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2011 NFL Draft Results: The 10 Biggest Steals of the Entire Draft

Zack DuarteContributor IIIMay 1, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Results: The 10 Biggest Steals of the Entire Draft

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    After 254 selections of the 2011 NFL Draft we preview the 10 biggest steals that occurred over the three-day fiasco.

    Ranging from Round 1 to Round 7, there were some teams that landed gems they shouldn't have and others that will regret passing them up.

    Each draft has its gems and its steals, such as 2000 when Tom Brady was taken with the 199th selection of the draft by the New England Patriots.

    These are the top 10 steals of the 2011 NFL Draft.

10. Virgil Green: Selected by Denver in Round 7 Pick 1 (204th Overall)

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    At the scouting combine, Virgil Green led all tight ends with a 10'10" broad jump and 42.5" vertical jump, and he had scouts itching to see more.

    After having already selected a tight end in the draft, the Broncos couldn't let Green slip anymore and took him with the opening pick in the seventh round.

    Virgil Green averaged almost 15 yards per catch last season with the Nevada Wolf Pack. He is a great threat in the open field, but needs work in the blocking game.

    Projected by most to go in the late-fourth, early-fifth round, Green does worry some teams because he played in the Pistol offense in college and he will take some time to learn the pro system and how to block at an NFL level.

    With the low-risk, high-reward possibility of using a seventh-round pick, Denver got a player who could return the value twofold in the coming years for the John Elway-led Broncos.

9. Brandon Harris: Selected by Houston in Round 2 Pick 28 (60th Overall)

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    The Houston Texans needed a cornerback badly.

    After passing on Prince Amukamara in the first-round to select J.J. Watt, they couldn't resist passing on Harris who was there late in the second round.

    Houston traded with New England, which owned the 28th pick in the second-round, in order to draft Brandon Harris, the cornerback from the University of Miami.

    Harris will likely come in and compete for a starting job for the Texans, which ranked 33rd in passing defense (get it?).

    While Harris could use some work on building his frame, he is extremely adept at man coverage and has great body control when in the air. He may be small, but he is physical in coverage and he didn't miss any time due to injury.

    Harris progressed each year at UM and will likely continue the trend, but he could use a veteran to learn from.

    With the Texans need and where they got Harris, this is a no-brainer for top 10 steals of the draft.

8. Da'Quan Bowers: Selected by Tampa Bay in Round 2 Pick 19 (51st Overall)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Tampa Bay got an absolute steal.

    Da'Quan Bowers fell completely out of the first round and all the way to No. 51, where Rahim Morris just couldn't pass him up again (they selected Adrian Clayborn with the 20th-overall pick in the draft).

    Tampa Bay has now drafted Clayborn, Bowers, Brian Price and Gerald McCoy in the first two rounds of the last two drafts and have one of the best defensive lines on paper.

    Bowers tallied 15 sacks last year, most in the NCAA, playing for Clemson, but he has major knee concerns. Bowers went under the knife in early January to repair a torn right meniscus and wasn't able to participate at the combine. To make matters worse, he ran a 4.9 40 time at his pro day in early April.

    Bowers will eventually need another surgery on his knee that could keep him out for an entire season, but the risk was worth the reward for Morris and the Buccaneers.

    Last year the Bucs landed arguably the steal of the draft by acquiring Mike Williams in the fourth round. Williams went on to catch 11 touchdown passes and help the Bucs compete for a playoff spot.

    If Da'Quan Bowers pans out, the Buccaneers may have landed the steal of the draft once again.

7. Ricky Elmore: Selected by Green Bay in Round 6 Pick 32 (197th Overall)

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    Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore celebrating a sack.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The last two years at Arizona, Brooks Reed totalled 8.5 sacks with 15 tackles for loss.

    Ricky Elmore tallied 21.5 sacks with 24.5 tackles for loss in the same two years.

    How Ricky Elmore was available at the bottom of Round 6 is really unexplainable, especially in a draft that had so many defensive players taken in the first two rounds.

