First Round Bests … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Who were the best first-round draft choices in the NFL since the merger in 1970?

That is today’s question and what follows are my answers for selections No. 1 through No. 32 in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Obviously, this is a very subjective type of poll, which is why I’ve included honorable mention selections at almost every slot. And, remember that picks No. 27 through 32 have not always been in the first round. It was in 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.

Plus, I considered picks from the last few years, even though those players have not proven themselves over any length of time. Not many have yet qualified to be part of this group.

So here we go, the best first-round picks, spot by spot:

Check BetFirms for a a complete list of Chiefs draft needs. 

# Player Year Team On the Pick
1 Terry Bradshaw 1970 Pittsburgh So many possible choices, but Bradshaw is the pick because of his four Super Bowl titles with the Steelers. He was the catalyst behind the last two championships in Pittsburgh.Honorable mention: John Elway (’83/Baltimore); Troy Aikman (’89/Dallas), Peyton Manning (’98/Indianapolis.)
2 Lawrence Taylor 1981 NY Giants Tough to pick against Eric Dickerson (’83/Rams), but L.T. was the defensive player of his generation and set a new standard on that side of the football for production.HM: Dickerson, Randy White (’75/Dallas), Tony Dorsett (’77/Dallas), Marshall Faulk (’94/Indianapolis.)
3 Anthony Munoz 1980 Cincinnati One of the best blockers in the history of the game, Munoz was solid granite at left tackle over his 185-game career. He had to be, to beat out Barry Sanders (’89/Detroit) for this honor.HM: Sanders, Carl Banks (’84/Giants.)
4 Walter Payton 1975 Chicago A lot of great fourths, including Derrick Thomas (’89/Chiefs), but Payton was the most complete RB in NFL history; there wasn’t one aspect of the game he did not handle well.HM: Thomas, John Hannah (’73/New England), Dan Hampton (’79/Chicago), Edgerrin James (’99/Indy.)
5 Deion Sanders 1989 Atlanta Tough choices at No. 5 between Sanders, CB Michael Haynes (’76/New England) and LB Junior Seau (’90/San Diego.) Sanders got the nod for his ability to help teams win championships.HM: Haynes, Seau, LaDainian Tomlinson (’01/San Diego.)
6 Richard Seymour 2001 New England Seymour was the heart of the Patriots defense in the championship years. He’s solid at both tackle and end.HM: John Riggins (’71/NY Jets), James Lofton (’78/Green Bay), Tim Brown (’88/Oakland), Torry Holt (’99/St.Louis.)
7 Champ Bailey 1999 Washington Bailey has been one of the league’s best defensive players over the last 20 years, although he lacks a championship. Plus, the seventh spot has not been strong over the last 40 years of picks.HM: Phil Simms (’79/NY Giants), Troy Vincent (’92/Miami), Adrian Peterson (’07/Minnesota.)
8 Ronnie Lott 1981 San Francisco Drafted as a cornerback out of Southern Cal, Lott eventually moved to safety and became a Hall of Famer on the team of the 1980s.HM: Ottis Anderson (’79/St. Louis), Willie Roaf (’93/New Orleans.)
9 Bruce Matthews 1983 Houston Matthews played 296 games, working at center, guard and tackle over the years for the Oilers and Titans.HM: Brian Urlacher (’00/Chicago.)
10 Marcus Allen 1982 Oakland There have been a lot of outstanding 10s over the years, including Rod Woodson (’87/Pittsburgh), but Allen was a complete running back, and he was clutch.HM: Woodson, Jerome Bettis (’93/Rams.)
11 Michael Irvin 1988 Dallas Irvin was the emotional leader of the Dallas teams that ruled the first half of the 1990s.HM: Keith Van Horne (’81/Chicago), Wilber Marshall (’84 Chicago), Dwight Freeney (’02/Indianapolis.)
12 Clay Matthews 1978 Cleveland Although he didn’t play as many games as his brother, Matthews was part of 278 games over his career with the Browns, with numerous Pro Bowl trips.HM: Warren Sapp (’95/Tampa Bay), Haloti Ngata (’06/Baltimore.)
13 Franco Harris 1972 Pittsburgh Harris’ Immaculate Reception changed the fortunes of a long-time losing franchise and helped the Steelers win four championships in six years.HM: Kellen Winslow (’79/San Diego), Tony Gonzalez (’97/Kansas City.)
14 Jim Kelly 1983 Buffalo Kelly started in the USFL, but once he joined the Bills, they became the strongest team in the AFC, with four trips to the Super Bowl.HM: Randy Gradishar (’74/Denver), Eddie George (’96/Houston.)
