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20 Facts about the 20th pick in the NFL Draft

The 20th pick in the NFL Draft doesn't have the most esteemed reputation historically, so let's hit on twenty pieces of information about the pick.


The Bears pick 20th in the first round of the NFL Draft (less than one week away!), and I was curious as to the history of that particular pick. Are 20th picks historically good or bad, or produce a high number of quality players? What's the trade history associated with it? Have the Bears picked someone at twenty before?

After some research, the results concerning the 20th aren't eye-poppingly terrific. Which shouldn't be a total surprise, I guess, since at twenty teams are not drafting the most elite talent available in the draft. Generally, players picked at this spot should still be high level contributors, but the boom or bust factor is higher than, say, a top-ten pick. So, here are twenty facts about the 20th overall pick in the NFL, with all information dating back to the first 20th pick, running back Jim Detwiler, selected by the Baltimore Colts in 1967.

  1. The Bears have only picked one player at twenty in the first round of the NFL Draft. That was defensive end Dave Gallagher in 1974. Gallagher was a four year starter in the NFL, but only played with Chicago for one season.
  2. Only seven out of the forty-six players picked 20th overall have made multiple Pro Bowl appearances.
  3. Only three of those players were selected as first-team All-Pros in more than one season (Jack Youngblood, Mike Quick, and Steve Atwater).
  4. Youngblood, a defensive end selected 20th in 1971 by the Los Angeles Rams, is the only 20th pick in the NFL Hall of Fame.
  5. Out of the forty-six players selected 20th overall, five were primary starters in the NFL for ten or more seasons (Youngblood, Will Wolford, Atwater, Mark May, and Tim Bowens).
  6. Excluding current players picked at twenty, ten players were primary starters in the NFL for one or less seasons.
  7. ESPN College Football analyst Mark May was a 20th overall pick for the Washington Redskins in 1981. He is the only college guard selected at twenty.
  8. Other notable 20th overall selections include cornerback/safety Dale Carter and wide receiver Haywood Jeffries.
  9. Also a 20th overall pick: maligned former Lovie Smith trade acquisition Adam Archuleta.
  10. Only three of the past ten 20th overall picks were offensive players (Kendall Wright, Brandon Pettigrew, and George Foster).
  11. Only two of the past seventeen 20th overall picks made a Pro Bowl (Javon Walker and Tamba Hali).
  12. The most drafted position at twenty? Defensive End, with eight selections.
  13. The second most drafted positions? A tie between defensive tackle and wide receivers at seven apiece.
  14. Only three linebackers have been taken at twenty (Hali, Dwayne Rudd, and Michael Taylor).
  15. A quarterback has never been taken with the 20th overall pick.
  16. The worst players picked 20th overall? Michael Taylor and Ken Novak. Each played for only two seasons, accumulating a total of zero starts.
  17. 20th overall pick with the most career starts? Former Buffalo Bills lineman Will Wolford, who started each of the 191 games he appeared in.
  18. In 2009, the Detroit Lions selected Brandon Pettigrew, a tight end, at twenty. They acquired the pick from the Dallas Cowboys (along with the Cowboys 3rd and 6th round picks) for Roy Williams. Yup, this one.
  19. The Cowboys acquired the 2005 20th overall pick from the Bills (along with Buffalo's 2004 2nd and 5th round picks) for the Cowboys 2004 first round pick (22nd overall). The Cowboys took Marcus Spears in 2005. The Bills took J.P. Losman in 2004.
  20. The last time the 20th overall pick was traded for draft picks in the same draft? 2004, with the Vikings trading down from #19 with the Miami Dolphins (who gave up #20 and #119 overall). The Vikings selected Kenechi Udeze with the 20th overall pick that year.

For the sake of comparisons, the 19th overall pick in the NFL Draft - where Shea McClellin was selected last year, has: two Hall of Famers, eleven two-time or more Pro Bowlers, and four players named first team All-Pro more than once. The 21st overall pick: one Hall of Famer, seven players named to multiple Pro Bowls, but only one named to multiple first-team All Pro teams (Randy Moss, an eventual Hall of Famer). Just food for thought.