With the NFL draft now less than 10 weeks away, things are starting to get a bit more serious when it comes to breaking down who the top first year players will be in 2011. It is also a time, though, to reflect back on the history of the NFL draft, which is an oftentimes sketchy one.
The Dolphins hold the 15th overall selection in the first round this year and interestingly enough, this will only be the second time in franchise history that the Fins have been slotted to pick at #15. The other time? 1997, when Miami selected Hurricanes receiver Yatil Green, who suffered a series of serious injuries and managed to play in just eight games in a four year career, catching a total of 18 balls for 234 yards.
So who have been some of the other big-name guys to have been selected with the 15th pick of the first round? The list isn’t exactly long and illustrious, but I did find some decent players taken in this spot in the last 40 years:
-2010: The Giants take USF defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul who had a decent rookie year for New York.
-2009: USC linebacker Brian Cushing is selected by the Texans; he recorded 4.5 sacks in his rookie year.
-2002: The Titans take Tennessee’s Albert Haynesworth. While he has had plenty of issues both on and off the field, he was a very productive player his first few years in the league.
-2000: The Broncos take Cal CB Deltha O’Neal, who had a very productive 10-year career for Denver, the Bengals, and Patriots.
-1986: The Seahawks select University of Florida RB John L. Williams, who played 10 NFL seasons for Seattle and Pittsburgh. In his best year, 1988, he ran for 877 yards and four touchdowns.
-1983: The Patriots take Illinois QB Tony Eason, who would play nine seasons and help take the Pats to Super Bowl XX. He finished his career with 61 touchdown passes and 51 interceptions.
Meanwhile, in 1978, the St. Louis Cardinals selected kicker/punter Steve Little at #15, making him the third-highest kicker ever taken in the draft. Despite the fact that he holds the (shared) NCAA record for the longest FG in college history (67 yards), his pro career and life were tragic. He washed out with the Cards in three years and shortly after he was released, was involved in a serious car accident that left him a quadriplegic. He died at age 43.
So that’s a brief history of the #15 pick in the first round. The Dolphins, of course, may end up trading up or down between now and the night of April 28th, but if you’re looking for a bit of historical perspective on what has come out of this spot in the draft, I hope you’ve enjoyed.
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