20 for 20: 1997

20 for 20

Editor’s Note: Doug Kyed, our intrepid staff writer, will be doing some extra work for the final twenty days before the 2011 NFL Draft, taking a look at the last twenty NFL Drafts.

Today he looks at the 1997 NFL Draft Class.

The most dominant performance I’ve ever seen in person came in 1996 against my mother’s alma mater the San Jose State Spartans. Corey Dillon ran for 222 yards with three rushing touchdowns and added an 83 yard touchdown reception IN THE FIRST QUARTER for the Washington Huskies. Dillon carried the ball 301 times that season for 1695 yards despite starting only nine games (the other three? Rashaan Sheehee, who had to get hurt for Dillon to see an extended role.)

On another note, I moved to Massachusetts in November of ’97 and got my chance to start watching the Patriots every week.

My Top Ten from the 1997 NFL Draft Class:

Orlando Pace: Rd. 1 Pick 1 – St. Louis Rams

Peter Boulware: Rd. 1 Pick 4 – Baltimore Ravens

Walter Jones: Rd. 1 Pick 6 – Seattle Seahawks

Tony Gonzalez: Rd. 1 Pick 13 – Kansas City Chiefs

Tiki Barber: Rd. 2 Pick 36 – New York Giants

Corey Dillon: Rd. 2 Pick 43 – Cincinnati Bengals

Sam Madison: Rd. 2 Pick 44 – Miami Dolphins

Darren Sharper: Rd. 2 Pick 60 – Green Bay Packers

Ronde Barber: Rd. 3 Pick 66 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jason Taylor: Rd. 3 Pick 73 – Miami Dolphins

Other Significant Players – Darrell Russell, Shawn Springs, James Farrior, Warrick Dunn, Tarik Glenn, Trevor Pryce, Marcellus Wiley, Dexter Coakley, Mike Vrabel, Derrick Mason, Al Harris, Priest Holmes, Pat Williams, Sammy Knight, Jake Delhomme

My Top Player: Jones
Consensus Top Player: Gonzalez
No Hall of Famers
Possible Future HOF: Pace, Jones, Gonzalez, Taylor

Best Value: He barely didn’t crack my top ten players, but it’s Priest Holmes. Otherwise a fairly top heavy draft class, Holmes had some absolutely sensational seasons in the NFL.

Biggest Bust: There’s not an obvious choice here, but I’d say it’s between Michael Booker, who only started 11 games in 5 seasons after being the 11th overall choice or every wide receiver taken before Derrick Mason. That fantastic list includes Ike Hilliard (who had a solid, but not spectacular career), Yatil Green, Reidel Anthony, Rae Carruth, Joey Kent, Kevin Lockett, Will Blackwell and Dedric Ward.

Best Patriots Pick: It’s Brandon Mitchell and it’s not even close. Take a moment to think about that. He was the only Patriots pick from 1997 that won a ring with the team.

Worst Patriots Pick:
Chris Canty. Sam Madison went 15 picks later.

Best Team Class: It’s down to the Seahawks (Springs, Jones, Jon Kitna) or Buccaneers (Dunn, Frank Middleton, Barber, Harris). Even though the Bucs wasted a first round pick on Anthony, it’s still got to go to them.

Overall Grade: Fairly average draft with solid but slightly disappointing players at the top. C+

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13 Responses to “20 for 20: 1997”

  1. TD says:

    So a lot of fans want BB to be like most of the other teams; draft popular players, don’t create draft leverage to use when most needed, pay any amount for the biggest FA, oh and have to rebuild every 5-6 years incurring 3-13 seasons in the process.

    Yeah, let’s tell BB how to do his job because…well he sucks at it ever since 2001!

    He will most likely draft 1 first rounder, the best player available and trade picks so that he can garner more good players in the 2nd round and gain some picks next year when we only have 5-6 picks. Yet all draft bloggers will scream from the rafters he did not move up and get Quinn, Watt, Green or Jim Thorpe.

  2. Bill says:

    Trevor Price. That’s walking down the Bobby Grier memory lane.

    One of my favorite Pat’s draft moments was when the TV cameras exposed Pete Carroll on his knees begging Bob Kraft to draft the antenna eared LB from Ohio State. Katz was a Pete Carroll draft pick, not a Bobby Greer pick. But, it doesn’t improve the image of Bobby Greer as a draftnik. Bobby Greer wanted to draft A RB(John Johnson) (with that pick) who was less impressive than Katz as an NFL player.

    The Bobby Greer era had the opinion that Trevor Price would be available to the Pat’s — because NO teams would DARE draft Price JUST one pick above the Pat’s allocated pick.

    BB has the opinion that college players are fungible commodities. That’s a better draft strategy than Pete Carroll’s approach to drafting college players. Which is why the Pat’s should target the Seahawks as an organization to be exposed to a superior group of marksman than the Colonial era nitwits from New England who refused to eat lobster because lobsters were as abundant on the beaches of New England as seashells.

