Once you get past the first few rounds of the NFL Draft, it’s hard to keep paying attention. All the players you were really excited about have been snapped up, and as the draft gets deeper and deeper, the chances of a given player doing much in the NFL just keep decreasing. That said, some of the NFL’s best players have been taken on the third day of the draft, and several others went as undrafted entirely.
Here’s a look at the 10 biggest draft steals of the 21st century so far. Now, keep in mind, a player’s ability and their draft spot both matter here. Let’s say one player went in the fifth round, and another went in the seventh. Suppose that by any measure, the fifth-round player had the better career. The seventh-round player might still be viewed as the bigger “steal” simply because of how far he slipped. As always, things like this are subjective, and I expect a healthy amount of debate in the comments.
10. Greg Hardy, DE – 6th round, 175th pick (2010) – Carolina Panthers (Mississippi)
I’m not happy about this one, either. I considered putting another player in this spot just to avoid including Hardy on the list. But thinking about it strictly in football terms, it’s hard to deny that getting a player of Hardy’s caliber so late in the draft was highway robbery. He’s one of the best pass-rushers in the league, and yes, we can respect his abilities as an athlete while also acknowledging that by all measures, he’s a pretty terrible human being.
Okay, let’s go take a three-hour shower, then come back for the rest of the list, shall we?