Once in awhile, an NFL team will draft a player that will change the history of their franchise for the better. These players are usually future Hall of Famers, Pro Bowlers,, MVPs, and Super Bowl winners.
Going into the offseason, franchise’s have to determine what they need to make their team better, whether it be special teams, offense, or defense. They do this through free agency, the draft, and trades to try and improve on the previous season. Although this may sound easy, this is easier said than done. NFL organizations have to go through a lot of planning and scouting to make sure that they are making the right decision.
In the 1998 draft, the Indianapolis Colts had a tough decision to make between QBs Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. Both had had very successful collegiate careers and were projected to be the first two picks. The Colts went on to pick Manning, as the Tennessee Titans picked Leaf at number 2. While Manning went on to become one of the greatest QBs in history, Leaf is known as one of the biggest draft busts in history, which shows how much difference one pick could make. If the Colts would have picked Leaf instead of Manning, who knows how the Colts and Titans franchises would have turned out.
Once a franchise finds that player they know can lead their team, they bring in other players to build a team that can lead them to the promise land, the Super Bowl. These are the players that helped change their franchises around in ways they did not think were possible.
Arizona Cardinals – Larry Fitzgerald, WR
After not making the playoffs for five straight seasons, the Arizona Cardinals drafted Larry Fitzgerald 3rd overall in the 2004 draft. During Fitzgerald’s rookie season, he showed some promise, catching 58 passes for 780 yards and 8 TDs. Despite his good rookie season, the Cardinals went 6-10 and did not make the playoffs for the 6th straight year. The following season, Fitzgerald broke out for 103 receptions, 1,409 yards, and 10 TDs. Although Fitzgerald had a breakout year, the Cardinals had a worse season going 5-11 and failed to make the postseason once again.
At just the age of 32, Fitzgerald is currently a nine-time Pro Bowler, has been selected to 3 All-Pro teams and has over 1,000 receptions and 10,000 yards. Fitzgerald is the Cardinals franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs.
Atlanta Falcons – Claude Humphrey, DE
Claude Humphrey was drafted 3rd overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 1968 and paved the way for defensive ends of the future. In 10 seasons for the Falcons, Humphrey recorded 126.5 sacks and 2 safeties.
In 1978, which was Humphrey’s last season with the Falcons, he led the Falcons to their first playoff appearance in franchise history. They won in the Wild Card round against the Philadelphia Eagles but fell short to the more experienced Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round. In 2014, Humphrey was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Baltimore Ravens – Ray Lewis, LB
The Baltimore Ravens started their franchise in 1996 and with their first ever draft pick, they chose Ray Lewis 26th overall, a decision they would not regret. For the first four years, the Ravens did not make the playoffs. In 2000, they made the playoffs for the first time after going 12-4. The Ravens had one of the most dominating defenses in NFL history which was led by Lewis. The Ravens dominated i their first playoff appearance, beating each team by double digits points, including the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, who they crushed 34-7, winning their first championship in franchise history.
Lewis finished his career with 1,562 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 811 pass deflections, 31 interceptions, 19 forced fumbles, 3 touchdowns, and is the Ravens all-time leader in tackles.
Buffalo Bills – Jim Kelly, QB
The Bills had not made the playoffs in five years and needed a change immediately. In 1986, the Bills acquired the rights to Kelly from the United States Football League (USL). In his 11 seasons with the Bills, Kelly took them to the playoffs eight times, including four straight trips to the Super Bowl, although they lost all four.
Although the Bills did not win any Super Bowl Championships, Kelly did come in and turn their franchise around. The five-time Pro Bowler Kelly finished his career with 237 TDs and 175 INTs for 35,467 yards, finishing with a 84.4 passer rating for his career.
Carolina Panthers – Steve Smith, WR
In 2001, the Panthers drafted Steve Smith after not making the playoffs for five straight seasons. They needed a new offensive weapon and Smith was the answer. In his first two seasons, Smith struggled to adapt to the NFL. However, in his third season he broke out of his shell grabbing 88 catches for 1,110 yards and 7 TDs. This breakout season led to the Panthers winning the NFC South with a 11-5 record. This was the first time the Panthers had made the playoffs since 1996.
