Are you excited yet? Is the anticipation at a boiling point?
For most of us, the NFL Draft is a great time of year. We can all watch, hope and pray that our team takes that stud player who will vault them to the top of the league.
Unfortunately, we spend so much of our energy focusing on the first round that we fail to pay enough attention to the rounds that follow. You can always get a stud player in the first round – you should, afterall. Those stud players are not limited to the first round, however.
It’s those rounds that we will be focusing on in a twelve-part series. Hopefully, we accomplish our objective – to prove that great players don’t always come from round one.
We will be looking at the best players from rounds two through seven from the last twenty-five years. We’re making an attempt to build a starting lineup from each round. When possible, we’ll also include bench players.
Let’s begin with offensive players from round two…
Center – Dermontti Dawson, Pick 44, 1988, Pittsburgh Steelers
Dawson was the strength of the Steelers’ offensive line for thirteen seasons. He began his career at guard playing along side Mike Webster before taking over the center position in his second year. He was voted to seven straight Pro Bowls between 1992 and 1998 and played in 171 consecutive games. He has been a Hall of Fame finalist in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Guard – Kevin Mawae, Pick 36, Seattle Seahawks
We are including Mawae as a guard since that was his position coming out of college. He played center his entire NFL career, however. He was selected to the Pro Bowl six consecutive seasons between 1999 and 2004. At one stretch, he started 177 straight games.
Guard – Flozell Adams, Pick 38, 1998, Dallas Cowboys
Adams has been a solid performer for the Cowboys his entire career. He has had some injury problems but has been to the Pro Bowl four times. He also was named to the second-team All-Pro Team for the first time in 2007.
Offensive Tackle – Jumbo Elliott, Pick 36, 1988, New York Giants
It’s a little surprising that Elliott only made on Pro Bowl appearance. He did, afterall, make two All-Madden teams. He was also a favorite of Bill Parcells during his time with the Giants and the Jets. Elliott did add one touchdown reception to his accomplishments in a Monday Night game while playing with the Jets. It helped to complete a 23-point comeback versus Miami.
Offensive Tackle – Chad Clifton, Pick 44, 2000, Green Bay Packers
He might be best known for the blind sided hit he suffered from Warren Sapp. But Clifton finally got his recognition this season when he played in his first Pro Bowl. He took over the left tackle position in his rookie season and only reliquished it due to injury.
Tight End – Wesley Walls, Pick 56, 1989, San Francisco 49ers
He may have started off his career as a backup but Walls proved what he could do once he moved to New Orleans and especially during his time in Carolina. His stats are impressive – 450 receptions, 5391 yards, 54 TD’s. He appeared in five Pro Bowls during his career including four straight from 1996 to 1999.
Tight End – Alge Crumpler, Pick 35, 2001, Atlanta Falcons
Some feel that he is on the down-side of his career but no one can argue that Crumpler has not produced over his seven seasons – 316 receptions, 4212 yards, 35 TD’s. He played in five consecutive Pro Bowls between 2003 and 2007. When we need a second tight end, who better to bring in from this group than Crumpler?
Running Back – Roger Craig, Pick 49, 1983, San Francisco 49ers
Craig totalled more than 1000 yards in a season three times. He would finish with 1991 carries, 8189 yards and 56 TD’s. He was also dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield adding 566 receptions, 4911 yards and 17 TD’s. He was voted to four Pro Bowls, four All-Pro Teams, won three Super Bowls and never missed the playoffs in his career despite playing for three different teams.
Running Back – Tiki Barber, Pick 36, 1997, New York Giants
Barber has been knocked at times for not putting out the effort like he should. But he has some nice career numbers – 2217 carries, 10,449 yards, 55 TD’s to go along with 586 receptions, 5183 yards, 12 TD’s. He added three Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections to his career honors.
Others – Clinton Portis, Denver Broncos (#51, 2002); Natrone Means, San Diego Chargers (#41, 1993); Ricky Watters, San Francisco 49ers (#45, 1991); Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars (#60, 2006); Corey Dillon, Cincinnati Bengals (#43, 1997).
Fullback – Daryl Johnston, Pick 39, 1989, Dallas Cowboys
Emmitt Smith can tell you all about Daryl Johnston. Without him, his stats wouldn’t have reached the heights they did. Johnston made two well-deserved Pro Bowls during his career and helped the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles. He finished his career with only 753 yards rushing adding 8 rushing TD’s. But he was solid out of the backfield as a reeiver adding 294 catches for 2227 yards and 14 TD’s.
Others – Mike Alsott, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#35, 1996).
Wide Receiver – Isaac Bruce, Pick 33, 1994, St. Louis Rams
He might be best known for being part of the “Greatest Show on Turf” but Isaac Bruce has been an incredible receiver. He has made four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. His statistics stack up with some of the best of all-time – 942 receptions, 14.109 yards and 84 TD’s. This is one sure-fire Hall of Famer when his playing days are over.
Wide Receiver – Anquan Boldin, Pick 54, 2003, Arizona Cardinals
Playing for the Cardinals might not always get you noticed but Boldin has definitely gotten a lot of attention. He was named AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and has also made two Pro Bowls. His stats to this point in his career are impressive – 413 receptions, 5458 yards and 29 TD’s – and he’s only played five seasons. Not bad for a guy who nearly slipped out of the second round.
Others – Ernest Givens, Houston Oilers (#34, 1986); Reggie Brown, Philadelphia Eagles (#35, 2005); Webster Slaughter, Cleveland Browns (#43, 1986); Deion Branch, New England Patriots (#65, 2002); Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (#52, 2006); Chris Chambers, Miami Dolphins (#52, 2001); Amani Toomer, New York Giants (#34, 1996).
Quarterback – Brett Favre, Pick 33, 1991, Atlanta Falcons
You know the Falcons were very upset to have to let go of Favre when he was dealt to the Packers. No wonder. He now holds a good portion of the NFL passing records. His career stats – 5377 completions, 8758 attempts, 61,655 yards, 442 TD’s and 288 Int’s. He retired this winter but his gunslinger attitude and his playmaking will never be forgotten. Nine Pro Bowls, seven All-Pro selections and three MVP Awards also decorated his career. Talk about a personnel guy making a mistake – he never started in Atlanta.
Others – Boomer Esiason, Cincinnati Bengals (#38, 1984); Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles (#37, 1985); Drew Brees, San Diego Chargers (#32, 2001); Jake Plummer, Arizona Cardinals (#42, 1987); Kordell Stewart, Pittsburgh Steelers (#60, 1995).
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the best defensive players selected in round two over the last twenty-five NFL Drafts!