NFL

Tom Brady: Recalling the NFL draft's great steals 20 years after Pats took QB

By Sports Desk April 16, 2020

Twenty years ago the New England Patriots did what was tantamount to robbery.

With the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, New England selected Tom Brady, quarterback from the University of Michigan.

The rest is history. Six Super Bowl wins, nine AFC titles. It was a draft pick that altered the entire NFL, and it was all the more remarkable because sixth-round selections usually face a fight just to make the team.

However, sometimes players, like Brady, slip through the cracks in the draft process and a late-round diamond can be unearthed.

On the 20th anniversary of Brady's selection, we look at some of the best late-round picks in recent memory.

 

JULIAN EDELMAN - SEVENTH ROUND, 2009

Turns out the Patriots are good at this drafting lark and Brady is not the only late-round gem they have found.

Bill Belichick went to Kent State in 2009 to work out their quarterback Edelman, who had never run routes or caught passes before.

Edelman's pure potential intrigued Belichick, though, and he proved a shrewd seventh-round selection, initially as a punt returner and later as a wideout.

Brady's favourite target in his last few years in New England was instrumental in their Super Bowl LIII win, being named the game's MVP after making 10 catches for 141 yards.

 

KAM CHANCELLOR - FIFTH ROUND, 2010

Chancellor changed positions three times in four years in college and the Seattle Seahawks had already drafted one safety in first-rounder Earl Thomas when they selected the bruising Virginia Tech defensive back in the fifth.

The two would go on to form the heart of the 'Legion of Boom', one of the greatest defensive backfields of all time and a key reason why Seattle made two Super Bowls in back-to-back seasons.

Chancellor only spent eight seasons in the league and retired at 30 due to a neck injury, but the tone-setter of that great Seattle D was voted to four Pro Bowls.

 

ANTONIO BROWN - SIXTH ROUND, 2010

Brown wears the number 84 because 8 x 4 = 32 and 32 teams ignored him until the Pittsburgh Steelers grabbed the former Central Michigan receiver with the 195th overall pick a decade ago.

The pre-draft reports suggested he was slow, lacked size, had character concerns and didn't play elite competition in college.

Brown has since amassed 11,263 receiving yards and 75 touchdowns and was arguably the NFL's best receiver of the 2010s.

He remains out of the league today, though, with those character concerns rearing their head and ending short spells with the Oakland Raiders and Patriots last season.

 

RICHARD SHERMAN - FIFTH ROUND, 2011

The year after selecting Thomas and Chancellor, Seattle drafted K.J. Wright in the fourth round and cornerback Sherman in the fifth in another impressive haul.

Sherman, who started life at Stanford as a wide receiver before converting to corner, was the 34th defensive back selected in 2011, which made him "livid" and provided a sizeable chip for his shoulder.

Since then? Just the five Pro Bowls, three first-team All-Pros, one Super Bowl ring (and another two appearances) and a spot on the NFL's All-Decade team of the 2010s.

 

GEORGE KITTLE - FIFTH ROUND, 2017

Do-it-all tight ends who are mismatch nightmares have been en vogue ever since Rob Gronkowski took the NFL by storm, and yet everyone passed on Kittle until the San Francisco 49ers wrote down his name for the 146th pick.

In his best season at Iowa, Kittle had 314 receiving yards. Last year he had his second straight 1,000-yard receiving season in the NFL having broken the record for tight ends with 1,377 yards in 2018.

Thanks to Kittle, Iowa tight ends are being taken more seriously too as T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant were both drafted in the first round last year.

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