NFL Draft Best Picks of All-Time From Every Pac-12 School


Who are the best NFL Draft picks from each of the Pac-12 programs. Which players turned into the greatest stars at the next level?

USC is as good as anyone when it comes to cranking out historic NFL draft picks, and the Pac-12 overall isn’t bad, but some programs are shockingly light.

Who were the best draft picks ever from the Pac-12 programs?

This isn’t a list of the top pro players to come from the Pac-12 schools – these are the best draft picks.

If a player had a great run for someone other than the team that drafted him, he gets knocked down a peg, or isn’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.

2022 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings, AnalysisQBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OTs | OGs & Cs | DEs & Edge | DTsLBs | Ss | CBs | 50 Greatest Value Draft Picks EverNFL Draft by college over last 5 years: 1-130 rankings

Arizona Best NFL Draft Picks

TE Rob Gronkowski2010, 2nd round, 42nd pick overall, New England

Silver: LB Lance Briggs, 2003, 3rd round, 68th pick overall, ChicagoBronze: CB Chris McAlister, 1999, 1st round, 10th pick overall, Baltimore

This isn’t as easy as it might seem.

Rob Gronkowski reinvented the tight end position as a four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler for New England as a dominant, unstoppable force – when healthy.

However, Lance Briggs was even more accomplished for the team that drafted him, but he just wasn’t Gronk.

A Hall of Fame-caliber baller for the Bears for 12 years, Briggs went to seven Pro Bowls and was named to the 2005 All-Pro team. He finished his career with 936 tackles.

Chris McAlister went to three Pro Bowls and was a 2003 All-Pro as a key part of several all-timer defenses.

Arizona State Best NFL Draft Picks

OG Randall McDaniel1988, 1st round, 19th pick overall, Minnesota

Silver: DE Terrell Suggs, 2003, 1st round, 10th pick overallBronze: WR Charley Taylor, 1964, 1st round, 3rd pick overall, 1964

Story continues

Arizona State has five NFL Hall of Famers, and not everyone could make the cut. For example, Mike Haynes was drafted by New England, but spent a bulk of his career with the Raiders,

The mainstay of the Minnesota offensive line for 12 years, Randall McDaniel was a seven-time All-Pro and 11-time Pro Bowler on the way to the Hall of Fame.

Charley Taylor played 14 years for Washington catching 649 passes for 9,110 yards and 79 scores in his Hall of Fame career. The 1967 All-Pro went to eight Pro Bowls.

Terrell Suggs – the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year – is on his way to Canton as one of the greatest pass rushers of all-time with seven Pro Bowl nods and making one All-Pro team.

Cal Best NFL Draft Picks

QB Aaron Rodgers2005, 1st round, 24th pick overall, Green Bay

Silver: TE Tony Gonzalez, 1997, 1st round, 13th pick overall Kansas CityBronze: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, 1st round, 31st pick overall, Oakland

The problem with Cal is that most of the top players did big things for teams that didn’t draft them.

Hall of Fame LB Les Richter was drafted by the Dallas Texans, but spent his career with the Los Angeles Rams. Hardy Nickerson didn’t do most of his big things with Pittsburgh, and Marshawn Lynch did his best work for Seattle, not Buffalo.

Aaron Rodgers was worth the wait until the 24th pick. The 2011, 2014, 2020, and 2021 NFL MVP, four-time All-Pro, ten-time Pro Bowler, and 2010 Super Bowl MVP is on the short list of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

Tony Gonzalez finished his career as the most productive tight end of all-time catching 1,325 passes for over 15,000 yards and 111 touchdowns. The Hall of Fame talent was named to six All-Pro teams with Kansas City going to 14 Pro Bowls.

Nnamdi Asomugha finished up his career with a few dud seasons, but in his eight years in Oakland he went to three Pro Bowls and was a two-time All-Pro.

Colorado Best NFL Draft Picks

WR Cliff Branch 1972, 4th round, 98th pick overall, Oakland

Silver: S Dick Anderson, 3rd round, 73rd pick overall, MiamiBronze: CB Mark Haynes, 1st round, 8th pick overall, New York Giants

The deep threat of deep threats for the Oakland vertical passing game, Cliff Branch averaged over 17 yards per catch making 501 grabs in a career that was good enough for the Hall of Fame. The three-time All-Pro was also a part of three Super Bowl winners.

