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Cream of the Crop: 4th Round (1999-2009)

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In our last Cream of the Crop post for the third round, we saw our very own Frank "The Tank" Gore run away with a majority of the votes. Although we also had a bunch of people that thought Steve Smith should have gotten the majority of the votes. Behind those two, was Brian Westbrook. Gore finished with 49% of the votes with 667, then Smith with 21% of the votes with 286, and Westbrook with 13% of the votes with 179 votes.

Behind the top three the rest of the results went like this... Joey Porter (89 votes), Jason Witten (57 votes), Mike Wallace (32 votes), Darnell Dockett (13 votes), Jamaal Charles (10 votes), Mike Sims-Walker (3 votes), Jerious Norwood (3 votes), Laveranues Coles (2 votes). There ended up being a grand total of 1,341 votes; so thanks to all who took the time.

This week, we'll of course look at the cream of the crop 4th Round picks in the last decade. There are some good ones and not so good ones, but I suspect the voting will be a little closer knit this week. There's going to be two more of these articles to come before the draft (The 5th Rounders and a Combo of The 6th and 7th Rounders). Thanks again to those who have participated in the discussions and voting.

After the jump, we'll take a look at the players.

1999 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Aaron Smith (109th pick overall, Steelers) N. Colorado

Smith was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 4th round, 109th pick overall, of the 1999 NFL draft. Smith played in every Steelers' game from 2000 though 2006.[2] Smith has been considered an ideal defensive end in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense.[3][4] Smith won a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers in Super Bowl XL, during the 2005 season. He recorded four tackles throughout the game. After the 2008 season, Smith won another ring with the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.

On February 27, 2007, the Steelers resigned Smith to a 5 year, US$25 million contract. Through the 2007 season, Smith ranks ninth all-time on the Steelers sacks list. After missing parts of three games with a knee injury early in the 2007 season, Smith missed the last four games due to a torn biceps muscle while playing against the New England Patriots in early December. Smith made a full recovery from the injury and returned to his starting position in 2008, recording 44 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

In 2009, Smith played in Pittsburgh's first five games before sustaining a torn rotator cuff in an Oct. 10 win over the Detroit Lions. On Oct. 14, the Steelers placed Smith on the injured reserve list, ending his 2009 season.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Smith_(American_football)

2000 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Na'il Diggs (98th pick overall, Packers) Ohio State

Na'il Diggs (born July 8, 1978 in Phoenix, Arizona) is an American football linebacker who is currently a free agent. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. He played college football at the Ohio State.

Diggs has also played for the Carolina Panthers.

Diggs was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. On March 2, 2006, he was released by the Packers.

Diggs was signed to a one-year deal by the Carolina Panthers on April 21, 2006. Diggs finished the season with 60 tackles. Diggs was re-signed by the Panthers to a one-year deal on March 2, 2007. Diggs played weakside linebacker for Carolina, being injured in the opener but starting 10 games, playing in 15, and adding 68 tackles, one forced fumble, one pass deflection. He was released on March 5, 2010.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na'il_Diggs

2001 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Rudi Johnson (100th pick overall, Bengals) Auburn

Burudi Ali "Rudi" Johnson (born October 1, 1979) is an American football running back who is currently a free agent. Rudi was born in Petersburg, Virginia approximately 30 miles south of Richmond. His first name "Burudi" is Swahili and means "cool'" and his middle name "Ali" represented his family's respect and admiration for Muhammed Ali. He began playing football at the age of six with the Ettrick Trojans of the Chesterfield Quarterback League. During his high school career, he played both offense and defense for the Thomas Dale Knights under head coach Victor Williams following in the footsteps of Ken Oxendine and William Henderson. During his career, he broke the school's rushing record which was held by his friend, mentor and coach Henry Jefferson. Upon graduation he enrolled at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas joining the same junior college network which produced his NFL teammate Corey Dillon who played earlier for Butler's arch rival Garden City. After completing his Associates Degree at Butler, he was recruited and transferred to Auburn University playing under the coaching staff of Tommy Tuberville and running backs coach Eddie Gran. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudi_Johnson

2002 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

David Garrard (108th pick overall, Jaguars) ECU

Garrard was drafted as the apparent successor to starting quarterback Mark Brunell. However, following the 2002 season, the Jaguars fired then head coach Tom Coughlin, and new general manager James Harris drafted Byron Leftwich with the seventh overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Leftwich replaced an injured Mark Brunell as the starting quarterback during the 2003 season and Garrard continued to serve as the team's backup quarterback.

Garrard started for the Jaguars' when Leftwich was injured during Week 9 of the 2004 National Football League season with a sprained left knee. After the 2004 season, Garrard opted to stay with the Jaguars as a back-up instead of pursuing a chance at starting for another team.

