Today marks the sixth installment of our eight-part series. Wicks and I have been diving into all 32 NFL teams and all of their draft picks since 1980. What we have come up with is our individual picks for their best draft pick since then. Hope you enjoy the show!
*For the purposes of this article, I’ve added the Cleveland Browns draft results from 1980-1995, since the then Browns relocated to Baltimore.
Love him or hate him, I have to go with the 1996 first round pick, Ray Lewis. Lewis was a nightmare for opposing teams. He led the Ravens in tackles in 12 of his 14 seasons. He also had 31 career interceptions, 5th all-time among NFL linebackers. He is considered one of the most dominant linebackers in NFL history. Runner Up: Ed Reed.
Ray Lewis (MLB) – “I don’t know a man on this Earth who can outwork me” (probably Tom Brady) was drafted with the 26th pick in 1996 out of Miami. Well known for his game entrance, tenacity on the field and was an intimidation force at middle linebacker. Defense does win championships and Ray proved in twice collecting Super Bowl victories and Super Bowl MVP honors in 2000. Voted to a shit ton of Pro Bowls (13), 7-time First-Team All-Pro, 2-time Defensive Player of the Year, and NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team.
Cincinnati has had some really good luck drafting in the second round, that’s what makes this one so tough. I’m going to go with Boomer Esiason, who was drafted in the second round in 1984. Boomer played 14 NFL seasons and during that time he was a 4 time Pro Bowler, NFL Most Valuable Player (1988), and the Walter Payton Man of the Year (1995). In 1988, he led his team to a very close Super Bowl XXIII loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Runners Up: Cris Collinsworth, Chad Johnson, and A.J. Green.
Anthony Munoz (OT) – Offensive lineman day, but this one is widely considered one of the greatest in the history of the NFL. Munoz was drafted 3rd overall in 1980 (just made the cut) out of USC. He played 13 seasons, 12 with the Bengals and 1 with Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During his career, he was voted to 11 Pro Bowls, 9-time First-Team All-Pro, 3-time Offensive Lineman of the Year, and Bart Starr and Walter Payton Man of the Year awards. In his first year of eligibility, Munoz was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
Since earlier I added the Browns draft results from 1980-1995 to the Ravens, here we will be talking about the Browns 2.0 (1999-2017). The Browns have had a rough go of it lately, but this pick has been solid on the offensive line. He is ranked 25 on the “Top 100 Players of 2017” by the NFL Network. He was drafted in the 1st round in 2007. His name is Joe Thomas. Thomas is a 10 time Pro Bowler and is considered to be the best Offensive Tackle in the game today.
Joe Thomas (OT) – Like I said, it’s offensive lineman day. Thomas, a corn-fed product out of Wisconsin, he was drafted 3rd overall in 2007. Thomas has played his entire career with Cleveland and for some reason, continues to do so. I would take a pay cut to crawl out of that rubble. Thomas has been elected to the Pro Bowl every year he has been in the NFL (10 seasons thus far) and is a 7-time First-Team All-Pro. I’m sure he will be entered the Hall in his first year of eligibility.
The 10th overall pick in the 1987 draft was Rod Woodson. He played 17 seasons in the NFL and is among the all-time leaders in games played as a defensive back. He is also a first ballot Hall of Famer. Super Bowl champion (XXXV), 11× Pro Bowl (1989–1994, 1996, 1999–2002), NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1993), AFC Player of the Year (1993), 2× NFL interceptions leader (1999, 2002), NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time Team.
Ben Roethlisberger (QB) – Big Ben was drafted 11th overall in 2004 out of the University of Miami (Ohio). He made an immediate impact taking the Steelers to the AFC Championship game and falling short of the Super Bowl, but was named NFL Rookie of the Year for his efforts. Roethlisberger would eventually win two Super Bowl rings defeating the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. To date, Ben has been voted to 5 Pro Bowls and was NFL passing yard co-leader in 2014. He’s getting older and still has some good years left with Pittsburgh’s explosive offense and should continue to put up big numbers.
Tomorrow we will bring you our picks of the best draft picks, since 1980, for the NFC East. It should be a good one so stay tuned! As always, feel free to comment below.