Northwestern Wildcats' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

Written by:
February 24, 2022
Doug Pensinger // Getty Images

Northwestern Wildcats' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

While most colleges and universities field a football team as part of its general athletics program, there are some for which football is more than merely a sport—it’s akin almost to a religion. Devotion to the team and its colors is as important to that school’s culture as a religious icon is to a believer. These programs actively scout and recruit notable high school players, and are in turn rigorously applied to by matriculating seniors eager to make a name for themselves at the collegiate level.

Among the most notable college football empires are Notre Dame, the universities of Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, Penn State, Ohio State—the list goes on and on.

But for every touchstone football school, there is an outlier that has produced some of the most successful and cherished players in the game. Think Jackson State, which gave us “Sweetness” himself, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Or Mississippi Valley State, which yielded 3-time Super Bowl champion and #1 Player in NFL History, as voted by the NFL Network, ‘49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Each year, the college draft serves as a source of renewal to professional football and a testament to the quality of college programs nationwide. With the 2022 NFL draft set to take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks from the Northwestern Wildcats using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Mike Adamle (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 5, #120 overall in 1971
- Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#19. Randy Dean (QB)
- Draft pick: Round 5, #117 overall in 1977
- Drafted by: NY Giants
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#18. Ibraheim Campbell (S)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #115 overall in 2015
- Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#17. Sean Bennett (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #112 overall in 1999
- Drafted by: NY Giants
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#16. Corey Wootton (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #109 overall in 2010
- Drafted by: Chicago Bears
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#15. Darnell Autry (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #105 overall in 1997
- Drafted by: Chicago Bears
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#14. Kevin Bentley (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #101 overall in 2002
- Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#13. Trai Essex (T)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #93 overall in 2005
- Drafted by: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#12. Alex Moyer (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #83 overall in 1985
- Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#11. D'Wayne Bates (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #71 overall in 1999
- Drafted by: Chicago Bears
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#10. Jim Lash (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #65 overall in 1973
- Drafted by: Minnesota Vikings
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#9. Steve Craig (TE)
- Draft pick: Round 3, #64 overall in 1974
- Drafted by: Minnesota Vikings
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#8. Barry Gardner (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #35 overall in 1999
- Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#7. Matt O'Dwyer (G)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #33 overall in 1995
- Drafted by: NY Jets
- Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (0 Pro Bowls)

#6. Mike Guendling (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #33 overall in 1984
- Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#5. Luis Castillo (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #28 overall in 2005
- Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#4. Greg Newsome II (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #26 overall in 2021
- Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#3. Napoleon Harris (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #23 overall in 2002
- Drafted by: Oakland Raiders
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#2. Rashawn Slater (OL)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #13 overall in 2021
- Drafted by: Los Angeles Chargers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (1 Pro Bowls)

#1. Chris Hinton (T)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #4 overall in 1983
- Drafted by: Denver Broncos
- Years as a starter in NFL: 11 (7 Pro Bowls)

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