Garrard also started 5 games of the 2005 season when Leftwich went down with an injury in week 11. With Garrard as starting quarterback, the Jaguars finished the regular season by going 4–1 and made the playoffs, with the only loss coming at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. Leftwich then returned as the starter for the AFC wild card playoff game, in which the Jaguars suffered a 28–3 loss to the New England Patriots.

On January 12, 2008, In the AFC Divisional Playoff Game, David threw for 278 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception against the unbeaten New England Patriots. However, the Patriots won the game, 31-20.

On April 7, 2008 it was announced that the Jaguars and Garrard had agreed to a contract extension, worth $60 million for 6 years.[21]

In 2008, the Jaguars slumped to a 5-11 record, with an injured offensive line. Garrard threw for 3,620 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, giving him a quarterback rating of 81.7. The Jaguars missed the playoffs, and finished last in the AFC South.

On January 24, 2010, David Garrard was selected as the third quarterback to the 2009 AFC Pro Bowl team backing up Matt Schaub and Vince Young after Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer withdrew.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Garrard

2003 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Asante Samuel (120th pick overall, Patriots) C. Florida

In the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft, with the 120th overall pick, Samuel was drafted by the Patriots along with Ty Warren, Bethel Johnson, Eugene Wilson, and Dan Koppen.

At the start of the 2004 season, the Patriots' starting corners were Tyrone Poole and Ty Law. After both were sidelined by injuries, Samuel became a starter, and actually started for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. He would start at corner the following season.

In 2006, the Patriots began the season with Samuel and Ellis Hobbs at cornerback. By the end of the regular season, Samuel had intercepted a career-high 10 passes, which put him in a tie for first in the 2006 season (with Champ Bailey of the Broncos); the mark is the second-best ever for a Patriot (in 1964 Ron Hall had 11). Samuel tied the Patriots' mark for most interceptions in a game when he picked off three passes in a week 12 game against the Chicago Bears.

He intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown twice in the 2006 NFL Playoffs once against the New York Jets to clinch their 1st round victory and then in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts to extend the lead to 21–3.

Samuel was thought to be one of the most sought-after free agents of the 2008 NFL offseason. Within minutes of the start of free agency on February 29, 2008, Samuel was reportedly already setting up a meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles.[5] Later that day, he signed a six-year, $56 million contract with the Eagles. Upon being signed, Samuel was quoted as saying, "I just want to be able to win and get back to the Super Bowl."

On December 20, 2009 against the San Francisco 49ers, Samuel made his eighth interception of the year to break Troy Vincent's record of seven interceptions in a season under head coach Andy Reid. Vincent set the record during the 1999 season.

With nine interceptions, Samuel is now tied for second in Eagles history for interceptions in a season, with Don Burroughs (1960) and Ed "Bibbles" Bawel (1955).

Samuel was selected to the 2010 Pro Bowl as a starter.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asante_Samuel

2004 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Jared Allen (126th pick overall, Chiefs) Idaho State

Allen was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth round (126th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft and signed for a year, US$100,000 contract. Allen quickly became a fixture in rebuilding a Chiefs defense that had ranked near last in the NFL.

On May 21, 2007, Allen, as a restricted free agent, signed the Chiefs' one-year tender offer of $2.35 million for the 2007 season.[6] Allen credited his early 2007 season success to his mullet. With every quarterback sack Allen makes, he was expected to shave a "racing stripe" into his hairstyle. On December 2, 2007, Allen caught a touchdown pass against divisional rival San Diego [7] On December 23, 2007, Allen caught another touchdown pass against the Detroit Lions.[citation needed]

Allen was elected as starting defensive end for the American Football Conference in the 2007 Pro Bowl. He led the NFL in sacks (15.5) for 2007. Allen was also selected All-Pro team for 2007.[8]

In February 2008, the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Allen giving him a one-year, US$8.8 million salary for 2008.

On April 22, 2008, the Chiefs traded Allen to the Minnesota Vikings. In exchange, the Vikings sent the Chiefs a first-round pick, which they used to select OT Branden Albert, and two third-round picks and swapped sixth-round picks in the 2008 NFL Draft. The Vikings then signed Allen to a six-year contract, which at the time was the richest contract for a defensive player in NFL history.[10] Allen is due an US$8 million roster bonus in 2010 per the six-year, US$72.36 million contract he signed with the Vikings. The bonus is guaranteed for injury only. Allen's signing bonus is US$15.5 million.

He also made the Pro Bowl in 2009 as the starting DE for the NFC team.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Allen

2005 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Marion Barber (109th pick overall, Cowboys) Minnesota

Marion Sylvester Barber III (born June 10, 1983 in Plymouth, Minnesota) is an American football running back for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Minnesota.

Barber was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007. He is the older brother of Houston Texans safety Dominique Barber and the son of former New York Jets running back Marion Barber, Jr.

Dallas offered Marion Barber the highest tender as a restricted free agent. On May 20, 2008, he signed a seven-year deal, $45 million with the Cowboys with $16 million guaranteed.

