It seems all the focus heading into draft weekend is based almost exclusively on the first round. That is where the blue-chip talent is and where the first five hours of the draft is concentrated, but, as Vikings fans can attest, being a first-round pick is no guarantee of success.
Finding NFL stars remains an inexact science, but the second round has produced a lot of star-quality players. Over the last decade, some of the game's bigger stars have been on the board into the second round, but history doesn't necessarily bode that well for the Vikings at pick No. 54.
The only real star to come off the board at pick No. 54 over the last decade was in 2003, when Dennis Green and the Arizona Cardinals selected Anquan Boldin – their second straight wide receiver in that draft, having taken Bryant Johnson in the first round. Other than Boldin, the 54th pick has been spotty at best.
Going backward from last year, those picks have been DT Jason Jones (Tennessee), S Bernard Pollard (Kansas City), RB Eric Shelton (Carolina), WR Darius Watts (Denver), Boldin, RB Maurice Morris (Seattle), S Michael Stone (Arizona), CB William Bartee (Kansas City) and RB Mike Cloud (Kansas City).
While the 54th pick hasn't been a gold mine, there has been a lot of talent mined in the second round. Matt Forte (No. 44) helped keep the Bears in the playoff hunt as a rookie feature back last year. 2006 was a treasure chest that included LB DeMeco Ryans (No. 33), LenDale White (No. 45), Cedric Griffin (No. 48), Greg Jennings (No. 52), Devin Hester (No. 57), Maurice Jones-Drew (No. 60) and Tony Scheffler (No. 61).
Other seasons have seen multiple big-time players selected in the second round. 2005 saw Lofa Tatupu (No. 45), Ron Bartell (No. 50), Nick Collins (No. 51), Vincent Jackson (No. 61) and Bryant McFadden (No. 62). In 2004, there was Karlos Dansby (No. 33), Julius Jones (No. 43), Bob Sanders (No. 44), Jake Grove (No. 45) and Madieu Williams (No. 56). In 2003, the second round included Charles Tillman (No. 35), E.J. Henderson (No. 40), Ken Hamlin (No. 42), Boldin (No. 54), Osi Umenyiora (No. 56) and L.J. Smith (No. 61). The 2002 draft included Andre Gurode (No. 37), LeCharles Bentley (No. 44), Clinton Portis (No. 51), Antonio Bryant (No. 63) and Deion Branch (No. 65).
Pro Bowl QB Drew Brees (No. 33) was the first pick of the second round in the 2001 draft, followed by Kyle Vanden Bosch (No. 34), Chad Johnson (No. 36), Kris Jenkins (No. 44), Fred Smoot (No. 45), Chris Chambers (No. 52) and Shaun Rogers (No. 61). The 2000 draft included Darren Howard (No. 33), Mike Brown (No. 39), Chad Clifton (No. 44) and Jerry Porter (No. 47).
Although the players taken in the second round won't get nearly the attention of those in the first round, it is clear that a lot of game-changing players will come off the board in the second round. Pick No. 54, where the Vikings will select, doesn't have the same mystique as some of the other picks, but there are stars on the horizon that will still be available long after the bright lights and media attention of the first round have long since passed. They are by no means a certainty, as the last decade of 54th picks can attest, but could the Vikings find the next Anquan Boldin in the second round? The Cardinals did six years ago and there's nothing to say that lightning can't strike twice.
Pick 54 isn't a gem of the second round
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