To no one's surprise, no Vanderbilt alumni were picked in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. That's a trend that dates all the way back to 2008. While Commodores occasionally find their way into the first day of football's biggest podium-based event, it's a few-and-far-between scenario.
In all, eight Commodores have earned their marching papers in the first round of the draft. That includes a pair of quarterbacks, three running backs, two offensive linemen, and one cornerback. Some became stalwarts. Others faded into obscurity nearly as quickly as it took to climb into the world of the college football elite. Today, we'll explore the world of Vanderbilt first round draft picks beyond Jay Cutler and determine who had the best - and worst - NFL career of the bunch.
These rankings are subjective, based on achievements, team success, and overall longevity. Feel free to voice your disagreements with them in the comments section below.
1. Will Wolford, OL, 20th Overall Pick, 1989: Wolford earned three Pro Bowl appearances and was a starter in the NFL for a dozen seasons. That earned him the title of best Commodore first-rounder and possibly as the best Vandy alum to ever play in the big leagues. He went to three Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills and became one of the league's most dependable blockers throughout the 1990s.
2. Billy Wade, QB, 1st Overall Pick, 1952: Wade won an NFL Championship as the starting quarterback of the 1963 Chicago Bears. He led the league in passing yards (and interceptions) in 1958 and went 47-42 in a seven year stretch as the primary starter for the Rams and Bears. He also once posed for this dapper picture with America's sweetheart, Donna Reed:
3a. Tom Moore, RB/FB, 5th Overall Pick, 1958: Moore won three NFL Championships with the Packers and earned an All-Pro and a Pro Bowl bid in his eight year career. He was the #2 back in Green Bay's stable behind Hall of Famer Jim Taylor and was also a dangerous kick returner and receiving threat in the early 1960s. His overall success on the field gives him a slight edge over Jay Cutler despite Cutler's gaudier stats.
3b. Jay Cutler, QB, 11th Overall Pick, 2006: If Cutler can will the Bears to an NFL title like Wade did then he'll jump all the way to the top of this list. Cutler is probably the most well-known Vandy alum in the pros, but he attracts as much derision as praise. He'll be playing under his fifth new head coach or offensive coordinator with Chicago this season. Another lackluster year could be his last as the starting quarterback at Soldier Field.
5. Chris Williams, OL, 14th Overall Pick, 2008: Williams was expected to be the anchor of the Bears' offensive line at left tackle, but injuries and uneven play kept him from living up to the potential teams saw in him as a first-round talent. He spent last season with the Bills and started three games before winding up on injured reserve with a back injury. He has three years left on his contract in Buffalo, but could be cut after having a limited impact in 2014.
6. Phil King, RB/FB, 12th Overall Pick, 1958: The Native American halfback played for eight seasons and went to the playoffs in five of his first six seasons with the New York Giants. He was never a standout, but strong seasons in 1962 and 1963 helped validate his status as a legitimate NFL running back.
7. Leonard Coleman, CB, 8th Overall Pick, 1984: Coleman was a full time starter for Indianapolis in 1986 and intercepted four passes that season. Unfortunately, that was the only season that he made a real impact in the league. He was the first player that the Colts selected after leaving Baltimore but he initially refused to sign with them, playing his rookie season in the USFL instead. He used that opportunity to finish his degree at Vanderbilt, something that no doubt came in handy when he was waived by the Chargers in 1989.
8. Jack Jenkins, FB, 10th Overall Pick, 1943: Jenkins had the prime of his career cut short by World War II. He played only two seasons for the Washington Redskins and scored a single touchdown as a blocking back. He was much more effective on defense, where he recorded four interceptions as a linebacker.