NFL Draft: 10 best third-round picks since 2000
Looking back at top Round 3 selections in the NFL Draft since 2000, there are a lot of big names and Pro Bowlers — and already a few locks for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Here's the best of the best third-rounders from those draft classes.
1 Honorable mentions
Evan Mathis, G (No. 79 overall, 2005). It took a few stops before retirement for Mathis to be recognized for his elite run blocking.
Brian Westbrook, RB (No. 91 overall, 2002). The Eagles couldn’t have been much happier when going right down the street for backfield help from Villanova.
Cliff Avril, DE (No. 92 overall, 2007). Before he started ripping it up for the Sehahawks, Avril was one of the better Lions draft picks of late.
Kirk Cousins, QB (No. 102 overall, 2012). Cousins is still writing his story as Washington’s breakout starter after being taken in the same class as Robert Griffin III.
2 Tyrann Mathieu, S (No. 69 overall, 2013)
Many teams weren’t sure about Mathieu’s character given the off-field circumstances that limited his on-field impact at LSU. The Cardinals trusted in him to turn things around personally, and it paid off handsomely before he left for Houston.
3 T.Y. Hilton, WR (No. 92 overall, 2012)
The Colts tapped into Florida International for Andrew Luck’s go-to guy, and they have not been disappointed with Hilton’s speed and big-play ability.
4 NaVorro Bowman, ILB (No. 91 overall, 2010)
Bowman joined Patrick Willis inside to be the anchor of the 49ers’ linebacker corps. Before injuries slowed him down, his speed was seen everywhere on the field.
5 Justin Houston, OLB (No. 70 overall, 2011)
Houston, out of Georgia, fit in perfectly to the Chiefs’ edge-rushing scheme opposite Tamba Hali. He turned into one of the NFL’s most daunting defenders.
6 Frank Gore, RB (No. 65 overall, 2005)
Gore keeps pounding away and outrunning his age, but it was the 49ers who looked past Gore’s college injury concerns out of Miami to think he could be a tough, productive inside runner.
7 Jamaal Charles, RB (No. 73 overall, 2007)
The Chiefs didn’t intend to make Charles a true workhorse when they took him out of Texas as a speed back, but he held up to be an all-around force with some elite seasons.
8 Marshal Yanda, G (No. 86 overall, 2007)
Yanda with the Ravens quickly developed into the most dominant interior blocker in the league. His career deserves more reverence.
9 Jason Witten, TE (No. 69 overall, 2003)
Witten has been a fixture in the Cowboys' offense ever since he became a steal out of Tennessee. He will be Dallas’ Ring of Honor soon, as well as Canton, for his terrific blocking and receiving.
10 Russell Wilson, QB (No. 75 overall, 2012)
Wilson was taken so late by the Seahawks in a draft that saw Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill go early in the first round. Even a punter, Bryan Anger, was drafted ahead of him by the Jaguars.
11 Steve Smith Sr., WR (No. 74 overall, 2001)
Smith rode into retirement after his short stint with the Ravens, but he will be remembered as the best draft pick and player in the Panthers’ franchise history.