Smith is the Panthers all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, punt return yards, and punt return touchdowns.
Chicago Bears – Walter Payton, RB
After not making the playoffs for 12 seasons, the Bears were getting restless and needed an answer. In 1975, they had a lottery pick in the NFL Draft and knew this pick could change their franchise around. With the 4th overall pick, the Bears selected RB Walter Payton.
In 1977, Payton did his job and carried the Bears to the playoffs. During the regular season in 1977, Payton had 339 carries for 1,852 yards and 14 TDs in just 14 games, which is unheard of. The Bears went 9-5 on the season, earning them a playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, where they got thrashed 37-7. Over the next 10 seasons, Payton carried the Bears to five playoff appearances.
Payton finished his career with 3,838 carries, 16,726 yards, and 110 TDs in 190 games. Payton was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Cincinnati Bengals – Anthony Munoz, OT
It’s rare that you have a Offensive Tackle as your best player in franchise history but Munoz is undeniably the Bengals best player. After three first round exits in their last three playoff appearances and not making the postseason the previous four seasons, the Bengals drafted Munoz in 1980 as the 3rd overall pick.
In his 12 seasons with the Bengals, Munoz helped carry the Bengals to four playoff appearances, including two Super Bowl trips. Although the Bengals fell short in both Super Bowls, that was their first trips to the big game in franchise history, losing both games by a total of nine points.
Munoz was a 11-time Pro Bowler and 11-time All-Pro selections. Munoz was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
Cleveland Browns – Jim Brown, RB
In 1957, the Cleveland Browns lost to the Detroit Lions 14-59 in the NFL Championship Game and needed another offensive weapon at their disposal. The same year, the Browns drafted Jim Brown 6th overall. Brown brought the Browns the spark they needed.
In his rookie season, Brown had 202 carries for 942 yards and 9 TDs in 12 games. In 1964, Brown carried his team to the NFL Championship Game where they beat the Baltimore Colts 27-0. Brown was one of the best RBs to ever play in NFL history and his stats speaks for themselves.
Brown had 2,359 carries for 12,312 yards and 106 TDs. To show how great he really is, Brown put up these stats in just nine seasons and this was before they had 16-game seasons. Brown played in four 12-game seasons and five 14-game seasons.
Dallas Cowboys – Emmitt Smith, RB
The Dallas Cowboys were in a drought from the playoffs and had not seen the postseason in five seasons, and had not reached the Super Bowl since 1978. In 1990 that all changed when the Cowboys stole a pick at 17th overall in Emmitt Smith.
Smith came in and made an impact right away, collecting over 1,000 offensive yards and 11 TDs. After two years of being drafted, Smith helped carry the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, where they annihilated the Buffalo Bills 52-17 to win the franchise’s 3rd Super Bowl Championship. The following year, the Cowboys did not stop and returned to the Super Bowl against the Bills once again. Although it was a different season, the result was the same as the Cowboys beat the Bills 30-13 to win back-to-back championships. Smith won the Super Bowl MVP with 30 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns and 4 receptions for 26 yards. In 1995, the Cowboys returned to the Super Bowl and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 to win their third Championship in four years.
Smith has the NFL record for career rushing yards, TDs, and 100-yard rushing games (78). Smith is the Cowboys all-time leading rusher (17,162 yards). Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Denver Broncos – John Elway, QB
In the 1983 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos knew exactly what they were doing with the #1 overall pick by drafting QB John Elway. In just his 4th season, Elway led the Broncos to a 11-5 record and their first Super Bowl in franchise history. The Broncos lost 39-20 to the New York Giants, but the Broncos franchise knew that they had made the right decision. Elway proved to the Broncos he was right for them by taking the Broncos to the Super Bowl two of the next three seasons after their first Super Bowl game. However, the Broncos got crushed in both games, making Elway and the Broncos franchise 0-3 in Super Bowl games. The Broncos thought maybe they weren’t good enough to win the big one, but Elway did not give up.
In 1997, Elway led the Broncos back to the Super Bowl and this time they came away with the Championship, beating the Green Bay Packers 31-24. The following season in 1998, the Broncos went back to the Super Bowl. The Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowl Championships by beating the Atlanta Falcons 34-19. Elway retired on top following this victory.
