The NFL's Best Second Round Draft Picks Of the Last 10 Years
On Monday, I wrote an article about Maurice Jones-Drew and his incredible production during his first three years in the NFL.
As Jaguar fans well know, MJD chose the No. 32 because he didn't get drafted until the second round. All 32 teams passed on him at least once, and that created a tremendously large chip on his shoulder.
Obviously, Jones-Drew was a steal in the second round, and that got me thinking: Who are some other top-flight players who were passed in the first round?
So without further ado, here are the best second-round picks of the last 10 years in chronological order, not counting the 2009 draft.
1999: Peerless Price
Career stats: 403 receptions, 5,281 yards, 31 touchdowns
Runners-up: Mike Peterson, Dre' Bly
With a name like "Peerless," you better be good—and at the height of his career, Price certainly made quite a name for himself.
In the 2001 and 2002 seasons, Price grabbed 149 catches for 2,147 yards and 16 touchdowns.
After the '02 campaign, he chased a fat contract down to the ATL and never came close to that production again. But at the height of his career, he was one of the premier speed receivers in the NFL.
2000: Mike Brown
Career stats: 513 total tackles, 44 passes defensed, 17 interceptions
Runners-up: Jerry Porter, Marcus Washington, Brad Meester
It's hard to believe the hard-hitting safety from Nebraska has already played in the NFL for nine years. What is undeniable is the fact that Brown made an indelible impact on the Bears' ferocious defense.
His best year came in 2001, when he broke up 11 passes, pulled down five interceptions, and got three sacks.
After playing full seasons in his first four years in the league, Brown has only played 36 games in the past five years. The Bears recently decided not to bring Brown back.
If he can stay healthy—and that's a big if—he could come in and contribute somewhere (do you hear me, 49er front office?).
2001: Drew Brees
Career stats: 63.9 completion percentage, 26,258 yards, 168 touchdowns, 99 interceptions
Runners-up: Shaun Rogers, Chris Chambers, Matt Light, Fred Smoot, Chad Ochocinco
Up to this point, 2001 had the most talent in the second round, but Drew Brees stood out among the rest.
What a draft that was for the Chargers. They traded the No. 1 pick to the Falcons so they could take Michael Vick (whoops).
They then drafted LaDainian Tomlinson with the fifth overall pick and got Brees with the first pick of the second round.
The two made quite the offensive dynamic duo in San Diego until 2005, when Brees tore his labrum in a game against the Denver Broncos. The Chargers elected to cut Brees loose and go with Philip Rivers, a decision that has panned out well for the franchise.
New Orleans took a chance on Brees— has it ever paid off! Last year, he threw for 5,062 yards and 34 touchdowns. He was every fantasy football lover's dream (I know, I drafted him).
Not only has he been great on the field, but he has also become a pillar in the New Orleans community, which still needs all the help it can get almost four years after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
2002: Clinton Portis
Career stats: 2,052 carries, 9,202 yards, 72 touchdowns
Runners-up: Sheldon Brown, Antwaan Randle El, Deion Branch
This one, thankfully, was a no-brainer. Clinton Portis has been one of the elite running backs in the NFL.
I'm sure there were people out there at the start of his career who thought all his success was based on Denver's scheme, which sends running backs to 1,000-yard seasons like Hollywood sends stars to rehab.
Portis proved the haters wrong by thriving in Washington. In his first two years in the nation's capital, he rushed for 2,831 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Interesting little tidbit: Portis went to Gainesville High School, right down the road from the University of Florida. Steve Spurrier wanted Portis, but as a DB, not a running back. Portis shunned UF for the "U" (or as I like to call it, the "M"), and the rest is history.
2003: Anquan Boldin
Career stats: 502 receptions, 6,496 yards, 40 touchdowns
Runners-up: Rashean Mathis, Osi Umenyiora
Another freak of nature from Florida State, Anquan Boldin is one of the most physical wide receivers in the NFL. In his final game at FSU, the 2003 Sugar Bowl, he threw a touchdown pass to Craphonso Thorpe (right up there with De'Cody Fagg as the funniest football name ever).
Boldin actually was a stud QB in high school, which gives you some idea of his athletic ability.
In recent months, Boldin's antics have detracted from his production, but that would be a mistake. He had 101 catches as a rookie (let that marinate for a second) and also caught 102 passes in 2005.
Despite missing four games with fractured paranasal sinuses (ouch!), he still caught 89 passes for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2008.
With the recent decline of Marvin Harrison, Boldin, and Larry Fitzgerald now hold the mythical title of best receiver duo in the NFL.