Despite being a starter, Barber is seeing his role diminish more and more in the Cowboys offense due to the emergence of Tashard Choice and Felix Jones and also injuries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_Barber_III

2006 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Brandon Marshall (119th pick overall, Broncos) UCF

Brandon Marshall (born March 23, 1984), nicknamed "The Beast,"[1][2][3][4] is an American football wide receiver for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League. He was selected by the Broncos out of the University of Central Florida, with the 119th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft.[5]

Marshall is known for his ability to break and dodge tackles.[6] He led all NFL wide receivers in yards after first contact for the 2007 NFL season.[5] Regarding Marshall's breakaway ability, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers said, "Brandon Marshall is a defensive lineman playing wide receiver. He wants to inflict punishment on you. He wants you to try to tackle him so he can shove you off of him and get more yards."[6] Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said Marshall is "the toughest guy to bring down, one-on-one."[7]

On December 13, 2009, Marshall set an NFL record for receptions in a game with 21.[8] He is also only one of five players in NFL history to catch at least 100 passes in three consecutive seasons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Marshall

2007 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Le'Ron McClain (137th pick overall, Ravens) Alabama

McClain signed with the Ravens on July 27, 2007. He scored his first career touchdown on a Kyle Boller pass against the San Diego Chargers on November 25, 2007. He finished his rookie season with eight carries for 18 yards, nine receptions for 55 yards, and 1 touchdown.

On December 20, 2008, McClain ran for 82 yards to score the final touchdown in Texas Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys. Along with teammate Willis McGahee's 77-yard touchdown run on the previous Ravens drive, he and McGahee became the first players ever to run two 70+ touchdown runs on back-to-back drives. The run was also the longest run by an opponent in Texas Stadium. In addition, McClain had 139 rushing yards on the day.

During the 2008 season, McClain became the team's primary running-back as he rushed for a team-high 902 (3.9 average) yards and 10 touchdowns on 232 carries. He also caught 19 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. McClain's performance earned him a Pro Bowl selection, in which he scored a touchdown off of a Fumblerooski play handed off by former Denver Broncos Quarterback Jay Cutler.Cutler put the ball between McClain's legs in which he ran in for a touchdown.

On December 29, 2009 McClain was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl as the fullback for the AFC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le'Ron_McClain

2008 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Tashard Choice (122nd pick overall, Cowboys) Georgia Tech

Choice was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. His first career carry came in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, where he had 5 carries for 26 yards. He was used primarily on special teams during his rookie season. He did not receive another carry until week 7 against the St. Louis Rams, where he had 2 attempts for 13 yards. After injuries to Marion Barber and Felix Jones, Choice had his largest workload of the year against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had the league’s best rushing defense.[17] Choice amassed 23 carries for 88 yards, and caught 5 passes for 78 yards. The following week against the New York Giants, Choice scored his first career touchdown. He finished his rookie campaign with 472 yards rushing, 185 yards receiving, and 2 touchdowns.

Choice began the season behind Marion Barber and Felix Jones on the depth chart, but injuries gave Choice more playing time in week 3 against the Carolina Panthers. Choice had 18 carries for 82 yards and one touchdown in a Dallas win. Choice was used by the Dallas Cowboys mostly in what they called the Razorback formation, a variation of the Wildcat offense. Choice finished the season with 349 yards rushing, 132 yards receiving, and 3 touchdowns.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tashard_Choice

2009 DRAFT (4TH ROUND)

Louis Murphy (124th pick overall, Raiders) Florida

Murphy was drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. He made his NFL debut on Monday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers on September 14, 2009. Murphy caught a 56 yard touchdown pass from JaMarcus Russell. In the 2009 season Murphy caught a touchdown pass that helped his team beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Murphy again led his team to a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers by grabbing an 11-yard touchdown pass from Bruce Gradkowski with 9 seconds left in the game that put the Raiders up 27-24. [7] Greg Papa punctuated the play with the following call:

"Watkins out right singled up with Burnett, Gradkowski, they blitz Burnett, here's Gradkowski now gonna to throw for the endzone it is CAUGHT, TOUCHDOWN RRRRAID-ERS!!!! Louis Murphy in the back corner of the endzone with nine seconds to go!"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Murphy

SUMMARY:

All of these players have contributed significantly for their respective teams and some of them still have long roads ahead of them. Overall, as I mentioned above, I think that a few of these players should make for a closer voting than the last one. Normally I do my own write ups as far as the explanations under each player, however, I have recently taken on a couple things that will be occupying a good chunk of my time for the next couple weeks so I had to borrow from wikipedia.

Later this afternoon, I will be putting up a post in reference to our next, and final, community mock draft. We have had some solid participation in the last couple. A few of you have just recently been consuming yourselves with all of the draft talk now that it is drawing closer and closer. Any and all participation is welcome, so be looking out for that this afternoon. Once again thanks.

Please vote below.