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Cream of the Crop: 5th Round (1999-2009)

Well, we didn't get as many votes last time as the previous three times but there was a lot of stories the day it posted. In any case, the voting was pretty decisive. Jared Allen ran away with a majority of the voted with 63% (404 votes). Next in line was Brandon Marshall with 18% (118 voted), and then Asante Samuel with 11% (75 votes) for your top three. There were a total of 637 votes

Here are the rest of the results from last week:

4. Aaron Smith - 12 votes, 5. Marion Barber - 9 votes, 6. Na'il Diggs - 6 votes, 7. Rudi Johnson - 5 votes, 8. Le'Ron McClain - 3 votes, 9. David Garrard - 2 votes, 10. Louis Murphy - 2 votes, 11. Tashard Choice - 1 vote.

This weeks cream of the crop should be fairly interesting. We have a bunch of players that are pretty close in talent. In doing all of this research, it has become evident to me that certain rounds have higher and lower concentrations of talent. The 5th Round has been relatively mediocre in the past decade and beyond.

After the jump, we'll take an in-depth look at the 5th Rounders.


Jerry Azumah (147th pick overall, Bears) New Hampshire

Azumah was selected as the 14th pick of the fifth round of the 1999 NFL Draft out of the University of New Hampshire where he won the Walter Payton Award as the best offensive player in Division I-AA football. He attended Saint Peter-Marian High School in Worcester, Massachusetts. His best season came in 2003, when he led the league in kickoff returns with a twenty-nine-yard average and two touchdowns. He was selected to the 2004 Pro Bowl as a kick return specialist for the NFC. On March 23, 2006, Azumah retired from the NFL after seven seasons with the Chicago Bears at the age of 28 due to hip and neck pain. Azumah was succeeded by Devin Hester, who established himself as Pro Bowl-caliber return specialist in his rookie season with the Bears.

He now does Bears post game coverage on Comcast Sportsnet


Shane Lechler (142nd pick overall, Raiders) Texas A&M

Lechler played college football for Texas A&M from 1996-1999. In the NFL, Lechler has been named an All-Pro six times during his career. He is currently the NFL's All-Time leader in career punting average. Lechler comes from an athletic family - his mother and father played basketball and football (respectively) for Baylor. His brother Derek was a punter for Texas A&M and his wife, the former Erin Gibson, was an All-American volleyball player for the Aggies.

Arguably the best punter in the NFL since entering the league in 2000, Lechler has set various NFL and Raiders records. He was a Pro Bowler in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009 and was named to the All-Pro team in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Lechler has the NFL record for best average per punt in a career (47.3), the only player with a higher average than the legendary Sammy Baugh. He has the five best single-season punting averages in Raiders history, including a career-best 51.1 in 2009, the second highest single season average in league history (Baugh averaged 51.4 in 1940). Lechler recently raised his Raider record for most punting yards in a season with 4,909 in 2009.


Alex Bannister (140th pick overall, Seahawks) E. Kentucky

Alex Bannister is a National Football League wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens. He attended Eastern Kentucky University and was selected in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. In 2003 he was selected to the Pro Bowl, mainly due to his special teams contributions


Aaron Kampman (166th pick overall, Packers) Iowa

Kampman was selected with the 21st pick in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.

On March 11, 2006, he signed a four-year $21 million contract extension to stay with the Packers.[5] In week 8 of the 2006 NFL season Kampman was named the defensive player of the week after a solid performance against the Arizona Cardinals. He recorded two sacks and the Packer defense held Arizona to a total of 218 yards. In week 16, he registered another 3 sacks against the Minnesota Vikings to earn his second NFC defensive player of the week award.[6] In earning this award he joined Reggie White (1998) as the only Packers to win defensive honors twice in the same season. In 2006 Kampman was second in the NFL, behind San Diego's Shawne Merriman with 15.5 sacks. He ended the season with 89 tackles. His achievements helped him earn a bid to the 2007 Pro Bowl as well as being named second team All-Pro by the Associated Press.

On December 7, Kampman was officialy placed on injured reserve due to a knee injury he suffered earlier in the year versus the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11.

Kampman signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on March 6, 2010.


