TOP CATS: WSU's 12 first-round NFL picks

THE NFL draft runs this Thursday through Saturday and barring something unforeseen, All-America Washington State safety Deone Bucannon is going to become the highest-picked Cougar since receiver Jason Hill went to the 49ers in the third round, with the 76th overall selection, in 2007.

Most draft pundits envision Bucannon going somewhere between the second and third rounds.

He will continue a proud heritage in the WSU secondary, becoming the eighth Washington State defensive back to be drafted in the last dozen years. The others were Lamont Thompson, Marcus Trufant, Erik Coleman, Jason David, Hamza Abdullah, Karl Paymah and Eric Frampton. And lest you worry that we forgot current Kansas City Chief DB Husain Abdullah, we didn't; he was a free agent signee out of WSU in 2008.

Since the NFL draft began in 1936, 12 Cougs have been selected in the first round and one -- Drew Bledsoe -- has been the No. 1 overall pick. In chronological order, here are the dozen Cougs who have been NFL first rounders:


1937 – QB ED GODDARD, No. 2 overall, to the now-defunct Brooklyn Football Dodgers. Played two seasons before moving on to pro baseball and then the military in World War II. Became noted teacher and coach in southern California.


1953 – WR ED BARKER, No. 12 overall, to the Rams. Played two seasons, for Steelers and Redskins, and caught 40 passes.


1965 – DB CLANCY WILLIAMS, No. 9 overall, to the Rams. The 1964 All-America played eight standout seasons at left corner in Los Angeles and picked off 28 passes.


1978 – DB KEN GREENE, No. 19 overall, to the Cardinals. Played seven seasons for Cards and Chargers. Later became a WSU assistant coach.


1979 – QB JACK THOMPSON, No. 3 overall, to the Bengals. Played six seasons for Bengals and Bucs. Threw for 18 TDs and nearly 3,000 yards in best season, 1983.


1984 – DE KEITH MILLARD, No. 13 overall, to the Vikings. Named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 and was voted 1st- or 2nd-team All-NFL four times before suffering career-altering knee injury.


1989 Supplemental Draft – QB TIMM ROSENBACH, No. 2 to the Cardinals. Technically not a first-round pick but effectively so because that's what it cost the Cards to take him in the supplemental. He became Cards' starter before career undone by injuries. Later an assistant coach at WSU.


1990 – RB Steve Broussard, No. 20 overall, to the Falcons. Racked up 8,000 all-purpose yards in eight NFL seasons with three teams. Became a WSU assistant coach.


1993 – QB DREW BLEDSOE, No. 1 overall, to the Patriots. Threw for more than 44,000 yards and 250 TDs in long career with Patriots, Bills and Cowboys.


1995 – LB Mark Fields, No. 13 overall, to the Saints. Played 10 NFL seasons and earned two trips to the Pro Bowl.


1998 – QB RYAN LEAF, No. 2 overall, to the Chargers. Rough start, later compounded by injury, limited career to 21 starts and 3,600-plus yards for Chargers and Cowboys.


2003 – DB MARCUS TRUFANT, No. 11 overall, to the Seahawks. Became a Seahawks fixture, earning All-Pro honors one season, and starting in a Super Bowl.

11 OTHER COUGS have been top-50 NFL draft picks:

1949 – DT Laurie Niemi, 2nd round/No. 18 overall, Redskins
1950 – WR Fran Polsfoot, 3rd round/No. 34 overall, Cardinals
1950 – DB Don Paul, 4th round/No. 47 overall, Cardinals
1958 – QB Bob Newman, 2nd round/No. 22 overall, 49ers
1963 – WR Hugh Campbell, 4th round/No. 50 overall, 49ers
1967 – TE Rich Sheron, 2nd round/No. 37 overall, Jets
1986 – DT Erik Howard, 2nd round/No 46 overall, Giants
1987 – DB Ricky Reynolds, 2nd round/No. 36 overall, Buccaneers
1998 – DT Leon Bender, 2nd round/No. 31 overall, Raiders
2002 – LB Raonall Smith, 2nd round/No. 38 overall, Vikings
2002 – DB Lamont Thompson, 2nd round/No. 41 overall, Bengals

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Smith and Thompson aren't the only two Cougs to have been drafted in the same round in the same year. It's happened eight others times. The highest-picked among them were 1975 3rd-rounders Andrew Jones (Saints) and Geoff Reece (Rams); 1995 3rd-rounders Don Sasa (Chargers) and Torey Hunter (Oilers), and 1998 2nd-rounders Leon Bender (Raiders) and Dorian Boose (Jets, No. 56 overall).

  • The two most famous WSU contributions to the NFL -- Hall of Famers Mel Hein of the Giants and Turk Edwards of the Redskins -- were never drafted. They came along a few years before the NFL instituted the draft.

  • Three other acclaimed NFL Cougars -- 1960 Rookie of the Year Gail Cogdill, 1986 Rookie of the Year Rueben Mayes, and 1992 Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien -- were overlooked a bit on draft day. Cogdill and Rypien were both sixth-round picks and Mayes was a third-round choice.

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