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NFL Draft Review: History of the 30th Overall Selection

Solid but unspectacular is probably the best way to describe the typical 30th overall selection in the NFL Draft.

The Green Bay Packers know first-hand from recent memory, having made a pick at the spot in 2015, 1997, 1966, and 1950. Most recently in 2015, the Packers drafted Damarious Randall, who was later traded for backup quarterback DeShone Kizer from Cleveland. Green Bay also signed 2011's 30th overall pick, Muhammad Wilkerson, in recent years, as well as the infamous decision to trade out of #29 in 2017, allowing Pittsburgh to scoop up former Wisconsin star and future NFL All-Pro edge rusher T.J. Watt at #30.

Here's a history of the 30th overall selection in the NFL Draft, and AFL Draft in the years it applies.

James Madison v West Virginia

Pre-Super Bowl Era (1936-1966)

Packers #30 Overall Selections: 2 (Gordie Soltau, 1950 - 3rd Round; Tom Cichowski, 1966 - 2nd Round)

Hall of Famers: 1 (Sam Huff, 1956 by New York Giants) [Pictured Above]

First-Team All-Pros: 3 (Huff, twice; Stew Barber, 1961 by Boston Patriots, twice; Soltau, once)

Pro Bowlers: 6

We're lumping in a lot of years here, but the NFL in the earlier years of the Draft was not nearly the spectacle it is today. As it is, 12 players picked #30 in either the AFL or NFL Draft in 1966 or earlier (41 years of Drafting) never played a game in the NFL; six others never recorded a single NFL start. Just four players played more than 100 career games, led by Hall of Fame selection Sam Huff, who played in 168 games, starting 159, in a career that covered eight years with the Giants and then five years in Washington. Green Bay actually had one of these in end Gordie Soltau, who caught 25 touchdowns in nine seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, starting 74 games while playing in 107 contests. Soltau made three Pro Bowls, and was a First-Team All-Pro once, but never played for the Packers. Buffalo tackle Steve Barber, who was drafted #30 overall by Dallas but never played for them, started just 40 games, but played in 125 en route to five Pro Bowl and two First-Team All-Pro nods. St. Louis tackle Bob Reynolds, picked in 1963's AFL Draft, played 11 years in the NFL, appearing in 141 games with 120 starts and three Pro Bowl selections.

Outside of that, only a couple of other notables emerge from this group. One-time Pro Bowl running back/receiver Ode Burrell of Houston (1964) scored 12 touchdowns in his six-year career. Burrell was a 36th overall selection of the Packers in 1964. Wide receiver Bill Miller (1962 by Minnesota, but played for Dallas in the his rookie year) hauled in 10 touchdowns in 66 career games, mostly in Oakland. Journeyman guard Augie Lio (1941 by Detroit) played in 72 games, with 58 starts, in a seven-year career that included two Pro Bowls.

It was much more bust than boom in the early NFL Draft days, with the 30th overall pick falling as low as the fifth round in one year, and only in 1966 did it become a second-round pick with Green Bay's selection of Tom Cichowski, who only lasted two years in the NFL with 13 games played and nine starts, all for Denver.

Super Bowl XVIII

Early Post-Merger Years (1967-1979)

Packers #30 Overall Selections: 0

Hall of Famers: 0

First-Team All-Pros: 1 (Louie Kelcher, 1975 by San Diego - once)

Pro Bowlers: 4

For the most part, the 30th overall pick in the 1970's was a virtual guarantee of a relatively long NFL career. Five such players from 1973 to 1979 played over 100 games in the NFL, with four more appearing in at least 50 contests.

Only one would ascend to First-Team All Pro: San Diego defensive tackle Louie Kelcher, who played nine of his 10 seasons for the Chargers. A three-time Pro Bowler, Kelcher recorded eight forced fumbles in his career. Leading this group in Pro Bowl selections was 12-year NFL veteran Greg Pruitt (1973 by Cleveland), who recorded three 1,000-yard rushing seasons, hauled in over 3,000 yards through the air, and was also a dangerous kick and punt returner, leading the NFL in 1983 in punt returns, yardage, and a 97-yard touchdown. Pruitt made five Pro Bowls, four with Cleveland and one with Oakland.

