NFL draft hits, misses: Best, worst No. 31 overall picks since 2000
Hit: Nnamdi Asomugha, 2003, Oakland Raiders
Just as the 49ers are now, the Raiders were coming off a Super Bowl loss heading into the 2003 NFL Draft. They picked a cornerback out of their own backyard, and boy did it pay off.
The Raiders drafted Asomugha out of Cal, and he soon became one of the top defensive backs in all of football. He totaled more than half (eight) of his 15 career interceptions in 2006, as opposing quarterbacks eventually learned their lesson. He lasted 11 seasons in the NFL, was a three-time Pro Bowler and was named a First-Team All-Pro twice.
Miss: Rashaun Woods, 2004, San Francisco 49ers
Forget No. 31 overall -- Woods has an argument for being the worst draft pick in San Francisco franchise history.
The Oklahoma State product lasted only one season in the NFL, in which he appeared in 14 of 16 games, caught seven passes for 160 yards and one touchdown. That was it.
It was the biggest waste of the No. 31 overall pick in the last 20 years.
Hit: Greg Olsen, 2007, Chicago Bears
Continuing a long line of standout tight ends coming out of the University of Miami, the Bears selected Olsen in the 2007 NFL Draft, and he has been wreaking havoc in the middle of the field ever since.
One of the premier pass-catching tight ends of his era, Olsen might be on his way to Canton -- and he's not even finished yet. Olsen signed with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency this offseason, where he'll participate in his 14th NFL campaign. Over the previous 13 with the Bears and Carolina Panthers, he hauled in 718 receptions for 8,444 yards and 59 touchdowns and was named to the Pro Bowl three times.
That's the kind of longevity and production you're dreaming of at the end of the first round.
Miss: Beanie Wells, 2009, Arizona Cardinals
If you use a first-round draft pick on a running back, you better hope they last longer than their rookie contract.
The Cardinals thought they had found their bell cow of the future. Instead, he was out of the NFL after four seasons.
Wells averaged 4.0 yards per carry over his NFL career and didn't produce a single 1,000-yard rushing campaign in which he scored double-digit touchdowns, so it's not as if Arizona got nothing to show for the pick. But, surely, the Cardinals were hoping for so much more.
Hit: Cameron Heyward, 2011, Pittsburgh Steelers
Between Heyward and Asomugha, the margin is razor-thin as to who is the best No. 31 overall pick of the last two decades.
The Steelers selected Heyward out of Ohio State, and he has been a fixture in the center of their defense for the last several years. Across 134 games (99 starts), he has accounted for 397 combined tackles, 117 quarterback hits, 54.0 sacks, six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.
Hindsight is 20/20, but he should have been selected much, much earlier.
Miss: Trung Canidate, 2000, St. Louis Rams
The "Greatest Show on Turf" already had Marshall Faulk -- in his prime! -- at running back, but for whatever reason, the Rams still chose to use the No. 31 pick in 2000 on Canidate. Let's just say that wasn't the best use of draft capital.
Across four NFL seasons, Canidate totaled 1,355 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. He was out of the league following the 2003 season. Faulk retired after 2005.
Not exactly a great track record for running backs at No. 31 overall.
Hit: Travis Frederick, 2013, Dallas Cowboys
You don't see a ton of centers getting selected in the first round of the draft, but Frederick was absolutely worth it. The Cowboys snatched him up in the 2013 NFL Draft, and there's a reason why they've had one of the better offensive lines in the league ever since.
Frederick not only has started every single game since he entered the NFL; he has never missed a single offensive snap. Across six seasons, he has been called for a grand total of 20 penalties. He is both an excellent run and pass blocker, and is regarded as one of the top players at his position. He has made five Pro Bowls and been named a First-Team All-Pro once.
That's a tremendous return at No. 31.
Miss: Stephone Anthony, 2015, New Orleans Saints
Anthony actually got off to a very strong start to his NFL career. As a rookie, he started every game at middle linebacker and led the Saints with 112 tackles. However, it was all downhill from there.
Anthony was demoted the following season and never got back on track. Injuries certainly played a role, but he already was showing signs that his rookie performance might have been a fluke.
It's difficult to fault New Orleans for the selection, as it would have been a "hit" had we done this exercise entering his sophomore season. It goes down as a miss, however, due to the value the Saints missed out on.
Honorable Mention Hit: Jerry Hughes, 2010, Indianapolis Colts
Hughes came out of TCU, and though it took him some time, he eventually established himself as an impact player on the defensive side of the ball. He showed flashes with the Colts, but was traded to the Buffalo Bills prior to the 2013 season, and that's where he blossomed.
In his first season in Buffalo, Hughes started only one game. Over the six seasons since, he has started all but one. Across his decade in the NFL, Hughes has accounted for 365 combined tackles, 111 quarterback hits, 51.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown.
The Colts made the right pick with the selection. They just never got the full benefit of their investment.
Honorable Mention Miss: Reuben Foster, 2017, San Francisco 49ers
From a talent standpoint, Foster was leaps and bounds beyond anyone else available at the No. 31 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. But the only reason he slid that far was due to a combination of red flags that the 49ers ultimately weren't deterred by.
There were rumors that San Francisco had even considered selecting Foster at No. 3 overall, and given the way he performed during his rookie season, it was easy to see why the 49ers were so enamored with his talent. Though he appeared in only 10 games (all starts) as a rookie, he was named to the 2017 All-Rookie Team, and looked like he would become the next great 49ers linebacker.
Early and often, however, Foster ran into off-field trouble, and he ultimately was waived by San Francisco on Nov. 26, 2018. The following day, he was signed off waivers by Washington, though he hasn't appeared in an NFL game since.