PFF's Top 10 Sixth-Round Picks, 2008-2012
Yesterday we brought you the Top 10 Fifth-Round Picks of the past five years. Today we follow on from that and continue our look at the NFL draft during the Pro Football Focus-era with the 10 best sixth-round draft picks between 2008 and 2012.
It’s important for teams to hit on draft picks later in the draft, particularly as it can land them a productive player for three to four years without much of a salary cap hit.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the Top 10 sixth-round draft choices of the past five seasons.
1. John Sullivan, Minnesota Vikings: No. 187 overall, 2008
Expected to go a lot earlier, Sullivan suffered a draft day fall and proceeded to follow that up by struggling when he was promoted to starter in 2009 and 2010. But then it all changed, and from being something of a liability Sullivan turned himself into one of the best centers in the game. After finishing 2011 third in our center rankings, he jumped to No. 1 a year later.
2. Jason McCourty, Tennessee Titans: No. 203 overall, 2009
While it can be said McCourty will never be an elite cover corner, that misses the point here. He’s developed into an above-average one and has always added to that with some excellent work in the run game. That’s been a large part of why he’s finished in the Top 10 of our overall grades for cornerbacks the past two years. An every-down player.
3. Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers: No. 175 overall, 2010
Hardy was another of these guys who just kept on slipping, and it seems that he’s been out to prove those people wrong since Day 1. An encouraging opening two years to his career made way to a break-out third year where he finished sixth overall in our defensive end rankings, earning positive marks for his run defense and pass rushing. He’s got the kind of ceiling that could see him go higher.
4. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers: No. 195 overall, 2010
It says something about the sophomore season of Brown that his 2012 was a disappointment. Even then this ‘disappointing’ season earned him a +8.3 receiving grade and 787 yards though. Still, that 2011 season showed a receiver who could operate all over the field and had potential to be one of the top guys in the league, and it’s that guy the Steelers will want on the field in the upcoming year.
5. Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis Colts: No. 205 overall, 2008
While in Indianapolis Garcon rarely graded highly, in part because of a frustrating amount of drops. But when you can turn a sixth-round pick into a productive starter who averaged 60 yards per game in his three years worth of career starts, you’ve done alright. His talent after the catch wasn’t always put to good use in Indianapolis but threatens to become a big part of the Redskins’ offense.
6. Ahtyba Rubin, Cleveland Browns: No. 190 overall, 2008
Rubin had a fine start to his career in Cleveland, earning the starting nose tackle spot midway through 2009 after impressing in spot duty. He followed that up with a horrible second half of 2010 before looking revitalized as the Browns switched to a 4-3 defense. There his ability to get off blocks and make tackles around the line of scrimmage really got him the attention he deserved. Biggest criticism of him may be how the Browns have used him over the years, with a less-is-more approach probably benefiting the player.
7. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins: No. 173 overall, 2012
It’s always hard for a 2012 pick to make one of these lists because they’ve had less time to impress, and it’s rare for sixth-rounders to assume a starting role. However, Morris was so good so often in 2012 that he had to find his way here, and if he can repeat his productive rookie year there’s no doubt he’ll be higher going forward. In our pure rushing grade he finished the year third, a position he matched in yards after contact and forced missed tackles.
8. Matt Slauson, New York Jets: No. 193 overall, 2009
While Slauson is never going to get confused with Carl Nicks, he’s that rarest of things — a Jets draft pick that actually over-delivered the past four years. Developing into a competent starter, his +9.3 grade since taking over the starting job in 2010 goes down as a win for the front office.
9. Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders: No. 202 overall, 2009
The first thing you have to do with Myers is accept that blocking is not his forte. Our lowest ranked blocker in 2012, what he does offer is not just an ability to get open, but an ability to make things happen after the catch. He forced eight missed tackles (sixth-most of all tight ends) and matched that with the sixth-highest amount of yards of his peers.
10. Brice McCain, Houston Texans: No. 188 overall, 2009
It wasn’t until the Texans hit on the idea of using McCain in the slot that he started to show his worth in 2011. He responded with an extremely impressive year that ended with a +10.1 grade in coverage. He’d be higher but for a slump last year, but this remains a good pick for the Texans.
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