2011 NFL Draft: The 10 Best Late-Round Running Back Steals In NFL History

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IFebruary 13, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: The 10 Best Late-Round Running Back Steals In NFL History

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    26 Sep 1999: Terrell Davis #30 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Broncos 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons  /Allsport
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Some running backs make you stand up and take notice in college, others take a little longer.

    Picking players in the draft is an art form very few have mastered. The number of teams who have consistently good drafts are far outnumbered by the teams who have consistently poor drafts.

    The truth is in the Super Bowl trophies, and that's why it's just as important to be able to hit on your late-round picks as it is on your early-round picks.

    This list also includes a few undrafted players, so good scouting always will 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.

    Here's a look at some running backs who were diamonds in the rough and were absolute steals in comparison to where they were taken.

10. James Starks

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  James Starks #44 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    James Starks was a sixth-round draft pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. All he did his rookie year was take advantage of the opportunity given to him by injuries. Injured in the preseason, Starks was activated in November, making his first appearance December 5.

    He broke the Packers' rookie post-season record for rushing yards in a single game against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wildcard Round.

    Starks had 52 yards rushing in the Super Bowl, a game that focused on Aaron Rodgers' talents, but his future looks very promising.

9. Ryan Grant

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 21:  Running back Ryan Grant #25 of the Green Bay Packers looks on during warmups prior to the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on August 21, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Ryan Grant went undrafted in 2005, signing with the New York Giants before being traded to the Packers before the 2007 season.

    Grant rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns against the Seahawks in the playoffs that year and was re-signed by the Packers in 2008 to a four-year deal.

    Grant posted great numbers in 2009 and then suffered a season-ending injury in Week one of the 2010 season.

    Still, for his age and the number of games played, you can't argue that every team who passed him up is regretting that decision.

8. Peyton Hillis

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 12:  Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns runs against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 13-6. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Peyton Hillis was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Hillis was named the Broncos starting running back that year after an injury to Ryan Torain and quickly began making a name for himself. A hamstring injury ended his season.

    After Head Coach Mike Shanahan's departure, new coach Josh McDaniels decided he couldn't use him and Hillis spent most of the 2009 season on the bench.

    The Cleveland Browns traded for him in the 2010 season and Hillis quickly became the Browns most potent offensive weapon, rushing for more than 1,500 yards and scoring 11 rushing touchdowns.

    Although Hillis still is young with a lot to prove, he's already done more on the field than most seventh-round draft picks get to do in their entire career.

7. Wilbert Montgomery

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    BALTIMORE - 2009:  Wilbert Montgomery of the Baltimore Ravens poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by NFL Photos)
    NFL Photos/Getty Images

    Wilbert Montgomery was a sixth-round pick in 1977 and played most of his career in Philadelphia before finishing in Detroit.

    Montgomery holds seven rushing records for the Eagles and was selected for the Pro Bowl two times.

    He averaged 4.4 yards per carry over his career and had 2,012 all-purpose yards in 1979.

6. Rudi Johnson

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    CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 30:  Rudi Johnson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball against the Baltimore Ravens November 30, 2006 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Johnson was the 100th pick in the 2001 NFL Draft and played most of his career with the Bengals.

    Johnson became the starting running back in Cincinnati after an injury to Corey Dillon and was one of the NLF's most consistent running backs for three years.

    He ran for more than 1,400 yards two years in a row for the Bengals. As with all things in Cincinnati, the Bengals weren't able to capitalize on Johnson's success and he ended his career in Detroit.

5. Terry Allen

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    14 Sep 1998:  Running back Terry Allen #21 of the Washington Redskins in action during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover, Maryland. The 49ers defeated the Redskins 45-10. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Terry Allen was a ninth-round draft pick in 1990 for the Minnesota Vikings. Allen replaced Herschel Walker as the starter for the Vikings in his second season was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1990.

    Allen moved on to the Redskins after numerous knee injuries on the Vikings' artificial turf.

    He was named as one of the 70 Greatest Redskins.

4. Priest Holmes

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 11:  Priest Holmes #31 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball as Dre Bly #32 of the Denver Broncos defends during the first half of the game on November 11, 2007 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jami
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Priest Holmes went undrafted in 1997 but went on to have a great career, mainly with Kansas City.

    Holmes was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All Pro selection.

    Holmes won a Super Bowl as a backup with the Ravens in 2000. Holmes posted great numbers with the Chiefs until spinal and neck injuries ended his career in 2007.

3. Joe Perry

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    Joe Perry was the first player to run more than 1,000 yards in two consecutive seasons, and he did this before there even were 14-game seasons.

    He retired as the NFL Career Rushing Leader and played over three decades, beginning in 1948 and retiring in 1963.

    Perry did all of this despite being undrafted.

2. Earnest Byner

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    28 Sep 1997:  Running back Earnest Byner #21 of the Baltimore Ravens carries the football during the Ravens 21-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Park in San Diego, California. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn  /Allsport
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Earnest Byner was a tenth-round pick in 1984 and has become part of Cleveland Browns lore for being the central figure in "The Fumble."

    Besides his most infamous moment, Byner had a great career. Byner Did win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins and is named one of their 70 Greatest Players Players.

1. Terrell Davis

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    31 Jan 1999:  Terrell Davis #30 of the Denver Broncos in action during the Super Bowl XXXIII Game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Broncos defeated the Falcons 34-19.
    Vincent Laforet/Getty Images

    Terrell Davis was a sixth-round pick for Denver in 1995. Coming into camp as the lowest man on the depth chart, Davis was the team's starting running back by Week one.

    Davis helped create the Broncos power running attack of the late 90's and he helped the Broncos to their two Super Bowl championships, putting up great numbers.

    After that, Davis was hit with the injury bug and retired during the 2002 preseason.