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Rob Gronkowski, a second-round pick, is not quite a big steal.
First, what are the guidelines for defining a draft steal?
You have to be a draft pick to be a draft steal, so no undrafted players will be included here.
The player also could not have been drafted in the first or second round. The value is generally too high there, which is why those players are deemed busts when they do not pan out.
That does not mean that you cannot make a clever move to gain value in that part of the draft. For instance, Rob Gronkowski would have been a first-round pick in 2010 had it not been for health concerns (he missed 2009 due to back surgery), so the Patriots got an elite talent with the No. 42 pick. Though, go figure, durability has plagued Gronkowski’s NFL career.
But getting a first-round talent high in the second round is not that big of a steal—the lower the round, the bigger the steal.
Other than being a third-round pick or lower, the only other guideline is based off of what the player did for the team that drafted him.
Former Baltimore Colts legend Johnny Unitas was an incredible steal in the ninth round, but the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that actually drafted him, actually cut him before he ever played a down for them. The Baltimore Colts reaped the benefits of that blunder, but that does not make Unitas a draft steal for the Steelers.
Of the 33 players mentioned in this article, here is the positional breakdown: six quarterbacks, five linebackers, five wide receivers, four defensive ends, three centers, three cornerbacks, three tight ends, two offensive tackles, one defensive tackle and one running back.
On average, these 33 players were drafted in 1978, with an average round of 7.9 and the 149.5 pick.
Why 33 players for 32 teams? One team had a tie, and based on reputation, you will be surprised by which one it is.
The fact that so many teams had an obvious choice for "best steal" speaks to how hard it is to find a great player late in the draft, but the possibility is always there.
If you want my prediction for a 2013 draft steal, how about Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson? Do not overlook the physical tools combined with the rare ability to play well under pressure.
The 2013 steals will take time to show themselves, but for now, onto the greatest draft steals ever.