Though Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen are the quarterbacks most expect to be first round draft picks in the 2010 NFL Draft, there are other quarterback prospects available in later rounds that could have excellent professional careers. Here are a few to look out for.
Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
High character player with a decent arm. Though he displayed nice mobility in college, his speed of 4.66 in the 40-yard dash isnot going to blow anyone away. He worked out the shotgun through college, so his ability to work under the center is questioned. His accuracy is erratic. He has a look of an NFL player who will never quit on your team. He may be backup material ultimately, but he brings nothing but positives to the locker room.
Tony Pike, Cincinnati
The tallest quarterback in the draft at 6'6". Pike showed good character battling back from injury his senior season, though some scouts question if his skinny body can withstand much of a beating. Others are not in love with him arm strength, as he mostly threw underneath in college. He can tend to lock on his primary receiver at times. He could thrive in the right system, because he has a good feel for the game.
Daryll Clark, Penn State
He is mobile, a leader, and has a strong arm. He also has a low release point and is erratic in his decision making. He might get picked up by a team to run the "Wildcat formation" on occasion. He will take a lot of work to develop, but his character shows he is a willing student.
Levi Brown, Troy
He has good size and above average arm strength. He is another college quarterback who ran his offense out of a shotgun, so the transition to under the center is questioned. His deep ball accuracy needs work. Not very mobile, so will get sacked a lot unless he speeds up his decision making ability. A project.
Colt McCoy, Texas
Very smart and experienced. A natural leader. He does not have a big arm, so his above average mobility will be needed to buy him time. He needs to improve his low release point, because he is just 6'1" tall. His deep ball accuracy needs a lot of improvement. His high character and smarts may help him find a starting job somewhere in his career.
Tim Hiller, Western Michigan
He has one of the strongest arms in this draft class.He is very smart and experienced. He has also showed a high level of mental toughness, having played in pain often. He is also very immobile, having balky knees that have suffered multiple ACL tears. He will need excellent blocking in front of him to succeed. A sleeper pick who could help a team out down the road.
Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State
Though Robinson started two years in college, he is considered a very raw prospect. He is athletic enough to avoid the pass rush, and has a very good arm. He is also considered a high character player with good mental toughness. He needs to improve his decision making time, and also needs to hit the weight room hard and bulk up. He can improve on all areas of mechanics a lot. Not many teams carry three quarterbacks anymore, but Robinson would be a good candidate to be such a player as he works on his game on the sidelines while the games go on in 2010. He might be three years away from being ready to compete for a starting job.
Max Hall, BYU
Older prospect at 24 years old. Mature player who is married to the sister of BYU all-time receptions leader Dennis Pitna, a tight end prospect in the draft. He has fast and sound decision making qualities, but needs to improve on his release point. While he moves well in a collapsing pocket, he needs to work on his footwork. While he has a decent arm, he needs to be in the right system because he lacks the arm strength to make all the throws at the next level. Tends to float passes by throwing off of his back foot.His intellect might have him make for a good backup down the road.
Jevan Snead, Mississippi
Made a mistake committing to the draft with one more year of eligibility left. Very raw in need of a lot more seasoning. Wild in accuracy, and has a propensity to show bad ball security skills. Needs to improve drastically on his footwork, in his decision making process, and his ability to read defenses. He does show good arm strength when he gets his feet set correctly, and he is considered intelligent. He is the type you keep as a third quarterback and develop in hopes he fulfills his potential down the road.
Tim Tebow, Florida
ESPiN LOVES him, as do his fans. Some just for his personal views alone. His hype machine is running so strong, expect to see him in television commercials soon. He has good size, and his drive to be the best he can be is immeasurable and unquestioned. He has good arm strength, and showed a knack for winning at college so excellent that he may be the best college player of this decade. His release point needs major work, and his ability to get rid of the ball takes too much time. He is wild in his accuracy, and there is a huge question if he can make his progressions at the pro level since he was never asked to this in college.
It brings into question if he can read defenses properly. He is a questionable project that will need major amounts of time to develop. Some compare him to Bobby Douglass, an NFL quarterback in the 1970's, while others see him more as a bigger version of 2001 Heisman winner Eric Crouch. Crouch was asked to switch positions, when he was drafted, and has never played a down in the NFL. While it may not be a smart gamble to count Tebow out as an NFL quarterback, it is obvious he has a huge uphill battle to be one.
One Oakland Raider said ,"That's a horror show." Another starter said "don't hold your breath." These were a few quotes bandied about in the Raiders offices when quarterback JaMarcus Russell failed to show up for the first day of voluntary work-outs.
He showed up the second day 11 pounds over his listed playing weight of 260, but was reportedly still in good shape. It is almost hard to believe the 24 year old Russell is already entering his fourth year of a career. Critics are trying to label him a bust after being the first overall pick in the 2007 draft.
