“With the first pick in the NFL Draft” is the start of a sentence that has fans holding their breaths. Will this guy that Roger Goodell is about to name be the one who takes our team to the promised land?
Quite often, it turns out to be the 100th pick, the 152nd pick, the 212th pick that is the one which changes a franchise’s fortunes.
Here are 10 of the biggest NFL Draft steals in history — the ones who made every team that skipped them look like fools.
6th Round – 2000 – New England Patriots
He will eventually retire with the most Super Bowl appearances (9), wins (6), and MVPs (4) — and counting — of any quarterback in history. Those are big reasons why many call him the greatest of all time. Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe in the second game of the 2001 season and never looked back. Now, he’s taking his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New England Patriots’ Tom Brady passes against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
6th Round – 2010 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown’s story is still being written. After ten seasons, most of them in Pittsburgh, the 4-time First Team All-Pro has 841 catches for 11,263 yards and 75 touchdowns in the regular season. He’s now a free agent after some brief stints last season in Oakland and New England.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) makes his way to the end zone after catching a pass for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
8th Round – 1983 – Chicago Bears
A Hall of Fame defensive end, Dent remains in the top 10 in league history in career sacks. He helped the Bears’ crushing “46” defense to a 15-1 season and the Super Bowl championship in 1985. He’s one of the rare defensive players to win Super Bowl MVP honors.
FILE – In this Nov. 6, 1988, file photo, Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent (95) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Vinny Testaverde in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Chicago. A U.S. appeals court has revived a lawsuit against the NFL by former players, including Dent, who claim the league illegally plied them with powerful prescription painkillers to keep them on the field. (AP Photo/John Swart, File)
3rd Round – 1979 – San Francisco 49ers
Now in the Hall of Fame, the Notre Dame product joined Terry Bradshaw as the only two quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls (until Brady showed up). While he didn’t always put up the biggest numbers, he was known for playing his best in the biggest moments (see the final drive of Super Bowl XXIII). Named to NFL’s 1980s team of the decade and 75th anniversary team.
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Joe Montana, returning to action after two years, eyes downfield, Monday, Dec. 28, 1992 in San Francisco during second-half action against the Detroit Lions in Candlestick Park. Montana was 15 of 21 for 126 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Niners to a 24-6 win over the Lions. (AP Photo/Liz Mangelsdorf)
7th Round – 1990 – Denver Broncos
This Hall of Famer was the epitome of how the position has changed in recent years. He was first tight end to surpass 10,000 yards receiving. Sharpe helped the Broncos to their first two Super Bowl titles and the Baltimore Ravens to their first championship.
Denver Broncos’ Shannon Sharpe catches a pass for a touchdown in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2002, in Kansas City, Mo. Sharpe had 214 total yards receiving in the Broncos’ 37-34 overtime win. (AP Photo/Larry W. Smith)
5th Round – 2011 – Seattle Seahawks
Passed by many coaches including his former coach at Stanford, Jim Harbaugh, Sherman used that as motivation. The huge chip on his shoulder helped propel him to become arguably the best cornerback of his time. He is a 3-time First Team All-Pro and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 2010s. After seven seasons with Seattle’s “Legion Of Boom,” Sherman is entering his third year with the San Francisco 49ers.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) celebrates against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Seattle, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
17th Round – 1956 – Green Bay Packers
You read that right — 17th round. Back then, the game was more about running than passing, which may explain why he fell so far. But the Hall of Famer still delivered. He helped the Packers to five NFL championships and titles in the first two Super Bowls.
Bart Starr, veteran quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League, who announced, July 23, 1971 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, he will undergo surgery on his throwing arm next Wednesday, is shown demonstrating his passing technique in an earlier practice session in August 1971. (AP Photo)
10th Round – 1964 – Dallas Cowboys
This Hall of Famer had the rare distinction of being drafted by two leagues in the same year. He was also drafted in the 16th round by the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League (before the leagues merged). After winning the Heisman Trophy at Navy, Staubach served four years including a tour in Vietnam before returning to football. Staubach led the Cowboys to four NFC championships and two Super Bowl titles. He was named to the league’s all-decade team of the 1970s.
FILE – In this Jan. 16, 1972, file photo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (12) tries to escape the grasp of Miami Dolphins defender Jim Riley (70) during Super Bowl VI in New Orleans, La. Staubach, voted the game’s most valuable player, completed 12 of 19 passes for 119 yards and two TDs. (AP Photo/File)
5th Round – 1974 – Pittsburgh Steelers
When you are the center for the NFL’s 1970s team of the decade and the 1980’s team of the decade, plus make the league’s 75th anniversary team, and make the Hall of Fame, then you make this list. Webster won four Super Bowl titles with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster breaks between plays during the 1988 season. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
3rd Round – 2012 – Seattle Seahawks
Seen as undersized (5-foot 11-inches), Wilson slid down the draft list then won the starting job as a rookie in the preseason. He helped the Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory the next year and came within one goal-line interception of a second title. Wilson is tied for the NFL record for most wins by a quarterback in his first eight seasons (86) and he holds the record for most consecutive winning seasons to start a career.
Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson (3) claps during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)