Obviously we all know Tom Brady going at pick 199 in 2000 is the biggest draft steal of all time. Brady probably always will be the biggest draft steal of all time, that’s as close to an unbreakable record as it gets.
Getting the 🐐 in the 6th round? It can’t get any better than that.
But which other players were major draft steals? We’ll define “steal” as being drafted in the 5th round or later.
- Chris Carson (Seahawks, RB, 2017: round 7, pick 249) back to back 1000+ yard seasons 2018-2019
- Tyreek Hill (Chiefs, WR, 2016: round 5, pick 165) 5x Pro Bowl, 3x All Pro, 2010s All Decade Team
- Trent Brown (49ers, OT, 2015: round 7, pick 244) 1x Pro Bowl
- Stefon Diggs (Vikings, WR, 2015: round 5, pick 146) 1x Pro Bowl, 1x All Pro
- Corey Linsley (Packers, C, 2014: round 5, pick 161) 1x All Pro
- Jordan Poyer (Eagles, S, 2013: round 7, pick 218)
- Josh Norman (Washington, CB, 2012: round 5, pick 143) 1x Pro Bowl, 1x All Pro
- Malcolm Smith (Seahawks, LB, 2011: round 7, pick 242) Super Bowl XLVIII MVP
- Jason Kelce (Eagles, C, 2011: round 6, pick 191) 4x Pro Bowl, 3x All Pro
- Richard Sherman (Seahawks, CB, 2011: round 5, pick 154) 5x Pro Bowl, 3x All Pro, 2010s All Decade Team
- Antonio Brown (Steelers, WR, 2010: round 6, pick 195) 7x Pro Bowl, 4x All Pro, 2010s All Decade Team
- Julian Edelman (Patriots, WR, 2009: round 7, pick 232) Super Bowl LIII MVP
- Matthew Slater (Patriots, WR/ST, 2008: round 5, pick 153) 9x Pro Bowl, 2x All Pro, arguably the best special teams player of the past decade
- Marques Colston (Saints, WR, 2006: round 7, pick 252) 711 rec., 9759 rec. yards, 72 TDs in 10 seasons.
- Antoine Bethea (Colts, S, 2006: round 6, pick 207) 3x Pro Bowl
- Delanie Walker (49ers, TE, 2006: round 6, pick 175) 3x Pro Bowl
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (Rams, QB, 2005: round 7, pick 250)
- Jay Ratliff (Cowboys, DL, 2005: round 7, pick 224) 4x Pro Bowl
- Chris Myers (Broncos, OG, 2005: round 6, pick 200) 2x Pro Bowl
- Michael “The Burner” Turner (Chargers, RB, 2004: round 5, pick 154) 2x Pro Bowl, 1x All Pro
- Robert Mathis (Colts, DE, 2003: round 5, pick 138) 5x Pro Bowl, 1x All Pro
- Brett Kiesel (Steelers, DL, 2002: round 7, pick 242) 1x Pro Bowl
- Aaron Kampman (Packers, DE, 2002: round 5, pick 156) 2x Pro Bowl
- TJ Houshmandzadeh (Bengals, WR, 2001: round 7, pick 204) 1x Pro Bowl
- Adalius Thomas (Ravens, DE, 2000: round 6, pick 186) 2x Pro Bowl, 1x All Pro
- Dante Hall (Chiefs, WR/KR, 2000: round 5, pick 153) 2x Pro Bowl, 1x All Pro, 2000s All Decade Team
- Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (Packers, DE, 2000, round 5, pick 149) 1x Pro Bowl, 74.5 career sacks
- Tom Brady (Patriots, QB, 2000, round 6, pick 1999) 🐐
So who is the biggest draft steal of them all, other than Tom Brady?
For me, it’s between Richard Sherman, Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown.
I’m going to eliminate Tyreek Hill because he was only a draft steal because he had some issues in his personal life during college. Otherwise, he would’ve been drafted a lot higher. Teams knew Hill was off-the-charts fast and an absolute freak of nature, they were just afraid to draft him due to his “character issues.”
So I think it’s between Sherman and AB.
On the one hand, Sherman did anchor the Legion of Boom defense and won a Super Bowl.
On the other hand, AB during his prime was one of the most incredible wide receivers ever. Plus, he was taken even later in the draft than Sherman.
I think I still might have to go with Richard Sherman, though. Although Antonio Brown just got a Super Bowl ring, I would say that Richard Sherman was more instrumental in making the 2013 Seahawks a Super Bowl team than AB was on the 2020 Bucs.
This is not to take anything away from AB, though. The guy is an absolutely incredible football player, and during his prime, it seemed like every week he did something on the field that I’d never seen anyone else do before. He was ridiculous, and I think he can still get back to that level of play, or at least close to it, next season assuming he stays with Tampa.
However, I think there was clearly a period of time (2013-2014) where Richard Sherman was the consensus top cornerback in the league. I don’t know that there was ever a period of time where Antonio Brown was the consensus best wide receiver in the league.
Because all throughout AB’s prime, you still had guys like Megatron, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Odell Beckham in the league, and a lot of people would argue that those guys–or at least one of those guys in a given season–were better than AB was in every season of AB’s career.
As much as I like Antonio Brown, when Megatron was in the league, it was heresy to call anyone but him the best wide receiver alive. And after Megatron retired, the title moved to Julio, although I think now in 2021 the title might have officially shifted to DeAndre Hopkins.
So Richard Sherman gets my vote for the biggest draft steal since 2000.
What do you think?