The best first-round draft picks at every spot of the last 10 years
By JOEL SOLOMON
2 Point Lead
No matter which team you're a fan of, the NFL draft is one of the most exciting days of the football season. Every team has a chance of finding their next star, regardless of where they are picking ... even the Jets.
To prove it, 2 Point Lead took a look at the last 10 drafts and found what we believed to be the best selections in every spot, 1-to-32.
Twenty one of the league's 32 teams are represented, with the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets leading the way with three top picks at a specific spot. And while 2007's overall No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell is out of football, a whopping seven picks from that year's draft made our all-decade list.
1-COLTS, ANDREW LUCK, (QB) 2012
A franchise quarterback who immediately turned the Colts into a contender and has made the playoffs each of his three years in the league. He's a three-time Pro Bowl selection and has one of the best -- no, the best -- neck beards the league has ever seen.
2- LIONS, CALVIN JOHNSON, (WR) 2007
The Lions selected Ndamukong Suh in the two-spot in 2010, but three years earlier their No. 2 selection of Calvin Johnson was even better. One of the most dynamic wide receivers in football, in just eight seasons Megatron already ranks 36th on the all-time career receiving yards list. He's so good, he almost makes Lions fans forget Matt Millen's wide receiver selections of Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams. Almost.
3-FALCONS, MATT RYAN, (QB) 2008
The Dolphins (Chad Henne) and Rams (Marc Bulger/Trent Green) both passed on the Boston College quarterback, allowing the Falcons to draft their franchise signal-caller. Bringing stability to the Falcons, Ryan has only missed two starts since being drafted in '08. Sure, he's only 1-4 in the playoffs in his career, but the Dolphins and Rams would gladly take a quarterback who could get them a playoff loss.
4-BENGALS, AJ GREEN, (WR) 2011
A.J. Green has been flat out ridiculous since arriving in Cincinnati in 2011. He's notched four consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards receiving, four straight Pro Bowls and four straight Wild Card playoff round exists -- all while wondering how good he could be with a legitimate threat at quarterback.
5-CHIEFS, ERIC BERRY, (S) 2010
Berry made three Pro Bowls in his first four years in the NFL and is a nightmare for receivers. Not only can't Chiefs receivers score touchdowns in games, they probably can't in practice either with Berry around.
6-FALCONS, JULIO JONES, (WR) 2011
The Falcons were so high on Jones that they traded the 27th, 59th and 124th picks, as well as their 1st and 4th Round picks in 2012, to the Browns in order to move up and take him. That's a lot for a receiver, but Jones has 4,165 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns through his first four years in the league. And you can't go wrong giving picks to the Browns. It's not like they're going to get anyone good with them.
7-VIKINGS, ADRIAN PETERSON, (RB) 2007
The face of Minnesota's franchise, AP holds more Vikings records and conquests than Leif Erikson. NFL MVP. A 2,000 yard rushing season. And best of all: unstoppable in Madden. Are we missing anything?
8-CARDINALS, ANTREL ROLLE, (CB) 2005
Rolle has starred at cornerback for the Cardinals for five years, making a Pro Bowl and going to the Super Bowl, before moving on to the New York Giants where he made two more Pro Bowls and help shut down New England's offense in Super Bowl XLVI. Rolle is a throwback to another era, in that he's a good NFL player that came out of the University of Miami.
9-PANTHERS, LUKE KUECHLY, (LB) 2012
Quietly was a star from the moment he took the field in the NFL, leading the league in tackles as a rookie and winning Defensive Rookie of the Year. In his second year in the league, he won Defensive MVP. Now if only the Panthers could do as well drafting offensive players, so their attack would be more than just Cam Newton and 10 random guys.
10- PATRIOTS, JEROD MAYO, (LB) 2008
Mayo won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2008 and has made two Pro Bowls since then. He is a hard-nosed linebacker who sacrifices his body for the team. It will be said when Bill Belichick inevitably cuts him for salary cap reasons.
11-TEXANS, JJ WATT, (DE) 2011
The Texans landed the game changing defensive end with the 11th overall pick in 2011. How? Eight of the 10 players chosen before him have gone onto the Pro-Bowl, so there were other talented players available, but there's a good chance if the Panthers had this to do all over they'd have taken Watt over Cam Newton. He's that good. By the way, Jake Locker was taken 8th in this draft and Blaine Gabbert 10th. Watt will be remembered as a better offensive weapon than both of them.
