NFL No. 20 picks of recent vintage a pretty good crew
Holding the No. 20 pick in the NFL Draft is far from landing a sure thing.
The last 10 drafts prove that as teams have landed franchise players that have gone on to standout careers while others have had mostly forgettable runs in the NFL.
The Lions hold that pick this year and hope to do a little better than they did last time when they selected tight end Brandon Pettigrew in 2009.
Here’s a look back at the last 10 players to be selected 20th overall and how their careers have played out.
Garett Bolles, T, Denver: It’s hard to find too much fault in the Broncos’ selection of the 6-foot-5, 300-pound left tackle. He certainly had his growing pains like most rookies, but the former Utah standout started all 16 games last season for the Broncos and was named to the All-Rookie team by the Pro Football Writers of America. His focus in season No. 2 is cutting down on penalties, namely the team-high 10 holding calls he was nailed with in 2017.
Darron Lee, LB, N.Y. Jets: At 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds, the former Ohio State Buckeye is a bit undersized and that hampered him some in his rookie season. However, he made progress last year, his second with the Jets, finishing with 94 tackles, three sacks and a couple of forced fumbles. Some still are expecting more from the former first-round pick, including coach Todd Bowles, who said Lee should take the biggest jump of any member of the defense heading into 2018.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia: After his first two seasons, many were calling the former Southern Cal receiver a bust, especially during year two has he found himself deactivated midway through the season. However, Agholor had a breakthrough in his third season, catching 62 passes — more than his first two season combined — for 768 yards and eight touchdowns. He had nine grabs for 84 yards in the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory over New England.
Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans: Production never has been a problem for Cooks, who has gained more than 1,000 yards receiving in each of the past three seasons, including 24 touchdowns in that same span. However, he hasn’t exactly been a great guy in the locker room. His complaints about how he was used his first three seasons in New Orleans led to a trade last season to New England. When the Patriots couldn’t sign him to a long-term deal, he was sent to the Rams, who hope he and quarterback Jared Goff become a Pro Bowl connection.
Kyle Long, G, Chicago: The Bears hit a home run with this pick as the Oregon product was named to the All-Rookie team in his first season and was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three years in Chicago. He’s battled injuries the past two seasons, including ankle and shoulder problems in 2017. This offseason, Long had neck surgery but posted on social media saying he had plenty of time to get himself prepared for the 2018 season.
Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee: Wright looked to be on his way to big things after catching 94 passes for 1,079 yards in his second season with the Titans. However, he never was able to build off that the next three seasons in Tennessee and signed last year with the Bears. While he’s not a game-breaker, Wright did lead Chicago with 59 catches in 2017 before signing in the offseason with Minnesota, where he’ll team up with quarterback Kirk Cousins (Michigan State).
Adrian Clayborn, DE, Tampa Bay: Steady but unspectacular is the best way to sum up Clayborn’s seven seasons in the NFL to this point. His four years in Tampa were up and down as both 2012 and 2014 were cut short by injuries after he recorded 7.5 sacks as a rookie. Clayborn spent the last three seasons in Atlanta, having his best year in 2017 with a career-best 9.5 sacks. He signed this offseason with New England.
Kareem Jackson, CB, Houston: The Alabama product had his share of difficulties adjusting to the pro game when he first arrived in Houston, but steadily played himself into one of the more consistent corners in the league. He started all 16 games as a rookie and before the 2015 season signed a big free-agent deal to stay with the Texans. Jackson has 14 career interceptions, including a career-high four in 2012.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit: Lions fans were never truly happy with Pettigrew during his time in Detroit. There were some highlights, including 71 catches in 2010 followed by 83 grabs the next season, along with five touchdowns. The production started to decline from there, and halfway through the 2015 season he suffered a torn ACL. It kept him out all of 2016 before the Lions released him that December. He hasn’t played in the NFL since.
Aqib Talib, CB, Tampa Bay: One of the premier cornerbacks in the game, since entering the league after the Bucs took him in the first round, Talib has the most interceptions by a cornerback in the NFL (34) and his 10 career interceptions for touchdown rank fourth all time. After five seasons in Tampa, Talib played two with New England and the last four in Denver, where he as a Pro Bowler every season. In 2016, Talib was named first-team All-Pro. The Broncos traded him to the Rams in the offseason in an effort to clear salary-cap space.