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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    MIAMI - OCTOBER 4: Brandon Marshall #19 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by Kyle Arrington #27 of the New England Patriots at Sun Life Field on October 4, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    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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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 1:  Cliff Branch #21 of the Los Angeles Raiders runs the ball against Mel Blount #47 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Divisional playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 1, 1984 in Los Angeles, Califo
    George Rose/Getty Images

    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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    1 Jan 1989:  Defensive back Wayne Davis of the Buffalo Bills (left) tackles Houston Oilers wide receiver Drew Hill during a playoff game at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.  The Bills won the game, 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    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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    TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 25: Wide receiver Keenan McCardell #80 of the Washington Redskins grabs a warm up pass before play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Raymond James Stadium on November 25, 2007 in Tampa, Florida.  The Bucs won 19-13. (Photo by Al
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    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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    DENVER - DECEMBER 20:  Brandon Marshall #15 of the Denver Broncos points out a disturbance in the crowd to a police officer in the second half against the Oakland Raiders at Invesco Field at Mile High on December 20, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Raiders
    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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    ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 14:  Wide receiver Mark Clayton #83 of the Miami Dolphins tries to break a tackle by defensive back Jerry Gray #25 of the Los Angeles Rams during a game at Anaheim Stadium on December 14, 1986 in Anaheim, California.   The Dolphins
    George Rose/Getty Images

    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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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots looks on during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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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    BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 05:  Derrick Mason #85 of the Baltimore Ravens argues a call with a referee during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. Pittsburgh won 13-10.  (Photo by Geoff Bur
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    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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    CHATTANOOGA, TN - DECEMBER 17:  Former NFL player Wayne Chrebet  attends the 23rd Annual Football Championship Subdivision Awards Presentation on December 17, 2009 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images)
    Moses Robinson/Getty Images

    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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    SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 8:  Wide receiver Dwight Clark #87 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a pass against defensive back Rufus Bess #21 of the Minnesota Vikings during a game at Candlestick Park on December 8, 1984 in San Francisco, California.  The 4
    George Rose/Getty Images

    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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    1984:  Wide receiver Charlie Joiner #18 of the San Diego Chargers focuses as he is about to set a NFL receiving record, moving ahead of Charley Taylor as the all-time receiving leader during a game in 1984.  (Photo by Tony Duffy/Getty Images)
    Tony Duffy/Getty Images

    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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    LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 18:  Wide receiver Steve Largent #80 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a pass during a game against the Los Angeles Raiders at the L.A. Coliseum on December 18, 1988 in Los Angeles, California.  The Seahawks defeated the Raiders 43-37
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    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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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 26:  Former Jets Wide Receiver Don Maynard is introduced during halftime festivities celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Jets' win over the Colts in Super Bowl III during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Ne
    Jarrett Baker/Getty Images

    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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    30 Dec 2001:  Wide Receiver Cris Carter #80 of the Minnesota Vikings stands ready on the line against the Green Bay Packers during the NFL game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Packers defeated the Vikings 24-13.  Mandatory Credit:  Jonathan
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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.


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