For a quartet of mid- to late-round 2017 NFL Draft picks, the expectations are simple: All-Pro or bust.
Since 1993, of the 96 players selected at picks No. 91, 126, 153 and 154, 12 players have become First-Team All-Pros, or a staggering 12.5 percent. Each of those four slots have produced three All-Pros apiece in the last 24 drafts, or more than picks No. 20, 22, 25 and 38 … combined.
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The 12 players have combined for 25 All-Pro seasons, led by nine from players drafted in the fifth round at No. 154:
|1996||153||Jermaine Lewis – WR, Maryland||Baltimore Ravens||1|
|1996||154||Zach Thomas – LB, Texas Tech||Miami Dolphins||5|
|1997||91||Mike Vrabel – LB, Ohio State||Pittsburgh Steelers||1|
|2000||153||Dante Hall – WR, Texas A&M||Kansas City Chiefs||1|
|2002||91||Brian Westbrook – RB, Villanova||Philadelphia Eagles||1|
|2004||126||Jared Allen – DE, Idaho State||Kansas City Chiefs||4|
|2004||154||Michael Turner – RB, Northern Illinois||San Diego Chargers||1|
|2006||126||Elvis Dumervil – DE, Louisville||Denver Broncos||2|
|2007||126||Dashon Goldson – S, Washington||San Francisco 49ers||1|
|2008||153||Matthew Slater – WR, UCLA||New England Patriots||1|
|2010||91||NaVorro Bowman – LB, Penn State||San Francisco 49ers||4|
|2011||154||Richard Sherman – CB, Stanford||Seattle Seahawks||3|
Who could be next at these historically valuable slots?
Though the bizarre All-Pro trend has slowed down since Sherman's selection in 2011 — there hasn't been an All-Pro, or even Pro Bowler, selected at those four slots — there are four more candidates from the 2017 NFL Draft that could move the needle.
The Los Angeles Rams selected Boston College safety John Johnson with the 91st-overall pick. The 6-foot, 208-pounder with good footwork and athleticism who — with the departure of T.J. McDonald and move of LaMarcus Joyner to cornerback — should compete for a starting spot in 2017.
At No. 126, the Cleveland Browns are hoping they struck gold similar to the Seahawks in 2011 when John Schneider nabbed four-time All-Pro Richard Sherman. The Browns took Houston defensive back Howard Wilson, a lanky (6-foot-1, 184 pounds) corner who averaged one interception every 15 targets.
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In the fifth round, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Memphis kicker Jake Elliott at No. 153 and the Washington Redskins selected Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle at No. 154.
For Elliott, it's simple, if he can beat out veteran Randy Bullock and continue his pinpoint accuracy from college (224-for-224 on PATs and field goals shorter than 30 yards) and become consistent from his career-high length of 56 yards, he might have the best chance of any late-round pick to become an All-Pro.
Sprinkle joins a crowded group of Washington tight ends led by Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. However, because of Reed's injury history and Davis entering his age-33 season, Sprinkle is not far from a big role if he can prove his worth on special teams for a couple years.
As these four players navigate the first days of their professional career, rookie minicamp and summer workouts, they can relax knowing that anything less than All-Pro careers will be inadequate.