Detroit Lions – Barry Sanders, RB
Prior to Sanders being drafted, the Lions had not made the playoffs in the past six seasons. In just his third season, Sanders led the Lions to the postseason and out of the first round for the first time since 1957. The Lions lost to the Washington Redskins in the Conference Championship 41-10 and things did not get much better after that loss. Sanders helped the Lions to four more playoff appearances but they lost in the first round of each season, but this was not on Sanders.
In 10 seasons with the Lions, Sanders made the Pro Bowl and a All-Pro team every single season. Sanders is part of the 2,000 yards rushing club when he rushed for 2,053 yards in 1997, a stat that only six other players have accomplished. Sanders has the NFL record for most consecutive 100-yard games at 14 and most 1,500-yard seasons at five. Sanders finished his career with 3,062 carries, 15,269 rushing yards (3rd in NFL history), and 99 TDs.
Green Bay Packers – Brett Favre, QB
Brett Favre had one of the roughest starts to a NFL career that very few people probably remember or even know about. Favre was actually drafted 33rd overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 1991. In his first and only season with the Falcons, Favre threw four passes, with two incompletions and two interceptions, never completing a pass with the Falcons. Favre was traded to the Green Bay Packers the following season for a draft pick, a choice that haunted the Falcons and helped the Packers.
In 1996, Favre led the Packers to a NFL best 13-3 record, tied with the Denver Broncos. In the playoffs, the Packers continued their hot play and reached the Super Bowl for the first time since 1967. The Packers went on to beat the New England Patriots 35-21. The following season, the Packers went 13-3 once again, tied with the Chiefs and 49ers for the NFL’s best record and were looking like favorites to repeat. The Packers did not disappoint and made it back to the Super Bowl for the second straight season. In the Super Bowl, the Packers had to face the AFC’s best record team in the Broncos. The Packers could not get the job this time and lost to the Broncos 31-24.
In his 16 seasons with the Packers, Favre was a nine-time Pro Bowler, three-time NFL MVP and led the league in passing TDs four times.
Houston Texans – Andre Johnson, WR
The Houston Texans became a NFL Franchise in 2002 and after going 4-12 their first season figured they needed some offensive. With the 3rd overall pick in the 2003 draft, the Texans drafted Andre Johnson. Although Johnson was good individually, they still needed to add some pieces to the new franchise, so the Texans did not make their first playoff appearance until 2011. We can’t blame that on Johnson, who did all he could to put his mediocre QBs in a position to succeed.
In his 12 seasons with the Texans, Johnson was a top 10-15 receiver every single season and was a seven-time pro bowler, four-time All-Pro player, and is the Texans all-time career leader in receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns.
Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning, QB
The Indianapolis Colts had a tough choice to make in the 1998 draft with the 1st overall pick between Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning and history shows that the Colts made the right decision.
In 2006, Manning led the Colts to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970. Manning and the Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 for their second Super Bowl Championship in franchise history. Manning was also named the Super Bowl MVP after completing 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards and a TD and one interception for a passer rating of 81.8. Manning carried the Colts back to the Super Bowl in 2009 but fell short to the New Orleans Saints 31-17.
Manning was a Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, 11-time Pro Bowler, four-time NFL MVP, eight-time All-Pro selection and is the Colts all-time leader in career wins, passing touchdowns, pass completions, and passing yards.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Tony Boselli, OT
The Jacksonville Jaguars franchise started in 1995 and with their first ever draft pick they selected OT Tony Boselli second overall. In his seven seasons with the Jaguars, Boselli helped the Jaguars to four playoff appearances. To show how good Boselli was, the Jaguars only made the playoffs two out of the next 14 seasons after Boselli left in 2001. With the Jaguars, Boselli was a five-time Pro Bowler and had three All-Pro first team selections.
Kansas City Chiefs – Tony Gonzalez, TE
Tony Gonzalez is one of the best TEs in NFL history after having a stellar 17 seasons in the league. Gonzalez was great individual player but he did not have much help from teammates on both sides of the field. In his 12 seasons with the Chiefs, they only made the playoffs three times and were knocked out of the first round each time.