12- BILLS, MARSHAWN LYNCH, (RB) 2007
Congratulations, Cleveland, the 12th pick has given us a goldmine of talent over the last decade. Shawne Merriman ('05), Haloti Ngata ('06), Odell Beckham Jr ('14) but the man who would become 'Beast Mode' takes it here when the Bills selected the running back out of Cal in 2007. Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowl selection and the heart and soul of the Seahawks. If only the Seahawks would have chosen to select him at the goal line.
13-JETS, SHELDON RICHARDSON, (DT) 2013
While drafting good players isn't traditionally the Jets' style, they got a good one in 2013 in Richardson. He's been an impact player since stepping on the field and should anchor the team's defense into the next decade. Surely nothing will go wrong for the Jets from now on.
14-JETS, DARRELL REVIS, (CB) 2007
A Jets draft pick fans actually didn't boo at Radio City! The shutdown corner got his own island named after him. Twenty-three career interceptions and the key of Rex Ryan's Jets defenses -- only to go and win a Super Bowl with the rival Patriots. Classic Jets move.
15-DOLPHINS, MIKE POUNCEY, (C) 2011
Pouncey is a two-time Pro Bowler and teams with his brother Maurkice, the Steelers center, to form the greatest identical twins center combo in NFL history. Granted, there's not a ton of competition for that honor, but don't let that fact diminish their impact. You have to be pretty good to wear a FREE HERNANDEZ hat and get away with it.
16-CARDINALS, DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE, (CB) 2008
One of approximately 27 defensive backs in the NFL with the name "Cromartie," Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie may be the best. He has 21 career interceptions, has been to a Pro Bowl, two Super Bowls and has played on a team with both Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. He probably knows all the lyrics to "Football On Your Phone."
17-VIKINGS, CHAD GREENWAY, (LB) 2006
The two-time Pro Bowl selection is nearing 1,000 career tackles and has been the anchor of the Vikings defense for nearly a decade. Greenway missed his rookie season with an ACL tear and then went on to play seven straight seasons without missing a game. The Vikings might not know how to win a Super Bowl, but between Greenway and Adrian Peterson, they're the best at ACL rehabs.
18-RAVENS, JOE FLACCO, (QB) 2008
Superstar athletes like Anthony Davis owe Joe Flacco a debt of gratitude for breaking the unibrow barrier in modern professional sports. You can't fault too many teams for overlooking this unknown quarterback from Delaware but few could have predicted his level of productivity. In addition to winning Super Bowl XLVII (where he was the game's MVP), Flacco has been to the playoffs six of his seven years with the Ravens and already has 25,531 passing yards. Unfortunately, no one has yet to determine if he is definitively ELITE. Maybe one day.
19-CHARGERS, ANTONIO CROMARTIE, (CB) 2006
One of the nastiest shutdown corners in the league with the coolest sounding name, Antonio Cromartie is a four-time Pro-Bowler who has 31 interceptions and holds the record for the longest play from scrimmage, a 109-yard touchdown return from a botched Ryan Longwell field goal in 2007. Cromartie reportedly also has at least 12 children. So not only does he play for football teams, he also makes them.
20-CHIEFS, TAMBA HALI, (DE) 2006
Tamba Hali is a one man wrecking crew in the form of an outside linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. The explosive Penn State graduate has been to the Pro-Bowl five times in nine years, has 79.5 sacks as well as a staggering 30 forced fumbles. He was the AFC sacks leader in 2010 and the last guy you want to see running full speed in your direction.
21- BROWNS, ALEX MACK, (C) 2009
The stalwart workhorse of the Browns' offensive line, Mack made the All-Rookie Team in 2009, named All-Pro in 2013 and has started every game he's played in as a center. But make no mistake about it this Alex Mack would still have a hard time keeping up with Alex Mack from Nickelodeon.
22-BRONCOS, DEMARYIUS THOMAS, (WR) 2010
Every receiver gets a little help when Peyton Manning is your quarterback, so it makes sense that Demaryius Thomas' breakout season would come the same year Manning joined the Broncos. Regardless of the reason, Thomas' numbers don't lie, he holds the records for most consecutive 100-yard games (7) and for most receiving yards in a season (1,619).
23-CHIEFS, DWAYNE BOWE, (WR) 2007
While in Kansas City, Bowe didn't exactly have the best quarterbacks throwing him the ball. But he still put up solid numbers including three seasons of over 1,000 receiving yards. Thankfully, those quarterback problems should be a thing of the past as this year Bowe joins his new team in Cleveland. Wait, what?
