Who are the best NFL Draft picks from each of the Big 12 programs. Which players turned into the greatest stars at the next level?
The current Big 12 programs have more than their share of good all-time NFL players and draft picks, but the superstars aren’t there compared to the other top leagues. Even so, who are the Big 12’s best NFL draft selections of all-time?
This isn’t a list of the top pro players to come from the Big 12 schools – these are the best draft picks.
That means that 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.
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Baylor Greatest NFL Draft Picks
LB Mike Singletary
1981, 2nd round, 38th pick overall, Chicago
Silver: DT Tom Sestak, 1962, 17th round, 132nd pick overall, Buffalo
Bronze: OT/DE Jimmy Ray Smith, 1954, 6th round, 64th pick overall, Cleveland
The Chicago Bears got their leader and quarterback for some of the greatest defenses in NFL history. Singletary was a seven-time All-Pro who went to the Pro Bowl in each of the last ten seasons of his 12-year Hall of Fame career. He was named the 1985 and 1988 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Tom Sestak was a three-time All-Pro for Buffalo in the early 1960s. He only played seven years, but he was the anchor of the line.
Jimmy Ray Smith played seven years for Cleveland as a mainstay of the O line at left guard. He was a three-time All-Pro and went to five Pro Bowls.
Iowa State Greatest NFL Draft Picks
LB Matt Blair
1974, 2nd round, 51st pick overall, Minnesota
Silver: OG Keith Sims, 1990, 2nd round, 39th pick overall, Miami
Bronze: S Marcus Robertson, 1991, 4th round, 102nd pick overall, Houston
One of the leaders and stars of the amazing Purple People Eater defenses of the 1970s and 1980s, Blair played 12 years for the Vikings and was named to the 1980 All-Pro team with six Pro Bowl appearances.
Keith Sims got to three straight Pro Bowls as a starting left guard for Miami for eight years, while Marcus Robertson was named an All-Pro for the Houston Oilers, finishing with 22 interceptions in a ten-year run with the franchise.
Kansas Greatest NFL Draft Picks
RB Gale Sayers
1965, 1st round, 4th pick overall, Chicago
Silver: FS Nolan Cromwell, 1977, 2nd round, 21st pick overall, Los Angeles Rams
Bronze: QB John Hadl, 1962, 3rd round, 24th pick overall, San Diego
It might have been a way-too-short run, but Gale Sayers managed to earn All-Pro recognition five times in his five years as a starting running back.
John Riggins is a Hall of Famer, but that’s mostly for what he did for Washington, not the New York Jets. The same goes for tackle Mike McCormack, a Hall of Famer for Cleveland after spending one year with the New York Yanks.
Nolan Cromwell was an all-star quarterback for the Jayhawks, but he turned into a three-time All-Pro safety for the Rams over his 11-year career. John Hadl spent 11 years with San Diego throwing for close to 27,000 yards with 201 touchdowns going to five Pro Bowls.
Kansas State Greatest NFL Draft Picks
RB Larry Brown
1969, 8th round, 191st pick overall, Washington
Silver: QB Steve Grogan, 1975, 5th round, 116th pick overall, New England
Bronze: CB Terence Newman, 2003, 1st round, 5th pick overall, San Diego
Larry Brown only lasted eight years with Washington, but he was a two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler running for 5,875 yards and 35 scores. In 1972, he earned the NFL MVP honor running for 1,125 yards and five scores and catching 37 passes.
Steve Grogan was with New England for 16 years, and while he was never an elite quarterback, he finished with close to 27,000 yards with 182 touchdown passes. He also ran for 35 scores.
Terence Newman was a slight disappointment for Dallas considering he was the fifth pick overall, but he went to two Pro Bowls and lasted nine years with the team making 32 interceptions before moving on to keep the career rolling.
Oklahoma Greatest NFL Draft Picks
RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota
2007, 1st round, 7th pick overall
Silver: DE/DT Lee Roy Selmon, 1976, 1st round, 1st pick overall, Tampa Bay
Bronze: CB Bobby Boyd, 1960, 10th round, 119th pick overall, Baltimore
Outside of a massive scandal, Adrian Peterson worked out just fine for the Vikings in his sure-thing Hall of Fame career, running for close to 12,000 yards in his first nine seasons in Minnesota. He ran for ten touchdowns or more in every year but the suspended 2014 and injured 2016 campaigns.
Lee Roy Selmon was the first ever draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, going on to have a nine-year Hall of Fame career with six straight Pro Bowl appearances. He was named the 1979 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Bobby Boyd doesn’t have a highway named after him like Selmon, but the three-time All-Pro was among the best defensive backs of the 1960s, coming up with 57 career interceptions.