Despite the team not having success in the postseason, Gonzalez still did his part with them. Gonzalez is 14-time Pro Bowler (tied for an NFL record), 10-time All-Pro selection and was the first TE in history to have 1,000 catches. Among TEs, Gonzalez is first all-time in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs. He is 5th all-time in receiving yards, 2nd in career receptions, and 6th in career receiving touchdowns. Gonzalez finished his career with 1,325 receptions, 15,127 receiving yards, and 111 TDs.
Miami Dolphins – Dan Marino, QB
The Miami Dolphins just came off a 27-17 Super Bowl loss to the Washington Redskins and decided they needed some offensive help, which led to them stealing Dan Marino 27th overall in the 1983 draft.
His first season in the NFL, the Dolphins went 12-4 and had the AFC’s best record, but lost in the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round. The following season, Marino carried the Dolphins to a 14-2 record, again having the best record in the NFL Marino, and helped the Dolphins all the way to the Super Bowl where they played the only team who had a better record then them at 15-1, the San Francisco 49ers. The top two teams meeting in the Super Bowl is most likely going to be a pretty competitive game, so the young Marino had a giant ask ahead of him. Led by a young QB, the Dolphins had no chance, as they fell to the 49ers 38-16. Out of his 17 seasons with the Dolphins, Marino led them to the playoffs 10 times, but never made it back to the Super Bowl.
Minnesota Vikings – Adrian Peterson, RB
Many are probably wondering why we haven’t chosen Randy Moss or Cris Carter. Those are two of the greatest Vikings to ever play but Adrian Peterson is just not human. Peterson has been in the league for only nine seasons, but has already proven that he is one of the best running backs in NFL history and is a guaranteed future first ballot Hall of Famer.
Since coming into the league, Peterson has ran for over 1,000 yards in seven of his nine seasons. Despite having a struggling offense, Peterson has helped lead the Vikings to four playoff appearances.
Peterson has already accomplished milestones in his career that players never have done. Peterson has been selected to seven All-Pro teams, 7seven Pro Bowls, won a MVP award in 2012, led the league in rushing yards three times, has the second most rushing yards in a season (2,097 yards) and has the most rushing yards in a single game (296). The scariest part is Peterson will be 31 in March and if he keeps going at this rate, he may go down as the best RB ever to play.
New England Patriots – Tom Brady, QB
Tom Brady might be the biggest steal in NFL draft history, after being selected 199th overall in the 6th round. During his rookie year, Brady only played in one game and threw three passes. The following year Brady started in 14 games and led the Patriots to a 11-5 record and a AFC East title. Brady did not stop there and carried the Patriots all the way to the Super Bowl against the St.Louis Rams, where they won 20-17 for their first Super Bowl Championship in franchise history.
Brady will be 39 at the start of next season, so his legacy will be coming to an end soon, but he is already a first ballot Hall of Famer. Brady is a four-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Super Bowl MVP, two-time NFL MVP, 11-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro selection, led the league in passing TDs four times, led the league in passing yards twice and has the most wins with a single team at 172.
New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees, QB
The San Diego Chargers are probably regretting letting go of Drew Brees after five seasons. Once Brees came to the Saints, he showed the Chargers what they were missing out on.
In his first season with the Saints, Brees led them to a 10-6 record and a NFC South title. In the playoffs, Brees led the Saints to their first Conference Championship game in franchise history, although they lost to the Chicago Bears 39-14. In 2009, Brees led the Saints to a NFC-bets record 13-3. In the playoffs, following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, the motivated Saints made their first trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history and beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17. Brees was also awarded Super Bowl MVP honors after he completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two TDs.
New York Giants – Lawrence Taylor, DB
After going on a playoff drought for 18 straight seasons, the Giants needed some help ASAP. In 1981, they drafted Lawrence Taylor second overall. Taylor not only led the Giants to a 9-7 record, but also led them to the playoffs. In the postseason, the Giants beat their divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles 27-21 to advance to the divisional round in the playoffs, their first playoff win since 1958.