While his rookie year was mostly riding the bench, starting once in four appearances, he was handed the starting job his sophomore year and the strong armed youngster threw 13 touchdowns against eight interceptions.Though it was a positive year for a 23 year old kid, fans wanted more. Unfortunately this was not the case his third year, as he tossed 13 interceptions against 3 touchdowns in a year he lost his starting job to journeyman Bruce Gradkowski.
Now there is a growing sentiment in Raiders Nation that Russell is a failure and Gradkowski should stay atop the depth chart. Yet there is other fears that Russell was perhaps thrown into the fray before he was mentally ready, retarding his growth as a NFL quarterback.
There was a time in the NFL it almost seemed mandatory a quarterback sat a few years before playing. Raiders fans know this from maybe the franchises greatest quarterback, Ken "Snake" Stabler, who rode the pine four years before getting his shot. Stabler responded with the first of his four Pro Bowl years in that 1973 season, and led the Raiders to a Super Bowl win by 1976.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is full of quarterbacks who had to ride the bench for several years, learning the game before given their chance to display their progress. Len Dawson floated from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Cleveland Browns to the Dallas Texans/ Kansas City Chiefs before starting full time in his sixth season. Sonny Jurgensen rode the bench for the Philadelphia Eagles before earning the starting job in his fifth year.
The list goes on. In 1973, Roger Staubach entered his fifth year named the full time starter for the first time. He did start ten games in 1971, alternating plays with Craig Morton over half of the season, and led them to a Super Bowl title.Men like Tom Brady and Joe Montana spent most of their first two seasons as reserves.
Perhaps Russell will follow the path of Pittsburgh Steeler legend Terry Bradshaw? Both are noted for having exceptionally strong throwing arms. Bradshaw's first three years saw him toss 58 interceptions and 31 touchdowns. He lost his starting job just past the halfway point of the season into his fourth year and again in his fifth year before claiming it for good. His replacements did not play particularly well either year, but the Steelers did win the Super Bowl in 1974. Bradshaw retired with four Super Bowl titles in his reign.
Sometimes a change of scenery helps. Hall of Famer Bobby Layne was the Chicago Bears first round draft pick in 1948, the third overall pick. He was buried behind Hall of Famer Sid Luckman and Pro Bowler Johnny Lujack on the depth chart, so he was traded to the New York Bulldogs after the season. After starting all year in the Bulldog's 1-11 season, he was traded to the Detroit Lions and had an excellent career. Luckman himself spent his first two season as a part-time starter at quarterback and halfback.
Other quarterbacks like Hall of Famer Warren Moon, Doug Flutie, and Joe Theismann went to the Canadian Football League to learn how to play quarterback before joining the NFL. Theismann even played special teams as a gunner before securing the starting job full time in his fifth NFL season. Flutie left the NFL after his fourth season in 1989, and did not return from the CFL until 1998 to enjoy his lone Pro Bowl year for the Buffalo Bills.
Not every quarterback needs a few years of schooling. Hall of Fame quarterbacks like Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Joe Namath, John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, and Johnny Unitas jumped right in and took over, though Unitas spent a year out of football after being cut in his rookie year.
Peyton Manning is one day headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame .He is another example of a guy starting day one, as are other modern day quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. Other quarterbacks like Tavaris Jackson, Alex Smith, and Vince Young were sat back down to learn more.
Some say Russell is a victim of having a porous offensive line in front of him. Exposing him to frequent hits to where he may now flinch at the nearest hint of defensive pressure on him. He has been sacked 64 times in the last 27 games he has played.
Fans may recall three other quarterbacks who took a pounding. Jim Plunkett was the first player chosen in the 1971 draft with the Boston Patriots. He was dropped 146 times in 61 games over five years, even though he lost his starting job in his fifth year. Plunkett would persevere, however, becoming a two time Super Bowl winning quarterback for the Oakland Raiders.
The greatest Manning to ever play in the NFL, Archie, was drafted one pick behind Plunkett by the New Orleans Saints in 1971. He joined a team struggling so much, they were called the "Aint's" by league followers. Archie was sacked an incredible 340 times in 134 games with New Orleans. His first two years in the NFL saw him lead the league in being sacked, despite being extremely mobile. He led the league again in the category in his fifth year.
Archie Manning, like Plunkett, also persevered. Despite playing on some of the worst teams in modern NFL history that saw him endure savage beatings each Sunday. Things got so bad, sport writers were writing tongue in cheek articles asking defenses to take it easy on the affable quarterback. This included beat writers who covered teams the Saints were opposing.
He got to see the team eventually improve somewhat by his seventh season in 1978. He made the Pro Bowl and was named the NFC Player Of The Year. His 1979 season saw the Saints have their first non-losing season in franchise history, going 8-8. Archie's teams won 35 of the 139 games he started, the worst winning percentage in NFL history amongst quarterbacks with at least 100 starts.
