Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: History in that spot.
The Bears’ top pick is No. 75 overall. Here are the last five players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:
2009: Ball State tackle Robert Brewster (Dallas)
2008: Oklahoma defensive back Reggie Smith (San Francisco)
2007: Illinois State receiver Laurent Robinson (Atlanta)
2006: Louisville guard Jason Spitz (Green Bay)
2005: Virginia Tech defensive back Eric Green (Arizona)
Robinson had 37 receptions as a rookie but has since moved to St. Louis. Spitz was the Packers’ opening-day center last season before a back injury sidelined him. He is a candidate to start in 2010. Smith has played in 13 games over the past two seasons for the 49ers, with seven tackles and no interceptions.
The Lions’ top pick is No. 2 overall. Here are the last five players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:
2009: Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith (St. Louis)
2008: Virginia defensive end Chris Long (St. Louis)
2007: Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson (Detroit)
2006: USC running back Reggie Bush (New Orleans)
2005: Auburn running back Ronnie Brown (Miami)
Brown, Bush and Johnson have all been dynamic playmakers for parts of their careers. Coincidentally, all three have been slowed by knee injuries of varying severity. The Rams are still waiting for elite payoff from Long and endured an inconsistent rookie season from Smith.
The Packers’ top pick is No. 23 overall. Here are the last five players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:
2009: Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher (Baltimore)
2008: Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh)
2007: LSU receiver Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City)
2006: Oklahoma guard Davin Joseph (Tampa Bay)
2005: Nebraska cornerback Fabian Washington (Oakland)
Oher, Mendenhall, Bowe and Joseph have been full-time starters. Washington moved from Oakland to Baltimore.
The Vikings’ top pick is No. 30 overall. Here are the last five players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses:
2009: Rutgers receiver Kenny Britt (Tennessee)
2007: LSU receiver Craig Davis (San Diego)
2006: LSU running back Joseph Addai (Indianapolis)
2005: Virginia tight end Heath Miller (Pittsburgh)
All five are skill players, for what it’s worth. Davis has been a bust, but Miller, Addai and Keller are highly productive players. Britt is on pace to be as well.