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Selection Of Antonio Brown Named Steelers’ ‘Best Value’ Draft Pick By PFF

Round 6, pick 195.

That might not be the famous Round 6, pick 199 that is one Tom Brady, but Antonio Brown’s selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft should be right up there in the history of the NFL, considering the damage Brown did — on the field — in the black and gold in a five-year span from 2013 to 2018.

What Brown did on the field in that span was lofty: 686 catches, 9,145 yards and 67 touchdowns to go along with seven Pro Bowls, four First Team All-Pros and one Second Team All-Pro. A truly dominant display.

Brown’s selection provided the Steelers with insane value, having found him in the sixth round, before then inking him to a five-year, $42.5 million extension in 2012, getting the best receiver in football on a team-friendly deal as the Steelers chased championships. The Steelers later signed him to a four-year, $68 million extension in 2017, meaning they spent a fringe top 200 pick on a wide receiver who went on to sign two long-term extensions and seemingly change the game at the receiver position.

Talk about a value pick.

That is exactly what Brown was, according to Pro Football Focus, which tabbed Brown as the Steelers’ best value draft pick dating back to 2006. 

“Even with his career in turmoil ever since he left Pittsburgh, Brown is still the single most valuable receiver of the PFF era according to our WAR metric,” PFF’s Michael Renner writes. “Finding that in the sixth round is an all-time draft steal.”

It truly is an all-time draft steal, and was really the start of the Steelers unlocking the secret to drafting top-flight receivers outside of the first round, something no other team has consistently done in the last decade and a half like the black and gold. Many have tried, all have seemingly failed, except for the Steelers.

Brown was a key part of that, coming in as an overlooked sixth-rounder in the same class as third-round draft pick Emmanuel Sanders, joining a young receiving room that already featured 2009 third-round pick Mike Wallace. That trio formed the “Young Money” crew, which lit the league on fire when together before all but Brown departed.

Getting that type of value in the sixth round is seemingly unheard of as of late. Sure, there’s been some great finds in NFL history, like Brady with the Patriots in 2000 and Terrell Davis with the Broncos in 1995 in the modern era of the draft. According to PFF, just three others players from 2006 to present day that were drafted in the sixth or later — or even undrafted — were highlighted as a team’s best value grab, those being the Eagles’ Jordan Mailata (233rd overall in 2018), Denver’s Chris Harris Jr. (undrafted in 2011), and Minnesota’s Adam Thielen (undrafted in 2013).

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