This weekend as Hurricanes fans sit and watch the NFL Draft wondering if Calais Campbell, Kenny Phillips or Tavares Gooden will continue The Streak, I hope they'll be able to look back at the greatness the University of Miami has achieved over the years instead of dwelling on disappointment (should it happen). After all, since 1984, UM has produced more first round draft picks (47) than any other school. And even if The Streak (of having consecutive first round picks) ends at 13, Miami will still own that better record after Saturday.
So, in honor of The Streak and good times the program has had over the years, I decided to take a look back and come up with something for U to talk about heading into Saturday. Who do you think has been the Canes' best First Round pick of all-time? Who has turned out to be UM's best pick after the First Round? And which Canes just never lived up to their billing as first round picks? There is a lot of criteria to consider when you bring up these topics. I consider what the player has achieved, where and when they were drafted and who was taken ahead or behind them in their draft. I also take into consideration what was expected of them going in. Anyway, it's just my opinion. Feel free to chime in with your opinions and thoughts below.
UM's Best First Round Picks of All-Time... according to me
1. LB Ray Lewis (1996, 26th overall, Baltimore Ravens):Picking Ray-Ray No. 1 wasn't easy, but after considering where he was taken compared to the rest of the guys on this list it was. A nine-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year as well as the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV. He has career totals of 1,520 tackles, 1367 solo tackles, 11 forced fumbles, 90 passes defended, 83 tackles for loss, 30 sacks, 13 fumble recoveries, and 25 interceptions in 162 games in his twelve seasons. He's led the NFL in tackles five times (1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2004). The funny part now is looking back and seeing who passed up on him. The two linebackers taken in front of him -- Kevin Hardy and Reggie Brown. The Dolphins, who picked 20th, took defensive tackle Darryl Gardener.
2. WR Michael Irvin (1988, 11th overall, Dallas Cowboys): The Playmaker finished his Hall of Fame career with 750 receptions (10th all-time in the NFL) for 11,904 yards (9th all-time in the NFL) and 65 touchdowns. His 47 100-yard receiving games remains the third most in NFL history, behind Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (65) and Don Maynard (50). He was selected to five Pro Bowls and was a key playmaker for the Cowboys that won 6 division titles and three Super Bowls. He was the third receiver taken in his draft -- behind Tim Brown and Sterling Sharpe. He is also the only Hall of Famer in the first round of the 1988 Draft.
3. S Ed Reed (2002, 24th overall, Baltimore Ravens): A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Reed was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 a season in which he picked off nine passes and set an NFL record for the longest INT return for a touchdown. He owns the Ravens franchise record for picks with 34. He's also blocked four punts in his career, returning three for touchdowns to tie an NFL record.
4. QB Jim Kelly (1983, 14th overall, Buffalo Bills): Kelly doesn't exactly qualify as a first
round pick considering he skipped out the Bills to play two seasons in the USFL. But when he finally did return to the NFL he was one of the best in the game, running the K-Gun offense in Buffalo to four consecutive Super Bowls (1990-93) -- even though the Bills never won. Kelly made the Pro Bowl four times and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002. Kelly might have ended up with the Chiefs if Kansas City wouldn't have been so stupid to pick Todd Blackledge instead of Kelly with the seventh pick.
5. RB Edgerrin James (1999, 4th overall, Indianapolis Colts): For all the hoopla Mike Ditka made in drafting Ricky Williams in 1999, it is The Edge who has turned out to have the better career after all. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Edge led the NFL in rushing in 1999 and 2000. He's currently the record holder for most total yards from scrimmage per game in a regular season career.
Honorable mention: WR Reggie Wayne (2001, 30th overall, Indianapolis Colts), DT Warren Sapp (1995, 12th overall, Tampa Bay), RB Ottis Anderson (1979, 8th overall, St. Louis Cardinals), QB Vinny Testaverde (1987, 1st overall, Tampa Bay), CB Duane Starks (1998, 10th overall, Baltimore Ravens), WR Eddie Brown (1985, 13th overall, Cincinnati), TE Jeremy Shockey (2002, 14th overall, Giants).
Biggest Cane Draft Day Steals
1. C Jim Otto (1961, undrafted, Oakland): It's amazing to see how little Canes fans honestly connect with Otto. I know it's been a long time since he played at UM, but considering what he
accomplished in his career, you'd think he'd be more of a UM posterboy. After all, he is the ultimate steal. After no NFL teams gave the undersized center a look, Otto signed with Oakland in AFL. For the next fifteen years, Otto became a fixture at center for the Raiders, never missing a single game due to injury. Including pre-season, regular season and post-season games, Otto competed in 308 consecutive games and was a 13-time All-Pro. He punished his body greatly during his NFL career, resulting in nearly 40 surgeries, including 28 knee operations (nine of them during his playing career alone) and multiple joint replacements.
