10 Best Clemson NFL Draft Picks Of All-Time

    Which Clemson players turned out to be the best NFL draft picks? Who are the 10 greatest selections in the school’s history?

    March 28, 2016


    Which Clemson players turned out to be the best NFL draft picks? Who are the 10 best selections in the school’s history?


    Who are the 10 best NFL draft picks of all-time to come from Clemson?

    It’s not just about who the best pro prospects were, or even who had the best NFL careers. It’s about which former Tigers were the best draft picks for the teams that drafted them – or in some rare cases, were the top undrafted free agent gets.

    It doesn’t really help an NFL team to take a player and then see him rock – or spend a key part of his career – doing big things for someone else. When it comes to the draft, just taking a guy who turns into a great player doesn’t really matter if he’s not doing it for you.

    Clemson’s wide receivers were incredible draft picks, and the defensive side of the ball is easy to find NFL stars, but there wasn’t much at quarterback and the offensive linemen sent to the pros have generally been mediocre.

    But all that is changing.

    Dabo Swinney is stockpiling up the talents with a slew of stars being sent to the NFL now and in the near future, but at the moment, the ten greatest Clemson Tiger NFL draft picks were …

    10. RB Kevin Mack, Cleveland

    1984, 1st round, 11th pick overall in the supplemental draft
    Pick Before: QB Ken Hobart, Idaho by New York Jets
    Pick After: RB Buford Jordan, McNeese State by Green Bay

    Originally a member of the USFL’s Los Angeles Express, Mack was taken in the 1984 supplemental draft after the league fizzled out. He turned into an instant Pro Bowl performer, running for 1,104 yards and seven touchdowns in his rookie year with the Browns, and went to the 1987 Pro Bowl, too. A strong receiver as well as a tough back, he finished his nine-year career with the Browns making 197 grabs for 1,602 yards and eight touchdowns, and running for 5,123 yards and 46 scores.

    9. DT Chester McGlockton, Los Angeles Raiders

    1992, 1st round, 16th pick overall
    Pick Before: TE Johnny Mitchell, Nebraska by New York Jets
    Pick After: CB Kevin Smith, Texas A&M by Dallas

    He’d have been much, much higher if he stayed with the Raiders for more than six years. Just okay after he left for Kansas City – and later with Denver and the Jets – for five years he was a rock for Los Angeles and then Oakland going to four straight Pro Bowls and earning a 1995 All-Pro spot as one of the league’s premier interior pass rushers.

    8. C Jeff Bostic, Washington

    Undrafted Free Agent Signing

    As good as it gets when it comes to a free agent signing, Bostic was the anchor of the fabled Hogs throughout the 1980s with a 14-year career starting 184 games and earning 1983 Pro Bowl honors. While he wasn’t the star of the Washington line, he was a good producer for a long, long time – when he was healthy. He only made it through six seasons wire-to-wire.

    7. WR Dwight Clark, San Francisco

    1979, 10th round, 249th pick overall
    Pick Before: DE Richard Kirk, Denison by Pittsburgh
    Pick After: RB Nathan Poole, Louisville by Cincinnati

    A throwaway tenth-round pick, he became an NFL legend by making The Catch on what seemed like a throwaway pass in the 1981 NFC Championship win over Dallas. Named to the 1981 and 1982 Pro Bowls and earning 1982 All-Pro honors, Clark was one of Joe Montana’s favorite targets, finishing his nine-year run with 506 catches for 6,750 yards and 48 scores.

    6. DE Jeff Bryant, Seattle

    1982, 1st round, 6th pick overall
    Pick Before: QB Jim McMahon, BYU by Chicago
    Pick After: RB Darrin Nelson, Stanford by Minnesota

    The pick worked. Fine, so the Seahawks didn’t take Marcus Allen, but they did get a very good, very sound 12-year pro who came up with a whopper of a third season – making 14.5 sacks – and was a decent starter for a long time. He might not have been an all-star, but to get 63 sacks of production and that long a career was good enough.

    5. DB Charlie Waters, Dallas

    1970, 3rd round, 66th pick overall
    Pick Before: WR Todd Snyder, Ohio by Atlanta
    Pick After: WR Glenn Alexander, Grambling by Buffalo

    Waters started out as a safety, was a disaster as a corner, and then midway through his career settled in as Tom Landry’s quarterback of the Doomsday Defense at strong safety. He got better as his 12-year run went on, finishing his career with 41 interceptions and going to three straight Pro Bowls from 1976 to 1978.

    4. DE Trevor Pryce, Denver

    1997, 1st round, 28th pick overall
    Pick Before: WR Rae Carruth, Colorado by Carolina
    Pick After: CB Chris Canty, Kansas State by New England

    Considering Rae Carruth went right before him, the pick turned out to be terrific for Denver.

    Pryce finished out his career with Baltimore and the New York Jets, but for nine years he was the mainstay on the Denver line, going to four straight Pro Bowls from 1999 to 2002 and being named to the 1999 All-Pro team. He generated 25 sacks over a two-year span with the Broncos – and 91 for his career in Denver – and later came up with 13 as a Raven, but he was known more as a very good, very steady force for a long time.

    3. LB Levon Kirkland, Pittsburgh

    1992, 2nd round, 38th pick overall
    Pick Before: S Darren Woodson, Arizona State by Dallas
    Pick After: DT Robert Harris, Saginaw Valley State by Minnesota

    A groundbreaking linebacker, the 6-1, 270-pounder was too big as a linebacker and too quick as a lineman. The nine-year star for the Steelers made 18.5 sacks and 639 stops, topping out with a 103-tackle second year in 1993 and going to two straight Pro Bowls in 1996 and 1997. An All-Pro in the 1997 season, he made 95 tackles with five sacks.

    2. DT Michael Dean Perry, Cleveland

    1988, 2nd round, 50th pick overall
    Pick Before: WR Brian Blades, Miami by Seattle
    Pick After: LB Dante Jones, Oklahoma by Chicago

    William will always be the more famous of the two Perrys, but Michael Dean had the far better career. He ended up at Denver – going to the Pro Bowl in 1996 – but for seven years he was the star of the Cleveland line going to five Pro Bowls and being named to back-to-back All-Pro teams in 1989 and 1990. A terrific hybrid, he was a pass rushing end when needed, a tough tackle when he had to be, and always active and always productive, mainly on the inside. He left the Browns with 470 tackles and 51.5 sacks.

    1. S Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia

    1996, 2nd round, 61st pick overall
    Pick Before: C Michael Cheever, Georgia Tech by Jacksonville
    Pick After: CB Ray Mickens, Texas A&M by New York Jets

    One of the best late second round picks of all-time, Dawkins was one of the leaders of the Philly D for over a decade. Ultra-productive in his 13-year career with the Eagles – before going to two Pro Bowls in his three years with Denver – Dawkins started 182 games making 707 tackles with 34 interceptions. One of the greatest free safeties of the 2000s, he was named to four All-Pro teams and earned six Pro Bowl trips in his time in Philadelphia.

    MORE: Ohio State All-Time NFL Draft Team

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