Houston Cougars' highest NFL draft picks since 1970

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

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

#20. Stanford Routt (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #38 overall in 2005
- Drafted by: Oakland Raiders
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#19. Kevin Kolb (QB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #36 overall in 2007
- Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#18. Charlie Ford (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #36 overall in 1971
- Drafted by: Chicago Bears
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#17. Robert Newhouse (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #35 overall in 1972
- Drafted by: Dallas Cowboys
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#16. Donnie Avery (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 2, #33 overall in 2008
- Drafted by: St. Louis Rams
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#15. Payton Turner (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #28 overall in 2021
- Drafted by: New Orleans Saints
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#14. Leonard Mitchell (T)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #27 overall in 1981
- Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#13. Billy Milner (T)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #25 overall in 1995
- Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#12. William Jackson III (CB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #24 overall in 2016
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#11. Antowain Smith (RB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #23 overall in 1997
- Drafted by: Buffalo Bills
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#10. Willis Adams (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #20 overall in 1979
- Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#9. Elmo Wright (WR)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #16 overall in 1971
- Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#8. Lamar Lathon (LB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #15 overall in 1990
- Drafted by: Houston Texans
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (1 Pro Bowls)

#7. D.J. Hayden (DB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #12 overall in 2013
- Drafted by: Oakland Raiders
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#6. Ed Oliver (DT)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #9 overall in 2019
- Drafted by: Buffalo Bills
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#5. Wilson Whitley (DT)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #8 overall in 1977
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#4. Andre Ware (QB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #7 overall in 1990
- Drafted by: Detroit Lions
- Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#3. David Klingler (QB)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 1992
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#2. Riley Odoms (TE)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 1972
- Drafted by: Denver Broncos
- Years as a starter in NFL: 10 (4 Pro Bowls)

#1. Mack Mitchell (DE)
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 1975
- Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

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