15 Isaac Curtis 1973 Cincinnati Over a 12-year career with the Bengals, Curtis was a big-play target that caught 53 TD passes among his 416 receptions.HM: Dennis Smith (’81/Denver), Wayne Gandy (’94/LA Rams.)
16 Jerry Rice 1985 San Francisco Quite possibly one of the best value choices in the first round ever. Rice played 20 years, 303 games with 1,549 catches and 197 TDs, plus multiple Super Bowl rings.HM: Russ Francis (’75/New England), Troy Polamalu (’03/Pittsburgh.)
17 Emmitt Smith 1990 Dallas Again, quite possibly one of the best value choices in the first round ever. Over his 15-year career he had 18,355 rushing yards and 175 touchdowns, plus multiple Super Bowl rings.HM: Doug Williams (’78/Tampa Bay)
18 Art Monk 1980 Washington One of the most productive receivers in NFL history, with multiple Super Bowl rings.HM: Maurkice Pouncey (’10/Pittsburgh.)
19 Marvin Harrison 1996 Indianapolis Harrison was one of the NFL’s most consistent and productive receivers as Peyton Manning’s favorite target.HM: Shaun Alexander (’00/Seattle.)
20 Jack Youngblood 1971 Los Angeles Rams Hall of Famer who played over 200 games for the Rams and helped them to Super Bowl XIV despite playing on a broken leg.HM: Will Wolford (’86.Buffalo), Steve Atwater (’89/Denver.)
21 Lynn Swann 1974 Pittsburgh While his career was short with just 115 games, Swann was one of the best clutch receivers in recent NFL history; that’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame.HM: Jerry Robinson (’79/Philadelphia), John Alt (’84/Chiefs.)
22 Andre Rison 1986 Indianapolis By the time he came to the Chiefs, Rison was at the end of his troubled career. But over 12 seasons, he caught 84 TD passes, including 15 in one season.HM: Hanford Dixon (’81/Cleveland), William Perry (’85/Chicago), Percy Harvey (’09/Minnesota.)
23 Ray Guy 1973 Oakland Many consider Guy the greatest punter in the history of the game.HM: Ozzie Newsome (’78/Cleveland), Ty Law (’95/New England).
24 Ed Reed 2002 Baltimore One of the most prolific safeties in the last decade; his big plays have been a key part to the Ravens defensive success.HM: Ray Chester (’70/Oakland), James Brooks (’81/San Diego), Chris Johnson (’08/Tennessee.)
25 Ted Washington 1991 San Francisco Over time, the 25th spot has been pretty weak in production. Washington played < seasons and < games.HM: Stanley Morgan (’77/New England.)
26 Ray Lewis 1996 Baltimore Lewis was the heart of the Ravens team that won a championship behind its defense.HM: Joe DeLamielleure (’73/Buffalo), Alan Faneca (’98/Pittsburgh), Clay Matthews Jr. (’09/Green Bay.)
27 Dan Marino 1983 Miami Rumors about poor off-field behavior dropped Marino’s stock in the ’83 Draft. But Don Shula was smart enough to know greatness. He ranks as one of the greatest value picks in first-round history.HM: Larry Johnson (’03/Chiefs), Devin McCourty (’10/New England.)
28 Darrell Green 1983 Washington Over his 20-season career, Green played in 295 games, with 54 interceptions for the Redskins and several titles.HM: Derrick Brooks (’95/Tampa Bay.)
29 Nick Barnett 2003 Green Bay There have been 19 players taken in the first round at this position and it’s a pool of mediocrity and busts. Barnett became a starter as a rookie in the middle of a sometimes under-rated Packers defense.HM: Nick Mangold (’06/NY Jets.)
30 Reggie Wayne 2001 Indianapolis Wayne has been one of the most productive and prolific receivers in the league, even though he played second fiddle to Marvin Harrison at the start of his career.HM: Patrick Kerney (’99/Atlanta), Keith Bulluck (’00/Tennessee)
31 Al Wilson 1999 Denver He was the heart of the Denver defense for a decade and a frequent visitor to the Pro Bowl.HM: Todd Heap (’01/Baltimore.)
32 Logan Mankins 2005 New England Became a starter for the Patriots in his first season with the team. Of the 11 players taken with the 32nd pick in the first round, Mankins has been the most productive.HM: None.

Coming up Friday: The worst first round selections in the NFL Draft.

2 Responses to “First Round Bests … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 14, 2011  - boogey says:

    Do what??

  • April 14, 2011  - boogey says:

    ok ok i can agree with this list

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