Dick Anderson was a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro as a dangerous pickoff artist for several elite defenses including two Super Bowl champs. He picked off eight passes in three different seasons.

Mark Haynes only played six years with the Giants, but he was part of a Super Bowl winner and was named to two All-Pro teams highlighted by a seven-pick 1984.

Oregon Best NFL Draft Picks

QB Dan Fouts1973, 3rd round, 64th pick overall, San Diego

Silver: DT Haloti Ngata, 2006, 1st round, 12th pick overallBronze: QB Norm Van Brocklin, 1949, 4th round, 37th pick overall

While he never played in a Super Bowl, much less win one, Dan Fouts got to the Hall of Fame throwing for over 43,000 yards with 254 touchdowns, earning his way on two All-Pro teams and six Pro Bowls.

Haloti Ngata will be a sure-thing Hall of Famer after anchoring the great Baltimore defense for nine years with a Super Bowl, two All-Pro seasons, and five Pro Bowl honors.

Norm Van Brocklin was a Hall of Fame bomber who did some big things for Philadelphia, but he spent the first nine years of his career with the Los Angeles Rams going to six Pro Bowls.

Oregon State Best NFL Draft Picks

WR Chad Johnson 2001, 2nd round, 36th pick overall, Cincinnati

Silver: RB Steven Jackson, 2004, 1st round, 24th pick overall, St. Louis RamsBronze: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, 2001, 7th round, 204th overall, Cincinnati

Forgetting all the weirdness and the painfully unfunny self-promotion, Chad Johnson was a whale of a receiver for Cincinnati. He caught 751 passes for 10,783 yards and 66 scores in his ten years, being named to two All-Pro teams and going to six Pro Bowls.

Steven Jackson turned into one of the best all-around backs in the 2000s catching 407 passes and running for 10,138 yards for the Rams on the way to three Pro Bowls.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh was always second banana next to Johnson, but he put up some massive numbers of his own catching 507 passes in his eight years with the Bengals.

Stanford Best NFL Draft Picks

QB John Elway1983, 1st round, 1st pick overall, Baltimore

Silver: WR James Lofton, 1978, 1st round, 6th pick overall, Green BayBronze: S John Lynch, 1993, 3rd round, 82nd pick overall, Tampa Bay

Okay, technically, John Elway probably shouldn’t count according to the criteria of players needing to rock for the teams that drafted them.

He was Baltimore’s draft pick, and the franchise famously botched it, but it was a post-draft trade that Denver was able to make. An exception is being made to give the Cardinal credit for their top star.

Tom Brady might have more Super Bowls, and name a slew of other quarterbacks and they could be in the Greatest of All-Time category, but in terms of drama, and what he had to work with early in his career, Elway belongs in the discussion.

James Lofton finished up with some huge numbers or the Raiders and Buffalo, but the Hall of Famer was dominant for Green Bay catching 530 passes for 9,656 yards and 49 scores going to six Pro Bowls and getting on the 1981 All-Pro team.

Flip a coin between Richard Sherman and John Lynch for the final spot. Sherman went to five Pro Bowls and earned three All-Pro nods as an elite corner for Seattle before getting hurt, but Lynch was a force for Tampa Bay for 11 years before finishing up with five straight Pro Bowl seasons for Denver. He went to five Pro Bowls and was a two-time All-Pro for the Buccaneers.

UCLA Best NFL Draft Picks

QB Troy Aikman 1989, 1st round, 1st pick overall, Dallas

Silver: CB Jimmy Johnson, 1961, 1st round, 6th pick overall, San FranciscoBronze: OT Jonathan Ogden, 1st round, 4th pick overall, Baltimore

UCLA gets credit for Troy Aikman – Oklahoma doesn’t. The three-time Super Bowl winner and six-time Pro Bowler was overshadowed stat-wise by Emmitt Smith, but throwing for close to 33,000 yards and with all his wins made him an easy Hall of Famer.

As much of a rock for a secondary as any team could dream of, Jimmy Johnson played for 16 yards being named to four All-Pro teams picking off 47 passes. Ultra-consistent and able to play at a high level up until the end, he was an easy Hall of Famer.

