Cream of the Crop: 3rd Round (1999-2009)

In our last look at the "cream of the crop", of the second round picks, Drew Brees won 75% of the votes (903) as the best player selected of the decade in that round. I have to say, I am fairly surprised that the percentage wasn't higher than that though considering who the other players were. The runner-up to Brees was DeSean Jackson earning 5% of the votes (67), and third was Anquan Boldin with 4% of the votes (54). I also found it very surprising that Jackson recorded more votes than Boldin.

This week, we will look at some of the best third rounders in the past decade and some of their accomplishments. With such a large portion of votes going to one player last week, we'll see how this weeks piece shakes out. I think it could be a bit closer this week but we will see.

To find out which players made the list this week, click continue below to keep reading.

1999 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Joey Porter (73rd pick overall, Steelers) Colorado State

This will be Joey Porter's 12th season entering the 2010 year. He began his career in Pittsburgh, but in '07 landed in Miami. A few weeks ago, he signed with the NFC West Arizona Cardinals via free agency.

Porter is a 4x Pro Bowler and played in Superbowl XL during his tenure in Pittsburgh. He was named to the 2000's All-Decade Team and has been a force to be reckoned with anywhere he has played. Two season's ago, while in Miami, Porter recorded 18 Sacks (a career high) to lead the league that year. He has been in double-digits three times in his career as far as sacks are concerned and will be looking to do so once again as he gets a bit more freedom to go after the quarterback in Arizona in the up and coming season.

Porter is currently 32nd on the All-Time list for career sacks (92), and just second behind former teammate Jason Taylor who has 127.5 as far as active players go. Porter turned 33 a few days ago on March 22nd, and if Taylor plays this year, he will be turning 36 in September.

 

2000 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Laveranues Coles (78th pick overall, Jets) Florida State

Laveranues Coles just cannot stay away from New York that long it seems. This will be is third time back with the Jets after spending time with the Redskins and Cincinnati. Coles was originally drafted by New York, but left for D.C. in '02. After a three year stint with the Redskins, Coles missed the place he'd established as home and went back to play for the Jets on '05. He had four years back in New York before he would sign with Cincinnati. Although he was a number two while with the Bengals, they did not feel he was worthy of even that and let him go. The most recent offseason, Coles once again was magnetized back to the Big Apple and signed with the Jets once again. Sometimes I guess home is just home.

Coles has never been to the big one with any of the three teams he has played for but earned the right to play in the 2003 Pro Bowl. In 2007, Coles also earned the Ed Block Award which is arguably one of the best honors a player can receive considering it is an award earned by vote from teammates.

He currently has 674 Career Receptions, 8,609 Yards, 12.8 Average, and 49 Career Touchdowns. Coles will be 33 in December.

 

2001 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Steve Smith (74th pick overall, Panthers) Utah

Steve Smith has always played with a big chip on his shoulder. In his mind, he is 10' tall and runs a 3.8 40-yard dash, or at least it seems as though he plays that way. He has resented the fact that he was selected in the third round for the duration of his career in the NFL and has openly admitted so on several occasions. He never let's size get in the way of making a difference though and as much as some people say you cannot measure heart because it's an intangible, I disagree, and say that Smith has as much heart as some of the toughest players to ever step foot on a football field. Say what you will about Steve Smith, but one thing is certain, he is one of the more entertaining characters to come around in a long time.

Smith has been to the Pro Bowl four times in his career and earned the Co-NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2005 after a broke leg in '04. Smith played in Superbowl XXXVIII with the Panthers but the team would fall short by just 3 Points in a loss to the Patriots.

Smith is currently 64th on the All-Time list for receiving yards (14th among active players), and is also 96th on the All-Time list of receiving touchdowns (13th among active players).

Notable Mention: Adrian Wilson (64th pick overall, Cardinals) N.C. State

 

2002 DRAT (3rd Round)

Brian Westbrook (91st pick overall, Eagles) Villanova

Brian Westbrook has been a member of the Eagles for his entire career up until just a few months ago when he was released. Westbrook suffered a few concussions which in turn made him a potential liability for their future and what they are trying to do in Philadelphia. Westbrook to this point has found no suitors. It is unclear if he will play in the NFL again. My thoughts are that he will find a team before the first regular season game.

He has accomplished so many things throughout his career which even includes an appearance in Superbowl XXXIX which the Eagles lost by three points to the Patriots by a score of 21-24. Westbrook is a two-time Pro Bowler (in 2004 and 2007), and currently is 99th on the All-Time list for all-purpose yards. He is also 71st on the All-Time rushing list (11th among active players).

 

2003 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Jason Witten (69th pick overall, Cowboys) Tennessee

Since Jason Witten was drafted in 2003, he has proved to be one of the biggest weapons for the Dallas Cowboys. Last year, Witten was the leading receiver for the Cowboys with 94 Receptions. In the previous two seasons to that, Witten was second behind former teammate Terrell Owens.

Although Witten has reached certain milestones in his career, he has yet to make it to the big game. It is hard to imagine that Owner Jerry Jones will let go of Witten at any point in his career. When it is all said and done, Witten does have the chance to go down as the best Tight End in the history of the franchise though. Possibly better than even Jay Novacek, or even Ditka if you count the 4 or 5 years he played in Dallas. Either way, Witten is far from being done. He has only missed one game in his entire career which was in his rookie season.

Witten currently has 523 Receptions, 5,965 Yards, and 27 Career Touchdowns.

