2010 NFL Draft Fallout: This Year's Draft Steals
Each year in the NFL Draft, there is a team which secures an outstanding draft prospect at excellent value.
The Patriots drafted Tom Brady in the sixth round; Marques Colston became a New Orleans Saint with a seventh round compensatory pick; and Brandon Marshall established himself as the top wide receiver in the NFL despite costing Denver just a fourth round selection.
This year, there were several selections which have the potential to become a steal in the draft, and now is the time to break down those picks in order of their selection.
Jimmy Clausen, QB - Carolina Panthers - Second Round, 16th Pick
Clausen was in free-fall before his selection 48th overall. Predicted to be the second quarterback selected, possibly in the top 10 picks, very few saw him lasting until the Panthers first pick of the draft.
Selected 16th in the second round, Clausen can now set about proving he was worthy of a first round selection, and proving all the doubters wrong.
Several teams passed on the Notre Dame quarterback. Some passed on him twice. However, Clausen has all the skills to become a top quarterback in the NFL. He can make all the throws, and Steve Smith will be a willing recipient of them.
Some predicted Clausen to slide down the draft. None predicted he would slide this far. A second round pick for arguably the top quarterback in the draft is outstanding value. Now he can challenge for the starting place in Carolina, and could become the biggest steal of this year's draft.
Colt McCoy, QB - Cleveland Browns - Third Round, 21st Pick
Seen by many as a late first/early second round pick, McCoy suffered the same fate as Jimmy Clausen, and ended up becoming a Brown in the third round of the draft.
McCoy has the potential to become a franchise quarterback, and will fit nicely into Cleveland's west coast offense. He has great accuracy, and could challenge Jake Delhomme to become a starter straight away.
First round talent that became a third round pick, with no character concerns, could translate into a terrific bit of business for the Browns. If Mike Holmgren can work his magic with the young quarterback to help his transition into the NFL, then Cleveland definitely have a steal.
Everson Griffen, DE - Minnesota Vikings - Fourth Round, Second Pick
With many predicting New Orleans to snap up Griffen with the final pick of the first round, the defensive end fell rapidly down draft boards before his selection with the 100th pick of the draft.
Minnesota snapped up first round talent with a fourth round pick, and Griffen's pass rushing ability will have an immediate impact for the Vikings.
Despite some off-field concerns, nobody has questioned his talent, and Griffen could become one of the top defensive ends in the league for a very small price.
Griffen's selection in the fourth round was a steal for Minnesota, and he will be an excellent pick despite some character concerns. His performances on the field should negate these issues, and he can contribute right away to the Vikings' defensive line.
Bruce Campbell, OT - Oakland Raiders - Fourth Round, Eighth Pick
The 6'6", 315 lb behemoth was widely tipped to become Oakland Raiders' first round selection. However, Al Davis waited patiently, and the most athletic offensive tackle in the draft still fell into their hands as a fourth round pick.
Selected 106th overall, Campbell's incredible athleticism will allow him to become a very solid pick in time, even if he is considered to be a raw talent right now.
Davis finally put physical attributes and athletic ability aside in the first rounds of the draft, and it may pay dividends in the future. Instead of taking Campbell in the first round, he waited another 98 picks before his selection, giving Oakland a lot more value to their pick.
Furthermore, his fourth round selection means there will not be such great expectations on Campbell that could affect his play. JaMarcus Russell and Darrius Heyward-Bey have both suffered from the burdens of expectations placed upon them in Oakland.
If Campbell can progress as a player, and show footballing talent to match his physical ability, then he will become an excellent player, and will be viewed as an outstanding pick in the fourth round.
Ricky Sapp, OLB - Philadelphia Eagles - Fifth Round, Third Pick
Expected to be an early round selection, Ricky Sapp inexplicably slid down the draft before the Eagles picked him up in the fifth round with the 134th overall pick of the draft.
Sapp is capable of playing both defensive end, and outside linebacker, and is a very underrated pass rusher that can immediate contribute in Philadelphia on special teams and in their pass-rush rotation.
His good agility and athleticism should allow him to succeed as an outside linebacker, despite being used as a defensive end at Clemson, but he is undersized as a defensive end in the NFL.
Sapp dropped down draft boards despite his impressive college career, and the Eagles will be delighted they could pick him up as late as the fifth round.
He should be capable of making an impact in his rookie year, despite anticipating fairly limited time on the field, but over his career Sapp will cause great concern for opposition quarterbacks, and offers excellent value at this pick.
Cam Thomas, NT - San Diego Chargers - Fifth Round, 15th Pick
With nose tackles such a precious commodity in the NFL, most people anticipated the North Carolina defender to rise quickly up draft boards.
Unfortunately for Thomas, what occurred was exactly the opposite, and he was picked 146th overall by San Diego in the fifth round.
His unexplained slide down the draft was one of the real surprises of the draft, and the Chargers will have been delighted to land their new nose tackle with such great value.
At 6'4" and 340 pound, Cam Thomas will be a real handful for defenders, and most teams will use double-teams to limit his impact. His excellent size and strength will allow the Chargers to cause problems with the pass rush talent on offer to them.
Thomas offers huge value as a fifth round selection, and could well become the biggest steal of this year's draft. He will become a top nose tackle in the next few years, and to secure the services of such a quality player in the fifth round was great news for San Diego.
