The Last 25 Years: Best Fourth-Round Picks – Defense


So far, we’ve found Hall of Famers, future Hall of Famers, solid pros and some steady guys in the first five parts of this series.

It’s time for part six covering the best defensive players selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft over the last twenty-five years.

Defensive Tackle – Dan Klecko, Pick 117, 2003, New England Patriots

Klecko’s career has been interesting to watch.  He played defensive tackle for the Patriots for three seasons winning two Super Bowls.  He then moved on to Indianapolis where he would fill in on occasion at fullback. Then he helped the Colts win a Super Bowl.  He even caught a pass to help beat his former team in the AFC Championship.  His stats have been good but not great – 42 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 receptions, 20 yards, 1 TD.

Defensive Tackle – Joe Salave’a, Pick 107, 1998, Tennessee Titans

Here’s anothe solid but not spectacular player.  (I admit that this is a weak position.)  Still Salave’a has been a good pro playing for the Titans, Ravens, Chargers and Redskins.  He’s a big guy charged with plugging the middle and has done that pretty well – 119 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 6 passes defensed.

Others: Brandon Whiting, Philadelphia Eagles (#112, 1998).

Defensive End – Jared Allen, Pick 126, 2004, Kansas City Chiefs

Allen has only been in the league for four years but has quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with – 227 tackles, 43 sacks, 1 int., 26 passes defensed.  He had a monster year in 2007 (15.5 sacks) and was named All-Pro and also made his first well-deserved trip to the Pro Bowl.

Defensive End – Greg Townsend, Pick 110, 1983, Los Angeles Raiders

Maybe Townsend came out of nowhere.  Maybe nobody knew about this guy but he sure turned in a solid NFL career.  His numbers are very good – 359 tackles, 109.5 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries, 3 int., 1 TD.  Add two Pro Bowls and four All-Pro selections and you’ve got a pretty solid fifteen-year career.

Others – Reggie Torbor, New York Giants (#97, 2004); Bo Schobel, Tennessee Titans (#103, 2004).

Linebacker – Donnie Edwards, Pick 98, 1996, Kansas City Chiefs

This guy has been a tackling machine.  Edwards has had more than 100 tackles in a season five times and over 90 tackles eight times in his twelve NFL seasons.  His total stats are outstanding – 1102 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 28 int., 4 TD’s, 15 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, 57 passes defensed.  He’s done all of this while missing only two regular season games in his career.

Linebacker – Rosevelt Colvin, Pick 111, 1999, Chicago Bears

With both the Bears and the Patriots, Colvin has been solid – 359 tackles, 52.5 sacks, 3 int., 16 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, 25 passes defensed.  He has yet to make the Pro Bowl but has contributed to two of the Patriots’ title runs.

Linebacker – Larry Foote, Pick 128, 2002, Pittsburgh Steelers

Here’s another solid player with no Pro Bowls but you have to think that some trips to Honolulu are coming his way.  In six seasons in Pittsburgh, he has racked up decent numbers – 369 tackles, 13 sacks, 3 int., 6 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, 14 passes defensed.

Others – Na’il Diggs, Green Bay Packers (#98, 2000); Demorrio Williams, Atlanta Falcons (#101, 2004); Greg Favors, Kansas City Chiefs (#120, 1998).

Cornerback – Asante Samuel, Pick 120, 2003, New England Patriots

Samuel just received one of the richest paydays a cornerback has ever seen when he signed a deal with the Eagles.  Some have claimed that he’s a product of the Pats’ system.  But his career has been solid – 223 tackles, 22 int., 3 TD’s, 4 forced fumbles, 71 passes defensed.  He’s also been rewarded with one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro selection.

Cornerback – Nathan Vasher, Pick 110, 2004, Chicago Bears

Vasher has helped to make the Bears’ defense what it is.  He’s added an All-Pro selection and a Pro Bowl trip to some solid numbers – 128 tackles, 1 sack, 17 int., 2 TD’s, 22 passes defensed.

Others – Deshea Townsend, Pittsburgh Steelers (#117, 1998).

Safety – Lance Schulters, Pick 119, 1998, San Francisco 49ers

Schulters has bounced around a bit in his career playing for four teams – 49ers, Titans, Dolphins and Falcons.  He’s been a steady player – 550 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 19 int., 1 TD, 4 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 31 passes defensed.  Add to that one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro selection.

Safety – Dexter Jackson, Pick 113, 1999, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jackson gained a lot of attention for his play in helping the Bucs win a Super Bowl.  That landed him a free agent deal in Arizona.  However, he left there after one season to return to Tampa Bay.  The career numbers aren’t bad – 456 tackles, 5 sacks, 17 int., 5 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, 25 passes defensed.

Others – Will Allen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#111, 2004)

We’ll begin our look at the fifth round tomorrow with the best offensive players from that round over the last quarter century.