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


We’ll be taking you right up to the NFL draft with this series.  Today, we continue with the best fifth round draft picks of the last twenty-five years on defense.Defensive Tackle – La’Roi Glover, 166, 1996, Oakland Raiders

Glover went from being drafted by the Raiders and playing as a backup to New Orleans within a year where he would find himself not only playing but starring.  Overall, his career has taken him through four NFL cities – Oakland, New Orleans, Dallas and St. Louis.  His career stats look impressive – 517 tackles, 83 sacks, 2 int., 16 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries and 4 passes defensed.  Glover, who led the league in 2000 with 17 sacks, has made six Pro Bowls and has been named All-Pro four times.

Defensive Tackle – Rod Coleman, Pick 153, 1999, Oakland Raiders

If nothing else, the Raiders picked up some good defensive linemen within a few years time.  Coleman has made one Pro Bowl during his nine years in the league, but, like Glover, that was with another team – the Falcons.  His career stats include – 269 tackles, 58.5 sacks, 1 int., 10 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries and 27 passes defensed.

Others – Santana Dotson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (#132, 1992); Kindal Moorehead, Carolina Panthers (#145, 2003).

Defensive End – Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Pick 149, 2000, Packers

It’s amazing that KGB has only been to one Pro Bowl in his eight years in the league with his career stats – 286 tackles, 74 sacks, 1 int., 1 TD, 18 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries, 9 passes defensed.

Defensive End – Robert Mathis, Pick 138, 2003, Indianapolis Colts

Mathis gets the benefit of playing opposite Dwight Freeney which might have something to do with his numbers after five seasons – 207 tackles, 42 sacks, 25 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries, 5 passes defensed.

Others – Kenyon Coleman, Oakland Raiders (#147, 2002); N.D. Kalu, Philadelphia Eagles (#152, 1997); Aaron Kampman, Green Bay Packers (#156, 2002).

Linebacker – Zach Thomas, Pick 154, 1996, Miami Dolphins

He was told that he was too small to play in the NFL.  He proved them wrong.  Thomas has been a tackling machine since day one – 1629 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 17 int., 4 TD’s, 17 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries, 49 passes defensed.  Add to that seven Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro selections and his career looks pretty darned good for a fifth-rounder.

Linebacker – Hardy Nickerson, Pick 122, 1987, Pittsburgh Steelers

Nickerson has travelled the NFL having played with the Steelers, Buccaneers, Jaguars and Packers.  He’s also travelled to Honolulu four times for the Pro Bowl and was named to the NFL’s 1990’s All-Decade Team.  His sixteen seasons generated some excellent numbers – 947 tackles, 21 sacks, 12 int., 19 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 52 passes defensed.

Linebacker – Bryan Cox, Pick 113, 1991, Miami Dolphins

Cox was known as a high-motor guy.  He played all-out and that led to a few problems – most notably obscene gestures in Buffalo.  But his career included four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections.  Not a bad stat line either – 764 tackles, 51.5 sacks, 4 int., 1 TD, 22 forced fumbles, 14 fumble recoveries.

Others – Clark Haggans, Pittsburgh Steelers (#137, 2000); Scott Fujita, Kansas City Chiefs (#143, 2002).

Cornerback – Chris Dishman, Pick 125, 1988, Houston Oilers

Dishman had an outstanding career including two Pro Bowls and two All-Pro nods.  He played for four teams during his thirteen years in the league – Oilers, Redskins, Chiefs and Vikings.  His numbers are impressive – 668 tackles, 43 int., 3 TD’s, 15 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, 3 TD’s (fumble returns).

Others – Jerametrius Butler, St. Louis Rams (#145, 2001).

Safety – Rodney Harrison, Pick 145, 1994, San Diego Chargers

Harrison is, without a doubt, one of the hardest hitting safeties to ever play.  Some even call him dirty.  But he has been very successful during his fourteen seasons – 1182 tackles, 30.5 sacks, 33 int., 2 TD’s, 15 forced fumbles, 9 fumbles recoveries, 1 TD (fumble return), 81 passes defensed.

Others – Michael Lehan, Cleveland Browns (#152, 2003); Terrence Holt, Detroit Lions (#137, 2003); Gibril Wilson, New York Giants (#136, 2004).

Check back tomorrow.  We’ll be checking the best sixth-round picks on offense.