Hindsight is always 20/20. That’s especially true during the NFL draft. We’ll look back five years down the road and wonder how this guy went so high while this guy went so low. Occasionally, however, it can be clear in real time that some teams got a steal with a prospect sliding farther than projected. Here are the biggest steals from the 2019 NFL draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, 7th Overall Pick
The Jags got a huge steal in the top 10 with Allen, who was almost universally considered a top-five selection leading up to this year’s event. Allen put up an absurd level of production his last year at Kentucky with 17 sacks and five forced fumbles. The Jaguars didn’t exactly need more talent on the defensive side of things, but Allen is a supremely talented pass-rusher who fell several slots further than anyone of his caliber has any right to. Jacksonville comes away with a huge steal.
Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins, 15th Overall Pick
Despite all the noise about Dan Snyder taking over the draft room and Washington looking to move into the top five, all the Redskins had to do was sit tight to get their guy. Things couldn’t have worked out better for Washington; Haskins was one of the two best QB prospects in this draft, despite what Dave Gettleman will tell you, and has ridiculous upside. They didn’t have to give up anything for the right to draft him. It’s a textbook definition of a draft-day steal. Washington could make a good case for TWO steals on Day One with their selection of Montez Sweat at 26, but they gave up quite a bit to move into the back half of the first round, so that selection doesn’t make the cut. Still, a franchise QB for Washington at the 15th overall slot? Not too shabby.
Cleveland Browns: Greedy Williams, 46th Overall Pick
Williams was the highest-ranked defensive back in this draft throughout the college football season, then took a dramatic fall down the draft boards over the last month and a half. He ended up as a mid-second round pick in Cleveland, and they’ll be happy they got him there. The concerns surrounding Williams were centered on his effort and attitude, two traits that can be fixed in the right environment. The Browns used to be the worst landing spot for a player like Williams, but the culture has completely turned around with Freddie Kitchens and Baker Mayfield leading the charge. Williams has the talent and ballhawk skills to be a big-time player in the NFL, and teams will regret letting him fall.
Seattle Seahawks: D.K. Metcalf, 64th Overall Pick
Metcalf was projected to go as high as the top ten early on in draft season, when everyone was in awe at his vertical leap and bench press numbers. Alas, as time went on, teams appeared to have soured on the Ole Miss wideout, and Seattle took advantage by picking him up as the last pick in the second round. Metcalf has clear limitations, but he can either out-jump or outrun most of the defenders he’ll be facing. He’s talented enough that he could rack up 1,000 yards receiving while only running slant and go routes. With a need at the position and the talent that Metcalf offers, it’s a heist for Seattle.
Chicago Bears: Riley Ridley, 126th Overall Pick
The Bears have gotten tons of value out of the middle rounds in the last few drafts, and they’ve found some this year in Ridley. He’s not nearly the big-play threat his older brother Calvin is, but he’s an exceptional route-runner for someone his age with a great sense of body and hand positioning. He isn’t quite No. 1 receiver material, but he could become a quality and consistent No. 2 option, a great find in the fourth round. Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos and Jordan Howard all came from the last few rounds of the draft in the past, and Ridley seems poised to join that group as a high-impact contributor.
Arizona Cardinals: Deionte Thompson, 139th Overall Pick
The Alabama product was one of the best safeties in college football last season, and was perhaps the biggest loser of this year’s draft as he slid all the way to the first pick of the fifth round after many projected him to fall no further than halfway through the second. This was rumored to be due to a degenerative knee condition, a red flag for any athlete, so his fall makes a certain amount of sense. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a steal if his knee ends up working out and he plays regularly for Arizona. Thompson is a versatile and talented player who bounced all over the secondary at Alabama and can do the same for the Cardinals. It all rides on Thompson’s knee, but it’s rare to find a starter in the fifth round, much less one with the high-end potential that Thompson has.