Who’s The Greatest NFL Draft Steal Of All Time (If You Don’t Include Tom Brady)?

"The Pick Is In" displayed at the NFL Draft

Getty Image

There are obviously a ton of different factors that allowed Tom Brady to cement himself as one of the most legendary NFL players to ever step onto the gridiron.

Of course, you can’t talk about that veritable superhero without discussing his origin story, as the man who retired after establishing himself as the greatest quarterback of all time was a fairly unheralded prospect coming out of Michigan before he was selected by the Patriots with the 199th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

There’s not a single player who’s been selected lower than Brady who’s managed to defy the odds in the way the QB did over the course of his illustrious 23-season career, but he’s far from the only guy who was able to make a mark on the league after being largely overlooked by the franchises that comprise it.

In 2022, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy seemingly emerged as an existential threat to the “Mr. Irrelevant” label after the QB who was selected dead last in the NFL Draft won his first five regular season games after unexpectedly making his rookie debut (he led San Francisco to the NFC Championship game, where he was sadly sidelined by the elbow injury that all but brought his team’s year to a disappointing end).

As a result, you could argue Purdy may be poised to become the biggest steal in the history of the NFL Draft based on how his future ultimately pans out.

With that said, it’s impossible to argue anyone has come close to snatching Brady’s crown–although it’s worth taking a look at the other players who’ve given him a run for his money.

Which low NFL Draft pick not named Tom Brady turned out to be the biggest steal?

Embed from Getty Images

There are a few names that jump out when you take a closer look at some of the possible answers to this question.

That includes defensive back Ken Houston, who was appropriately scooped up by the Oilers with the 214th overall pick in the ninth round of the 1967 AFL-NFL Draft.

That turned out to be a pretty good call, as Houston was named to the Pro Bowl 12 times during the 14 seasons he played with the Oilers and the team now known as the Commanders. He also earned first-team All-Pro honors twice (in addition to being voted to the second team on 10 occasions), was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986, and made the cut for the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team roster that was released in 2019.

The list of possible contenders is also home to a number of other notable Hall of Famers including Terrell Davis (196th overall), Rayfield Wright (182nd overall), and Richard Dent (203rd overall).

However, none of them really come close to surpassing what Shannon Sharpe was able to achieve after the Savannah State product was picked up by the Broncos with the 192nd overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft.

Sharpe’s brother Sterling had gone seventh overall when the Packers secured him in 1988, but it’s safe to say Shannon proved he was the MVP of the Sharpe clan when everything was said and done.

Denver originally had Sharpe play wide receiver, but the decision to move him to the tight end position after a couple of underwhelming seasons ended up being an incredibly consequential one for everyone involved.

In the course of the 14 years he played in the NFL, Sharpe was an eight-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All-Pro member, and three-time Super Bowl champion thanks to the two rings he secured with the Broncos and another he earned during his two-year stint with the Ravens.

When Sharpe retired in 2003, you could’ve made the case he was the most talented tight end of all time.

While he’s since been overshadowed by the likes of Tony Gonzales, Rob Gronkowski, and Travis Kelce, it’s pretty easy to position him as the runner-up to Brady when it comes to the biggest NFL Draft steals in history.

READ NEXT: How Much Has Roger Goodell Made During His Time As The Commissioner Of The NFL?

Connor Toole avatar and headshot for BroBible
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.