    The Packers were looking for players who could add depth to their team and Elmore not only provides depth, but he could eventually start on a defense that helped Green Bay win a Super Bowl last year.

    Elmore is a player with a motor that never stops, and while he isn't the fastest (4.96 40), he is a solid pass rusher and has been labeled as a hard worker and a blue-collar player.

    Elmore will most likely play outside linebacker in the packers 3-4 defense, but he lacks the coverage experience to be effective right away.

    With some tutelage from Clay Matthews and the linebackers on the Packers squad, Elmore could be one of the most effective players taken in Day 3 of the entire draft.

6. Quan Sturdivant: Selected by Arizona in Round 6 Pick 6 (171st Overall)

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    Clearly character concerns were the reason for Quan Sturdivant's slide.

    Arguably the best inside linebacker available in the draft, Sturdivant did have a resume which included an arrest for marijuana possession before the start of the 2010 season.

    Nonetheless, Arizona landed a gem in Round 6 by selecting Sturdivant on a team that desperately needs linebacker help.

    In his four seasons at UNC, Sturdivant managed 27.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two forced fumbles and four interceptions.

    Sturdivant possesses above-average speed and can diagnose plays extremely well, and he can get to the ball carrier or to the quarterback and create pressure in the pocket.

    He is extremely consistent, as he never had less than four tackles in a game in 2009 or 2010.

    He can play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 although he is best suited for a 3-4.

    Arizona landed a steal and if the Cardinals can get him the proper coaching, Quan Sturdivant could be a name opposing offensive coordinators will have to game plan for.

5. Greg McElroy: Selected by the New York Jets in Round 7 Pick 5 (208th Overall)

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    This selection by the Jets makes perfect sense.

    In a move that likely spells the end of the Kellen Clemens experiment, the New York Jets drafted Greg McElroy in the seventh round and got a great player at tremendous value.

    With Mark Brunell likely on his last legs as well, McElroy will come into a system with little pressure off the bat and get to learn under Mark Sanchez and Brunell.

    McElroy has been labeled as a field general and is a smart player who won't make mistakes too often.

    McElroy is currently working on his masters degree and played in a pro-style offense at Alabama, and he didn't lose a game until his senior season with the Crimson Tide.

    McElroy threw 37 touchdowns to only nine interceptions his junior and senior seasons at Alabama. His completion percentage went from 60.9 percent in 2009 to 70.9 in 2010 and he only threw 12 less passes.

    It is unlikely that he will taste the field early in his career, but if Mark Sanchez doesn't develop into the player the Jets envisioned, he will surely have a backup quarterback who can put the pressure on the starting job.

4. Mikel Leshoure: Selected by Detroit in Round 2 Pick 25 (57th Overall)

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Some projections had Mikel Leshoure being selected in the first round.

    With the plethora of defensive selections in the first and second rounds, Mikel Leshoure dropped all the way to the bottom of Round 2.

    With Seattle off the clock, Detroit traded it's third and fourth-round picks and swapped fifth and seventh-round picks, in order to get the bruising running back from the University of Illinois.

    The one-two punch that Leshoure will provide with Jahvid Best for the Lions combines speed with power and makes the Lions even more versatile and a threat that opposing teams will have problems containing.

    Leshoure averaged six yards a carry over his three years at Illinois, and that spans over 400 carries.

    Leshoure only has one full season as a starter so his legs are fresh and, unlike Mark Ingram, the only running back selected ahead of Leshoure, he didn't take a beating while in college.

    The potential that Leshoure posseses combined with where Detroit selected him makes him one of the steals of the draft, and although the running back draft stock overall has fallen, Leshoure will make teams regret on passing him up.

3. Tandon Doss: Selected by Baltimore in Round 4 Pick 26 (123rd Overall)

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    The Baltimore Ravens needed help at the wide receiver position and they landed a stud late in Round 4.

