UNLV Rebels' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

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

UNLV Rebels' 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 UNLV Rebels using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Mike Crawford (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 6, #173 overall in 1997
- Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#19. Frank Summers (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 5, #169 overall in 2009
- Drafted by: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#18. Don Odegard (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 6, #150 overall in 1990
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#17. Adam Seward (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 5, #149 overall in 2005
- Drafted by: Carolina Panthers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#16. George Thomas (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 6, #138 overall in 1988
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#15. Lonnie Palelei (G)
- Draft pick: Round 5, #135 overall in 1993
- Drafted by: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#14. Sam Brandon (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #131 overall in 2002
- Drafted by: Denver Broncos
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#13. Cleveland Jackson (TE)
- Draft pick: Round 5, #117 overall in 1979
- Drafted by: NY Giants
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#12. Joe Hawley (C)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #117 overall in 2010
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#11. Charles Dimry (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 5, #110 overall in 1988
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#10. Mike Thomas (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 5, #108 overall in 1975
- Drafted by: Washington Football Team
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (1 Pro Bowls)

#9. Beau Bell (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #104 overall in 2008
- Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#8. Ron Crews (NT)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #99 overall in 1980
- Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#7. Todd Liebenstein (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 4, #99 overall in 1982
- Drafted by: Washington Football Team
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#6. Anton Palepoi (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #60 overall in 2002
- Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#5. Aaron Mitchell (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #55 overall in 1979
- Drafted by: Dallas Cowboys
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#4. Glenn Carano (QB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #54 overall in 1977
- Drafted by: Dallas Cowboys
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#3. Eric Wright (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #53 overall in 2007
- Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#2. Randall Cunningham (QB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #37 overall in 1985
- Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
- Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (4 Pro Bowls)

#1. Ickey Woods (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #31 overall in 1988
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

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