In 1986, Taylor and the Giants went 14-2 on the season and made it to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. They went on to beat the Denver Broncos 39-20 for their first Super Bowl Championship. In his 13 seasons with the Giants, Taylor helped them to seven playoff appearances and two Super Bowl championships.
Taylor finished his career as 10-time Pro Bowler, 10-time All-Pro selection, two-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999. Taylor had 132.5 sacks and nine interceptions in his prolific career.
New York Jets – Joe Namath, QB
The New York Jets franchise did not get off to a good start, as they missed the playoffs for the first four seasons. In the 1965 NFL Draft, they selected Joe Namath with the 12th overall pick. In 1968, Namath not only led the Jets to their first ever playoff game but also to their first Super Bowl appearance. Namath was determined not to be stopped as the Jets went on to beat the Baltimore Colts 16-7. Namath was named the Super Bowl MVP, completing 17 out of 28 passes for 206 yards.
Despite leading them to the Super Bowl win, Namath and the Jets only made the playoffs once in the next eight seasons. Namath finished his career as a two-time AFL MVP, five-time All-Star/Pro Bowler, was selected to four All-AFL/NFL teams and was the first QB to throw for 4,000 in a single season in 1967. Namath is the Jets all-time career leader in career wins, passing touchdowns, and passing yards. Namath was inducted into the Pro Hall of Fame in 1985.
Oakland Raiders – Jim Otto, C
Jim Otto was drafted in the AFL Draft during the first year of the Oakland Raiders franchise in 1960. Starting off as new franchise, the Raiders struggled, going 9-33 in their first three seasons. The Raiders did not make the playoffs until the 1967 season and went on to reach the Super Bowl as well. However, they fell short to the Green Bay Packers 33-14. The Raiders found some rhythm after that season, making the playoffs six of the next seven years, but did not reach the Super Bowl again while Otto was on the team.
Otto finished his 15 season career as a nine-time AFL All-Star, three-time Pro Bowler, 10-time All-AFL player, and a three-time All-Pro player. Otto was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
Philadelphia Eagles – Reggie White, DE
After missing the playoffs for three straight seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles acquired Reggie White. With White on the team, the Eagles went to the playoffs four straight seasons but could not get past the divisional round in the postseason.
While with the Eagles, White was a seven-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All-Pro, NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1987, and led the league in sacks twice. The Eagles retired White’s #92 jersey and he was inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2006, the NFL followed suit and inducted White into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Terry Bradshaw, QB
In 1970, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a tough decision to make with the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. The Steelers had not made the playoffs since 1947 and needed a player to take over their franchise. That player was QB Terry Bradshaw out of Louisiana Tech.
In 1974, Bradshaw led the Steelers to the their first ever Super Bowl, where they beat the Minnesota Vikings 16-6. The following season, the Steelers went right back to the Super Bowl and beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 to win back-to-back Championships. Bradshaw led them to back-to-back Super Bowl championships again in 1978 and ’79, making that four Super Bowl Championships in six seasons.
Bradshaw finished his 14 seasons with the Steelers as a four-time Super Bowl Champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time Pro Bowler, NFL MVP in 1978 and was the first QB to win three Super Bowls and then four. Bradshaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
St. Louis Rams – Marshall Faulk, RB
The St. Louis Rams had not made the playoffs in nine seasons and needed someone to turn things around. In 1999, the Rams traded for RB Marshall Faulk from the Indianapolis Colts.
In his very first season with the Rams, Faulk had 253 carries for 1,381 yards and seven TDs, and had 87 catches for 1,048 yards and five TDs, only the second RB in history to have over 1,000 yards receiving and rushing in one season. This season by Faulk led to the Rams having a NFC-best record at 13-3 and them not only making the playoffs, but going all the way to the Super Bowl and beating the Tennessee Titans 23-16 for the Rams very first Super Bowl Championship.
In his eight seasons with the Rams, Faulk was a Super Bowl champion, four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro first team selection, won the MVP Award in 2000, and was a three-time Offensive Player of the Year.
