Eagles history: The 5 greatest NFL Draft steals since 1970

Jason Kelce #62 of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Jason Kelce #62 of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) /
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The Eagles have a history of finding solid players in the later rounds of the NFL Draft, especially over the past half-decade plus.

The NFL Draft is always a game of chance. It doesn’t matter how much research these teams do. It doesn’t matter how much work they do to get to know these prospects. Every draft choice is a gamble, but the Philadelphia Eagles always seem to find a lot of value in the later rounds.

One of the greatest running backs in Philly’s history, Wilbert Montgomery was taken in the sixth round of the 1977 draft. He went on to rush for 6,538 yards, which was a franchise record until LeSean McCoy took over as the owner of the largest rushing total in the team’s history.

Other offensive players who were drafted on Day 3 but contributed heavily to the Birds during their time here were Correll Buckhalter (4th round), Jordan Mailata (seventh round), and Brent Celek (5th round).

On the defensive side of the ball, there are also late-round gems you’ll recognize: Josh Sweat (4th round) definitely qualifies. So does Super Bowl hero Jalen Mills. He was a seventh-rounder that went on to start 49 of 63 regular-season games and all four of his postseason appearances in Philly.

The men on this list didn’t get drafted on Day 1 (or on Day 2), but they didn’t let that stop them. They were ready for the bright lights when their number was called. They’ll forever be remembered as some of the all-time greats.

Here’s a tip of the cap to two other Eagles draft-day steals. Throw them in the category of the untouchables.

We tip the cap to Tommy McDonald and Pete Pihos for being two of the greatest draft-day steals in Eagles history the former was a 1957 third-round draft choice that landed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 41 years later (1998). He’d be third on our all-time list.

The latter is also a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee (1970) and probably the second-best draft-day steal credited to this great organization. He won NFL Championships with the Eagles in 1948 and 1949 and made six consecutive Pro Bowls and five consecutive First-Team All-Pro selections.

We fast forward to 1971 to celebrate five great Birds of just over 50 years of Eagles football. They’re the five greatest draft steals of that time frame. Here they are in no particular order.