Virginia Tech Football: 10 Greatest Hokie Players in NFL History
The NFL draft is upcoming, and Virginia Tech once again is being well represented. David Wilson and Jayron Hosley are the biggest Hokie stars that will hear their name called by an NFL team. But there are also others like Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale and a number of offensive lineman that dream of hearing the same.
The draft seems to be a time to look to the future but it is also a time to look to the past, in some cases not that far into the past. Virginia Tech's football program doesn't have the same history of creating top NFL talent like Miami or Ohio State, but that doesn't mean that there aren't a number of NFL stars that went to VPI.
The following is a list of the top 10 NFL stars in school history that went to Virginia Tech. Most of them are still playing, but the best on this list is no longer in uniform but rather is enshrined in Canton. This is a top-heavy group, there are four no-brainers at the top, but then there is a drop off from 5-10
10. Shayne Graham, PK
Graham would probably be higher on this list if he played a different position, but there is no denying that he has had a great NFL career. Graham went undrafted and moved from team-to-team early in his career, but he eventually found his home in Cincinnati. He left the Bengals after the 2009 season and has been a journeyman ever since.
Graham is one of the most accurate place kickers in NFL history. His career field goal percentage is 85.9. He has racked up 965 points during his time in the NFL. Graham's pro career has been great, but he holds a special place in Hokie Nation's heart for one kick against West Virginia.
Graham's greatest career highlight may be completing the Miracle in Morgantown, during Virginia Tech's perfect regular season in 1999. Graham made the winning field goal, as time expired, against the Mountaineers, which eventually led to Virginia Tech's national championship berth.
9. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks SS
Chancellor could end up in the upper echelon of this list, but he still has to prove himself consistently over the next few years. Chancellor just completed his second season with the Seahawks and was selected to be in the Pro Bowl. During his first two seasons, Chancellor has accounted for 120 tackles, five forced fumbles and four interceptions. Most of those came in 2011, which was his first year as a starter.
Chancellor is a high character player, who will become a leader for the Seahawks defense. He is good at diagnosing plays and blowing them up. Chancellor may have been the hardest hitter in college when he was a Hokie, and now he is one of the hardest hitters in the NFL. If Chancellor continues to develop, he could become comparable with Broncos safety Brian Dawkins.
Hokie fans can only hope that's the case.
8. Jeff King, Cardinals TE
King isn't really an NFL star, but he has a good career as a role player. He was selected by the Panthers in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL draft. King has spent most of his career as a blocking tight end, but he can catch the ball when called upon.
King has caught 139 passes and scored 12 touchdowns so far in his career. He still has a few good years left in him and the Cardinals appear to be a good fit.
King won't be a Hall of Famer, but he is doing something that few people have done and that is to have a good long career in the NFL.
7. Eddie Royal, Broncos WR
Royal may have had one of the greatest first games in NFL history.
In a Monday Night Football contest between the Broncos and Raiders. Royal caught nine passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. At the time Jay Cutler was still throwing to him and Mike Shanahan was still calling the plays. Cutler and Shanahan are gone now, and Royal's production has gone down.
In four years, Royal has caught 206 passes for over 2,000 yards and nine touchdowns. Royal can be a great receiver, but he is already one of the best kick returners in the game. He isn't used as much as he used to, but when he does he makes the most of it. This is evidenced by Royal's punt return touchdown against the Raiders in 2011.
Royal is a fan favorite in Denver, but if he wants to become a more productive player he needs to get as far away from John Fox and Tim Tebow as possible. Denver hasn't known how to use a good slot receiver since Shanahan left, and Royal's best fit might be with the Redskins reuniting with his old coach.
6. Andre Davis, WR
Davis was a second round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2002 draft. Davis ended his career with the Texans. He was never an elite receiver, but he served as a solid number two. He only had 156 career receptions but he made the most of them, scoring 21 touchdowns.
Davis' statistics as a receiver aren't spectacular, but he made this list because of his return skills. In a 2007 game against the Jaguars, Davis scored touchdowns on back-to-back kickoff returns. The first was a 97 yard return; the second was a 104 yard return.
5. Brandon Flowers, Chiefs CB
Flowers is on the edge of being in the elite class of former Hokies, but he can work his way in. Flowers may be the least talked about good cornerback in the league. He has been excellent for the Chiefs since they drafted him in the second round of the 2008 draft.
In his career Flowers has recorded 258 tackles, 13 interceptions and four forced fumbles. The corner has also scored three touchdowns during his time as a Chief. Flowers will continue to get better and make a name for himself.
He occasionally has lapses and doesn't cover his receiver as well as fans would like, but when he is on his game quarterbacks better avoid him.
4. DeAngelo Hall, Redskins CB
And now for the Hokie elite...
Hall was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the eighth overall pick in the 2004 draft. He has been excellent ever since.
Football metrics have Hall ranked low on the corner totem poll, but that doesn't show the whole picture. Hall isn't the best cover corner in the league, he is a lot better in zone coverage. But he might be the biggest ball hawk in the NFL (along with Ed Reed).
Hall has 35 career interceptions, has forced six fumbles and recovered nine more. He has also scored three touchdowns in his career. Hall was named the 2011 Pro Bowl MVP. He appears to have found a home in Washington where he has excelled on a solid Redskins defense.
3. Michael Vick, Eagles QB
Number two and three on this list are basically tied, so the tie breaker was Super Bowl rings.
Vick was picked with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Whether you think he should be playing or not, it doesn't matter at this point. He is a superstar in the NFL.
His powerful arm, legs and flare for the dramatic make him a must watch on Sundays. He was a much watch on Saturdays as well.
Vick has thrown for almost 18,000 yards and run for over 5,000 more. He has thrown 111 touchdowns and run for 33. He is a superstar because you never know what he is going to do. He may run for the game winning touchdown or throw the game losing interception. All that fans know is that he is fun to watch.
2. Antonio Freeman, WR
Freeman made a name for himself as an elite receiver in the NFL. He spent most of his career catching passes from Brett Favre.
The Packers selected Freeman in the third round of the 1995 draft. All he did from that moment on was overachieve. Freeman caught 477 passes and scored 61 touchdowns. He was a member of the Packers when they won Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots.
Freeman led the league in receiving yards in the 1998 season, catching 84 passes for 1,424 yards. His only pro bowl appearance happened that year. Freeman is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame.
1. Bruce Smith, DE
I doubt any of you find this to be a surprise.
Bruce Smith isn't just one of the greatest former Hokies to play in the NFL, he is one of the greatest to ever play professional football.
He is the only Hokie in Canton, and he got there in his first year of eligibility.
Smith was selected with the first overall pick in the 1985 NFL draft by the Bills. Smith was a Pro Bowler 11 times, he was named to the NFL's 80's and 90's all decade teams and was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 and 1996. The only thing missing from his resume is a Super Bowl win.
He was a member of the Bills during their four year stretch of losing in the Super Bowl, but Smith has a Hall of Fame statue and the record for most career sacks in NFL history (he had 200).
Smith is a hero in Blacksburg, VA and is often seen on the sideline at Football games. Smith's son Alston is going to play football for Virginia Tech. Good luck to that young man, he has a lot to live up to.