In the NFL, it’s the top picks in the Draft that have such high expectations given the value of a high draft pick. There’s no better feeling as an organization to find that diamond in the rough in the late rounds. It turns out there are plenty of players who have become some of the league’s best that didn’t make the scouting report for day one of the draft. In this article, we take a look at the top 10 draft steals of the last decade that have immortalized themselves as some of the NFL’s best. Note that the last decade of course cannot include Tom Brady being that we are 13 years passed his grand entrance into the league. Now we’ll really have to think about who will top the chart.
AP Photo/Rob Carr
No.10 Alfred Morris
Morris starts us out here at the ten spot, and has most certainly proven to be quite the steal for Washington in 2012. He comes in at ten mainly because he’s not far removed from his draft date. He’s having a hell of a season and ranks fourth among running backs in total rushing yards this season. His rookie season was truly special and made second overall draft pick Robert Griffin III’s task much easier with a solid running back doing work. He earned the 64th spot on the NFL’s Top 100 Ranking in his rookie season. He comes at a bargain in the 6th round, #173 overall.
No.9 Julian Edelman
Julian comes in at the nine spot for a few reasons. He’s been sensational for New England thus far, and has climbed to the top of the depth chart over Danny Ammendola. The Patriots are moving on from the loss of Broncos’ Wes Welker, and it’s largely due to Edelman’s similarities to Welker. Their 2013 season stats are nearly identical with the exception of touchdowns. This is mainly due to New England’s use of goal line rushes, while Peyton Manning prefers to do all the scoring in Denver. Another big reason why he comes in at nine is the fact that once again, the Patriots find that rarity deep in the draft. Round seven to be exact, Edelman was drafted #232 overall, and has an all-around game that’s sure to excel under Brady’s command.
No.8 Cortland Finnegan
Finnegan was once the bad boy of defense (before Suh hit the scene). He’s a nightmare for receivers both physically and psychologically. Most known for getting under your skin, he also has a few highlights in his career to take note of. In 2008, he was an All-Pro and a Pro-Bowler. Tennessee was able to snag him in the 7th round, #215 overall. He’s one of the more touch corners in the game today.
No.7 Jay Ratliff
?Although we are seeing a decline in his play this season, Ratliff has been wreaking havoc in Dallas for years. He comes at a bargain in the 7th round, #224 overall. He’s been to the Pro Bowl four times and has 27 career quarterback sacks, along with 228 tackles. He served the Lone Star well during his tenure there.
No.6 Marques Colston
Colston was one of the main factors as to why the Saints were able to win a Super Bowl. He has an NFL record for most receptions from a player in their first two seasons with 168. He has 60 career touchdowns and is closing in on 8,000 total career reception yards. Not bad coming out of the 7th round, #252 overall.
No.5 Asante Samuel
Samuel is another New England diamond in the rough coming in the fourth round, #120 overall. He has been to the Pro Bowl four times in his career, along with being an All-Pro three times. He’s a two-time super Bowl champion, and led the league in interceptions in 2006, 2009, and 2010. What more could you ask for from a 4th rounder.
No.4 Jimmy Graham
It’s early in his career, but Graham appears to be unstoppable on the field. He reels in anything within his 35-inch arm length. He’s difficult to take down after the catch, and he has one of the league’s best quarterbacks passing him the ball. It’s hard to see the ceiling on New Orleans’ third round pick, #95 overall. He has 37 touchdowns in his four years thus far, with 3,636 receiving yards.
No.3 Elvis Dumervil
This man is a sack machine. That’s what he specializes in, and he’s one of the best in the league within the trade. He was stolen in the fourth round by Denver, #126 overall. He led the league in sacks back in 2009 with 17. He’s seen the Pro Bowl three times in his career, and has 73 career QB sacks. He’s also forced 18 career fumbles.
No.2 Brandon Marshall
Marshall is one of the premier fourth rounders in the game today. He’s found most of his success with Jay Cutler as his quarterback. He’s been to four Pro Bowls, and earned a Pro Bowl MVP back in 2011. He holds an NFL record for most reception in one game(21). He is on track to have career high in touchdowns this season
No.1 Jared Allen
The list goes on and on as far as accolades go for Jared Allen. He made the Pro Bowl five times in six years. He’s led the league in sacks three times in his career, and his a member of the 100 Sacks Club, with 123 to be exact. The Chiefs are lucky they got Jamaal Charles with a draft pick that came from the Vikings in exchange for Allen, for he was just getting warmed up before he arrived in Minnesota. The Chiefs drafted him in the 4th at #126 overall.
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Sports-Kings Contributor Austin Peat @PistolPeat187