4 greatest NFL Draft picks from the Washington State Cougars since 2000

Erik Coleman runs with the ball.
Erik Coleman runs with the ball. / Stephen Dunn/GettyImages

As we fly toward the 2024 NFL Draft, three former Cougars hope to hear their names called by Commissioner Roger Goodell. 

Over the past 90 years, Washington State has had 196 players drafted into the NFL. Since 2003, the Cougars have had 28 players selected by teams in the league.

Which former Cougs have gone on to lead incredible careers in the NFL?

522. 4. . 2019 NFL Draft. Andre Dillard – Tackle. player. Andre Dillard. Round 1, Pick 22. Andre Dillard – Tackle.

Former Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard was selected 22nd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. He played three seasons with Philadelphia and fell just short of winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2023.

Oct 15, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars offensive lineman Andre Dillard (60).
Oct 15, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars offensive lineman Andre Dillard (60). / James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans signed Dillard ahead of the 2023 season and he is still active on their 53-man roster.

Despite only being in the league for five seasons so far, Dillard’s Super Bowl appearance and consistent level of play at the professional level make him one of the best draft picks out of Washington State since 2000.

. Erik Coleman – Defensive back. Erik Coleman. Round 5, Pick 143. 2004 NFL Draft. player. . 3. 522. Erik Coleman – Defensive back

Despite being drafted in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Erik Coleman had a long and successful career as a defensive back in the league. Drafted by the New York Jets, he spent four seasons with his first professional team.

Erik Coleman #27
Erik Coleman #27 / Otto Greule Jr/GettyImages

Coleman was then signed by the Atlanta Falcons before closing out his career with the Detroit Lions.

Over 9 seasons in the NFL, Coleman amassed 653 total tackles and two sacks. In the 2008-09 season, he led the Atlanta Falcons in interceptions with three while also deflecting six passes.

With 11 interceptions, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery, Coleman was an incredibly impressive player at the professional level. 

2. player. . . 2014 NFL Draft. 522. Deone Bucannon. Round 1, Pick 27. Deone Bucannon – Safety. Deone Bucannon – Safety

Known as the first “moneybacker,” Deone Bucannon was taken 27th overall by the Arizona Cardinals as one of the top safety prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The Cardinals and Bucannon helped to create and revolutionize the moneybacker position. Playing a combination of the safety and cornerback positions, very few receivers could get across the field against Bucannon.

Dec 21, 2013; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Washington State Cougars safety Deone Bucannon (20).
Dec 21, 2013; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Washington State Cougars safety Deone Bucannon (20). / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When he hit, he hit hard. Bucannon hardly ever failed to bring down a target on the field and was beyond talented at playing the box and also covering receivers one-on-one. 

Arizona created the new position for Bucannon and the other 31 teams quickly followed suit after seeing how successful it was for the Cardinals.

. Marcus Trufant. Marcus Trufant – Defensive back. 1. player. 522. . Round 1, Pick 11. 2003 NFL Draft. Marcus Trufant – Defensive back

After the Seattle Seahawks drafted Marcus Trufant 11th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, the former Cougar spent a decade playing professional football just a few hours from his college stomping grounds.

Trufant played in 136 games over ten years and built up an incredible stat sheet. Most notably, he brought down 646 total tackles, 565 of which were recorded as solo tackles.

Marcus Trufant
Marcus Trufant / Scott Halleran/GettyImages

Trufant also had 111 pass deflections and 21 interceptions throughout his NFL career. With five forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries, the former Washington State star excelled professionally.

The 2007-08 season was the highlight of his career with seven interceptions including a pick six that Trufant returned 84 yards for the touchdown.

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