2004: Bob Sanders
Career stats: 290 total tackles, 15 passes defensed, five interceptions, 3.5 sacks
Runners-up: Julius Jones, Karlos Dansby
Looking at Bob Sanders, the 5'8", 206-pound safety doesn't look very imposing.
But when he gets on the football field, he makes quite an impression.
Sanders, an Iowa alumnus, can do a little bit of everything when he gets on the field.
He can play close to the line of scrimmage, he can drop back in coverage, he can punish receivers who dare to cross his path, and he can track the ball. Versatility is definitely the name of his game.
Although he only played four regular season games in 2006, he returned just in time to solidify Indy's defense and help them to a Super Bowl title. If he doesn't make it back, the Colts don't win it all.
2005: Lofa Tatupu
Career stats: 430 total tackles, 29 passes defensed, nine interceptions, 6.5 sacks
Runners-up: Shaun Cody, Roscoe Parrish
This year was challenging because there wasn't that one guy who really jumped out at you.
But Lofa Tatupu has quietly been one of the most consistent linebackers since he came into the league.
He recorded 100-plus tackles in each of his first three years and got 94 last year despite missing one game. What really impressed me is his obvious ability to play the pass. He's broken up nine passes in two different seasons and had four picks in 2007.
Tatupu was a key member of the Seattle team that played Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL, one of the most boring Super Bowls in recent memory.
Fun fact: Tatupu's father is Mosi Tatupu, a running back who had a 14-year NFL career, mostly with the New England Patriots.
2006: Maurice Jones-Drew
Career stats: 530 carries, 2,533 yards, 34 touchdowns; 148 receptions, 1,408 yards, four touchdowns; 1,952 kickoff return yards, two touchdowns
Runners-up: DeMeco Ryans, Devin Hester, Greg Jennings, LenDale White, Marcus McNeill
Now this is more like it. The second round of the 2006 was rife with talent, and picking one guy as the best was not an easy task. At the end of the day, I went with MJD for two reasons.
First, I looked at where he was drafted. Of the five guys I mentioned, Jones-Drew went last. In fact, he was only six picks removed from being one of the best third-round picks of all time.
Second, I looked at the expectations. I can't necessarily speak to what the other guys were projected to do, but many fans were very disappointed by the pick.
Jones-Drew, already upset about having fallen to the second round, made his presence felt immediately. In his rookie year, he rushed for 941 yards (on just 166 carries) and 13 touchdowns.
That's not even counting his receiving numbers (436 yards, two scores) or his return stats (860 yards, one touchdown).
His versatility has made him one of the top fantasy backs in the NFL. Now we'll see if he can have the same success as the primary ball carrier.
2007: LaMarr Woodley
Career stats: 74 total tackles, 15.5 sacks
Runners-up: Zach Miller, Tony Ugoh
Not much to choose from here yet (who knows, maybe Kevin Kolb will be the next Johnny U), but LaMarr Woodley fit in very nicely with an already stout Pittsburgh defense.
He is the prototypical hybrid DE/LB that wreaks so much havoc in the 3-4 scheme. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau had to be licking his chops when the Steelers drafted this kid.
After getting some playing time in his rookie year, Woodley started 15 games in 2008 and recorded 60 tackles and 11.5 sacks. In the Super Bowl win over Arizona, he had two sacks.
I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot from No. 56 in the years to come.
2008: DeSean Jackson
Career stats: 62 receptions, 912 yards, two touchdowns, one punt return for a touchdown
Runners-up: Eddie Royal, Matt Forte
Now before the Bronco fans out there jump down my throat ("Royal is way better than Jackson! He had much better numbers! You're an idiot! Insert expletive here!), three points.
First, last year Royal was catching passes from Jay Cutler. This year, he'll be catching passes from Kyle Orton. Let's see how that affects his production.
Meanwhile, the brash kid from Cal will continue catching passes from Donovan McNabb for many years to come.
Second, Royal played with guys like Brandon Marshall, Brandon Stokley, and Tony Scheffler. Jackson played with guys like Hank Baskett, Jason Avant, and Brent Celek.
It only stands to reason that Royal would get better opportunities with a stronger supporting cast. The Eagles stepped up their offense with draft picks like Jeremy Maclin and Cornelius Ingram. That should only help Jackson's production.
Third, Jackson has an explosive element to his game that Royal doesn't seem to possess. Royal did have more receptions, yards, and touchdowns than Jackson, but averaged 10.8 yards per catch. Jackson averaged 14.7 yards a reception and was Philly's leading receiver as a rookie.
With the exception of his fumble at the goal line snafu against Dallas, 2008 was a tremendous season for Jackson. It will only get better as time marches on.