Robert Mathis (138th pick overall, Colts) Alabama A&M

Mathis was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 138th selection in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Mathis immediately stepped in during his rookie season as a pass rush specialist, seeing action in all 16 regular season games and recording 20 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. During his second season, Mathis took another step forward as he increased his numbers to 36 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles, despite appearing only as a specialist and starting only 1 game. In Mathis's third season, he set a Colts franchise record with 8 consecutive games with at least 1 sack, and finished the season with 54 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 8 forced fumbles, despite missing three games due to injuries.

Following the 2005 season, Robert Mathis signed a 5 year extension with the Colts believed to be worth $30 million, making him one of the highest paid defensive ends in the league. [2] The following season, Mathis started every game for the first time in his career, recording a career high 65 tackles along with 9.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. That year, Mathis helped the Colts go on to beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI to become NFL Champions.

In 2007, Mathis recorded 32 tackles, 7 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in an injury shortened season.

In 2008, Mathis had his best statistical season posting 48 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles. He was also voted to the 2009 NFL Pro Bowl for the AFC behind fellow teammate and perennial Pro-Bowler Dwight Freeney.

In addition to the above, Mathis hosts an annual summer football camp for children ages 7-18 at the University of Indianapolis, in Indianapolis, IN


Michael Turner (154th pick overall, Chargers) N. Illinois

Turner was drafted by the Chargers in the fifth round (154th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Turner played mostly on special teams, but started and ran for 87 yards in the regular-season finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Turner had again spent most of 2005 on the bench as backup to Pro Bowl starter LaDainian Tomlinson. But in the December 18 game against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts, Turner came off the bench to run for 113 yards, including a game-clinching 83-yard touchdown.

On March 2, 2008, the Atlanta Falcons signed Turner to a six-year, $34.5 million contract with $15 million guaranteed.[4] Turner underwent shoulder surgery after the Chargers' season ended last year.

In his Falcon debut, Turner broke the Atlanta Falcons single game rushing record against the Detroit Lions on September 7, 2008, rushing for 220 yards on 22 carries with 2 touchdowns.[5] His 220 yards against the Lions marked the second-highest opening day rushing total behind O.J. Simpson’s 250 yards in 1973 and his rushing total is also the most in NFL annals by a player in his first game with a new team and surpassed the previous mark of 202 yards setting by running back Gerald Riggs on September 2, 1984.

On December 16, 2008, Turner was named to the 2009 Pro Bowl along with fellow Falcon WR Roddy White.


Trent Cole (146th pick overall, Eagles) Cincinnati

2006: With 5 sacks in his first 4 games, he was thought to start at the right end position, but with the signing of Darren Howard, Cole would only play on pass downs during the 2006 season. But this changed in week 2, two weeks after star left end Jevon Kearse went out with a fractured tibia, the Eagles announced that Cole would start for Kearse. Since then, Cole has had 1.5 sacks, 26 tackles, 18 of them solo tackles, helping the Philadelphia Eagles carry themselves to 5 straight wins and an NFC East title. Cole was First-team All-Rookie team honors by, Pro Football Weekly after the season.

Cole signed a five-year contract extension on November 6, 2006 worth $26–28 million with a $12 million guarantee, which could keep him with the Eagles until 2013.

On December 17, 2006 against the New York Giants, Cole recorded the first interception and touchdown of his career. This interception gave the Eagles a 14 point lead with under 3 minutes left. The touchdown by Cole sealed the Eagles win 36-22. He ended the season with a career-high 8 sacks. Also led the defensive line with a career-high 84 tackles and his interception.

2007: Cole recorded 12.5 sacks in the 2007 season which broke his personal single-season record. He was the first defensive end since Clyde Simmons in 1986 to make the Pro Bowl as an Eagles draft pick. Cole is already 15th in team history in sacks. As impressive are his tackling numbers, his 70 tackles also put him first among all defensive ends in the NFC. On January 24, 2008 it was announced that he would be replacing Patrick Kerney in the 2008 Pro Bowl.

2008: In 2008 Cole led the team in hurries (22), and TFLs (9), was 2nd in sacks (9.0), and 3rd with 3 FFs while making 98 tackles (59 solo). He was named to the USA Today 2008 All-Joe Team for the 3rd consecutive season, which honors the NFL players whose work doesn't necessarily garner headlines, but is integral to the success of their football team.