Jonathan Ogden made it to Canton, too, starting 176 times, going to 11 Pro Bowls and being named to four All-Pro teams in his 12 years.

USC Best NFL Draft Picks

OT Anthony Munoz 1980, 1st round, 3rd pick overall, Cincinnati

Silver: S Ronnie Lott, 1981, 1st round, 8th pick overall, San FranciscoBronze: OT Bruce Matthews, 1st round, 9th pick overall, Houston

You need to come armed at a nuclear level to even think about making the list of top USC draft picks.

Seriously? How do you pick from a program with 12 Hall of Famers? How do you leave off Marcus Allen, O.J. Simpson, Troy Polamalu, Junior Seau, and Frank Gifford?

Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz spent 13 years as a dominant starter for Cincinnati, being named to nine All-Pro teams and going to 11 Pro Bowls – he was the gold standard for left tackles.

If you want to argue that Ronnie Lott deserves to be the No. 1 Trojan, you’re probably right. Possibly the greatest safety in NFL history, he played ten years for the 49ers, picking off 51 passes and being a tone-setting tackler making 721 stops with five All-Pro nods and nine Pro Bowl appearances for them.

Bruce Matthews turned in an all-timer of a Hall of Fame career, playing 19 years and getting better and better as he went on. He finished up with 14 Pro Bowls and getting on seven All-Pro teams.

Utah Best NFL Draft Picks

WR Steve Smith 2001, 3rd round, 74th pick overall, Carolina

Silver: S Larry Wilson, 1960, 7th round, 74th pick overall, St. LouisBronze: S Eric Weddle, 2007, 2nd round, 37th pick overall, San Diego

Pound-for-pound, Steve Smith might be the toughest and most productive receiver in NFL history, catching 836 passes for over 12,000 yards with 67 touchdowns for Carolina in what should be a Hall of Fame career.

Larry Wilson was a 13-year mainstay for the Cardinal defense through the 1960s making 52 interceptions and earning his way onto five All-Pro teams.

Eric Weddle was a two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl talent for San Diego, making 851 tackles in his nine years with the team.

Washington Best NFL Draft Picks

RB Hugh McElhenny 1952, 1st round, 9th pick overall, San Francisco

Silver: DT Arnie Weinmeister, 1945, 17th round, 166th pick overall, New York YanksBronze: C Olin Kreutz, 1998, 3rd round, 64th pick, Chicago

Remember, Hall of Famer Warren Moon went to the CFL first and wasn’t drafted, and Mark Brunell was drafted by Green Bay, not Jacksonville.

Hugh McElhenny ended his career with three other teams, but for nine years he was a force for San Francisco, being named to two All-Pro teams and going to five Pro Bowls in his Hall of Fame career.

Arnie Weinmeister started out with the New York Yanks and slid over to the New York Giants once the Yanks went away. A five-time All-Pro defensive tackle was an easy lock for the Hall of Fame as a devastating interior pass rusher.

Olin Kreutz was the mainstay and leader for the Chicago line for 13 years going to six Pro Bowls and being named an All-Pro in 2006.

Washington State Best NFL Draft Picks

QB Drew Bledsoe 1993, 1st round, 1st pick overall, New England

Silver: DT Keith Millard, 1984, 1st round, 13th pick overall, MinnesotaBronze: FB Keith Lincoln, 1961, 2nd round, 15th pick overall, San Diego

Drew Bledsoe did some nice things with Buffalo and Dallas, and he’s most famous for his time at New England before getting hurt to open the door for Tom Brady to be Tom Brady. Bledsoe put up an amazing run for the Patriots, throwing for close to 30,000 yards and helping get them to two Super Bowls.

Keith Millard only played for six years with the Vikings, but he was the 1989 NFL Defensive Player of the Year with two All-Pro and Pro Bowl appearances. He was a rock next to Chris Doleman in the interior of the line.

Keith Lincoln played seven years or San Diego going to four Pro Bowls and being named to the 1963 and 1964 All-Pro teams finishing his time with the Chargers running for close to 2,700 yards and catching 123 passes.

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2022 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings, AnalysisQBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OTs | OGs & Cs | DEs & Edge | DTsLBs | Ss | CBs | 50 Greatest Value Draft Picks EverNFL Draft by college over last 5 years: 1-130 rankings

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