Sweet 16: No. 16 picks are mix of good, bad

From Jerry Rice to Dan McGwire to former Packers guard Aaron Taylor, No. 16 picks have had a mix of success. Recent history, though, is promising.

If you're wondering what kind of player the Green Bay Packers can hope to get with the 16th selection in next weekend's NFL draft, let me throw out one name: Jerry Rice.

The San Francisco 49ers took Rice out of tiny Mississippi Valley State in 1985. Rice only turned out to be the finest receiver in NFL history, and arguably the greatest player of all-time.

Then again, let me throw out another name: Dan McGwire. The Seattle Seahawks took the 6-foot-8 quarterback with the 16th pick in the 1991 draft. He lasted five seasons, and threw only two touchdown passes against six interceptions.

These are two extremes, of course. Overall, though, the last 25 drafts have churned out plenty of good players picked at No. 16, starting in 1982, when the St. Louis Cardinals took offensive tackle Luis Sharpe. The native of Havana, Cuba, was named to three Pro Bowls.

There were some lean years for the rest of that decade, highlighted by the Dolphins bombing in back-to-back years with some guys named John Bosa and Eric Kumerow. Like myself, I'm sure you'd never heard of John Bosa until a moment ago.

After the McGwire disaster in 1991, teams began hitting more than missing at No. 16, including Chester McGlockton in 1992 and Hugh Douglas in 1995.

That's especially true since 1999, when the Tennessee Titans took an undersized defensive end named Jevon Kearse. Kearse's quickness and ability to get to the quarterback on practically every snap put smallish speed rushers in vogue and forced teams to draft more athletic left tackles.

In 2000, the San Francisco 49ers selected linebacker Julian Peterson, who's one of the most versatile linebackers in the game. Peterson can cover running backs, and in his first year with Seattle, the Seahawks turned him loose on quarterbacks for 10 sacks.

In 2001, the Jets took receiver Santana Moss, who's developed into a feared playmaker. In 2003, Pittsburgh landed hard-hitting safety Troy Polamalu. In 2004, Philadelphia picked Shawn Andrews, who's quickly developing into one of the top guards in the league after his rookie season ended with a broken leg.

Not all No. 16 picks are so sweet, though. There's Cleveland selecting running back William Green in 2002. The jury is out on Houston defensive tackle Travis Johnson (2005) and Miami safety Jason Allen (2006).

Interestingly, 23 of the players selected 16th in the last 25 years have come from the power schools. The only small-school players: Rice and Douglas.

The Packers have picked 16th just once in the last quarter century, landing guard Aaron Taylor. His career was brief due to knee problems, but he was a fixture on the Super Bowl XXXI championship team.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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