Ten best draft picks by defending Super Bowl champions

As soon as the final shreds of confetti are swept up off the grass at University of Phoenix Stadium, the winning team of Super Bowl XLIX will turn its attention to the 2015 NFL Draft in order to aim for a repeat in the 2015 season.

Only seven NFL franchises have won back-to-back Super Bowls, and there could be an eighth if the Seattle Seahawks are able to pull off the hardest feat in sports on Sunday. As any NFL front-office staffer will tell you, keeping a team together after winning the big one -- and getting better -- is a difficult task, but one each Lombardi Trophy winner seeks to accomplish.

While it doesn't happen every year, some Super Bowl winners have followed up their on-field success with a great draft and managed to grab a franchise star. Here are the 10 best players picked by the champions the following spring.



1. WR Jerry Rice, 49ers

Drafted: 1st round, 16th overall, 1985 NFL Draft
The skinny: Bill Walsh was just getting his dynasty in San Francisco started and was fresh off a big win over the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX when an intriguing receiver out of Mississippi Valley State caught the team's eye. The team traded up from the bottom of the first round with the Patriots to leapfrog ahead of the Cowboys and select Rice, who developed into one of the greatest to ever play the game.

2. OL Larry Allen, Cowboys

Drafted: 2nd round, 46th overall, 1994 NFL Draft
The skinny: The Cowboys were coming off a back-to-back Super Bowl wins (XXVII and XXVIII) when they took a chance on a small-school offensive lineman named Larry Allen from Sonoma State. Little did they know he would turn into one of the best guards ever and a key blocker for the NFL's all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith. Allen was named to 11 Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

3. CB Darrell Green, Redskins

Drafted: 1st round, 28th overall, 1983 NFL Draft
The skinny: Talk about the rich getting richer at the bottom of each round, the Redskins snagged Green with the final pick of the first round, and he turned into one of the best corners in the game during his 20-season NFL career. Also one of the fastest men to play in the league, Green played until the robust age of 42, won two rings and certainly has a place on the franchise's Mount Rushmore. The team also picked Pro Bowl defensive end Charles Mann (third round) in the same draft and signed Nate Newton as an undrafted free agent that year, too. Not bad at all.

4. DL Howie Long, Raiders

Drafted: 2nd round, 48th overall, 1981 NFL Draft
The skinny: As if the Oakland Raiders' defense at the time needed another fearsome lineman, they nabbed a Hall of Famer in the second round just as they were coming off a Super Bowl XV victory. Long earned multiple All-Pro honors and was among the best pass rushers of his era on his way to grabbing just about every major award there was at the time.

5. DT Vince Wilfork, Patriots

Drafted: 1st round, 21st overall, 2004 NFL Draft
The skinny:Patriots fans are certainly happy their stud defensive tackle was able to fall to them at the bottom of the first round following their win in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Wilfork has turned into a mainstay of the team's defense ever since and has been a regular in the Pro Bowl. He earned a championship ring for himself from Super Bowl XXXIX and has been a part of three other title runs.

6. TE Jimmy Graham, Saints

Drafted: 3rd round, 95th overall, 2010 NFL Draft
The skinny: After a remarkable run to Super Bowl XLIV that was fueled by Drew Brees and a prolific passing attack, all the Saints' front office did the following spring was draft a basketball player who had only a year of experience on the gridiron. It turned out to be quite the bargain, as Graham has developed into one of the best pass catchers in the game. His career is still young, but Graham has proven to be a heck of a value pick for New Orleans.

7. WR Desmond Howard, Redskins

Drafted: 1st round, fourth overall, 1992 NFL Draft
The skinny: To recap, heading into the 1992 Draft: the Redskins had Ark Monk and others on their roster, were just coming off a Super Bowl XXVI title and had a top-four pick. The team grabbed the Heisman Trophy winner from Michigan, and he turned into a solid receiver who really excelled as a kick and punt returner. Howard later won Super Bowl XXXI MVP honors with the Packers.

8. DB Lester Hayes, Raiders

Drafted: 5th round, 126th overall, 1977 NFL Draft
The skinny: Hayes might not be well known to those outside of the Black Hole, but he was among the key members of the franchise's Super Bowl-winning teams (XV and XVIII) after he was drafted. He earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1980 after picking off 13 passes and was among the lock-down corners of his era. All for a fifth-rounder by the defending champs of Super Bowl XI.

9. OL Logan Mankins, Patriots

Drafted: 1st round, 32nd overall, 2005 NFL Draft
The skinny: Mankins never won a ring with the Patriots, but he did help the franchise get to two Super Bowls (XLII and XLVI) and was among the most dependable offensive linemen in the league during his prime. A five-time All-Pro and one of the most beloved members of the team until he was traded prior to the 2014 season, Mankins was quite the steal for the New England dynasty with the final pick in the first round back in 2005.



10. TE Todd Heap, Ravens

Drafted: 1st round, 31st overall, 2001 NFL Draft
The skinny: Despite having Shannon Sharpe on the roster, the Ravens plucked Heap out of Arizona State at the bottom of the first round following Super Bowl XXXV. They wound up with a franchise player who was among the most recognizable players in Baltimore. He earned All-Pro honors and set numerous team records during his 12-year NFL career.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter *@BryanDFischer.*

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