Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.

Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.

Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Briggs, Tuck, Wallace among recent third-round gems

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, Bears, Lions, NFL draft Updated: April 18, 2012 - 8:57 AM

Question I: Who was considered the cream of the crop among restricted free agents this year?

Answer: Steelers receiver Mike Wallace.

Question II: What pick did Pittsburgh use to draft him?

Answer: 84th overall in 2009.

The Vikings' third round pick this year is 66th overall. That's a good pick because Wallace is only one example of the gems that have still been on the clock at that point over the past 10 drafts.

Need an outside linebacker at that spot? Try Lance Briggs, whom the Bears got with the 68th pick in 2003. Need a running back? Try Brian Westbrook, the 91st overall pick in 2002. Need a tight end? How about Jimmy Graham, whom the Saints got 95th overall in 2010. Defensive lineman? How about Justin Tuck, the 74th overall pick by the Giants in 2005.

The past 10 drafts have produced 13 third-round Pro Bowlers who were still on the clock at the 66th pick. The Steelers -- surprise, surprise -- have picked two of them. In addition to Wallace, they also got safety Chris Hope 94th overall in 2002.

Here is a look at the 66th overall picks in the past 10 drafts:

2002: Fred Weary, G, Texans.
Could have had: Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles, 91st overall; Chris Hope, S, Steelers, 94th overall.

2003: Cory Redding, DT, Lions.
Could have had: Lance Briggs, LB, Bears, 68th overall; Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys, 69th overall.

2004: Nick Hardwick, C, Chargers.
Could have had: Hardwick is a Pro Bowler, but also available was Chris Cooley, TE, Washington, 81st overall; and Matt Schaub, QB, Falcons, 90th overall.

2005: O.J. Atogwe, S, Rams.
Could have had: Justin Tuck, DE, Giants, 74th overall.

2006: Eric Winston, OT, Texans.
Could have had: No one that's stood out so far.

2007: Usama Young, CB, Saints.
Could have had: Marshal Yanda, OL, Ravens, a 2011 Pro Bowler.

2008: Kendal Langford, DE, Dolphins.
Could have had: Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs, 73rd overall.

2009: Bradley Fletcher, CB, Rams.
Could have had: Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers, 84th overall.

2010: Amari Spievey, CB, Lions.
Could have had: Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints, 95th overall.

2011: Dontay Moch, LB, Bengals.
Could have had: No one has stood out yet. 


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