Several former Notre Dame football players have gone on to the NFL and exceeded both longevity and talent expectations since the turn of the century.
Every NFL team is looking for a steal in the draft. They want guys who are going to play for a long time and produce at a high level without the high price of being an early pick. Notre Dame football has turned out several of those players in the 21st century.
Here are the top five NFL Draft steals from Notre Dame since 2000.
5. Theo Riddick, Running Back
The Detroit Lions drafted Theo Riddick with the 199th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Riddick remains a Lion to this day. He hasn’t posted any eye-popping stats, but he has been a key piece of the Detroit offense since he arrived in the Motor City — providing the Lions with all-important depth at the running back position.
4. Sam Young, Offensive Tackle
Young is the definition of a journeyman. Since the Dallas Cowboys drafted him with the 179th overal pick in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, he has played and been a significant contributor at his position for four different franchises.
3. John Sullivan, Center
Sullivan was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 187th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. A decade later, he’s still in the league, having logged 109 starts for three different franchises. He’s currently the starting center for the Los Angeles Rams.
2. Golden Tate, Wide Receiver
It may be a stretch to call a second-round pick a steal, but there’s no other way to define what Tate has done in his career from a consistency and production standpoint. Since being taken by the Seahawks with the 60th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Tate has caught 537 passes for 6,419 yards and 34 touchdowns in his career. He has played every role asked at his position, from No. 1 option, No. 2 man to the slot. And it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down, as he has caught 90 or more passes in each of the last four seasons, topping the 1,000-yard mark in three of them. He has made it to one Pro Bowl and is the proud owner of a Super Bowl ring.
1. Justin Tuck, Defensive Tackle
Tuck was taken by the New York Giants with the 74th overall pick (3rd round) of the 2005 NFL Draft. He went on to become a key part of the Giants defensive line that was the catalyst of two Super Bowl winning teams. In addition to his two rings, he was also a two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler. He logged 66.5 sacks in his career and is a member of the New York Giants Ring of Honor. He retired in 2015 after a two-year stint with the Oakland Raiders.