There have been plenty of excellent picks made with the 61st overall selection in the NFL Draft over the years, and in today’s look back we examine a few of them. In addition, we’ll look at the recent selections at 61, which include a recently-departed former Green Bay Packers running back and a talented wideout who is looking for a bounce-back season.
2016: S Vonn Bell (Saints)
The Ohio State product started 13 games at strong safety for the Saints as a rookie, and looks to be a decent player moving forward. In his first season, he recorded two forced fumbles, one recovery, and one sack.
2015: OL Ali Marpet (Buccaneers)
Out of Division III Hobart College, Marpet was an athletic project who stepped into a starting role immediately at right guard, and projects as a solid starter on the interior moving forward.
2014: WR Allen Robinson (Jaguars)
Robinson had a good rookie year and a huge second season in 2015, in which he led the league in receiving touchdowns with 14. That season, he caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards. In 2016, however, he saw the same number of targets (151) but his catch rate dipped below 50% and his yards per reception dropped from 17.5 to 12.1. That slide coincided with a significant regression from quarterback Blake Bortles, however.
2013: RB Eddie Lacy (Packers)
Packers fans know the Lacy saga all too well; he started out hot as a rookie, picking up huge numbers of carries while Aaron Rodgers sat out with a broken collarbone. Then in 2014, he and James Starks made a lethal 1-2 punch, and he racked up an impressive 1,566 yards from scrimmage. However, his play dipped significantly in 2015 (along with the play of the offense overall) and he suited up for just five games in 2016 before going on IR. Now he’s in Seattle looking to restart his career.
2012: RB LaMichael James (49ers)
James hasn’t played since 2015, he has only played in 18 games ttotal in his career, making his biggest mark as a kick returner for his first two years in San Francisco.
Other Notable #61 Picks
2008: TE Martellus Bennett (Cowboys)
Before his stints with the Giants, Bears, Patriots, and now the Packers, Bennett was a draft choice of the Cowboys’, but he played a limited role behind Jason Witten for four years. In fact, aside from his rookie year of 2008, when he caught four touchdowns, he didn’t find the end zone as a Cowboy. That changed when he left for New York, as he has averaged 688 receiving yards per season since 2012.
2005 WR Vincent Jackson (Chargers)
Out of tiny Northern Colorado, Jackson barely played as a rookie, but by his third season he was breaking out and he became a full-fledged star in 2008. In fact, he eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in six of seven seasons from 2008 through 2014, and the one outlier (2010) was when he was shelved for 11 games with an injury. His career appears to be tailing off, as he took a back seat to Mike Evans in Tampa Bay, but he has made an excellent career for himself, going over 9,000 total yards receiving.
1996: S Brian Dawkins (Eagles)
Like so many players do, Dawkins spent a few years at the tail end of his career with a different team (the Broncos) after being employed by his original team for a length period of time — in his case 13 years. Dawkins was an immediate starter from day one at free safety, and he never went a full season without an interception until his final year in 2011. He also was a four-time first-team All-Pro, had four interceptions in four separate seasons, and even had four years with 5 or more forced fumbles. He is likely to earn induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the next few years after being left out in 2017.
1991: DT Keith Traylor (Broncos)
Did you know that Traylor actually played five games for the Packers in 1993 and sat out of football entirely in 1994? It’s true, and it’s a bit crazy considering that most Packers fans will remember him from his role on the the 1997 and 1998 Broncos teams that won the Super Bowl. He also played for the Bears for three seasons in the early 2000s and won a third ring with the 2004 Patriots.
1988: RB Keith Woodside (Packers)
1987: OT Dave Croston (Packers)
Prior to Lacy’s selection, these were the most recent times the Packers used the 61st overall pick. Neither player did much, and both were out of the NFL after 1991, though Woodside had a few good seasons as a receiving option out of the backfield.