Part three of our series will show the best player by position drafted with the 26th overall pick. To do so we have to go back to the early days of the draft to build a complete team.
To better grasp the details of each drafted player, his drafting team will be listed. Games played for the drafting team will be listed first then games he played over the course of his entire career. For example 107/143, the player participated in 107 games for the team that drafted him and 143 games in his entire career.
There was not much competition for the spots on the offensive team. The wide receivers selected at 26 are especially weak. There was one position that was almost a toss up – left guard where Kent Hill barely edged out 1998’s 26th choice Alan Faneca. While Faneca has had a longer playing career and more Pro Bowls, Hill was more dominant among his peers and competition during his playing days than Faneca and that is saying a lot.
Quarterback: Jim Harbaugh, Chicago Bears 1987-2000, 89/177
Harbaugh was released by the Bears after 7 seasons, led the Colts to the 1995 AFC Championship games and played in his only Pro Bowl after that season, he threw for 129 TD’s and 117 interceptions.
Running Back: Greg Bell, Buffalo Bills, 1984-1990, 40/80
Bell had three 1,000 yard rushing seasons, was traded to the Rams in 1987 in the three-way Eric Dickerson trade. He had back to back 1,000 yards seasons in 1988-89, in which he also rushed for 31 TD’s those years. He finished with 4,959 rushing yards, scored fifty eight touchdowns, and played in the 1984 Pro Bowl.
Fullback: Wray Carlton, Philadelphia Eagles 1959, played 1960-1969, 0/87
Carlton was drafted by the Eagles in 1959 but did not begin playing to 1960 with the AFL’s Buffalo Bills, he played his entire career for them. Carlton was a bruising blocking fullback who helped the Bills win 2 AFL championships in 1964-65, he played in 2 AFL Pro Bowls, he rushed for 3,368 yards and scored 34 career touchdowns.
Mal Kutner: Pittsburgh Steelers 1942, played 1945-1950, 0/56
Kutner was drafted by the Steelers in 1942 but World War II delayed the start of his career. He played six seasons with the Chicago Cardinals, leading them in receiving in their last championship year of 1947. He scored 21 touchdowns in 1947-48, caught 145 career passes for 3,060 yards, and had 31 career receiving touchdowns, was 1st team All NFL in 1948.
Alexander Wright: Dallas Cowboys, 1990-1996, 34/86
Wright had an undistinguished career, he played for the Cowboys, Raiders, and Rams catching 101 passes for 1,597 yards and scored 10 career touchdowns.
Tight End: Billy Truax, Cleveland Browns, 1964-1973, 0/114
Drafted and released by the Browns in 1964, Truax was picked up by the Rams that season. He was a solid TE for both the Rams and Cowboys, he played on six playoff teams and caught 199 passes for 2,458 yards and scored 17 TD’s in his career.
Center: Don Mosebar, Los Angeles Raiders, 1983-1994, 173/173
Played his entire career for the Raiders, mentored under Pro Bowler Dave Dalby his rookie season before starting in 1984, played in three Pro Bowls, was 1st team All Pro in 1991.
Joe DeLamielleure: Buffalo Bills, 1973-1985, 112/1985
DeLamielleure was a punishing blocker with speed, he will always be known as being a member of the line that led OJ Simpson to 2,000 yards in 1973, but he also was dominant later in his career with the Browns. He played in six consecutive Pro Bowls and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
Kent Hill: Los Angeles Rams, 1979-1987, 107/132
Hill played for both the Rams and Oilers, he replaced eventual Hall of Famer Tom Mack in Los Angeles as a rookie and played in 5 Pro Bowls, was part of the line that led Eric Dickerson to a NFL record 2,105 rushing yards in 1984.
Gil Bouley: Cleveland Rams, 1944, played 1945-1950, 64/64
Bouley’s career was delayed one year by World War II. He started on the Rams championship team of 1945 and was 1st team All NFL in 1947-48.
Dave Foley: New York Jets, 1969-1977, 29/110
Foley was drafted by the world champion Jets and could not break into the starting lineup. He was traded to the Bills in 1972, he was part of OJ Simpson’s 2,000 yard rushing line in 1973 where he partnered with Joe Delamielleure and played in the Pro Bowl after that season.
