We're closing in on the 2021 NFL Draft and with it comes the injection of immense talent and youth to the league. Of course, this draft in particular is hyped thanks to who is poised to be the No. 1 overall pick and what his potential could be at the next level. While Clemson phenom Trevor Lawrence deserves all that anticipation, game-changing talent can be found all across the draft board. That brings us to our activity today. We here at CBS Sports have taken on the task of finding the best of the best who were ever selected in what is now known as the first round (first 32 picks).
We'll be covering each spot in the first round all the way until we reach No. 1 overall on the Tuesday before the draft, which officially kicks off on Thursday, April 29, at 8 p.m. ET. To follow along on who makes each top five, check out our hub of all the action here.
As for the No. 20 pick, it is a bit more complex than other selections that we'll dissect as we go forward. Because there were not 20 teams in the NFL at certain periods, some of these selections that you'll read about below weren't even first rounders, but would have been had they entered the league today. How we determined who actually made the cut was a combination of their impact to the league, longevity, accolades, and -- more simply -- a gut feel of whether or not they are worthy of entering this exclusive class.
This year, the Chicago Bears are slated to pick No. 20 overall. Our CBS Sports draft analysts have pegged Texas offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi and Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins as some of the potential candidates who could be taken at that spot in their most recent mock drafts.
5. Bill Brown, running back
1961 NFL Draft: Round 2, No. 20 overall (Illinois)
Team(s): Chicago (1961), Minnesota (1962-1974)
After an illustrious career at Illinois, Brown stayed local after being selected by the Bears in the 1961 NFL Draft. But his time in Chicago was short-lived, as the Bears traded him to the Vikings for a fourth-round pick in the 1964 draft after one season in the Windy City.
With the Vikings, Brown flourished, making the Pro Bowl in 1964, 1965, 1967, and 1968. To this day, Brown remains one of the most productive players in team history. His 52 rushing touchdown rank third all time for the Vikings, and his 5,757 yards are fourth in franchise history.
Brown was an ironman too. He still holds the Vikings franchise records for most consecutive games played and games started by a running back. In 1966, he led the NFL in carries (251) and touches (288).
4. Steve Atwater, safety
1989 NFL Draft: Round 1, No. 20 overall (Arkansas)
Team(s): Denver (1989-1998), New York Jets (1999)
The first safety off the board in the 1989 NFL Draft, Atwater was an instant impact defender in Denver with three picks and 129 tackles as a rookie. By his second year in the NFL, he established himself as a Pro Bowl player and earned that honor from 1990 through 1996 and again in 1998.
But it was in the early 1990s when Atwater was arguably the most feared defensive back in the game because of his phenomenal striking ability as a run defender or when crashing down on an in-breaking route. He was a first-team All Pro in 1991 and 1992 when he had a combined seven picks and 301 tackles.
Only in his final season -- with the Jets -- Atwater failed to record an interception, and he snagged at least two picks in eight separate seasons. He went over the 100-tackle threshold on six occasions. Atwater was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020.
3. Maxie Baughan, linebacker
1960 NFL Draft: Round 2, No. 20 overall (Georgia Tech)
Team(s): Philadelphia (1960-1965), L.A. Rams (1966-1970), Washington (1974)
Baughan was a tackle generator at Georgia Tech then went No. 20 overall in the 1960 NFL Draft. With the Eagles, Baughan made an immediate impression with a Pro Bowl nod in his debut campaign in Philadelphia, a season in which the Eagles won the NFL championship.
The ferocious linebacker made the Pro Bowl in 1961 then 1963 through 1965 with the Eagles before being traded to the Rams in 1966. The Pro Bowl honors didn't subside with his new team. He was a Pro Bowler in 1967, 1968, and 1969, with the final year in Los Angeles also earning him a first-team All-Pro nod, the second of his NFL career. He was also a second-team All-Pro on five occasions and is a member of the Eagles Hall of Fame.
2. Forrest Gregg, offensive lineman
1956 NFL Draft: Round 2, No. 20 overall (SMU)
Team(s): Green Bay (1956, 1958-1970), Dallas (1971)
Gregg was an offensive line lynchpin in the Vince Lombari Packers of the late 1950s and 1960s after being the club's Round 2 selection in the 1956 NFL Draft. He was known for his steady play at right tackle and guard and was rarely on the injured list, having played in 188 consecutive games in his career. At the time of his retirement, that was an NFL record.
Gregg won five NFL championships before the inception of the Super Bowl -- then taking home a ring for Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II. Even in his final season with the Cowboys, Gregg played in the title game. He was a first-team All-Pro on seven occasions and a second-team All-Pro twice. His dominant blocking led to him being named to the NFL's 75th and 100th anniversary teams, and he was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 after a lengthy coaching career in the NFL. He won the AP Coach of the Year in 1976 after leading the Browns to a 9-5 record.
1. Jack Youngblood, defensive end
1971 NFL Draft: Round 1, No. 20 overall (Florida)
Team(s): Rams (1971-1984)
Renowned for his unprecedented toughness, Youngblood embodied what it meant to be a ferocious defensive lineman in the 1970s and 1980s. He was an All-Rookie player to begin his NFL career and his strong play likely played a role in Deacon Jones being traded the following offseason.
By 1973, Youngblood was a perennial Pro Bowl type, and while not official, registered 16.5 sacks that season. He was a first-team All-Pro in three consecutive campaigns from 1974 through 1976 and was a second-team All-Pro twice, the same number of times he won NFC Defensive Player of the Year. He won that award in back-to-back seasons in 1975 and 1976.
One of the most famous moments in Youngblood's career came in the 1979 playoffs when he played in three contests -- including the Super Bowl -- despite a broken leg. He dealt with various injuries in his pro career yet managed to play in 201 straight games. His career high in sacks was 18.5, and Youngblood went over double digits in sacks in eight separate seasons (all unofficial until 1982).
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001. Had sacks been an official statistic his entire career, Youngblood's 151.5 sacks would rank fifth all time. He's the best No. 20 overall draft pick in NFL history.