Who were the best first-round draft choices in the NFL since the merger in 1970?
Our picks are based on their position in the round. It’s not whether they were taken in the first round, but where they were selected. In other words, who was the best 12th pick taken in the first round of the NFL Draft from 1970 to 2005? Who was the most productive player taken with the 25th pick?
We are going to leave out last year’s draft since those players haven’t gotten the chance to prove themselves worthy of all-time status yet. But that leaves 39 other drafts, with very familiar names and others who do not come as quickly to mind.
Obviously, this is very subjective, which is why I’ve included honorable mention selections at almost every slot. Also remember that picks No. 27 through 32 have not always been in the first round. It was 1976 that picks No. 27 and 28 joined the first round, with No. 29 and No. 30 coming in 1995, No. 31 in 1999 and No. 32 in the 2002 Draft. There were various exceptions along the way, like the ‘95 draft when new teams in Jacksonville and Carolina received a pair of first round selections.
STRENGTHS – A very athletic player, with speed, quickness and agility … covers the field from sideline-to-sideline and has shown himself to be a sure tackler … very powerful hitter … has shown good coverage skills … big-time contributor on special teams.
WEAKNESSES – He does not have the type of bulk teams seek for inside linebackers … not an instinctive player and has just one year of starting … will sometimes overrun plays and over-reacts to play action … tends to try to run around blocks, rather than taking on the blocker.
THE RIGHT 53? – As a 17-year old, he was arrested on assault and robbery charges in what his high school coaches called a single incident of trouble. Since then, we are unaware of any incidents. Quite the opposite, he’s been a determined, hard-worker and a leader.
What he said – (on his teenage arrest) “Stupid thing to do. You don’t think about the consequences of your actions. I look at life from a different perspective now.”
The elimination of the salary cap in the NFL and changes that brought to the league labor structure created more than 200 RFAs, the highest number in league history. To date only one RFA received an offer sheet, and that was New Orleans RB Mike Bell (right) from Philadelphia. The Saints decided not to match the offer. They received no compensation from the Eagles for Bell because they only presented him with a right of first refusal tender offer.
Someone can join Bell if a team makes an offer before the close to league business on Thursday. As of Wednesday, 98 RFA’s have signed contracts or their tender offers. That obviously left well over 100 RFAs available out there, including four members of the Chiefs: QB Brodie Croyle, C Rudy Niswanger, OT Ryan O’Callaghan and LB Corey Mays.
Once passed the deadline, the RFAs can only negotiate with their old team and must either sign the tender offer, or negotiate a new contract. Here are the players who have signed so far:
Offseason Acquisitions: RB Thomas Jones, G Ryan Lilja, DT Shaun Smith, WR Jerheme Urban, resigned: WR Chris Chambers, RB Jackie Battle, WR Terrance Copper, LB Derrick Johnson, OT Ike Ndukwe
Offseason Losses: G Andy Alleman, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith
Potential Draft Targets:
Round 1: OT Trent Williams, OT Bryan Bulaga, S Eric Berry, NT Dan Williams, WR Dez Bryant
Round 2: OLB Jerry Hughes, OT Rodger Saffold, S Nate Allen, DE Everson Griffen, OLB Daryl Washington, NT Cam Thomas, WR DeMaryius Thomas, WR Arrelious Benn, WR Golden Tate, WR Eric Decker, WR Damian Williams, DE Tyson Alualu, DE Linval Joseph, OL Vladimir Ducasse
Round 3: S Major Wright, S TJ Ward, DT Torell Troup, WR Jordan Shipley, WR Dezmon Briscoe, WR Brandon LaFell, WR Mardy Gilyard, G Mike Johnson, OLB Koa Misi, OLB Thaddeus Gibson, OLB Jason Worilds
Joe Montana and Kris Haines, the quarterback-receiver combo that led Notre Dame to one of the greatest comebacks in college football history, were among six inductees into the 2010 AT&T Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Also honoured at the eighth annual ceremonies were Texas wingback Phil Harris, Alabama middle guard Warren Lyles, Texas A&M and Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill and the late Wilbur Evans, the Cotton Bowl’s first executive director.
Montana, who went on to a Hall of Fame career spanning 16 seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, helped the Fighting Irish to a 38-10 upset of top-ranked Texas in the 1978 Cotton Bowl as Notre Dame won the national title.