Offensive Honorable Mention- Alan Faneca, Guard, Pittsburgh Steelers, 1998- 158/174
Dana Stubblefield: San Francisco 49’ers, 1993-2003, 108/154
Stubblefield had speed and strength, was 1993’s Defensive Rookie of the Year and won Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. He recorded 53 sacks in his career and was a member of the 49’ers Super Bowl XXIX winning team.
Billy Ray Smith: Los Angeles Rams, 1957-1970, 12/166
Smith joined the Colts in 1961 after playing for the Rams and Steelers. Known for his elusiveness, he earned the nickname “the Rabbit”. He anchored the Colts 1968 NFL championship and Super Bowl V winning defensive lines.
Robert Porcher: Detroit Lions, 1992-2003, 187/187
Porcher played his entire career doubled teamed in Detroit. He played in three Pro Bowls and recorded 95.5 sacks in a highly respected career.
Henry Ford: Houston Oilers, 1994-2003, 129/133
Ford was a solid but not a particular spectacular defensive end for the Oilers and later the Titans. He started about half his career games; he started nine games and recorded 5.5 sacks for the 1999 AFC champion Titans.
Middle Linebacker: Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens, 1996- 178/178
Lewis is hands down the best 26th choice in NFL Draft history and a future Hall of Famer. He was NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003; Lewis also won the MVP for Super Bowl XXXV.
John Anderson: Green Bay Packers, 1978-1989, 146/146
Anderson played his entire career with the Packers, starting 11 of his twelve seasons. He recovered fifteen fumbles and had 25 career interceptions, he also kicked a field goal and 2 extra points as an emergency kicker his rookie season.
George Cumby: Green Bay Packers, 1980-1987, 80/92
Cumby a reliable tackler, started 4 of his six seasons in Green Bay and teamed with John Anderson to force 4 turnovers in the Packers 41-16 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1982 NFC Wildcard playoffs, the Packers first post season win since Super Bowl II.
Lito Sheppard: Philadelphia Eagles, 2002- 93/93
Sheppard recently traded to the Jets was an aggressive leader for Jim Johnson’s blitzing defense in Philadelphia. Sheppard has eighteen career interceptions and has returned three for scores. He has played in 2 Pro Bowls and was a 1st team All Pro in 2004 when the Eagles won the NFC championship.
Dave Brown: Pittsburgh Steelers, 1975-1989, 13/216
Brown, drafted by the Steelers in 1975, was selected by the Seahawks in the 1976 expansion draft. He spent 11 years in Seattle, the most productive of his career, he played in the 1984 Pro Bowl, intercepted 62 passes, tied for 7th all time, and returned 5 for touchdowns in his career.
Strong Safety: Henry Jones, Buffalo Bills, 1991-2002, 144/158
Jones started for three AFC championship teams and tied for the NFL lead with 8 interceptions in 1992, returning 2 for touchdowns. He played in the Pro Bowl that year and was also a first team All Pro in 1992.
Free Safety: Devin Bush, Atlanta Falcons, 1995-2002, 56/116
Bush was steady player but hardly a superstar. He played 4 seasons for the Falcons before becoming a part time starter for the Super Bowl XXXIV winning Rams in 1999; he picked off 2 passes that season, returning one for a score.
Defensive Honorable Mention- Ron Kostelnik, Tackle, Green Bay Packers, 1961-1969, 110/120
Place Kicker: Jim Martin, Cleveland Browns, 1950-1964, 12/166
Martin, released by the Browns after one season was an average kicker for his era, he hit on just below 50% of his field goal attempts but did have a couple of good seasons. He was the kicker on 1957 NFL champion Lions and made the 1961 Pro Bowl with them. He moved to Baltimore in 1963, where he led the NFL with twenty four field goals that season and he scored 104 points.
Steady albeit unspectacular players are the norm for pick No. 26 in the NFL Draft. Ray Lewis is by far and away the cream of the No. 26 crop. Time will tell if the Ravens’ No. 26 in 2009 will even come close to the lofty bar set by their last No. 26 in 1996.
Yet as history has shown through the accomplishments of Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed and to some extent Ben Grubbs, if any team can discover a productive NFL Player at the bottom end of Round 1 it is the Baltimore Ravens.
Kickoff is set for Saturday April 25, 2009 at 4PM.