Not all of the best football players are handpicked in the first round of the draft. Plenty of talent gets overlooked. This is because coaches don't see potential in people, think the player lacks maturity or flat out just aren't interested in the playing style the individual has to offer. There are many NFL players who were picked very late in the draft, like Tom Brady. Brady, being arguably the best quarterback in NFL history, was not scouted correctly out of Michigan. As a result, he was a sleeper pick who led the Patriots to many victories in the NFL and might win MVP once more in 2016. Though Brady was a sixth round pick, today will be talking about the best second round picks during the past 16 years.
These second round picks were overlooked, by peers, coaches and scouts. Coaches will shudder when they remember that they missed these guys in the draft, and it will haunt them forever. The NFL is a major corporation, so just like a similarly large workplace, projecting which workers will succeed the most can be very difficult. It is tough to hand-pick which guys will be true winners in the NFL, and which will falter from their college days.
This being said previously, the best scouts KNOW who will be good. The Patriots scouts have done a fantastic job of selecting the best guys, same with the Broncos, and Packers. Here are some second round picks who should have been first rounders.
17 2000: Chad Clifton
Clifton was picked 44th overall in the second round. He had a reputation as one of the best blockers while he played in the league. He was selected to two Pro Bowls in 2007 and 2010. Additionally, he helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV. Clifton easily should have been picked earlier in the 2000 NFL Draft, ahead of plenty of scrubs whose careers never panned out. Clifton was able to start 165 games in the NFL, a great feat for a lineman.
He played his entire 11-year career with Green Bay. I'm sure that the team never thought they would have him for more than a decade on their roster. In 2003, Clifton helped the Packers attain the record for the fewest sacks allowed in a season at 19. He retired in 2012, after a fine career in the NFL.
16 2001: Drew Brees
Noted as one of the best quarterbacks to grace a football field, Drew Brees should have been selected number one overall in this draft. Brees fell in the NFL Draft because of questions regarding his stature and arm strength. He began his career in San Diego, earning a spot over veteran Doug Flutie. He led the Chargers to an 8-8 as a rookie, and was replaced the following year by Flutie. In 2004, he had a killer year - leading San Diego to a 12-4 record. Brees was selected to his first Pro Bowl.
The year after though, he suffered a shoulder injury just as he was hitting free agency. After an apparent signing with the Dolphins, Brees landed in New Orleans. The rest is history. He has a Super Bowl under his belt, and many Pro Bowls. Brees has a fantastic arm and usually shows spectacular accuracy in the pocket.
15 2002: Clinton Portis
Portis played nine years in the NFL. Him... a second round pick? Yeah, don't know how that occurred. He had a stellar career with the Redskins, being selected to two Pro Bowls. He started his career with the Broncos, and it excelled from there. Portis used to be a top tier fantasy pick each year. He had 75 rushing touchdowns in his career and nearly 10,000 yards from the line of scrimmage. He is considered of the best running backs of his generation and excelled at scraping for yardage.
Additionally, he ranks 27th as an all-time rusher. Portis should have been a very high pick in this draft, maybe top-five. Anyway, the past is the past. The Redskins got a lot from Clinton, and the Broncos got just enough to say he played for their team for two years.
14 2003: Anquan Boldin
Anquan Boldin may be in the Hall of Fame conversation when he retires. The guy has been a threat to defenses since his inaugural year in the league with the Cardinals. Boldin has three Pro Bowls under his belt, a Super Bowl, and a Walter Payton Man of the Year Award too. He has 82 career touchdowns in the NFL and just under 14,000 yards receiving. In his first game in the NFL, he set a rookie record for most yards in a game with 217! He has six NFL records including most receptions in a rookie season. He holds the Ravens franchise record for most receiving yards in the postseason. So should he have been picked in the second round NFL scouts? Hell no.
13 2004: Karlos Dansby
Dansby has never been a superstar, let alone a Pro Bowl caliber player. This being said, there isn't a better player picked in the second round in 2004. Dansby has always been athletic and a true presence on the field. Karlos has six defensive touchdowns, 18 forced fumbles, 1297 sacks, and 19 interceptions. Not too shabby for a second rounder, eh? He is now at the tail end of his career, and kind of hanging on with the Bengals. Though at the tail end of his career, Dansby is great at forcing fumbles and will be remembered upon his retirement. Karlos should have been a late first round selection, but surely should not have slid so late as to be selected in the second round, with a bunch of (now) nobody players.
