This week, College Football 24/7 takes a division-by-division look at the best and worst all-time NFL draft picks for every team, continuing today with the AFC North and NFC North teams.
For this exercise, where a player was selected in the draft and the sum of their NFL accomplishments (or, lack thereof) were taken into account.
Best pick:Walter Payton (1975 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 4 overall)
The lowdown:The dominant running back of his era, "Sweetness" was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and retired as the NFL's all-time rushing-yardage leader with 16,726 yards. With the workhorse Payton in the backfield, the Bears rose from laughingstock in the 1970s to perennial contenders in the 1980s. The pinnacle of that run in the 1980s, of course, was the team's win in Super Bowl XX following the 1985 season. Payton was a member of the NFL's all-decade teams for the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Worst pick:Cade McNown (1999 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 12 overall)
The lowdown: In Chicago, McNown made few fans with his play and even alienated his own receivers. McNown suggested that he overthrew receivers because they were too tired to run under his passes. When Bears fans booed him, McNown said that those fans should stay home. McNown played just two seasons in the NFL, starting 15 games, losing 12 of those games, and chucking 19 interceptions to 16 touchdowns.
Best pick:Barry Sanders (1989 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 3 overall)
The lowdown: Sanders came into Detroit after a historic Heisman season at Oklahoma State and immediately changed the fortunes of a team that had registered double-digit losing seasons in the three years before his arrival. Sanders played 10 seasons for the Lions, and was a Pro Bowl selection in each of those years. He led the league in rushing yardage four times, including going for 2,053 yards in 1997 (which, at the time, was just the third 2,000-yard rushing season in league history). Sanders cut short his highlight-friendly NFL career while still in his prime and within easy striking distance of Walter Payton's career rushing yardage mark (15,269 to Payton's 16,726).
Worst pick:Charles Rogers (2003 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 2 overall)
The lowdown: Then-general manager Matt Millen's curious run of drafting wide receivers in the first round started with the Rogers selection (but ended on a high note with Calvin Johnson, so it wasn't all bad). Rogers' career had a promising start, as he caught 22 passes for 243 yards in his first five NFL games. However, a clavicle injury cut short his rookie campaign and it was all downhill from there. He played in only one game in 2004 and was suspended for four games in 2005 for a third violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. By Week 1 of the 2006 season, Rogers was out of the league. The Lions spent first-round picks on wide receivers in four of five drafts -- Rogers in 2003, Roy Williams in 2004, Mike Williams in 2005 and, finally, Johnson in 2007.
Green Bay Packers
Best pick:Aaron Rodgers (2005 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 24 overall)
The lowdown: In a moment of serendipity, Rodgers was passed over by the San Francisco 49ers at the No. 1 overall pick (where Alex Smith was selected) and the eventual successor to Brett Favre fell to the Packers late in the first round. With Rodgers, the Packers replaced one Pro Football Hall of Famer with another very likely Hall of Famer. The transition in 2008 wasn't exactly smooth, but Rodgers quickly emerged as one of the game's best quarterbacks. Rodgers is a two-time league MVP (2011 and 2014) and led the Packers to their NFL-leading 13th league championship in Super Bowl XLV, in which he was named game MVP.
Worst pick:Tony Mandarich (1989 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 2 overall)
The lowdown: Four of the first five picks in the 1989 draft are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame ... and then there is Mandarich. Hailed as the greatest offensive line prospect ever, Mandarich fell woefully short of matching that pre-draft hype. By 1992, he had cemented his status as one of the greatest draft busts in league history. Only Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell keep Mandarich from owning the title as the biggest draft bust in NFL history.
Best pick:Alan Page (1967 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 15 overall)
The lowdown: Page played 15 seasons in the NFL, just over 10 of those with the Vikings. In 1971, Page became the first defensive player to earn NFL MVP honors (he is still only one of two defensive players -- Lawrence Taylor in 1986 is the other -- to have earned the award). Page was the frontman for the Vikings' vaunted Purple People Eaters, a dominant defensive front that helped Minnesota reach four Super Bowls in the 1970s. After his retirement from the NFL, Page went on to serve as an associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Worst pick:Troy Williamson (2005 NFL Draft, Round 1, No. 7 overall)
The lowdown: Presented with a glaring hole at wide receiver after trading away Randy Moss, the Vikings were romanced by Williamson's speed and hoped he would be another dynamic vertical threat. Williamson didn't quite pan out, coming down with a bad case of the drops and lasting just three seasons in Minnesota.