The Best at 32: Top NFL Draft talent taken with 32nd pick
The Patriots have the 32nd pick in the draft. It’s a familiar spot. They’ve also the selection in 2004, 2005, and 2015. They would have been there again in 2017 but the NFL confiscated their first-rounder in a transparent effort to bring the franchise to heel and balance the scales between them and the rest of the NFL. The punishment for “DeflateGate” worked so well, the Patriots have been to the Super Bowl twice in the two years since they got docked.
How’s the 32nd pick treat teams? Meh. The only Hall of Famer taken in that slot is 49ers right tackle Bob St. Clair, who was drafted in the third round in 1953. There were fewer teams then, which explains why No. 32 was a third-rounder. I went back 30 years to the 1989 draft and took a look at the players drafted at 32. Using the weighted career approximate value metric created by Pro Football Reference, I stacked the best No. 32s.
Here are the top five.
2001: DREW BREES, QB (San Diego)
Games: 264. Career AV: 164.
It was still a 31-team league in 2001 (the Texans joined in ’02) so Brees was the first pick in the second round. Michael Vick was the only quarterback taken ahead of Brees, who backed up Doug Flutie in San Diego for the early portion of his career before becoming a free agent and being signed by the Saints. LaDainian Tomlinson and Richard Seymour were a couple of other first-rounders that year. Brees was part of a run of good players: Reggie Wayne went 30, Todd Heap went 31, Quincy Morgan went 33 then Alge Crumpler, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Chad Johnson went 33-36.
2005: LOGAN MANKINS, OG (New England)
Games: 161. Career AV: 102
In a less-than-stacked 2005 draft, Aaron Rodgers has had the best career while Mankins and Demarcus Ware were two-three based on AV. Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Roddy White, Thomas Davis, Pacman Jones and Darren Sproles were some of the other talents that came in that season. Mankins was a mid-tier guard projected as a third-round pick.
1993: BEN COLEMAN, OG (Phoenix)
Games: 135 games. Career AV: 44
Phoenix (now, Arizona) plucked Coleman right after Chris Slade, who went to the Patriots at the top of the second round in the 28-team league. An offensive guard, Coleman didn’t do much for the Cardinals but was a steady starter for four seasons with the Jaguars. There were four Hall of Famers this year (Willie Roaf, Will Shields, Michael Strahan and Jerome Bettis – eyeroll). Drew Bledsoe was the No. 1 overall pick.
2004: BEN WATSON, TE (New England)
Games: 195. Career AV: 43.
Two years after spending a first-round pick on tight end Daniel Graham, the Patriots took Georgia’s Benjamin Watson at 32. He wasn’t the top-rated tight end that year – Kellen Winslow Jr. was (those two have had vastly divergent paths). He spent six pretty productive years in New England and is still in the league. He’s also one of the most admirable people who’ve played in the past few decades.
2000: DENNIS NORTHCUTT, WR (Cleveland)
Games: 144. Career AV: 41.
This was another crop of blech players, for the most part. Tom Brady was the best and he went 199. Brian Urlacher was second-best, he went ninth. Then there’s John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, Shaun Alexander and Plaxico. Northcutt registered modest production with the Browns for a couple of seasons.
The Next 10 at 32
1991: Mike Jones, DE (Phoenix). Games: 135. Career AV: 41.
2003: Tyler Brayton, DE (Oakland) Games: 141. Career AV: 40
2009: Ziggy Hood, DE (Pittsburgh). Games: 141, Career AV: 39.
2006: Matthias Kiwanuka, DE (Giants). Games: 120. Career AV: 37.
1999: Kevin Johnson, WR (Cleveland). Games: 101. Career AV: 32.
2015: Malcom Brown, DT (New England). Games: 60. Career AV: 28. (pictured)
2007: Anthony Gonzalez, WR (Indianapolis). Games: 40. Career AV: 16
2017: Ryan Ramczyk, OT (New Orleans). Games: 31. Career AV: 25.
1992: Greg Skrepenak, T (Oakland). Games: 68. Career AV: 24.
2014: Teddy Bridgewater, QB (Minnesota). Games: 35. Career AV: 22.