Despite all of this, Manning has his number hanging in the Saints Superdome by a banner, joined only by recent Canton inductee Ricky Jackson, is a member of the Saints 40th Anniversary Team, was inducted into the teams Hall of Fame in 1988, and is the Chairman of Saints Hall of Famers.
Another case to remember is that of David Carr, the first pick in the 2002 draft by the Houston Texans. He got creamed a league leading 76 times his rookie year, and 249 times in 76 games. His confidence was so shaken, he looked like a deer staring into headlights every time the ball was snapped, though he did lead the league in completion percentage during his last year as a Texan in 2006. He is now a free agent after playing with two teams the past three years, so it remains to be seen if he will join Plunkett and Manning in toughening out a respectable career.
The journey Russell will eventually take will probably not be decided in 2010, but it could have significant impact on his future as a Raider. Oakland could help him out by drafting a few blockers, and hope they are ready to contribute immediately. The running back duo of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush is expected to be more effective than last season as well. The current starters on the offensive line last year thoroughly showed an upgrade is needed. Oakland cannot afford to score just 12.3 points per game like last year, second worst in the NFL, because their defense has yet to show they can stop anyone consistently.
Russell was drafted to lead the team, not be called an inconsistent horror show. There are rumblings that he is immature and doesn't work as hard as he should. He now enters his second year with quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett and Passing Game Coordinator Ted Tollner. Both men have been coaching since the 1960's and have long resumes filled with successes. Hue Jackson enters his first year as Offensive Coordinator, after just leaving the Baltimore Ravens. He was the quarterbacks coach there, overseeing the development of Joe Flacco.
Head coach Tom Cable's area of expertise is coaching the offensive line. He learned under such offensive minds like Dennis Erickson and Kevin Gilbertson. It is up to him and Offensive Line coach John Michalczik to get improved quality of play from this unit in the trenches. The coaches Russell has are proven, but more repetitive hits could take Russell on a longer than expected journey in learning his position.
Perhaps Cable could get owner Al Davis call in Plunkett, Stabler, and even Hall of Famer George Blanda to talk with Russell about diligence, hard work, and patience. Blanda did not earn the permanent starting job at quarterback until his fifth year, starting out his career at linebacker. He lost the job after that year and would not again be a full time starter until his tenth season. The Raiders Family is long known for their close knit ties. Having three on the silver and blacks legends in his ear with advice can be a lesson from a school like no other, and one sorely needed by a youngster who appears to now be wandering aimlessly along the NFL highway in need of direction.
Jon Gruden does not work for free. Ask ESPN , who seems to have anointed their next Brett Farve to shove down our throats on a continuous loop.
Tim Tebow is still legally a college football player?
How did Tebow afford to have Gruden prepare him for Florida Universirty's Pro Day?
You know Gruden did not take an I.O.U. from Tebow for "services rendered".
Who paid for Gruden? How about the Gator boosters? It seems pretty obvious someone other than Tebow footed the Gruden bill?
Will it be investigated? Most likely not. You won't hear a whimper of this discussed by ESPN's "journalists", but you better believe they might if Gruden worked for FOX Sports.
The NCAA Committee is as dirty as the workout that was perpetrated yesterday. Payola, or "hush money", was fed to all the proper pockets so everyone will blindly accept things "as is".
What did we learn from the workout? That Tebow still has no arm, and should think about throwing the ball with his right hand over his left.Even in the current rules that caters to quarterbacks and makes the NFL's chosen divas jobs much easier year to year.
As he got tired, the ball lollipopped more and more. The accuracy waned. ESPN valiantly tried to keep their cameras on him instead of the ball, except for a few of his earlier passes on the most simple of routes. The verdict stayed the same ultimately, despite Gruden's "unbiased" ESPN report that Tebow was a future starter. The guy is no more than a project.
What we really learned is dirty money is flowing in the Sunshine State. Now we truly see why Florida gets all the top recruits and will continue to do so. Kids will see that the school will pay for top experts to teach them to be better players without any expense to them. The Gator's will foot the bill, along with the usual housing, clothing, vehicle, female companionship bills they typically take care of for all of their players.
Florida University has blatantly officially taken football recruiting to another level, and the NCAA will gladly follow blindly with stuff wallets continuously fed by the boosters of the school.
ESPN's faux pas journalism will continue to shove your next hero down your throats as long as you tune in. Favre's name is mentioned every 20 minutes on all channels because of legal obligation. It reeks of reminiscence of the "Devil And Daniel Webster".
Now that Brett finally appears to have one last year to wear slovenly on America's conscious, they have the next Golden Boy in waiting. So confident they are in their investment, they sent "Chucky" to teach the kid to look the part of NFL QB.
