick taken at No. 249 overall.
St. Louis Rams/Los Angeles Rams — Deacon Jones
The two biggest draft day steals for the Rams franchise (covering both Los Angeles and St. Louis) would be Deacon Jones and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Since Fitzpatrick, drafted in the seventh-round of the 2005 draft with the overall pick No. 250 played for just two years with the St. Louis Rams, (2005-2006), we will focus on Deacon Jones.
Jones was drafted in the 1961 draft in Round 14 with the No. 186 overall pick. Jones played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1961-1971. Jones then played two years with the San Diego Chargers (1972-1973) and one final year with the Washington Redskins in 1974 before he retired from the NFL.
Jones has a long line of NFL dignitaries that have heaped praise on him over the years. He earned the nickname of "Secretary of Defense" because he was so good at sacking the quarterback. Jones is considered one of the greatest defensive players to ever play in the NFL. George Allen called Jones the "greatest defensive end in modern football".
NFL.com rated Jones as the No. 15 player of all-time in the history of the NFL. He was elected to eight Pro Bowl teams and eight All-Pro teams. Jones was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960's. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in both 1967 and 1968.
The St. Louis Rams retired his No. 75 jersey. Deacon Jones was enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame in 1980. Jones was credited with 173.5 sacks in just 190 career games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — John Lynch
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
In Tampa Bay Bucs franchise history, they have made some big draft day steals, ranging from John Lynch, going at No. 82 in the third-round of the 1993 draft, Steve Young with a supplemental first-round pick in 1985 and Al Harris, at No. 169 overall in the 1997 draft.
Al Harris was waived by the Bucs in 1997, and never played for the team, so he is out. So is Steve Young, as a first-round draft pick is too high for our purposes. LeGarrette Blount was never drafted so he is out of consideration.
Since none of the other options worked, we will go forward with John Lynch as the Bucs biggest draft day steal, but I am open to hearing from Bucs fans to see if they have other ideas for this slide.
Lynch played for the Bucs from 1993-2003 and then played four years with the Denver Broncos from 2004-2007. During his career he was named to nine Pro Bowl teams and to four All-Pro teams. Lynch was a part of Super Bowl XXXVII championship team when Tampa Bay defeated the Oakland Raiders. Lynch was named the NFL Alumni Defensive Back of the Year in 2000.
Lynch made 26 career interceptions, had 13 sacks and made 1,058 tackles.
Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers — Curtis Duncan
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The biggest steal in the history of the Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers franchise is wide receiver Curtis Duncan, who was drafted by the Houston Oilers with the No. 258 overall draft pick in tenth-round of the 1987 draft.
I also considered running back Javon Ringer, who went to the Titans in the 2009 draft with the No. 173 overall pick in the fifth-round. I was originally thinking of putting tight end Frank Wychek in here, only to learn in conducting research that he was actually drafted by the Washington Redskins, so cross him off the list.
Duncan was one of the "Smurf Receivers" that Warren Moon was finding with great frequency in the late 1980's-early 1990's. The other smurfs were Haywood Jeffires, Ernest Givins and Drew Hill. From a physical standpoint, Duncan was only 5'11" and weighed just 184 pounds. Hence, the Smurf nickname.
Duncan played for the Oilers from 1987-1993. He played only for the Oilers in his NFL career. Duncan made 322 receptions for 3,935 yards and 20 touchdowns during his career.
Washington Redskins — Dexter Manley
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For the biggest draft day steal for the Washington Redskins franchise, I chose Dexter Manley, who was drafted in the fifth-round of the 1981 draft with the overall No. 119 draft pick that year.
Manley played for the Washington Redskins from 1981-1989. He then played for the Phoenix Cardinals in 1990 (which is what they were called then), and the Tampa Bay Bucs in 1991.
Manley was named to one Pro Bowl team in 1986 and was named to All-Pro teams in both 1986 and 1987. Manley came up with 103.5 sacks during his NFL career. Manley was honored by having his name placed on the Washington Redskins Ring of Fame.
Manley had plenty of talent but he also had a problem with drugs. Manley failed a drug test in 1989, which turned out to be his third offense. He was banned from the NFL following the third strike, but was allowed to be reinstated after sitting out for one year. Manley came back, but failed a fourth test, and then he was permanently banned from the NFL for life.
That is it for our presentation. Thanks for checking it out.