12 2005: Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson, like Karlos Dansby, is at the end of his career. Jackson will always be remembered, though, as a truly magnificent receiver. He topped 1,000 yards six different seasons, and has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times. His best years were with the Chargers. Philip Rivers and Jackson were a dynamic duo in San Diego. Additionally, Winston and Jackson haven't been too shabby together either. Jackson is now hanging behind Mike Evans on the depth chart. Regardless, people will not think about his career in this light.
He will be remembered as the big time receiver who the Chargers are still looking to replace. Jackson's best year was with the Bucs in 2012, when he topped 1,384 yards and had 8 touchdowns.
11 2006: Greg Jennings
Jennings is most noted as Brett Favre's (and eventually Aaron Rodgers's) go-to receiver in Green Bay. With Favre, Jennings played better than ever. He began his career as a Packer, playing six seasons with them. His 2007 campaign was a breakout year for Jennings, when he had 12 touchdowns and almost topped 1,000 yards receiving at 920 for the season. The following year he would see an increase in targets, and get just under 1,300 yards receiving. Jennings won the Super Bowl with the Packers as well, after he emerged as the top target for Rodgers.
Over the span of his career, he had 571 receptions, 8,291 receiving yards, and 64 touchdowns from the air. He cemented himself as a veteran early on in his career, ironic as it seems. He has been to two Pro Bowls, one in 2010 and the following year.
10 2007: LaMarr Woodley
Woodley, who is now a free agent, was once a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. He had standout years in 2009 and '10. In 2009, Woodley cemented himself as a force. That year, he had 14 sacks and 12 assisted tackles. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl as a Pittsburgh Steeler. He was also awarded second-team All-Pro honors. His career was very successful with the Steelers, but faltered later in his career. Regardless, he was one of the reasons the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII.
Woodley undoubtedly should have been selected in the first round, probably in the middle. Considering he taken 46th overall in the second round, anything above this would have surely made a LOT more sense.
9 2008: Jordy Nelson
Nelson has been an outstanding receiver during his time in the NFL. Jordy has been a Packer since 2008, enjoying his time in frigid Wisconsin. He has been selected to four Pro Bowls and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2016. Nelson is outstanding at getting open, and moving around once in open space. He's had some injury trouble in recent seasons, but when healthy, he's an elite receiver.
He has been Rodgers' safety net for a while now, someone he can rely on to get open. In his time in the league, he already has 63 touchdowns, and just under 8,ooo yards receiving. It is laughable that he was picked so late in the draft, and frankly it's embarrassing that scouts could miss such a talented player.
8 2009: LeSean McCoy
"Shady" McCoy has bee a threat to defenses around the league ever since he began running the ball with Philadelphia in 2009. The Eagles were stupid to let him go, but now the Bills are profiting from his talent. McCoy is very elusive and ridiculously speedy in open space. Once he gets to the outside, he will accelerate to the end zone, or very close to it. He has been selected to five Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pros, and has led the league in rushing a couple times.
Letting McCoy drop down to the second round was a brutal mistake by all team scouts. This guy could have easily been a top five pick in the draft that year. But of course, teams always HATE the idea of picking a running back early. The thing is, he is not an ordinary back.
7 2010: Rob Gronkowski
I am comfortable saying that Gronk is the best tight end in NFL history, talent wise. Statistically, he still has ways to go, but there has never been a player as explosive as him. Gronk has been selected to four Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro selections, and led the league in touchdowns in 2011.
With Tom Brady, this guy has been outstanding. The only thing hurting his career is his health status. With all the back issues he's had, you wonder if that's going to prevent him from breaking every tight end record ever set.
That doesn't change the fact that he's the NFL's best tight end when healthy. He just has to learn to take better care of his body when he's on the field and he can remain Brady's go-to target until Brady is ready to retire.