Part of this madness might be because of draft day. Tebow has to be the first third round prospect ever to be invited to sit in the green room during the draft. If you were utterly sickened by having to watch a constant close up of the crying Brady Quinn for 22 rounds in 2007, get ready to puke at 70+ rounds of watching Tebow wait for the call on April 22nd.
ESPN is ready. Are you? They have plenty of tape from his days in college on the projector to get ready to shove down your consciousnesses as the already written scripts are ready for their "experts" to lament for several hours as to why he hasn't been drafted yet.
Any team that drafts him before the third round needs their heads examined because Tebow is quite simply a poor man's Bobby Douglass.
Unlike Tebow, Douglass had a good, strong arm. Like Tebow, Douglass was a left-hander with accuracy issues his entire career.
Bobby Douglass spent nine years in the NFL between 1969 - 1978, and was a full time starter in two seasons. His best season was in 1972 with the Chicago Bears, and it is not remembered because of his arm. He ran for an then-NFL record 968 yards that year on 141 carries, leading the NFL with a 6.9 yards per carry average. He ran the ball in for eight scores, while tossing a career best nine more scores against 12 interceptions.
Ultimately, he threw 36 touchdowns against 64 interceptions for his career. His yards rushing record for a quarterback was surpassed by 71 yards in 2006 by Michael Vick, though it took two extra games on the schedule to break it. Douglass was drafted in the second round, but you can bet the farm his Alma Mater Kansas University never paid for a coach to come in for six weeks to try to improve his draft stock.
If they had, the NCAA would have put them on probation because they have a set list on who can buy off their silence. Florida is on it, and Kansas never has been. In football. Basketball is a completely different story. Whomever makes them the most cash in each sport has the best chance to line the NCAA pockets and zip their lips with a nodding off acceptance.
If the NCAA or ESPN were legitimate entities, then Florida would thoroughly be investigated to see who bought Jon Gruden. ESPN would have their employee cooperate with the investigation, then break the story when the proper culprits are exposed.
But this will not happen, so just go to sleep and blindly accept the constantly shifting rules. It is exactly what is expected of you.
Sometimes having the best defense doesn't always mean you are guaranteed a title. Though the Pittsburgh Steelers have won four times with the top rated defense in points allowed, the Dallas Cowboys have won six total titles despite never once having the top rated defense in points allowed in their entire franchise history.
Here is a list of some of the greatest defenses in pro football history to have not won a title during their magical seasons.
1967 Los Angeles Rams
This was the heyday of the Fearsome Foursome, maybe the greatest defensive line in pro football history. It is also the only year they finished first overall in defense, giving up 14 points per game.
The Rams finished first again in 1974 and 1975, and only Merlin Olsen was left from the legendary line. A true statement of his greatness. There were five members of the defense to make the Pro Bowl that year, Olsen, Deacon Jones, Roger Brown, Maxie Baughn, and Eddie Meador. The offense was the top ranked in the league and boasted five Pro Bowlers, Tom Mack, Roman Gabriel, Bernie Casey, Jack Snow, and Les Josephson.
Olsen, Jones, and Mack are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Baughn, Brown, and Meador should be as well. Under their second year head coach, Hall of Famer George Allen, the Rams were dominant by posting an 11-1-2 record under the defensive genius.
They then were soundly beaten 28-7 by the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Division Title Game just two weeks after having beat them 27-24. It may be the best team to have never won a title. Many Rams from that era say it was the best team they ever played on.
1975 Los Angeles Rams
They blew through the season at a 12-2 record, beating the eventual champion Pittsburgh Steelers 10-3 in the last week of the regular season.
The defense gave up a paltry 9.6 points per game, and put five men, Merlin Olsen, Jack Youngblood, Fred Dryer, "Hacksaw" Jim Reynolds, and Isiah Robertson in the Pro Bowl. The offense saw Tom Mack, Harold Jackson, and Lawrence McCutcheon also went to the Pro Bowl. Olsen, Youngblood, and Mack are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
They made it to the NFC Championship before Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach threw four touchdown passes, including three to Preston Pearson, in leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 37-7 win.
Though they fell a game short of the Super Bowl, they had a season worth remembering.
1977 Atlanta Falcons
Before the famed "46" Chicago Bears defense, there was the "Gritz Blitz". The philosophies were the same. You sent EVERYONE at the quarterback on virtually every play. The Falcons gave up a measly 9.6 points per game, yet this was a team of understated superstars. Only Claude Humphrey and Rolland Lawrence, along with punter John James, made the Pro Bowl off their defense.
The Falcons problem that year was offense, which finished 25th out of a then 28 team league. They averaged just 12.8 points per game, which helped Atlanta go 7-7 that year. A little more offense could possibly have taken them a long way that season.
