While most students just hope to earn well above minimum wage out of college, <strong>NFL</strong> rookies usually cash in paychecks close to that of <strong><a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2012/03/30/mega-millions-jackpot-7-ways-to-invest-your-winnings/">mega millions lottery ticket winner</a></strong>. The NFL is a <strong><a href="http://landing.newsinc.com/shared/video.html?freewheel=90962&sitesection=csmonitor&VID=23615536" target="_blank">$7-9 billion business</a></strong>, and with big money comes big contracts. Although, because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement effective in 2011, rookies are not getting much less than their predecessors, new players are still earning large salaries before they even step foot on the field. For example, <strong>Cam Newton</strong>, the No. 1 draft pick in 2011, received $22 million. Though his salary is elephantine compared to his peers, Newton and the 2011 No. 2 pick combined did not equal the amount of <strong>Sam Bradford</strong>, who was the highest paid rookie in NFL history, signing with the <strong>St. Louis Rams</strong> for $78 million in 2010. Though a few of these players did not live up to their full potential, many are proving their worth on the field. Here is a glimpse of 10 of the highest contracts given to NFL rookies of color in recent years. <e,>—Mia Hall</em>
<strong><a href="http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/detroit-lions/ndamukong-suh/" target="_blank">NDAMUKONG SUH</a> </strong><br><br>
Suh was the <strong><a href=" http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/detroit-lions/ndamukong-suh/" target="_blank">No. 2 pick</a></strong> in the 2010 NFL draft. A Defensive Tackle from Nebraska, this 6’7” powerhouse was recruited by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a five-year contract worth $63.5 million. He was guaranteed $40 million and had $8 million in incentives.
<strong><a href="http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/tampa-bay-buccaneers/gerald-mccoy/" target="_blank">GERALD MCCOY</a> </strong><br><br>
In 2010, McCoy was chosen as the No. 3 pick by Tampa Bay, as well. A defensive tackle from Oklahoma University, he was promised $63.5 million for five years with $35 million guaranteed. Though he had torn bicep injuries in his first two seasons, McCoy’s coaches are looking forward to him coming back and dominating next season.
This offensive linebacker from Wake Forest was given a <strong><a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/trainingcamp09/news/story?id=4386263" target="_blank">six-year contract</a></strong> worth $60 million with $34 million guaranteed by the Seattle Seahawks. The No. 4 draft pick in 2009, he was the highest chosen linebacker since <strong>Lavar Arrington</strong> was chosen in 2000. In 2009, the only other person to get a higher guaranteed amount was <strong>Matthew Stafford</strong> at $41.9 million. Curry is currently signed to the Oakland Raiders, who he’s been with since 2011.
<strong><a href="http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/st.-louis-rams/jason-smith/" target="_blank">JASON SMITH</a> </strong><br><br>
Smith was also in the 2009 draft and at the No. 2 pick, was given a $61 million contract with $33 million guaranteed. A tackle for the St. Louis Rams, Smith, also known as “Smooth,” won All-American honors in 2008 while a student at Baylor University.
<strong><a href="http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/kansas-city-chiefs/tyson-jackson/" target="_blank">TYSON JACKSON</a> </strong><br><br>
Currently a defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs, Jackson was chosen third in the first round of the 2009 draft. Hailing from Louisiana State, close to his hometown of New Orleans, he acquired a five-year contract worth $57 million with $31 million guaranteed. Earlier this year, Jackson, who has 124 tackles and two sacks since entering the league, saw his base salary increase from $2+ million to $8+ million, according to <strong><a href="http://www.macsfootballblog.com/2012/04/chiefs-de-tyson-jackson-tweaks-contract.html" target="_blank">a league source</a></strong>. He proved himself on the field and is reaping the benefits.
<strong><a href="http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/oakland-raiders/darren-mcfadden/" target="_blank">DARREN MCFADDEN</a> </strong><br><br>
A former Arkansas Razorback and SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2007, McFadden was drafted to become a running back for the Oakland Raiders in 2008. He had a six-year contract worth $60 million, with $26 million guaranteed. The tenth of twelve children, McFadden has overcome a lot of controversy off the field, but, nonetheless, has continued to persevere.
<strong><a href="http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/oakland-raiders/jamarcus-russell/" target="_blank">JAMARCUS RUSSELL</a> </strong><br><br>
Though he’s currently inactive, Russell received a large contract with the Oakland Raiders in 2007. Nailing a <strong><a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/09/11/SPO4S3G48.DTL" target="_blank">$61 million contract</a></strong>, with $32 million guaranteed, Russell was expected to bring the team victory but has been noted as one of the major disappointments in NFL history. He was released in 2009 because of low performance, including being the single qualifying quarterback with the least passing touchdowns or passing yards, in addition to significant weight gain. While his NFL career is in question there are <strong><a href="http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/4154/jamarcus-russell" target="_blank">rumors</a></strong> of Russell returning to the field as part of the Professional Indoor Football League with the Louisiana Swashbucklers.
<strong><a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/trainingcamp07/news/story?id=2959620" target="_blank">CALVIN JOHNSON</a></strong><br><br>
A wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, Johnson reportedly signed a rookie contract worth $64 million, with $27.2 million fully guaranteed. Johnson, also known as “Megatron,” was chosen second in the 2007 draft from Georgia Tech. Not only did he win the most votes to be on the <strong><a href="http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7855439/calvin-johnson-detroit-lions-wins-madden-13-cover-vote-carollina-panthers-cam-newton" target="_blank"><em>Madden 13</em> video game cover</a></strong><a href="http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7855439/calvin-johnson-detroit-lions-wins-madden-13-cover-vote-carollina-panthers-cam-newton"></a><strong>,</strong> he also recently signed an <strong><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/lions/story/2012-03-14/Calvin-Johnson-record-contract-extension/53527054/1 " target="_blank">eight year deal</a><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/lions/story/2012-03-14/Calvin-Johnson-record-contract-extension/53527054/1"></a></strong> with the Lions which is said to be valued at over $130 million, with $60 million guaranteed, making him the highest paid non-quarterback in NFL History.
<strong><a href="http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/buffalo-bills/mario-williams/" target="_blank">MARIO WILLIAMS</a> </strong><br><br>
Currently a defensive end for the Buffalo Bills, Williams originally had a six-year contract worth $54 million with the Houston Texans. Williams had $26.5 million guaranteed and $8.1 million in incentives. The No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft, Williams played at North Carolina State and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2008, 2009).
<strong><a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/peter_king/07/29/saints.bush.contract/index.html" target="_blank">REGGIE BUSH</a></strong><br><br>
Super Bowl champion, Heisman trophy winner, and formerly one of the most popular of the New Orleans Saints, Bush, who was the No. 2 in the 2006 draft, was given a six-year deal as a rookie. Coming from the University of Southern California, Bush was given a $52.5 million dollar agreement with $25.74 million in guaranteed money. Currently a running back for the Miami Dolphins under a two-year contract worth $10 million, Bush continues to have success and thrive in his football career.