24- PACKERS, AARON RODGERS, (QB) 2005
Some studs have been drafted with the 24th pick including Chris Johnson and Dez Bryant. But the Packers taking Aaron Rodgers here (Alex Smith went #1 overall) is a real discount double check. A two time NFL MVP, Rodgers went on to win the Super Bowl and Olivia Munn. He is also second only to Peyton Manning in endorsement deals.
25-STEELERS, SANTONIO HOLMES, (WR) 2006
Sure Holmes left the Black and Gold for greener pastures in 2009, but it's tough to argue what he did while in Pittsburgh. In four seasons with the Steelers, the former Buckeye became a much-needed speedy deep threat for Big Ben. Plus his toe-dragging corner of the end zone winning catch in Super Bowl 43 helped earn him MVP, a trip to Disney World and even a guest appearance on Live with Regis and Kelly.
26-PACKERS, CLAY MATTHEWS, (LB) 2009
Following in the footsteps of Troy Polamalu, Clay Matthews proved that if you want an NFL defensive star, you can't go wrong picking a USC player with a beautiful head of long, flowing hair. (The other USC-related NFL Draft rule: Don't pick a USC quarterback.) Matthews is a five-time Pro Bowler and the 2010 NFL Defensive MVP. He also remains one of the only Packers Aaron Rodgers can count on to tackle anyone between Green Bay scoring drives.
27- FALCONS, RODDY WHITE, (WR) 2005
Not only has he given fantasy football owners the easiest team name ever (Roddy Roddy White) he also consistently deliveries points. Including six-straight 1,000 plus yard campaigns, seven seasons with at least eighty receptions and he caught a touchdown pass against Richard Sherman, which Seattle's corner called a lifetime achievement.
28-49ERS, JOE STALEY, (OT) 2007
No fan base gets excited by their team taking an offensive lineman from Central Michigan with the 27th pick in the draft, but Staley has been rock solid since entering the league. The four-time Pro Bowler is signed through 2017, meaning he's one of the few players unable to jump off the sinking 49ers ship. There's always early retirement, Joe. Think about it.
29-JETS, NICK MANGOLD, (C) 2006
In his rookie season, Mangold stepped right in at center replacing Kevin Mawae and has started nearly every game since. Protecting the likes of Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith and Michael Vick hasn't always been easy but the 6-time Pro Bowl Selection rarely gives up sacks or butt fumbles.
30-STEELERS, HEATH MILLER (TE) 2005
A blocking tight end is key to the pound it out Steelers offense, but getting one who could also catch and last a decade as the starter is another Steelers draft gem. With the exception of Roddy White, Miller has more career receptions (532) than all the wide receivers drafted ahead of him: Braylon Edwards, Troy Williamson, Mike Williams, Matt Jones and Mark Clayton.
31-BEARS, GREG OLSEN, (TE) 2007
Daaaa Bears made a great selection taking Olsen with the 31st pick in 2007, but the Carolina Panthers made an even better move trading a third round pick for Olsen before the 2011 season. In four seasons as a Panther, the former University of Miami/7th Floor Crew standout has increased his receptions every year (45, 69, 73, 84). He would rank higher on the all-time tight-end receptions list if not for all those Jay Cutler overthrows while playing in Chicago.
32-PATRIOTS, LOGAN MANKINS, (G) 2005
You can't do much better than getting a five-time All-Pro with the last pick in the 1st Round. Mankins helped protect franchise quarterback Tom Brady on two (failed) Super Bowl runs, but was traded before the 2014 season to the Buccaneers. The Patriots then went on to win the Super Bowl. While Mankins played for ... the Buccaneers. So maybe higher powers hate Logan Mankins. That just makes his success even more impressive.
2 POINT LEAD VIDEOS:
Monday, April 6 - Fortune teller
Tuesday, April 7 - 'One Scandalous Moment'
Wednesday, April 8 - The Stockton Army
Thursday, April 9 - An open apology to Cubs fans
Friday, April 10 - Comedians settle an argument ... about A-Rod
Monday, April 13 - MLB doubleheader gets a whole new meaning
Tuesday, April 14 - 'Zo in the house
Wednesday, April 15 - Knicks Powerball
Thursday, April 16 - Imagining NFL logos for LA and London teams
Friday, April 17 - Best MLB giveaways
Monday, April 20 - Anthony Rizzo in the house
Tuesday, April 21 - Best brother (with a much less talented brother) combos in sports
Wednesday, April 22 - What were they thinking?
Thursday, April 23 - Interview with a streaker
Friday, April 24 - MLB food tour
Monday, April 27 - Filipinos for Mayweather
Tuesday, April 28 - Introducing 'Goth Kid'
Wednesday, April 29 - Comedians settle and argument ... Pacquiao or Mayweather?
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