Two other Pro Bowl selections from this player group include tight end Dan Ross (1979 by Cincinnati) and running back Jim Bertelsen (1972 by Los Angeles Rams). In an oddity, four straight years saw a quarterback picked at #30 overall (and five in six years). Those quarterbacks all recorded more interceptions than touchdowns thrown in their NFL careers. Only one player failed to start a game in the NFL of the 13 players picked 1967-1979 at #30 overall, all in the second round.

Philadelphia Eagles v San Francisco 49ers

The 1980's (1980-1989)

Packers #30 Overall Selections: 0

Hall of Famers: 0 (Eric Allen, 1988 by Philadelphia, has been a Finalist in recent years) [Pictured Above]

First-Team All-Pros: 1 (Eric Allen, once)

Pro Bowlers: 2

Much like the 1970's, the 80's picks at #30 overall were mostly solid but unspectacular players, with only two of the 10 selections appearing in a Pro Bowl and only one gaining First Team All-Pro honors: Eric Allen (1988 by Philadelphia), who played 14 years at cornerback in an NFL career that spanned three decades. Allen had 54 career interceptions (plus four more in the playoffs) and returned eight for touchdowns, including a ridiculous four pick-sixes in 1993, and in a loaded year for corners, was left off of the First Team All-Pro honoree list that season. Allen has been a Hall of Fame Finalist and will probably get in at some point, making him the best pick at the Draft position in this decade.

The only other Pro Bowl selection from this decade was New Orleans guard Brad Edelman (1982 by New Orleans), who appeared in 90 games while starting 87, all for the Saints. He made the Pro Bowl in 1987.

In this decade, in addition to Allen's 217 games played, two other players from this decade appeared in over 100 games. Offensive tackle Harvey Salem (1983 by Houston) played in 126 games with 107 starts in his 10-year career, including four games and one start for the Packers in 1992. Cornerback Issiac Holt (1985 by Minnesota) appeared in 113 games in his NFL career, split almost evenly between Minnesota and Dallas over eight seasons. Holt's eight-interception season of 1986 represented over a third of his career interceptions.

Four more players drafted #30 overall in this decade played in at least 80 games in their careers, and two more appeared in at least 65. The lone bust from this entire decade was Detroit pick John Ford in 1989, who only played in seven games, catching five passes, in his lone season in the NFL.

Ross Verba #78

The 1990's (1990-1999)

Packers #30 Overall Selections: 1 (Ross Verba, 1997) [Pictured Above]

Hall of Famers: 0

First-Team All-Pros: 1 (Patrick Kerney, 1999 by Atlanta, once)

Pro Bowlers: 1

Half of the selections made at #30 overall in the 1990's went on to play in at least 100 NFL games, with two more playing in at least 77. The other three combined for 28 NFL games, making the decade again stocked on long-time NFL talent but short on star power.

Patrick Kerney made two Pro Bowls in his 11-year NFL career as a defensive end, mostly in Atlanta, but with a Pro Bowl nod in 2007 with Seattle under his belt as well (which is also his First-Team All-Pro year, in which he notched 14.5 sacks). Kerney finished a solid NFL career in 2009 having recorded 82.5 sacks over 159 career games, as well as 19 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, and three interceptions.

Packers fans will recognize tackle Ross Verba, the team's pick in 1997 only a couple of months after winning the Super Bowl. Verba spent four years with the Packers before moving on to play for Cleveland and Detroit. Verba played in 113 games in his career, with 107 starts.

In the two years preceeding Verba and the year following, teams struck out picking in the 30th spot. Those players combined for 28 NFL games and one start. In the first half of the 1990's, the 30th overall pick was a very productive spot, with Reggie Cobb (1990 by Tampa Bay), Reggie Johnson (1991 by Denver), Steve Israel (1992 by Los Angeles Rams), Carlton Gray (1993 by Seattle), and Darnay Scott (1994 by Cincinnati) each playing for at least six seasons. Combined, the five players averaged nearly 100 games played in their NFL careers, led by Scott's 124 games with 104 starts.

