The greatest NFL draft picks of all-time from each Pac-12 school.
USC is as good as anyone when it comes to cranking out historic NFL draft picks, and the Pac-12 overall isn’t bad, but some programs are shockingly a little light.
So really, who are the greatest draft picks ever from the Pac-12 programs?
This isn’t a list of the top pro players to come from the Pac-12 schools – these are the best draft picks.
That means guys who had great careers for someone other than the teams that drafted them get knocked down a peg, or aren’t on the list at all.
The goal for any draft pick is to get a player who performs at a high level for a long period of time, so longevity matters over one short burst of greatness. You’ll get the idea.
TE Rob Gronkowski
2010, 2nd round, 42nd pick overall, New England
Silver: LB Lance Briggs, 2003, 3rd round, 68th pick overall, Chicago
Bronze: CB Chris McAlister, 1999, 1st round, 10th pick overall, Baltimore
This isn’t as easy as it might appear. Rob Gronkowski reinvented the tight end position as a four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler as a dominant, unstoppable force – when healthy. However, Lance Briggs was even more accomplished.
A Hall of Fame-caliber baller for the Bears for 12 years,Briggs went to seven Pro Bowls and was named to the 2005 All-Pro team. He finished his career with 936 tackles, while Chris McAlister went to three Pro Bowls and was a 2003 All-Pro as a key part of several all-timer defenses.
OG Randall McDaniel
1988, 1st round, 19th pick overall, Minnesota
Silver: DE Terrell Suggs, 2003, 1st round, 10th pick overall
Bronze: WR Charley Taylor, 1964, 1st round, 3rd pick overall, 1964
Arizona State has five NFL Hall of Famers, but Mike Haynes spent a bulk of his career with the Raiders, and not everyone could make the cut.
The mainstay of the Minnesota offensive line for 12 years, Randall McDaniel was a seven-time All-Pro and 11-time Pro Bowler on the way to the Hall of Fame.
Charley Taylor played 14 years for Washington catching 649 passes for 9,110 yards and 79 scores in his Hall of Fame career. The 1967 All-Pro went to eight Pro Bowls, while Terrell Suggs is on his way to Canton whenever he’s done after coming up with 125.5 sacks and 576 tackles. Suggs was the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
QB Aaron Rodgers
2005, 1st round, 24th pick overall, Green Bay
Silver: TE Tony Gonzalez, 1997, 1st round, 13th pick overall Kansas City
Bronze: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, 1st round, 31st pick overall, Oakland
So here’s the problem. Hall of Fame LB Les Richter was drafted by the Dallas Texans, but spent his career with the Los Angeles Rams. Hardy Nickerson didn’t do most of his big things with Pittsburgh, and Marshawn Lynch did his best work for Seattle, not Buffalo.
Aaron Rodgers was worth the wait until the 24th pick. The 2011 and 2014 NFL MVP, two-time All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowler, and 2010 Super Bowl MVP is a first-ballot Hall of Famer with close to 39,000 yards and 313 touchdowns.
Tony Gonzalez finished his career as the most productive tight end of all-time catching 1,325 passes for over 15,000 yards and 111 touchdowns. The Hall of Fame talent was named to five All-Pro teams with Kansas City going to ten Pro Bowls.
Nnamdi Asomugha finished up his career with a few dud seasons, but in his eight years in Oakland he went to three Pro Bowls and was a two-time All-Pro.
WR Cliff Branch
1972, 4th round, 98th pick overall, Oakland
Silver: S Dick Anderson, 3rd round, 73rd pick overall, Miami
Bronze: CB Mark Haynes, 1st round, 8th pick overall, New York Giants
The deep threat of deep threats for the Oakland vertical passing game, Cliff Branch averaged over 17 yards per catch making 501 grabs in a career that was just outside of being good enough for the Hall of Fame. The three-time All-Pro was also a part of three Super Bowl winners.
Dick Anderson was a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro as a dangerous pickoff artist for several elite defenses including two Super Bowl champs. He picked off eight passes in three different seasons.
Mark Haynes only played six years with the Giants, but he was part of a Super Bowl winner and was named to two All-Pro teams highlighted by a seven-pick 1984.
QB Dan Fouts
1973, 3rd round, 64th pick overall, San Diego
Silver: DT Haloti Ngata, 2006, 1st round, 12th pick overall
Bronze: QB Norm Van Brocklin, 1949, 4th round, 37th pick overall
While he never played in a Super Bowl, much less win one, Dan Fouts was a sure-thing Hall of Famer threw for over 43,000 yards with 254 touchdowns earning his way onto two All-Pro teams and going to six Pro Bowls.
Haloti Ngata will be a sure-thing Hall of Famer after anchoring the great Baltimore defense for nine years with a Super Bowl, two All-Pro seasons, and six Pro Bowl honors.
Norm Van Brocklin was a Hall of Fame bomber who did some big things for Philadelphia, but he spent the first nine years of his career with the Los Angeles Rams going to six Pro Bowls.
WR Chad Johnson
2001, 2nd round, 36th pick overall, Cincinnati
Silver: RB Steven Jackson, 2004, 1st round, 24th pick overall, St. Louis Rams
Bronze: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, 2001, 7th round, 204th overall, Cincinnati
Forgetting all the weirdness and the painfully unfunny self-promotion, Chad Johnson was a whale of a receiver for Cincinnati catching 751 passes for 10,783 yards and 66 scores in his ten years, being named to two All-Pro teams and going to six Pro Bowls.
Steven Jackson turned into one of the best all-around backs in the 2000s catching 407 passes and running for 10,138 yards for the Rams on the way to three Pro Bowls.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh was always second banana next to Johnson, but he put up some massive numbers of his own catching 507 passes in his eight years with the Bengals.