1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers of the 1970's are most remembered for winning just one game between 1975 and 1976. People tend to forget they turned it around by the end of the decade. Led by Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, their only Pro Bowler that year, the defense was ranked first in the NFL. They gave up just 14.8 points per game.
Making it all the way to the NFC Championship Game, they fell short by losing to the Los Angeles Rams 9-0, thanks to their quarterbacks completing just four passes on 26 attempts.
They weren't the prettiest team to watch that season, but they had many fans cheering them on because of their underdog status that was enhanced by their awful beginnings.
1945 Washington Redskins
Eerily similar to the 1943 Redskins team that finished first in the NFL in defense, but lost to the Chicago Bears in the championship game.
What makes this team different is that they started six rookies, including two rookie left tackles that split time. They also has two players with one year of experience and one player with two years of experience. The entire roster had just 2.4 years of experience as a whole.
What they did have was Hall of Famer "Slinging" Sammy Baugh at quarterback, safety, and punter. Baugh and rookie running back Steve Bagarus were the only Redskins named First Team All-Pro. Bagarus was out of the NFL by 1948.
The Redskins made it to the NFL Championship Game, but lost to the Clreveland Rams 15-14. Baugh was hurt in the game, missing most of it, but not before making history. He threw a pass out of his own end zone and hit the goal posts that used to stand on the goal line at the time. It was ruled a safety, where the rule was changed soon after the game that would determine passes like that would be dead balls or incomplete passes.
The team gave up just 12.1 points per game that year, and Baugh's four interceptions for 114 yards led the team. A surprising team that no pundits could have foreseen them having the successes they ultimately had.
1964 Baltimore Colts
This may have been one of the greatest Colts teams ever. Hall of Famer Don Shula was in his second season as a head coach, and he had Pro Bowlers Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, Raymond Berry, Dick Szymanski, and Bob Vogel on offense. Unitas, Moore, Parker, Berry, and John Mackey were members of that offense that were later inducted into Canton.
The defense was good too. They finished first in the NFL, giving up 16.1 points per game and has a plus 22 Takeaway/Giveaway Differential. Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti made the last of his 11 Pro Bowls that year at the age of 37. Bobby Boyd was the only other defensive player to make the Pro Bowl.
They made it to the NFL Championship Game after posting a 12-2 record. They ran into the Cleveland Browns in the title game, who dismantled them in a 27-0 victory. Though other Colts teams won championships, the 1964 team was as good as them.
1992 New Orleans Saints
Much like the 1991 Saints that were ranked first in defense, giving up just 13.2 points per game, the 1992 team ranked first and gave up just 12.6 points per game. They were called the "Dome Patrol".
All four of their starting linebackers, Ricky Jackson, Sam Mills, Vaughn Johnson, and Pat Swilling, made the Pro Bowl in 1992. Jackson is a member of Canton. They weren't as good at creating turnovers as the year before, having a plus 9 Takeaway/Giveaway Differential as opposed to plus 18 the year before, but they could get at the opposing quarterback. The starters got at them 54 times that year, led by defensive end Frank Martin's career best 15.5 that year. They got 45 the year before as a starting unit.
What always hurt them was a lack of offense, which helped them get bounced out of the first round of the playoffs each season. This lack of postseason success has left these great defenses largely forgotten in the annuals of NFL history.
1967 Houston Oilers
This is the only team in franchise history to finish first in their league in defense, giving up just 14.2 points per game. The offense scored just 18.4 points per game, which gave them a 9-4-1 record.
The defense had four Pro Bowlers, Jim Norton, Miller Farr, Pat Holmes, and George Webster. They also had a rookie who turned out to be the greatest strong safety in football history in Hall of Famer Ken Houston. The offense sent Bob Talamini, Walt Suggs, Woody Campbell, and Hoyle Granger to the Pro Bowl.
They then faced the Oakland Raiders in the AFL Championship Game, and were destroyed 40-7. The offense coughed up the ball three times, and were shut down to just 146 total yards. Oilers fans may remember their team going to the first two AFL Championships and winning in 1960 and 1961, but the 1967 team was very good in their own right.
1980 Philadelphia Eagles
Head coach Dick Vermeil came into town in 1975, and quickly built a winner. The 1980 and 1981 teams both finished first in the NFL in defense.The first Eagles defenses since 1950 to reach this status, and the last so far.
The 1980 team is best remembered for reaching Super Bowl XV before losing to the Wild Card Oakland Raiders 27-10. The defense had just one Pro Bowler that year, nose tackle Charles Johnson, but they did also have such gridiron greats like Bill Bergey and Claude Humphrey along with excellent players like Carl "Big Daddy" Hairston, Frank LeMaster, John Bunting, Jerry Robinson, and Herman Edwards.