New England Patriots v Indianapolis Colts

The 2000's (2000-2009)

Packers #30 Overall Selections: 0

Hall of Famers: 0 (Reggie Wayne, 2001 by Indianapolis, was a finalist in his first year on the ballot this year) [Pictured Above]

First-Team All-Pros: 2 (Wayne, once; Keth Bulluck, 2000 by Tennessee, once)

Pro Bowlers: 4

It's a common refrain, but the 30th spot in the Draft produced some reliable veterans and one likely Hall of Fame player. Reggie Wayne caught 1,070 passes for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns, and should end up in Canton in the near future. Wayne also boasts a cameo in Parks & Rec, where one of the characters (Andy, played by Chris Pratt) actually gets married in Wayne's jersey.

The other All-Pro from this 10-player group is Keith Bulluck, who averaged over 100 tackles per season in his 11-year career, mostly in Tennessee. He forced five of his 15 career fumbles in his All-Pro year of 2003. Remarkably, Bulluck missed just six games in 11 seasons, three of them in his final year as a New York Giant.

Heath Miller (2005 by Pittsburgh) was one of the NFL's steadiest tight ends in 11 seasons (two Pro Bowls) with Pittsburgh. Miller, who missed just eight games in his career, was as consistent as they come, catching 45 touchdowns on 592 receptions for 6,569 yards as the team's starting tight end for 167 of his 168 career games.

Another Colts pick at #30 overall this decade, Joseph Addai (2006), made one Pro Bowl during a six-year career that saw him rack up 4,453 yards rushing and 1,448 yards receiving.

Another Steelers pick at #30 overall this decade, guard Kendall Simmons, started in and played in 80 games for Pittsburgh over six seasons.

Finally, another team getting two picks at the spot in the 2000's, Tennessee, made both of their picks count as well, grabbing receiver Kenny Britt in 2009. Britt was active as recently as 2017 with Cleveland and New England, but in Britt's career, he started 76 of 116 game, caching 329 passes for 5,137 yards.

Los Angeles Rams v Pittsburgh Steelers

The 2010's (2010-2019)

Packers #30 Overall Selections: 1 (Damarious Randall, 2015)

Hall of Famers: 0 (Seven of the 10 are still active NFL players)

First-Team All-Pros: 1 (T.J. Watt, 2017 by Pittsburgh, once) [Pictured Above]

Pro Bowlers: 2

In the ten most recent selections at #30, there's already one NFL All-Pro First-Teamer, and he played at Wisconsin. T.J. Watt was famously available to the Packers at #29 overall, but Green Bay traded down to the second round, picking up an additional fourth-round pick (which they used on Watt's teammate, Vince Biegel, who is contributing elsewhere). Watt has been a force in three years in the NFL, already up to 34.5 sacks.

The other Pro Bowler from this group is longtime New York Jets defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, who got a short stint in Green Bay at the end of his career in 2018.

Green Bay picked Damarious Randall in 2015, and traded him for backup quarterback DeShone Kizer three years later. Randall is still with Cleveland, having changed positions to safety from corner and appearing in 11 games (all starts) with the team in 2019.

Of the other active players, all are well on their way to productive NFL careers, as each has played in the majority of their teams' games.

In over 80 years and 90 selections at #30 overall in NFL history, there have been only three players picked that are legitimate Hall of Fame candidates (and only one actually selected). Additionally, there have been just 19 players who have made the NFL Pro Bowl out of the spot, 12 of them multiple-time selections and just five of them making it to five Pro Bowls or more. Nine First-Team NFL All-Pros have emerged from #30 overall, with two of them making a pair of All-Pro teams.

All that goes to show you is that the Packers have a better-than-coin-flip's chance at a productive veteran out of the 30th spot, with about a 1-in-4 chance of getting a future Pro Bowler and a low chance of finding a future NFL Hall of Famer at the spot.

You can look at the data of every #30 overall pick in the NFL or AFL Drafts at Pro Football Reference by clicking here!

All Photos: Getty Images

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