The Mountaineers have heard many memorable names called in the Second and Third Rounds of the NFL Draft. Who went on to have the best NFL careers?
On Thursday, we gave you a list of every Mountaineer picked in the modern era (since 1967) of the NFL Draft in the First Round (You can read that list here). With Rounds 2 and 3 coming tonight, we continue our capsules with WVU players chosen in those Rounds.
Round 2 is littered with great names like Pat White, Geno Smith and if you go further back than 1967, Bruce Bosley. Had the multiple All-Pro/Pro Bowler Tackle been drafted ten years later, he would have been near or atop this list of second rounders.
When you get into the Third Round, you come across names like Slaton, Zereoue, Beasley and Bailey. Did they make the list?
Here are the Top 5 for each round and others not on the list below their respective rounds.
#5 – 1995 56th overall – P Todd Sauerbrun, Chicago Bears
Sauerbrun spent thirteen seasons in the NFL, playing for the Bears, Chiefs, Panthers, Broncos and Patriots. He was a three-time Pro Bowler (2001-03) and four-time All-Pro. (1996, 2001-03).
#4 – 1990 51st overall – DE Mike Fox, New York Giants
Fox won a ring after the Giants victory in Super Bowl XXV. He played five seasons in New York, missing one game the entire time. He started every game in 1993 and 1994 before moving on spend the last four years of his career with the Carolina Panthers. He had 133 tackles and 17 sacks over the course of his career.
#3 – 1997 50th overall – CB Mike Logan, Jacksonville Jaguars
Logan played 10 years in the NFL for the Jaguars and later the Pittsburgh Steelers where he helped them win Super Bowl XL. In his career, he compiled 294 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 5 INTs.
#2 – 1999 52nd overall – DT John Thornton, Tennessee Titans
“Thunder” Thornton spent 10 seasons in the NFL, spending most of that time with the Bengals. In his career he had 303 tackles and 27.5 sacks.
#1 – 1983 39th overall – LB Darryl Talley, Buffalo Bills
Of the Mountaineers to play in the NFL during the modern era, you would be hard-pressed to find one who had a better career than Talley. “The Duke of Awesome” played 12 seasons with the Bills and did not miss a game. He played in four Super Bowls with the team. He is the Bills all-time leading tackler with 1,137 and had 38.5 sacks. He was the paragon of consistency during the dozen years spent in Buffalo, averaging 120 tackles per season and going to two Pro Bowls. He finished his career with the Falcons and Vikings.
1982 44th overall – QB Oliver Luck, Houston Oilers
1990 28th overall – WR Reggie Rembert, New York Jets
1999 33rd overall – CB Charles Fisher, Cincinnati Bengals
2000 47th overall – WR Jerry Porter, Oakland Raiders
2000 50th overall – LB Barrett Green, Detroit Lions
2009 44th overall – QB Pat White, Miami Dolphins
2013 39th overall – QB Geno Smith, New York Jets
#5 – 2005 83rd overall – WR Chris Henry, Cincinnati Bengals
Henry’s 5-year NFL career will probably be more remembered by his off-the-field problems and his untimely death in 2009. What sometimes gets lost is that “Slim” had a mountaineer of talent on the field and was a developing player. At 6’4”, Henry was a superb pass-catcher with the ability to haul in passes that most receiver would have let fall to the ground or fly over their heads. He had 119 receptions in his career for 1,826 yards and 21 touchdowns. He died on December 17, 2009 in Charlotte, NC. We will have more on Henry’s death and legacy later this year.
#4 – 1999 75th overall – DE Gary Stills, Kansas City Chiefs
Stills was known as a special teams ace throughout his career and holds the Baltimore Ravens single-season record for having 44 tackles on special teams. He played nine seasons in the NFL, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2004. He had 190 tackles and 8.5 sacks during his career.
#3 – 1993 68th overall – C Mike Compton, Detroit Lions
Compton played 12 seasons in the NFL, first opening holes for Barry Sanders in Detroit and then keeping pass rushers at bay for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots during their two Super Bowl wins in 2004 and 2004.
Beasley played nine seasons in the NFL for Jacksonville, New York Jets and Atlanta. He started 105 games, amassing 423 tackles, 24 INTs, ten forced fumbles and 8.5 sacks.
#2 – 1971 57th overall – FB Jim Braxton, Buffalo Bills
Braxton played eight years in the NFL for the Bills and half of his last season with the Miami Dolphins. An All-American at WVU, he wasn’t called on to be a leading rusher for the Bills. They had another back named O.J. Simpson. Braxton was the man who opened the holes for Simpson during his Hall of Fame career. Simpson remarked that Braxton was responsible for most of his career 11,236 yards on the ground.
Just because Simpson was there didn’t mean the Bills didn’t give Braxton the ball. He took advantage of his touches, averaging almost four yards per carry en route to 2,890 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns. He was just a good catching passes out of the backfield, where he had almost 1,500 career yards and another six touchdowns.
He died at the age of 37 in 1986 due to cancer in Buffalo.
“I’ve lost a teammate; I’ve lost a dear friend,” Simpson said of Braxton. “Bubby was my protector on the field, my companion off it. What he meant to my career is impossible to calculate, but I know many of the things I achieved wouldn’t have been possible without him.”
#1 – 1984 59th overall – QB Jeff Hostetler, New York Giants
The “Hoss” played backup to Giants QB Phil Simms until 1990 when Simms broke his foot. Hostetler guided the Giants to a victory in Super Bowl XXV over Darryl Talley and the Buffalo Bills. Hostetler won the starting job from Simms the next season, but broke his back against Tampa Bay in his twelfth start, missing the rest of the season. He traded roles as a starter and backup the next season with Simms before moving on to Oakland in 1993. He earned a Pro Bowl nod the following year and helped Oakland win the last playoff game played in Los Angeles in 1993.
He retired after the 1998 season with the Washington Redskins throwing for 16,430 yards and 94 touchdowns in his career.
1968 58th overall – RB Garrett Ford, Denver Broncos
1971 74th overall – LB Dale Farley, Miami Dolphins
1975 62nd overall – WR Danny Buggs, New York Giants
1976 90th overall – RB Ron Lee, Baltimore Colts
1994 76th overall – G Rich Braham, Arizona Cardinals
1996 63rd overall – CB Aaron Beasley, Jacksonville Jaguars
1999 95th overall – RB Amos Zereoue, Pittsburgh Steelers
2008 89th overall – RB Steve Slaton, Houston Texans
2013 92nd overall – WR Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams
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