The offense had Pro Bowlers Ron Jaworski and Harold Carmichael, along with Wilbert Montgomery, Stan Walters, Jerry Sisemore, Guy Morriss, and Wade Key. It was a solid squad that scored 24 points per game and gave up just 13.9 points per game.
Though they did not win it all, this team holds a special place in Philadelphia lore. Fans saw this team grow up year by year into a force to be reckoned with.
1968 Kansas City Chiefs
Hall of Fame head coach Hank Stram had four teams in Kansas City, 1968 and in their 1969 championship year, finish first in the NFL in points allowed. The 1960 Dallas Texans also accomplished this feat in their expansion season, and again in their 1962 championship season.
The 1968 team featured seven Pro Bowlers on defense, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Emmitt Thomas, Willie Lanier, Johnny Robinson, Jerry Mays, and Jim Lynch. The offense had three in Len Dawson, Ed Budde, and Jim Tyrer, as well as kicker Jan Stenerud. Bell, Lanier, Thomas, Buchanan, Dawson and Stenerud are inducted into Canton.
The Chiefs bolted out to a 12-2 record behind a defense that gave up just 12.1 points per game with a plus 22 Takeaway/Giveaway Differential. They reached the AFL Division Game, but were dominated by the Oakland Raiders 41-6 after coughing up the ball four times.
Though they went on to win Super Bowl IV the next year, the 1968 defense was statistically superior to the team that won it all.
1966 Buffalo Bills
The Bills had just won two consecutive AFL Championships heading into the season behind two top ranked defenses. The 1966 team was again ranked at the top, giving up 18.2 points per game.
The defense featured six Pro Bowlers, Ron McDole, George Saimes, Mike Stratton, Butch Byrd, John Tracey, and Jim Dunaway. The offense had six, Jack Kemp, Wray Carlton, Bobby Burnett, Paul Costa, and Hall of Famer Billy Shaw.
They reached their third straight AFL Championship Game, but were soundly defeated 31-7 by the Kansas City Chiefs. Though modern fans recall the Bills teams that lost four Super Bowls, they shouldn't forget the time that Buffalo won two titles in three tries.
1970 Minnesota Vikings
Most people know the Vikings went to four Super Bowls between 1969 to 1977 without a win, but many forget about the squad that got bounced out of the first round of the playoffs in 1970.
Three defensive linemen, Alan Page, Carl Eller, and Gary Larsen, went to the Pro Bowl, as did strong safety Karl Kassulke. Page, Eller, and free safety Paul Krause, the NFL interception king, are in Canton.
The offense ranked third in the league despite replacing quarterback Joe Kapp with journeyman Gary Cuozzo one year after making it to Super Bowl IV. Running Back Dave Osborn and wide receiver Gene Washington made the Pro Bowl behind a great Vikings offensive line that featured Hall of Famer Ron Yary, Ed White, and Mick Tingelhoff.
The defense allowed just 10.2 points per game and their Differential of 192 points also led the NFL, as did their yards allowed, first downs allowed, passing yards allowed, touchdowns allowed total and passing and rushing, and turnovers forced.
Their 1969 team was comparable in that they allowed a paltry 9.5 points per game allowed, which led the leagues, as did their Differential of 246 points. Though ranked first in points, first downs, and yards allowed, as well as every passing defense category, their run defense and turnovers created that year ranked second.
The 1970 Vikings may have been the best defensive season of the glorious Purple People Eaters.
1. St. Louis Rams : Ndamukong Suh, Defensive Tackle
The Rams getting Suh is the absolute right move. Not only is he easily the best player in this years draft, but the team can think of their history as an indicator how important defense is.
The “Fearsome Foursome” carried the franchise for years in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Suh would be able to join Adam Carriker and Chris Long to give the Rams an exciting and young defensive line, backed by young middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.
The “Fearsome Foursome Jr.” is right there to be had, and drafting a quarterback instead could haunt the Rams for years.
The last time the Rams used a first round pick on a quarterback was Bill Munson in 1964 with the seventh overall pick.
This came one year after the Rams drafted Heisman winner Terry Baker, a quarterback, with the first pick in the draft.
Neither Munson nor Baker were with the Rams after 1967.
2. Detroit Lions: Russell Okung, Offensive Tackle
The Lions got their defensive tackle by picking up Corey Williams recently, so getting Gerald McCoy seems unlikely.
Left tackle Jeff Backus is 32 and will get close to $5 million this year, so they can afford to stick Okung on the right side this year. This allows them to move Gosder Cherilus inside at guard, where some think he fits more naturally at right now.
Okung’s future is so bright, it is fathomable that it will be Backus moved to the right tackle in 2010.
Detroit did not give quarterback Matt Stafford $60 million to spend most of his season banged up, as was the case last year. Keeping him healthy is paramount, plus the Lions really need to upgrade their offensive lie anyway.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers : Gerald McCoy, Defensive Tackle
Tampa Bay might consider players like safety Eric Barry, but they can’t go wrong by grabbing McCoy either.
