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5 Biggest Steals Of The NFL Draft: A Look Back At Hidden Gems Who Exceeded Expectations

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The NFL draft is one of the most exciting events of the year for football fans, filled with excitement, anticipation, and an endless supply of rumors. With a few rounds complete and some extremely talented players on new teams, it’s time to give out awards – namely highlighting the five biggest steals of these past NFL draft games. Let’s dive into the list!

Tom Brady

Tom Brady may be one of the NFL’s biggest draft steals – he was taken with the 199th pick by the New England Patriots during the 2000 NFL Draft, behind a whopping six quarterbacks. However, Brady had already been a two-year starting quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines, putting up incredible numbers of 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns. Imagine how NFL teams now must look back on not taking advantage of this opportunity and passing up on him when they could. A draft decision that will always make NFL history as one of its biggest regrets – yet made Tom Brady into the NFL legend we all know today!

Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson was also one of the NFL Draft’s biggest steals when he was taken 75th overall by the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. After slipping past passers like Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill, many expected him to serve only in a backup role, but Wilson emerged as the starter during training camp and has been an NFL force ever since. He’s thrown for over 37,000 passing yards and 292 touchdowns while helping take his team to back-to-back Super Bowls in 2014 and 2015. On top of that, he’s earned 9 Pro Bowl selections – all adding up to make Wilson one of the NFL’s top picks from 2012.

Julian Edelman

NFL Draft steals don’t come around too often, but when the New England Patriots chose Julian Edelman in 2009, they landed one of the greatest. Having played 11 years with only one real injury, Edelman has proven to be worth far more than his draft position. He made over 6,800 yards in receptions and tallied 36 touchdowns throughout his career en route to two Super Bowl victories. His workhorse mentality and pivotal plays led him to MVP of the 2019 Super Bowl and NFL recognition that would put him on track for Hall of Fame consideration.

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown, the wide receiver taken back in 2010 in the draft at pick 195 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, has gone on to become one of NFL history’s greatest steals. After joining forces with Ben Roethlisberger and starting mainly as a punt and kick returner in his first year, he quickly shot into stardom, racking up 12,000 receiving yards and 93 touchdowns after taking on a larger role. Additionally, his skill was so apparent that he earned 4 All-Pro honors and made 7 Pro Bowl appearances – even making the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2010s!

Richard Sherman

As NFL Draft Steals go, Richard Sherman is one of the finest. The Seattle Seahawks were able to snag the future all-star cornerback in the 5th round in 2011, and he quickly became an integral part of their “Legion of Boom” defense that solidified them as one of the NFL’s premier teams. His role in the famous “Immaculate Deflection” effectively sent them on to win Super Bowl XLVIII over the heavily favored Denver Broncos. Unquestionably intimidating on the field, Sherman gave opposing quarterbacks cause for double thought with his 41 career interceptions and 116 pass deflections.


Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Julian Edelman, Antonio Brown, and Richard Sherman have all turned out to be superstars beyond expectations. While no one can predict the success of rookies with absolute certainty, by keeping an eye on past successes we can still hold onto hope that the downtrodden underdogs of this year’s NFL draft will have their breakout moments and find their place among the football elite.