2011 NFL Draft: Brandon Marshall and the 15 Best Receiver Steals in NFL History

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IFebruary 14, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Brandon Marshall and the 15 Best Receiver Steals in NFL History

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    The art of picking the best players in the draft is something no one ever perfects. Some wide receivers are grabbing the highlight reels in college while others toil away in small schools, unnoticed.

    Teams revel in late-round steals, those players who hit camp with little fanfare and then take playing time away from veterans because their performance demands they get the ball.

    Here's a look at some wide receivers who were not big stars on draft day but became big stars later.

    This list also includes a few undrafted players, so good scouting will always bring the best players to your team. Knowing who to invite to camp can be as important as who you take in the second round.

15. Cliff Branch

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    Branch was a fourth-round pick in 1972, the 98th overall pick.

    Branch was one of the biggest names on the Raiders Super Bowl team because he caught 67 touchdowns over the course of his 14-year career.

    He had 8,685 receiving yards in an era when games were won on the ground.

14. Drew Hill

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    Hill was a 12th-round pick in the 1979 draft, but he played like a first-round pick.

    Over his 15 seasons, Hill amassed 9,831 yards on 634 receptions. Of those catches, 60 of them were for touchdowns.

13. Keenan McCardell

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    Keenan McCardell was the 326th pick in the 1991 NFL Draft, going in Round 12.

    Keenan McCardell became known as the "Thunder" half of "Thunder and Lightning" with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he emerged as a middle-of-the-field threat.

    McCardell continued his career of being a clutch receiver in Tampa Bay, winning a Super Bowl, before retiring after stints with the Chargers, Texans and Redskins. He finished his career with 883 receptions.

12. Brandon Marshall

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Brandon Marshall was a fourth-round pick in the 2006 draft. After an unremarkable rookie season, Marshall broke out his second year with more than 1,300 receving yards and seven touchdowns.

    Marshall, despite numerous injuries and off-field troubles, was one of the Broncos most productive players until head coach Josh McDaniels traded him to the Dolphins prior to the 2010 season.

11. Mark Clayton

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    Mark Clayton was the 223rd pick in the 1983 NFL Draft.

    Clayton, of the Miami Dolphins and the Dan Marino era, was the other half of the "Marks Brothers."

    A five-time Pro Bowl player, Clayton finished his career with 582 catches for 8,974 yards and 87 touchdowns.

10. Wes Welker

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    Hard to believe Wes Welker went undrafted in 2004. The Chargers cut him and the Dolphins didn't do enough to keep him. Bill Belichick wins again.

    Since coming to the Patriots, Welker has caught more than 100 passes a season for more than 1,000 yards with the exception of the 2010 season.

9. Derrick Mason

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    Derrick Mason was a fourth-round pick for the Tennessee Oilers in 1997. Now with the Ravens, Mason has more than 11,000 receiving yards and has been elected to two Pro Bowls.

    He holds two NFL records: kick return yards (437) in a single postseason, set in 1999, and all-purpose yards (2,659) in a single season, set in 2000.

8. Wayne Chrebet

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    Wayne Chrebet went from an undrafted walk-on player to second on the Jets franchise reception list with 580 catches. He also has the third-most receptions in the history of the NFL among players who were not drafted.

    Chrebet's nickname was "Mr. Third Down" because 379 of his 580 career receptions were third-to-first down conversions.

7. Dwight Clark

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    Dwight Clark was a 10th-round pick for the 49ers in 1979.  All Clark did was make "The Catch" in the 1982 NFC Championship that advanced the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.

    Clark wasn't always the flashiest or best receiver on the field, but Joe Montana knew when he threw Clark the ball that Clark was going to come up with the catch.

    Clark was elected to two Pro Bowls and his number is retired by the 49ers.

6. Harold Jackson

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    Jackson was a real find, not getting picked until the 323rd pick in the 1968 draft, the 12th round at the time.

    In his 16 seasons, Jackson caught 579 passes for 10,372 yards and 76 touchdowns.

    Jackson's 1973 season stands out as one of his best, including a four TD, 238-yard day.

5. Charlie Joiner

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    Charlie Joiner was a fourth-round pick in 1969 for the Houston Oilers.

    In addition to having good hands, Charlie Joiner was known as an intelligent player and an all-around good route runner, which meant he was open more for the ball.

    Joiner had more than 1,000 receiving yards in four seasons and made three Pro Bowls.

    Joiner was part of the famed "Air Coryell" offense.

4. Steve Largent

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    Steve Largent was a fourth-round pick in 1976.

    The most-famous Seattle Seahawk receiver there is, Steve Largent got that way by catching 819 passes for 13,089 yards and 100 touchdowns.

3. Don Maynard

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    Don Maynard was a ninth-round pick in 1957 and had a 16-year career spanning three decades.

    Maynard had 1,218 yards on 68 receptions and 14 TDs in Namath's first season with the Jets in 1965. In 1967, Maynard had 1,434 yards from Namath's passes, including 10 touchdowns and he averaged 20.2 yards per catch.

    For his career, Maynard had 633 receptions, 11,834 yards and 88 touchdowns.

2. Raymond Berry

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    Raymond Berry was the 232nd pick in the 1954 draft.

    Berry led the league in receptions three times during his career. In an era when passing wasn't an emphasis, he only fumbled twice in his career running the ball from scrimmage, just reinforcing how good his hands were.

    Once Berry got his hands on the ball, he didn't let go. There's a claim on Wikipedia that Berry only dropped two passes his entire career, but there's no statistics about Pro-Football-Reference.com to back that claim up. Still, the claim is out there, and given Berry's play and reputation, it's not that outlandish to think the claim is true.

1. Cris Carter

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    Cris Carter was selected in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft. This eight-time Pro Bowl receiver became one of the best receivers in the history of the league and he had to wait until the fourth round of the supplemental draft to get picked.

    "All he does is catch touchdowns," was the phrase often-repeated on ESPN whenever there was a highlight featuring Cris Carter. 

    Often times it seemed like it, and Carter was the Eagles' primary red-zone receiver in 1989, catching 11 touchdowns.

    In Minnesota, Carter's ability to get the big catch and get touchdowns continued. Carter led the team in receptions and touchdowns in several different seasons with several different quarterbacks.

    When the ball went Carter's way, he came down with it, and he finished his career with more than 14,000 receiving yards and more than 1,000 receptions.