6 2011: Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton, though he sometimes has a rough reputation, should have been picked a lot earlier in the 2011 NFL Draft. He has been good for the Bengals, and has connected with A.J. Green MANY times. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and gets a bad rep as a interception artist. Truthfully, he makes mistakes, but for his position in the draft, he was a steal.
Dalton threw 18 touchdowns this past regular season, and 25 the year before. In 2013, he threw 33 touchdowns. He makes big plays down the field, and has options to go to. He screens the ball to Giovani Bernard or Jeremy Hill often, and the presence of Rex Burkhead has been really complimentary to his play style. He isn't a top five QB, but he has surpassed his draft position value easily.
5 2012: Bobby Wagner
Wagner has been a defensive threat since his rookie season. He has been selected to three Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pros selections, and significantly helped the Seattle Seahawks to win Super Bowl XLVIII. He had three interceptions his rookie season, along with 140 tackles. He is a very talented linebacker, who truly sees the entire field. Wagner has cemented himself as a top tier linebacker ever since he entered the league in 2012. He is highly aggressive, and a top option to get into a quarterback's head on the field.
Wagner was picked WAY too late in 2012, at 47th in the second round. This is so crazy, especially because defensive players of his caliber are usually taken in the top five. Anyway, what's done is done, and the Seahawks have enjoyed his presence ever since he came into the NFL.
4 2013: Le'Veon Bell
What to say? He was picked in the second round? Jeez. Bell, just played a masterful game in the divisional round against the Chiefs. He has the record for most playoff rushing yards after two games with 337. He has cemented himself as a top three running back in the NFL, maybe number one. He has been racking up yardage ever since he came into the league in 2013. His rookie season he had 860 yards, then 1,361 his second season, 556 during his third (due to injury), then 1,268. He is arguably one of the best rushers the league has ever witnessed. He has a unique tactic of kind of scampering for yards. He hesitates before rushing, scoping out the best area to run to. It works out pretty well too. Bell holds the following records.
- Pittsburgh Steelers single-season record for receptions by a running back: 83 (2014)
- Pittsburgh Steelers single-season record for scrimmage yards (2014)
- Pittsburgh Steelers single-season record for scrimmage yards by a rookie (2013)
- Pittsburgh Steelers single-game record for rushing yards (2016)
3 2014: Derek Carr
Derek Carr had a hell of a year. Before his injury, he had the Oakland Raiders sitting at 12-3, good enough for first in the AFC West. The team crumbled following his injury and were knocked out of the top spot in the division, then were eliminated in the wild card round. Carr shows tremendous promise as a quarterback, like a younger version of Drew Brees. There were questions regarding his weight and strength coming into the NFL, but all of these inquiries have been answered. He is a really good passer, as he is mobile in the pocket, and has a near-perfect release.
Carr connects with Crabtree and Cooper very often, and is able to dump it to Latavius Murray on screens. He is now a two-time Pro Bowler, and I envision him building his resume even more in the coming years. He has passer rating of 87.9, 11,190 passing yards, and a touchdown to interception ratio of 81-31. Carr is elite.
2 2015: Landon Collins
Collins has been outstanding for the Giants this season, proving he should have been picked way higher then he was. This year was insane for Collins. He made the Pro Bowl, got first-team All-Pro honors, and recorded five interceptions this season. He wasn't close to this his rookie season, but not everyone just becomes a superstar overnight. I am prettty confident that he will soon cement himself as one of the league's best, if not the best safety in all of football. Collins was picked 33rd overall in the second round after the Giants traded up with the Titans to land him.
Every team must be pretty mad at this point, considering the second rounder is arguably the best defensive player in all of football right now.
1 2016: Sterling Shepard
Shepard hasn't totally proved himself as a great receiver at this point, but hey, this is the most recent draft class. Out of all the second round picks, Sterling HAS cemented himself as talented and has the potential to become a star. Playing with Odell Beckham Jr., he is arguably learning technique from the best there is. Shepard started his career very strong, but hit a bit of a wall late in the season. I am confident that he will remain a threat, and I could see him moving teams if he keeps playing second fiddle to OBJ.
If he left NYC, he might even become the number one receiver on another team. Shepard isn't Rookie of the Year material, but one day, he could be Pro Bowl material.