San Diego Chargers – Junior Seau, DB
The San Diego Chargers needed help on defense and had not made the playoffs for seven straight seasons, so in 1990 they drafted Junior Seau. His rookie season, Seau did not start any games, which is not out of the ordinary for a defensive rookie. In his third season, Seau started every game and helped the Chargers to a 11-5 record and the playoffs. In the first round, they shut out the Kansas City Chiefs 17-0 with Seau leading the way on defense. In the Divisional round the tables turned and the Chargers were shut out by the Miami Dolphins 31-0. In 1994, the Chargers made it all the way to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. However, they were dominated by the more experienced San Francisco 49ers and lost 49-26.
In his 13 seasons with the Chargers, Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowler, 10 All-Pro team selections ,and was Defensive Player of the Year in 1992. Seau had his #55 jersey retired by the Chargers and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
San Francisco 49ers – Jerry Rice, WR
The San Francisco 49ers won the Super Bowl and were the defending champions. In the upcoming draft, they had the 16th overall pick and they stole the greatest WR in history by selecting Jerry Rice. With the addition of Rice to Super Bowl MVP Joe Montana, the 49ers were ready to repeat. While they didn’t manage it, Rice did help the team win three Super Bowls and is the best player to ever play his position.
Rice is known as the best WR in NFL history and there is reason for that. Rice spent 15 seasons with the 49ers and was a three-time Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, 12-time Pro Bowler, 11-time All-Pro team selection, and a two-time Offensive Player of the Year. For his career, Rice is the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions (1,549) receiving yards (22,895), and receiving TDs (197).
Seattle Seahawks – Walter Jones, OT
Missing out on the playoffs for eight straight seasons, the Seattle Seahawks drafted OT Walter Jones to open up the run and pass game. In his 13 NFL seasons, all with the Seahawks, he helped them to six playoff appearances, including the Super Bowl in 2005. Jones was a nine-time Pro Bowler and a six-time All-Pro team selection. The Seahawks retired his #71 jersey and Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derrick Brooks, DB
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had not been to the playoffs since 1982 and needed an immediate turnaround. In 1995, they drafted Derrick Brooks 28th overall to help the team’s defense. In 1997, the Bucs made the playoffs but were knocked out by the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round. The following season they failed to make the postseason but the Bucs finally found their chemistry after that year and went to the playoffs four straight seasons.
In 2002, the Bucs made it to the Super Bowl due to them having one of the best defenses in history. The Bucs went on to beat the Oakland Raiders 48-21 and win their first Super Bowl Championship.
Brooks was a 11-time Pro Bowler, nine-time All-Pro player, and Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. Brooks had 895 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, and 25 interceptions in 14 seasons with the Bucs.
Tennessee Titans – Earl Campbell, RB
In 1978, the Houston Oilers, now the Tennessee Titans, drafted RB Earl Campbell. In his rookie season, Campbell carried the ball 302 times for 1,450 yards and 13 TDs in 15 games and led them to a 10-6 record and the playoffs. Not only did the Oilers make the postseason, but they made it all the way to the Conference Championship, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-5.
The following season, Campbell had 368 carries for 1,697 yards and 19 TDs and took the Oilers back to the Conference Championship for the second straight season. The Oilers lost to the Steelers once again 27-13. In Campbell’s third season, they lost to the Oakland Raiders 27-7 in the Wild Card round. Campbell left the Oilers in 1984 and they did not reach the playoffs again until 1987.
Campbell played six seasons with the Oilers and had 2,187 carries for 9,407 yards, and 74 TDs for his career.
Washington Redskins – Darrell Green, CB
The Washington Redskins went into the 1983 NFL Draft as the Super Bowl Champions and needed some help on defense. With the 28th overall pick, they picked a diamond in the ruff with Darrell Green.
During Green’s rookie season, the Redskins had the NFL’s best record at 14-2 and made it all the way to the Super Bowl for the second straight season. After a great season, the Skins choked and lost the big game to the Los Angeles Raiders 38-9.
Four years later, the Skins made it back to the Super Bowl to play the Denver Broncos, and this time they were clutch, winning 42-10, Green’s first Super Bowl Championship. In 1991, Green and the Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills 37-24 to win another Super Bowl and earned Green his second ring in four years.
In the 20 years with the Skins, Green was a two-time Super Bowl champion, seven-time Pro Bowler, and four-time All-Pro player.
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