When draft day rolls around and teams are looking for an impact player to add to their roster, it’s usually within the first and second round that they find them. Finding a Pro Bowl caliber player in the seventh round rarely ever happens, but when it does it’s like winning the lottery. Lucky drafting can be the difference between making the playoffs or not. Or even winning the Super Bowl. So here is the list of top nine draft steals that became stars.
9. John Lynch – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3rd round, 82 overall)
Four safeties were chosen before John Lynch in the 1993 draft, and not one of them came close to what John accomplished in his career. Making nine trips to the Pro Bowl and averaging 70.5 tackles per season, he punished offenses with his devastating tackles. John also won the Super Bowl in 2003 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, solidifying his career and making him one of the best safeties in history.
8. Jared Allen – Kansas City Chiefs (4th round, 126th overall)
With a career like Jared’s, and the consistency he has played with over the years, the Hall of Fame will be looking at his name very closely. The recently retired defensive end had 136 sacks in his career, ninth most in league history. The five-time Pro Bowler had a stellar career with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings, before finishing his career with Chicago and Carolina. Although his numbers tailed off a bit in his final years, Allen provided excellent veteran leadership for the Panthers, who made it to Super Bowl 50 (although they lost to the Denver Broncos). Allen was also incredibly durable, missing only five regular season games in 12 seasons as a pro. “Draft steal” is a modest way of putting it, actually.
7. Andre Reed – Buffalo Bills (4th round, 86th overall)
Every Buffalo Bills fan was waiting for Andre to get inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it finally happened in 2014, eight years after his eligibility began. Reed stood out with the Bills, and even though he never won a Super Bowl with the team, having over 13,000 receiving yard was a big factor of why they made it to the championship game four times. Andre has a foundation where he helps underprivileged children reach their full potential, and with a career like his, he is the right man for the job.
6. Cris Carter – Philadelphia Eagles (4th round of the supplemental draft)
Cris is one of those receivers who won’t be forgotten. With his circus catches and his “diva” attitude, he always seemed to be in the spotlight. With 130 touchdowns and eight consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl, he is one of the best of all time. Only three other receivers have more touchdowns in their career than Carter and making it in to the Hall of Fame is what secured him on this list. Even though early in his career Cris admitted to having drug problems, he cleaned himself up and went back to what he does best, scoring touchdowns.
5. Kurt Warner (undrafted)
We know this is cheating a little bit, but being an undrafted player means every team in the NFL passed on Kurt during the 1994 draft, and every team made a huge mistake by doing that. His story is one of the best: from working at a grocery store making $5.50 an hour, to becoming a Super Bowl champion and earning millions of dollars, while remaining humble through it all. Primarily playing with the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals, Warner had four trips to the Pro Bowl, two NFL MVP awards, three NFC championships, and a Super Bowl MVP award. His story is an inspiration to many young men around the world, hoping to follow in his footsteps.
4. Shannon Sharpe – Denver Broncos (7th round, 192nd overall)
One of the best tight ends to ever play the game, Shannon made the game look easy every time he was on the field. After eight Pro Bowls, three Super Bowl rings, and over 10,000 receiving yards, he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. After lasting fourteen years in the NFL, and having his face on the Wheaties cereal box, Shannon retired as a seventh round super star.
3. Terrell Davis – Denver Broncos (6th round, 196th overall)
When you are fully healthy for only four out of the seven years you play, and have stats like Terrell Davis, it shows this draft steal was the real deal. With injuries ending his career early, Terrell still ran for over 7,600 yards and won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. Don’t forget his 1,280 receiving yards, 65 career touchdowns, Super Bowl MVP, with three trips to the Pro Bowl. All this proves he was truly amazing, especially for a 6th round pick.
2. Joe Montana – San Francisco 49ers (3rd round, 82nd overall)
Other than Tom Brady, no quarterback in history has won more Super Bowls than Joe Montana. Terry Bradshaw is tied with Montana, having won four titles each. The difference is that Terry was selected first overall in the 1970 draft, and Montana was overlooked until the 82nd overall pick, deep in the third round. Joe was named Super Bowl MVP three times, which no other quarterback in history has accomplished. He has also never thrown an interception in a Super Bowl, one of the reasons he is nicknamed “Joe Cool.”
1. Tom Brady – New England Patriots (6th round)
Tom was easily the most underrated player coming out of college. He started his freshman year in college playing for the Michigan Wolverines, where he was the backup for his first two seasons. Competing against Drew Henson in his junior year, Brady won the starting spot. He proved it a smart choice by winning the Citrus Bowl that year, and then winning the Orange Bowl his senior season. Drafted by New England, his career took off to heights no one could have imagined. With five Super Bowl victories, four Super Bowl MVPs, 12 trips to the Pro Bowl, seven AFC Championships, two regular season MVP awards, and two NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards, what else can you ask for from the 199th overall pick?