He is a good pass rusher, something the Buccaneers desperately need inside their defensive line.
Though he was not impressive at the combine, it is hard to picture him being passed up here. If he is, the Redskins will be very grateful.
4. Washington Redskins : Jimmy Clausen, Quarterback
The Redskins are in a quandary here. They need a left tackle to replace retired Pro Bowler Chris Samuels, and they need a defensive end because they are dreadfully thin at the position.
The problem is that Okung and McCoy are off the board and no one else is worth taking at this spot.
One possible pick is safety Eric Berry, which would allow Laron Landry to move back to strong safety.
New head coach Mike Shanahan has drafted only one quarterback in the first round in all of his years in the NFL, which was Jay Cutler. He ended up with a losing record and lost his job in Denver.
Some think the team prefers Sam Bradford, so you can flip a coin between him and Clausen. Owner Dan Snyder attended a private workout with Clausen over a month ago, then had him as a guest on his radio station.
Plus Clausen appears to be the better fit in Shanahan’s offense.
5. Kansas City Chiefs : Eric Berry, Safety
Though the Chiefs need blockers and receivers, they cannot pass on Berry if he is here.
Berry had a excellent combine, and reaffirmed he is the best defensive back in the draft.
He could give the Chiefs a safety that joins the ranks of Johnny Robinson and Deron Cherry as the best in team history when all is said and done.
6. Seattle Seahawks : Sam Bradford, Quarterback
Now that Seattle got rid of Seneca Wallace, they need a quarterback more than ever. Matt Hasselbeck is 35 and has one year left on his contract. He has also had back problems the last few years.
Bradford will be groomed to be the starter in 2011.
7. Cleveland Browns : Brian Price, Defensive End
Joe Haden might go here, considering the Browns need help in their secondary, or they could grab wide receiver Dez Bryant to bolster their unimpressive receivers corp.
Cleveland are dreadfully thin at defensive end, having just two guys who are over 30 years old. Price has been shooting up draft boards recently, and has the versatility to play defensive tackle if the Browns employ the 4-3 on passing downs by putting Matt Roth on the end.
Haden’s 4.6 40-yard dash at the combine may scare the Browns off here, but it is conceivable they draft him regardless of his showing.
8. Oakland Raiders : Bruce Campbell, Offensive Tackle
It is conceivable the Raiders grab defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul here.
Like Pierre-Paul, Campbell is raw and extremely athletic. Yet Oakland really needs help in the trenches on both sides of the football.
Dez Bryant is one name being mentioned here, but it is hard to fathom the Raiders getting another wide receiver.
Campbell allows the inconsistent Mario Henderson to move to the right side, while representing an upgrade at left tackle.
Raiders fans hope Campbell will have more impact in his rookie year than fellow Maryland Terrapin Darrius Heyward-Bey did last year.
Baluga has size, length, and is well schooled in a zone blocking scheme.
Seattle needs blockers and their new offensive line coach is Alex Gibbs, an expert at teaching zone blocking.
A match made in heaven, and now Seattle has a guy to groom as Walter Jones replacement for 2011.
15. New York Giants : Rolando McClain, Middle Linebacker
The Jints could use a cornerback or a pass rusher here, but they need a middle linebacker most.
Though the 2009 Butkus Award winner has stated he would prefer to play in a 3-4 defensive scheme, the Giants cannot pass up another gifted MLB like they did in last years draft with James Laurinaitis.
16. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Morgan, Defensive End
Many think Morgan would work best as a SLB in a 3-4 scheme, and the Titans run a 4-3.
What Tennessee needs is defensive ends and pass rushers. Morgan is the 2009 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and has high character.
He is too good to pass up here.
17. San Francisco 49ers : Anthony Davis, Offensive Tackle
Davis had his stock drop after a poor combine, but is has the measurables highly sought after.
He is only 20 years old, so he can be developed at right tackle for now with an eye on the left side for the future.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers : Mike Iupati, Guard
Iupati fills a big need on a Steelers offensive line that was not very good last year. He can play either guard slot and even right tackle.
He brings a nasty streak that Steelers fans want from their blockers, which will help a rushing attack that is uncertain right now.
19. Atlanta Falcons : Golden Tate, Wide Receiver
Now that the Falcons addressed their cornerback woes by dumping a lot of cash into Dunta Robinson, they can get quarterback Matt Ryan more weapons to work with.
Tate is a tough guy for his size, and is a hard worker with a desire to be the best player he can possibly be.
With Michael Jenkins inconsistency and the fact Harry Douglas is coming off an injury to his knee, Tate could push for a starting job right away by providing a deep threat and opening things up underneath.
