Naturally, the first round of the NFL Draft is when the highest amount of people are going to be watching because you have the casual fans who want to see where the biggest names will end up going. There are still plenty of people who make sure they watch the second round of the draft, though, as there are still plenty of big-time college players who get drafted a little later than some may have thought.
A lot of these second-round players end up being instant contributors to their new professional teams, with many of them ending up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few players, but here are our picks for the five best second-round picks in NFL Draft history. Before we start the list, some honorable mentions include Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Howie Long, LeSean McCoy, DaVante Adams, and Larry Allen.
While he might be known these days more for his media career thanks to hosting game shows and talk shows, Michael Strahan was once among the greatest defensive players in the NFL. Strahan was a relative unknown coming out of college since he attended the small school Texas Southern. In 1993, the second round was filled with picks from much larger schools like Miami, Notre Dame, and Michigan.
Strahan ended up being the 40th overall selection, with the New York Giants taking him after forfeiting their first-round pick. Strahan became a six-time All-Pro with the Giants and was the 2001 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He became a Hall of Famer in 2014 and is tied for the single-season sack record with 22.5.
The Chicago Bears were building a defensive powerhouse during the early 1980s that would help form the Monsters of the Midway. To do that, they needed help at linebacker. In the 1981 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected offensive tackle Keith Van Horne in the first round, and he ended up being an underwhelming selection.
Right after wide receiver (and now commentator) Cris Collinsworth was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bears picked up linebacker Mike Singletary from Baylor. Singletary wound up being one of the franchise’s best linebackers, which is saying something when Brian Urlacher and Dick Butkus are in the fray. Singletary was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and eight-time All-Pro in his 12 NFL seasons (all with Chicago).
Surprisingly, not many teams were clamoring for Brett Favre when he was coming out of Southern Miss back in 1991. Atlanta Falcons coach Jerry Glanville was adamant that the team shouldn’t draft him, and they had already used first-round selections on cornerback Bruce Pickens and wide receiver Mike Pritchard. The team’s best pick, though, was their second-round (33rd overall) selection of Favre.
Favre would play for just one season as a backup in Atlanta, but that was enough for the Green Bay Packers to take notice and trade a first-round selection for Favre. Green Bay had wanted him initially, but the Falcons were one spot ahead of them. It ended up working out just fine for the Packers as they received a Hall of Famer and three-time MVP.
It’s wild to think that Rob Gronkowski wasn’t even the first tight end taken in the 2010 NFL Draft. That honor belongs to Jermaine Gresham, the only tight end taken in the first round that year. It wasn’t until the 42nd overall spot that Gronk heard his name called, and the draft spot changed hands several times.
The Raiders initially held the pick and sent it to Tampa Bay, which then ended up with Chicago before Bill Belichick acquired it to select Gronkowski. Gronk, when healthy, was the best tight end in NFL history. He was a four-time All-Pro and even led the league in touchdowns during his second season en route to four Super Bowl titles.
Many felt that Drew Brees had the arm to be a great NFL quarterback but not the size. That’s why he had to wait until the first pick of the second round in 2001 to be selected by the San Diego Chargers in a loaded draft. Brees spent five seasons in San Diego before hitting free agency and became a legend with the New Orleans Saints.
Brees brought the franchise its first Super Bowl while setting season and career records left and right. With more than a dozen Pro Bowls, five All-Pro selections, and two Offensive Player of the Year honors, Brees was the best second-round pick in NFL history.