With such demand for nose tackles in the NFL, and such great value attached to the position in this year's draft, the Chargers will be absolutely delighted with this draft steal.
Reshad Jones, S - Miami Dolphins, Fifth Round, 32nd Pick
Miami Dolphins traded up to select Jones, and hope that he might be the long-term solution to their safety issues. The Georgia Bulldog was tipped to be drafted as high as the second round, but he fell down the draft before Miami struck to select him with the 163rd overall pick.
Jones recorded 11 interceptions throughout his college career, and is known for his big-hitting ability, that will win over many Dolphins fans.
With Miami looking for an immediate starter at free safety, and a long-term replacement for Yeremiah Bell at strong safety, Jones could be the solution to either of these problems. By sharing time at free safety, Jones can secure game time and valuable experience which will benefit his game substantially.
If he can improve his instincts and deep coverage, then he could soon become a starting safety in Miami.
With the 32nd pick of the fifth round, the Dolphins knew they could secure a top talent, and trading up to secure his services demonstrated this. Jones can become an excellent safety, and is a steal this late in the draft.
Jonathan Dwyer, RB - Pittsburgh Steelers - Sixth Round, 19th Pick
Once predicted as a first or second round pick, Jonathan Dwyer had to wait until the sixth round before he came off the board. The Steelers selected the running back 188th in the draft despite his showing at the Combine.
Dwyer had, however, played out of position in his final year at college, and had put on weight to play at fullback. This may have affected his draft status, but his talent was obvious throughout his college career.
Rushing for over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2008, Dwyer was named ACC Player of the Year, and his performances that year may have been enough to entice the Steelers.
He has shown good speed despite his size, and is difficult to stop when rushing. Pittsburgh will bring out the best in Dwyer, and he will be a good fit there following the offseason departure of Willie Parker.
Dwyer could perform immediately, sharing time on the field with Rashard Mendenhall, and with his potential, he could be great value with his sixth round pick.
The Steelers might need to focus on running the ball following Ben Roethlisberger's suspension, and Dwyer can do just that. Pittsburgh will be hoping that their faith in the running back pays off, and brings huge rewards.
Dorin Dickerson, TE - Houston Texans - Seventh Round, 20th Pick
Dickerson is a versatile tight end, who has lined up all over the field during his time at college. Having even played as a linebacker on some snaps, it is more likely he becomes a tight end or full back in the NFL, but his versatility is capable of creating mismatches all over the field.
It was a surprise to see him drop as low as the seventh round, and the fall down the draft is largely unexplained. However, he will bring the Texans great athleticism and a good pair of hands.
Running a 4.4 at the combine, Dickerson demonstrated the speed which helped him record 49 receptions and 10 touchdowns last season. He could prove to be an important part of Houston's offense, and will likely see some game time this season due to his versatility.
Houston will be delighted with the pick-up, as they drafted a quality player for very good value. Dickerson was a steal in the seventh round, and he will have an opportunity to impress next season in Texas.
Playing alongside Matt Schaub should enhance his progression, and no matter where he lines up, Dickerson could make some big plays next year to cement his reputation as a draft steal.
LeGarrette Blount, RB - Tennessee Titans - Undrafted
Perhaps most famous for punching an opponent in a college match, LeGarrette Blount was immediately red flagged by many teams. However, the Titans and 49ers were quick to act following the draft, and Blount chose to sign with Tennessee in the hope of more game time.
The Oregon running back showed his exceptional promise at his pro-day, but many teams were unwilling to consider him due to his character issues. He has the ability to run over tackles, and shows good quickness and change of direction.
Blount is a big back at 241 pounds, but will use his power to break tackles and make yards after contact. The only real questions surrounding his talent, is whether he will be on the field enough to demonstrate it.
Most were surprised Blount went undrafted, but he had several suitors following the end of the draft. He spurned the 49ers to gain more playing time, as competition with Glen Coffee, Anthony Dixon, and Frank Gore would have limited his time on the field.
Instead Blount took advantage of LenDale White's trade to Seattle, and signed to become backup to Chris Johnson. Blount will have an opportunity to play behind the best running back in the league, and the Titans will hope that CJ2K can help him get back to his best following last year's lengthy suspension.
He has the potential to perform in the NFL, and if he can overcome his character issues, and control his temper, then the Titans have made an outstanding piece of business here.
Other Potential Steals?
Sergio Kindle, OLB - Baltimore Ravens - Second Round, 11th Pick
Baltimore picked up a top-15 talent in the second round, and Kindle will start right away for the Ravens. Learning from Ray Lewis might now be the worst thing for his development either.
Golden Tate, WR - Seattle Seahawks - Second Round, 28th Pick
First round talent that fell to the end of the second round, Tate can immediately showcase his returning skills and will be a useful addition receiving out of the slot. He has the potential to be an incredible player.
Jimmy Graham, TE - New Orleans Saints - Third Round, 31st Pick
Graham is a huge target at 6'6", and has a great skills set. With Drew Brees throwing to him in New Orleans, he will become a huge threat in the red zone and could be an important player as the Saints defend their Super Bowl. He will be the perfect replacement for Jeremy Shockey when he departs.
Brandon Ghee, CB - Cincinnati Bengals - Third Round, 32nd Pick
Ghee was a top cornerback in college, and was unfortunate to go this late in the draft. His incredible speed will allow him to get game time as a nickel corner, but the Bengals have the luxury of waiting patiently for his development due to their great depth at the position.