20. Houston Texans : Earl Thomas, Safety
The Texans absolutely need a free safety right now, and Thomas fills that void. It also doesn’t hurt that he attended college at the University of Texas and has some ability to play cornerback.
Though Houston could look at running back, their issue at free safety is too great to ignore right here.
21. Cincinnati Bengals : Jermaine Gresham, Tight End
Even if the Bengals do sign wide receiver Terrell Owens, they need more receiving options for quarterback Carson Palmer.
Especially at tight end, where they got little production from in 2009.
Though Cincinnati could look at guard or defensive tackle here, Gresham is easily the best tight end in the draft and may be too tempting to pass up.
22. New England Patriots : Carlos Dunlap, Defensive End
New England has three picks in the second round, and is is almost a certainty they will be wheeling and dealing on draft day like they do yearly.
Dunlap’s stock dropped after a DUI arrest, but he was considered a top ten selection before this.
He fills a big need as a pass rushing defensive end, though a guy like Ricky Sapp or Brandon Graham could get selected as well.
23. Green Bay Packers : Kyle Wilson, Cornerback
Wilson has shot up the boards recently. He is a four year starter who never missed a game, and is extremely smart.
He can also return punts.
Considering Charles Woodson is 33 and entering his 12th season, now may be the time to bolster their cornerbacks unit.
24. Philadelphia Eagles : Everson Griffen, Defensive End
Griffen is built for the 4-3 defense, which is what the Eagles run.
Though it may be tempting to grab a running back or linebacker here, their need for a solid defensive end is just too immense for them to pass up an NFL ready player like Griffen.
25. Baltimore Ravens : Patrick Robinson, Cornerback
Now that Baltimore has addressed wide receiver by acquiring Anquan Boldin, they need to pay attention to cornerback.
Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb are both returning from knee injuries in 2009, and Webb might be best suited at free safety.
Robinson is an experienced player who is probably the best man to man CB in the draft.
The Cardinals need outside linebackers, and especially one who can rush the passer.
Kindle played a lot at defensive end in college, but he is built for the SLB position in the 3-4 defense. He may be more ready to play than Ricky Sapp or Brandon Graham right now, who will also be considered.
27. Dallas Cowboys : Taylor Mays, Safety
I can see Dallas trading this pick for more draft choices.Their roster right now is pretty stacked compared to other teams.
Current starting strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh was mediocre in 2009 with 61 tackles and an interception. Dallas could use an upgrade here.
Mays is a spectacular physical specimen who ran a 4.43 at the combine. It was the best time of all defensive backs and the tenth best overall at the combine.
Dallas may gamble here on him, and would lose little if Mays flops due to their strong roster.
28. San Diego Chargers: Ryan Mathews, Running Back
Matthews had a great showing at the combine, showing excellent hands too.
San Diego needs help in the trenches on both sides of the ball, but they must address running back first now that Ladainian Tomlinson is gone.
Others to be considered are Jonathan Dwyer, C.J. Spiller, and Jahvid Best.
Matthews works best between the tackles of the group, which is what the Bolts need most.
29. New York Jets : Arrelious Benn, Wide Receiver
The Jets could very well grab a cornerback here with Devin McCourty and Kareem Jackson still on the board.
The current receivers corp on the Jets is unimpressive, and an upgrade is needed over the likes of David Clowney as the third receiver.
Benn impresses scouts with his size and hands, so getting young quarterback Mark Sanchez more weapons would go a long ways in New York.
30. Minnesota Vikings : Maurkice Pouncey, Center
Current starter John Sullivan is a smart player and hard worker, but he may be backup material at best. Plus he is undersized, which isn’t always best for a team that needs to run the ball well to win.
Pouncey, the 2009 Rimington Award winner, can also play guard. If Sullivan retains his job, Pouncey can be the heir apparent to the aging Steve Hutchinson.
The Vikings will also look at defensive tackle Jared Odrick because Pat Williams has yet to commit to returning next year.
Running backs C.J. Spiller, Jonathan Dwyer, or Jahvid Best will be considered as replacements for the departed Chester Taylor.
31. Indianapolis Colts : Jared Odrick, Defensive Tackle
Offensive tackle Charles Brown could go here. The former tight end specializes in pass blocking, which is something that fits the Colts scheme.
Brandon Graham is a pass rushing defensive end who also fits their love for undersized defensive ends who get to the quarterback. He is certainly obe to consider.
Odrick is excellent at collapsing the pocket, and is a team player who makes his teammates look better by his propensity to do the dirty work.
He is also versatile enough to play defensive end.
32. New Orleans Saints : Brandon Graham, Defensive End
The Saints need defensive ends and a pass rushing linebacker. Graham can do both.
He has a non-stop motor and would challenge for a starting job immediately.
Outside linebacker Sean Witherspoon will also be considered.