2009: In week 15 of the 2009 NFL Season, Cole was disqualified with 8 seconds remaining in a game against the New York Giants for throwing punches at Giants' offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara. Both Cole and O'Hara were fined $15,000 by the NFL.[1] Cole was selected to the 2010 Pro Bowl as a reserve.


Parys Haralson (140th pick overall, 49ers) Tennessee

Haralson was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round (140th overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, he played in seven games recording four tackles. He made his NFL debut versus the St. Louis Rams on September 17. In 2007, Haralson started 11 games from 16 appearances and made 42 tackles and 2.5 sacks, his first solo sack coming at the Seattle Seahawks on November 12.[1] He finished the 2008 season leading the 49ers with 8 sacks. Haralson also lead the entire NFC West in sacks in 2008.

In April of 2009, Haralson signed a 4 year extension contract with the 49ers.


Steve Breaston (142nd pick overall, Cardinals) Michigan

Breaston was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. In the fourth game of the 2007 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Breaston took a punt back 73 yards for a touchdown, which proved to be the key score, as the Cardinals went on to win the game. Through week 13 of the 2007 season, Breaston had 1,462 return yards for the Cardinals.[2]

Breaston had a breakout year in 2008. Following a serious injury to perennial Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin, Breaston was inserted into the Cardinals' starting line-up at wide receiver. Breaston notably refused to participate in pre-game introductions at home games due to his opinion that he was still a backup, keeping a seat warm for the usual starter Anquan Boldin. Breaston finished the year with 1,006 yards, and he, Boldin, and Larry Fitzgerald became the fifth 1,000 yard receiving trio in NFL history.


Tim Hightower (149th pick overall, Cardinals) Richmond

Hightower was not invited to the 2008 NFL combine, but performed well at Richmond's "pro day". He was considered one of the "small-school sleepers" in the 2008 NFL Draft,[2] but lacked the speed of elite running back prospects. Regarded as "more of a ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ runner",[3] Hightower was projected as a solid middle-round pick.[2] He was drafted in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Cardinals with the 149th overall pick.

Hightower scored 10 touchdowns during his rookie season, and another 3 in the post season while averaging a meager 2.8 yards per carry. Tim Hightower is the only Cardinals rookie running back ever to have scored a touchdown in each of his first two games with the franchise. He scored the winning touchdown for the Arizona Cardinals in their last drive of the 2009 NFC Championship Game to propel the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII (the Arizona Cardinals' first).

In the 2009 regular season, despite the exact same number of carries (143) he was able to improve his previous 399 yards to 598 yards, an improvement which brought his yards per carry up to a solid 4.2.


Johnny Knox (140th pick overall, Bears) Abilene Christian

Knox, who joined that Chicago Bears drafted as an unheralded fifth-round draft choice, made an immediate impact on the team as a rookie. Though Knox only spent two seasons playing for a senior college, his combine numbers, which display his remarkable speed and agility, proved him to be a steal as a fifth round choice.

He caught his first NFL pass, a 68-yard reception, on September 13, 2009 against the Green Bay Packers. During the 2nd game of the 2009 season (against the Pittsburgh Steelers), Knox recorded his first NFL touchdown catch on a key 3rd down to tie the game up 14-14. He recorded another touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks, a 7 yard reception. In the fourth game of the season, against the Detroit Lions, he scored a touchdown on a 102-yard kickoff return. Two weeks later, after a bye week, Knox caught a 23 yard touchdown catch from Jay Cutler.

On November 29, 2009, Johnny Knox returned a kickoff 77 yards to set up a Bears field goal versus the Vikings.

Against the Vikings, December 28, 2009, Knox sustained a season-ending ankle injury, finishing the year with 45 receptions for 527 yards and 5 touchdowns.

On January 25, 2010, Knox was nominated to the NFC roster for the 2010 Pro Bowl, replacing Minnesota's Percy Harvin, who withdrew due to injury concerns.[3] Knox returned 4 kicks for 103 yards in his Pro Bowl debut. He was also targeted on two passes as a Wide Receiver, but failed to log a reception.


There is some very decent talent that has come out of the 5th round in the past decade. However, when I say decent, it pretty much stops there. I suspect that the voting could be closer, but I have been wrong every week in that regard and shocked at some of the results. For instance, I was almost certain that Brandon Marshall would walk away with the most votes. Just goes to show, how many different opinions there are in regards to the sport.