This is part 7 of our 8 part series to bring you our choices for the best draft pick from each NFL team, since 1980. Today Wicks and I will be talking about the NFC East.
Emmitt Smith (RB) – Soooo many choices here, but I’m going with the guy that is nearly 2,000 yards from the next in rushing yards all-time (that other guy happens to be the great Walter Payton). Drafted 17th overall out of Florida. Smith, with the help from some other greats, won 3 Super Bowls with the Cowboys and earned Super Bowl MVP honors in Super Bowl XXVIII. He was elected to the Pro Bowl 8 times, was a 4-time First-Team All-Pro, a 4-time NFL rushing yards and touchdown leader, NFL MVP (1993), and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1990). Emmitt was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
I’m sure that this will be an unpopular choice given the history of great players the Cowboys have drafted over the years. Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin were all 1st rounders. Leon Lett was drafted in the 7th round in 1991. Lett battled injuries and substance abuse but was one of the most feared defensive players in the league. He was often double teamed and still dominated the line at the point of attack. Lett would be part of 3 Super Bowl winning teams and was a 2-time Pro Bowler. He was nicknamed “The Big Cat” due to his agility. Runners Up: Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin.
New York Giants
Lawrence Taylor (LB) – L.T. was drafted in 1981 out North Carolina and is widely considered the greatest defensive player of all-time. Taylor played 13 years with the Giants, collecting 2 Super Bowl rings along the way. He finished his career with 1,089 tackles, 132.5 sacks (including 20.5 in 1986), 33 forced fumbles and 9 interceptions. He went to 10 straight Pro Bowls from 1981 to 1990 and was named NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1986 and Defensive Player of the Year in 1981, 1982 and 1986. Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
Due to his draft position of the 2nd round, Michael Strahan wins out. Strahan was drafted in 1993 with the 40th overall pick, which was the first pick made by the Giants that year. He would go on to wins the following awards: Super Bowl champion (XLII), 7× Pro Bowl (1997–1999, 2001–2003, 2005), 2× NFL sacks leader (2001, 2003), 2× NFC Defensive Player of the Year (2001, 2003), NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2001), NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, and an NFL record 22.5 sacks in a season. He would also go on to break Lawrence Taylor’s team record for career sacks of 132.5. Strahan would end his career with 141.5 sacks. Runner Up: Lawrence Taylor.
Reggie White (DE) – White played two seasons in the USFL with the Memphis Showboats before entering the 1984 supplemental draft and going 4th overall. He ranks 2nd only to Bruce Smith with 198 total sacks. White played 15 seasons in the NFL with Eagles, Packers and finally the Panthers before he retired. In 1997 White won his only Super Bowl with Green Bay. During his career, he was voted to 13 Pro Bowls, a 10-time First-Team All-Pro, a 2 time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 2 time NFL sack leader. His jersey #92 has been retired by the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, and the Tennessee Volunteers. In 2006, White was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Reggie White was selected in the 1st round of the supplemental draft in 1984. He became a dominant defensive end in the NFL for 15 seasons. He became a Super Bowl champion (XXXI), 13× Pro Bowl (1986–1998), 2× NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1987, 1998), 3× NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1987, 1991, 1995), 2× NFL sacks leader (1987, 1988), First-team All-USFL (1985), NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, Philadelphia Eagles No. 92 retired, and Green Bay Packers No. 92 retired. Runners Up: Cris Carter and Donovan McNabb.
Darrell Green (CB) – Nicknamed the “Ageless Wonder” and for years was known as the fastest player in the NFL. He was drafted 28th overall in 1983 out of Texas A&M-Kingsville and played 20 seasons in the NFL. During that time Green was able to win 2 Super Bowls with the Redskins and holds a handful of NFL records. He was voted to 7 Pro Bowls, a 4-time First-Team All-Pro, and NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team. In 2008, Green was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Darrell Green is my pick here. He was drafted with the last pick of the 1st round in 1983. He played 20 seasons in the NFL, all with the Redskins. He was a 2× Super Bowl Champion (XXII, XXVI), 7× Pro Bowl (1984, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1997), 4× First-team All-Pro (1986, 1987, 1990, 1991), Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (1996), NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, Washington Redskins Ring of Fame, and voted one of the 70 Greatest Redskins. Green holds the following Redskins Team Records: Most career interceptions (54), Most game starts (258) and games played (295), Most game starts by a defensive back (258) and games played (295), Most consecutive seasons (20), Longest fumble return for a touchdown (78 yards), Most interceptions returned for touchdown (6). He also holds the NFL records for most consecutive seasons with an interception (19), most seasons with at least one touch(receptions, rushes, returns) (20); tied with Jerry Rice, oldest player with a 35+ yard gain(lateral on punt return), (42 years, 327 days), oldest player with an interception return for a touchdown in overtime, (35 years, 249 days), oldest player with an interception (41 years, 304 days), oldest player with an 80+ yard interception return (37 years, 309 days), oldest player with a non-offensive touchdown in overtime, (35 years, 249 days), oldest NFL Defensive Back (42 years old), 2nd oldest player to return an interception for a touchdown (37 years, 309 days)(Albert Lewis is the oldest: 38 years, 26 days), most games played by a defensive player (295), 4 time NFL’s Fastest Man Competition winner, only player to win multiple times and never lose, and 1996 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winner. Runners Up: Kirk Cousins and Art Monk.
That will do it for the NFC East. Next time, we will discuss part 8 of our series, the AFC East. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know who you would choose.