Patriots' 10 best draft steals during the Bill Belichick era

Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots
Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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Asante Samuel - (Round 4, pick 120 in 2003)

It's not often that a team is able to find a shutdown cornerback in the fourth round of the draft, but that's what the Patriots got when they traded up to select Asante Samuel in 2003.

He set the league on fire as a rookie that year, hauling in two interceptions returned for 55 yards and a touchdown. And the best part about it was he only got better as the years went on.

Samuel earned and maintained his rightful spot atop the depth chart throughout his time in Foxboro, with his most impressive season coming in 2006. It's the year he blew away the competition by hauling in ten interceptions (a league high) returned for 120 yards and recording 24 passes defended, which was also the most in the league that year.

The 2007 season was certainly one for the books as well, besides the missed interception that most Patriots fans would rather forget. Samuel's time with the Patriots didn't end so amicably, a grudge the former cornerback still holds to this day. But his legendary performance through five years will forever be noteworthy, especially as a fourth-round draft pick.

WR David Givens (Round 7, Pick 253 in 2002)

Almost earning the title of Mr. Irrelevant in 2002, David Givens would become an under-respected member of the Patriots' offense at the start of their dynastic run.

He was drafted to the team the year after they won their first Super Bowl, joining a roster full of future Hall of Famers, but he was able to set himself apart fairly quickly. His rookie season was a forgettable one, and the following year proved just how valuable he would become once Tom Brady utilized him, making him one of his favorite targets in 2004 and 2005.

Givens' 2004 season was the most impressive, recording 56 receptions for 874 yards and three touchdowns. He was a reliable guy when the lights shined brightest, too, playing in eight post season games and scoring in seven of them, two of which were in back-to-back Super Bowls.

He only spent his rookie contract in New England, but he certainly made the most of it and was another player in the Belichick era who outperformed the expectations placed on them based on when they were drafted.