 

2004 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Darnell Dockett (64th pick overall, Cardinals) Florida State

Dockett had a slow start in the beginning of his career, but in the last couple has proved to be a menace at the defensive tackle position. They say it takes a couple of years for defensive linemen to develop and that was true for Dockett. Somewhere in the '07 Season, Dockett woke up and started dominating pepole on the playing field similar to how he did at Florida State. He had 9 Sacks that season.

The season before last, the Arizona defensive tackle was a pivotal piece in the Cardinals reaching Superbowl XLIII in which they lost due to a last second heroic tippy-toe grab by Santonio Holmes in the back corner of the endzone. He has been to the Pro Bowl twice out of the last three seasons, both in 2007 and 2009.

Dockett currently has 280 Tackles, 26 Sacks, 7 Fumbles Forced, 4 Interceptions, and 12 Passes deflected at the line.

 

2005 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Frank Gore (65th pick overall, 49ers) Miami

Frank Gore is definitely one of the top running backs in the league right now. He has basically played on a team, which up until recently has been considered as one of the bottom feeders of the league. In having said that, it says a lot of him as an individual player considering the stats he has put up.

In 2005, Gore had the best rookie season of any 49er since Roger Craig by putting up 608 Yards; Craig had 725 yards his rookie season in 1983. Dexter Carter was second up until '05 with 460 Yards. In 2006, Gore would be sling-shotted in to the starting role as the 49ers got rid of Kevan Barlow to the New York Jets for a 4th Round pick. 2006 was by and large Frank Gore's most productive season. He recorded 1,695 Yards and 8 Touchdowns.

This past season, Gore broke his mark on touchdowns with 10 but ended up with 13 total including the ones he caught.

The 49ers starting running back currently sits at 87th on the All-Time Career Rushing Board and is 12th among active players. Only Roger Craig, Joe Perry, Ken Willard, and Garrison Hearst have had more rushing yards for the franchise. Gore could potentially be the leader above those mentioned if he plays just a couple more years. In fact, it could happen this season. He only needs 1,504 Yards to break the record which is held by Roger Craig (7,064).

Gore has 5,561 Career Yards Rushing on 1,168 Carries and 39 total touchdowns.

 

2006 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Jerious Norwood (79th pick overall, Falcons) Mississippi State

Jerious Norwood has not done anything spectacular, but the 3rd Round in 2006 certainly lacked what we would call depth. Norwood has been a decent change of pace back while playing for Atlanta but wasn't ever good enough to be considered for the starting job. When Michael Turner was added to the roster in 2008, Turner and Norwood helped the Falcons become one of the leading rushing teams in the NFL that year.

When guys have been hurt, Norwood has been a very servicable back up though. However, his production from seasons past has fallen off a bit from year to year. The two best performances of his career came in his rookie season when he broke a 78 yarder against Arizona and a 69 yarder against Washington; in both games he went for over 100 yards. Norwood has not been able to repeat the same success since though.

The Falcons back up has 373 Career Carries, 1,987 Yards, and 7 Touchdowns.

 

2007 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Mike Sims-Walker (79th pick overall, Jaguars) Central Michigan

Walker was the number one receiver for the Jaguars last year with 63 Receptions and was Quarterback David Garrard's favorite target. I suspect that the Jags will try and get a true number one in this years draft though whether it be in the 1st Round or later. Walker has potential but I am unsure if he has enough to ever be considered a true number one threat at receiver. He did however have the most upside out of any other draftee from this particular draft in round three.

In 2007, his rookie year, Sims-Walker did not play the entire season due to an injured knee that would require surgery. 2008, Walker's "sophomore" year (which was pretty much his rookie year), he was set back even further with an infection in his knee and also had personal family tragedies that occurred. But in 2009, he came back to start every game and be one of the Jags most viable weapons.

Sims-Walker in the last two years has had 79 Receptions, 1,086 Yards, and 7 Touchdowns.

 

2008 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Jamaal Charles (73rd pick overall, Chiefs) Texas

In college, Jamaal Charles ran both track and starred on the powerhouse Texas Longhorns football team as their primary running back. Charles was drafted by the Chiefs to serve mainly as a change of pace back to Larry Johnson and help out on special teams as well. However, Charles would eventually prove to have enough worth to receive a lot more playing time and carries. Last season after the Chiefs released Johnson midway through the season, Charles was able to step in full-time and went over the 1000 yard mark on just 190 carries. He stretched the field exceptionally well through the course of the season and more so after he took over full-time.

Charles would cap off his tremendous "half" season in Denver when he ran the ball 25 times for 259 Yards with 2 touchdowns and now holds a franchise record for yards rushed in a single game for the Chiefs. If he can continue his success, we should all be looking for him to be at the top of the leader boards all year long.

Charles currently has 1,477 Yards on just 257 Career touches and 7 Touchdowns (all of which came last year).

 

2009 DRAFT (3rd Round)

Mike Wallace (84th pick overall, Steelers) Ole Miss

Mike Wallace is the future for the Steelers in my opinion. Hines Ward is not going to get younger and his career is coming to an end here soon. We should see a lot more of Wallace this coming season and I expect him to get a lot more looks considering some of the incredible plays he made last season. In some of the more crucial games, Wallace made some spectacular grabs. The Steelers could draft another wide receiver to come in and push the competition, but overall I see Holmes and Wallace as the feature and future number one and number two receivers on the field.

The Steelers have a lot of off the field issues going on right now which might cause a major impact on the state of their franchise depending on which way those specifics go.

Here are Wallace's stats from last year: 39 Receptions, 756 Yards, and 6 Touchdowns.

Notable Mention: Shonn Greene (65th pick overall, Jets) Iowa

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