    Tandon Doss almost fell to the fifth round, most likely due to durability issues, and he is in the perfect spot to have a successful career in the NFL.

    Doss gets to sit behind veterans Anquan Bolidn and Derrick Mason while working with Joe Flacco and will more than likely start in a few seasons, but he can come in right away and be productive for Baltimore.

    Doss is versatile and can contribute in the return game as well, as he averaged 24.8 yards returning kicks for Indiana in 2010.

    His 6'2" frame and average speed make him a possession wide receiver and his hands are among the best in the entire draft. Doss can pluck a ball out of the air and he rarely drops passes thrown on target.

    Doss never surpassed 1,000 yards at Indiana in any season, but when he was on the field, he found ways to help his team. Against Michigan he had 15 catches for over 221 yards.

    If Doss can stay healthy, he is hands down one of the top three steals of the draft.

2. Nick Fairley: Selected by Detroit with the 14th Overall Pick in the Draft

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    Safe to say Detroit had a good draft right?

    It's hard to call a first-round pick a steal, but when you get what some called the best talent in the draft at No. 14 it is definitely a steal.

    Detroit didn't need a defensive tackle with this pick, but couldn't pass up the talent and picked the best player on the board in Fairley.

    Fairley's only downside is that he is a one-year wonder at Auburn University, but he played with more than 100 percent game-in and game-out.

    Pairing him alongside Ndamukong Suh, the Lions have maybe the best tandem at the defensive tackle position in the league.

    Detroit is no longer the laughing stock of the league and may soon be a team to fear on both sides of the ball.

1. Greg Romeus: Selected by New Orleans in Round 7 Pick 23 (226th Overall)

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    Injuries derailed a mostly successful career for Greg Romeus and that is the reason he fell so far, but to almost be undrafted is unthinkable.

    The Saints get themselves the steal of the draft and it only cost a measly seventh-round pick.

    Romeus will more than likely have to sit in 2011 due to injury, as he tore his ACL in November and will need more work on his knee, but on the field he is an absolute beast.

    Romeus had 27 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks in his 2008 and 2009 seasons combined before injuries caught up to him.

    Romeus has an arsenal of moves that allow him to get in the backfield in just a matter of seconds. He is very athletic and his 6'6", 265-pound frame allows him to get to the point of attack and control his opposing blockers.

    His instincts are the best of most defensive lineman in the draft and no one being drafted on the front four accounts for the snap count better than Romeus.

    Once he heals from his injuries and has two full offseasons to get into Gregg Williams' defensive schemes, he will be a lethal weapon and easily labeled as the steal of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Honorable Mention

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    There are a couple of other teams that got steals throughout the draft, but these players just couldn't crack the top 10.

     

    Marvin Austin, DT, UNC: Selected by the New York Giants in Round 2 Pick 20 (52nd Overall).

    Martez Foster, ILB, Washington: Selected by Tampa Bay in Round 3 Pick 20 (84th Overall).

    Clint Boling, OG, Georgia: Selected by Cincinnati in Round 4 Pick 4 (101st Overall).

    Davon House, CB, New Mexico: Selected by Green Bay in Round 4 Pick 34 (131st Overall).

    Brandon Burton, CB, Utah: Selected by Minnesota in Round 5 Pick 8 (139th Overall).

    Joshua Thomas, CB, Buffalo: Selected by Dallas in Round 5 Pick 12 (143rd Overall).

    Dwayne Harris, WR, E. Carolina: Selected by Dallas in Round 6 Pick 11 (176th Overall).

    Cliff Matthews, DE, S. Carolina: Selected by Atlanta in Round 7 Pick 27 (230th Overall).

    Lee Ziemba, OT, Auburn: Selected by Carolina in Round 7 Pick 41 (244th Overall).

    Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma: Selected by Denver in Round 7 Pick 44 (247th Overall).

     

    Feel free to Comment and discuss below. To Follow Zack on twitter it's @ZackDuarte

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