2. DE Ted Hendricks (1969, 2nd round, 33rd overall, Baltimore): Hendricks played for four Super Bowl winning teams and was a Pro Bowl selection eight times. Nicknamed the Stork, his height was a major obstacle for quarterbacks. Hendricks picked off 26 passes in his career and blocked 25 point after tries and field goals combined an unofficial NFL record. I know people are knocking Calais Campbell's 40-time. But I'm sure Hendricks wasn't fast in the 40 either. I think Calais can be a great one too. He just had a tough junior season -- so did everyone else on a 5-7 team.
3. LB Jessie Armstead (1993, 8th round, 207th overall, Giants): Considered too undersized for linebacker, Armstead made the most of his chance in the NFL, becoming a five time Pro Bowler with the New York Giants. He finished his career with 752 tackles, 40 sacks and 12 interceptions.
4. WR Devin Hester (2006, 2nd round, 57th overall, Chicago): A two-time Pro Bowl selection in just two seasons and already considered the most electrifying return man in the game.
5. RB Clinton Portis (2002, 2nd round, 51st overall, Denver): The NFL's 2003 Offensive
Rookie of the Year rushed for over 1,500 yards in each of his first two seasons with the Broncos, averaging 5.5 yards per carry in that span. The latter is an NFL record for a running back's first two seasons. He's slowed down a bit since being traded to the Redskins, but you can still consider him a steal. Other running backs taken in front of him in 2002, T.J. Duckett, DeShaun Foster and William Green.
Honorable mention: RB Frank Gore (2005, 3rd round, 65th overall, San Francisco), OL Chris Myers (2005, 6th round, 200th overall, Denver), LB Micheal Barrow (1993, 2nd round, 47th overall, Houston), DB Fred Marion (1982, 5th round, 120th overall, New England), CB Ryan McNeil (1993, 2nd round, 33rd overall, Detroit).
1. WR Yatil Green (1997, 15th overall, Dolphins): As a Dolphins fan I used to wonder why Miami rarely selected Hurricanes in the draft. Then, Yatil Green happened. And I've been worried about
a jinx ever since. On the very first day of training camp, Green tore his quadriceps, ACL and cartilage in his right knee. He came back the next year and again tore the same ACL in training camp. In his third and only season he played in 9 games catching 18 receptions for 234 yards and 0 touchdowns. After three years and a total of 10 surgeries on his right knee, he was cut by the Dolphins and signed by the Jets, but never played a down and was cut during the season.
2. DL Jerome McDougle (2003, 15th overall, Philadelphia): I'm sure this will win me points with Drew Rosenhaus (McDougle's agent). I'm kidding. Truth is, Jerome's entire career has been marred by injuries. He missed eight games his rookie season ankle, knee and hip injuries. He was shot during a robbery in Miami and missed the entire 2005 season. He missed all of 2007 with an injury. It's a shame because I thought he was going to be a stud.
3. DT William Joseph (2003, 25th overall, Giants): Hate to do this to a guy from Miami Edison High, but Big Willie has only made 17 starts in his five-year career and has seven sacks. He didn't play at all during the Giants Super Bowl winning season and is now starting over in Oakland.
4. DT Russell Maryland (1991, 1st overall, Dallas): Even though he played 10 seasons in
the NFL for Dallas, Oakland and Green Bay, Maryland never really lived up to being the overall top player chose in 1991. He was selected to the Pro Bowl only once (1993) in his career after winning the Outland Trophy in 1990. By comparison, Cortez Kennedy (taken 3rd overall by Seattle in 1990) and Warren Sapp (taken 12th by Tampa Bay in 1995) had far better pro careers.
5. CB Phillip Buchanon (2002, 17th overall, Oakland): It was hard to come up with a fifth guy for this category until I remembered what a big deal was made when he decided to leave school a year early and enter the draft. After a strong second season in Oakland in which he picked off six passes, the 27-year old stepped up his game this past season in Tampa (his third team) and recorded 61 tackles and three interceptions in 13 starts. But his career certainly hasn't lived up to expectations on a whole -- especially when you consider he was taken nine spots in front of Ed Reed.
Late addition: WR Randal "Thrill" Hill (1991, 23rd overall, Dolphins).