    Those New England colonial nitwits should have been eating crow for all those colonial decades. Because Bobby Greer doesn’t work for the Pat’s anymore.

    Which reminds me of a European military type who once bellowed…What good does it do me to win victories in Russia, if I lose Western Europe?

    That’s a good argument. What good does it do for the Kraft Patriots to draft a couple of pass rushers, if the net result is that Brady is sacked FIVE times a game?

    Draft Castonzo at #13(trade). Draft Phil Taylor(trade) at #21. Draft Kyle Rudolph at #33. Draft Boling at #50(trade). Lose the Bobby Greer era mentality that talented players will be available at an alloted drafty pick.

    • Doug Kyed says:

      I like Castonzo, Taylor and Boling, but I’m not so sure about drafting Rudolph when we have two incredible 2nd year TEs.

  3. Rossco FTC says:

    Hey just wanted to know why you whould ever put Tiki Barber up in your top 10 and leave out Warrick Dunn & Priest Holmes ??? I know that Alstott (Stole a lot of TD’s ) From Dunn at the Goal line and Priest only played for so long but they where both Game changer’s and their team’s especial in Holmes case whould of done nothing without them! Pluse Tiki is cancer to the game in and out of the locker room and he was a Fumbling Fool !!! Priest like Bo Jackson before him was unstopple granted tho, it was for a very short time.
    And in the case of “Best Player” I think Walter Jones was the nod their A franchise LT. For over 10 years has to get the postion Value here. Well Toney Gonzalez changed the way we look at TE and opened the door for the Dallas Clark and Jason Whitten to come make great impacts for their respected team’s call me old fashion but a great booked on the left side superseeds even Tony G.
    In know way am i trying to bash you for this story I just wanted to know your thought’s about the way i look at thing’s and if their were other’s who felt the same .

    • Doug Kyed says:

      Thanks for the debate, that’s what makes these topics fun. I actually do think Walter Jones is the top player in the draft. I’ve got a “My Top Player” and a “Consensus Top Player.” My pick is Jones, but I also polled about a hundred of the biggest football fans I know on a message board I post on which is the consensus pick. I was surprised by the results, out of 96 votes, Gonzalez had 59.38%, Jones had 11.46%, Taylor had 10.42 and Pace had 7.29%. Other who received votes were Tiki (6.25%), Ronde (2.08%) and Dillon, Madison and Sharper (1 vote each).

      As for Barber vs. Dunn vs. Holmes, it was pretty tough. I guess I just looked at TIki as the most consistent of the bunch. He had six 1000 yard seasons compared to five by Dunn and four by Holmes. He had less touchdowns than Holmes, but almost all of Holmes production just came in those three years. Interestingly all three were three time Pro Bowlers while Barber was a 1x All Pro and Holmes was a 3x All Pro.

      I think you could make a case for any of the three being better than the next, but in my opinion while I was writing the article it went Barber, Holmes, Dunn. Interestingly, as far as who my favorites of the three are, it would be the exact opposite. A very strong case could be made for Holmes, but I just couldn’t get passed the fact that he only really had that incredible three year burst.

      • Rossco FTC says:

        Oh crap so sorry guy next time i better look a little better at what i’m reading lol. In that case i recan’t the Toney G. Walter J. Part put the Tiki thing i just can’t let go!!! He’s such a (Duck) well you no what i mean thanx for the reply great serieson the past draft and thanx agian for the return post. F.T. CLIPP

  4. Jon L. says:

    I am surprised that the Barbers and Dillon dropped below the first round. I agree that Gonzalez was the best player taken during this draft.

  5. Billy C. says:

    I think I’d grade this draft class at least a “B”. In addition, I believe it’s absolutely wrong to put Ike Hilliard’s name under the bust column. I understand he’s not Derick Mason, but to call him a bust is not fair.

    • Doug Kyed says:

      I can see what you’re saying. Kind of. The point I was making was obvious, all the receivers taken before Mason didn’t come close to equaling Mason’s production. My options were to either a. include Hilliard’s name with a parenthetical note giving him credit for being a solid player, or b. not including his name and therefore destroying my point by not including all the players.

      Now, on the other hand, if the Patriots traded up to the no. 7 pick this year and took either Julio Jones or AJ Green and they only had one season with over 800 yards (996) and only one season with more than 6 touchdowns (8), would you be happy with that production? Because I wouldn’t.

    • TD says:

      Hilliard was actually the deep guy with the Giants and his QB’s have been long forgotten, except maybe Kerry Collins. If I remember correctly he also was dangerous on return teams and had a few injury issues.

      • Doug Kyed says:

        I hate to be “that guy” but Hilliard only had 47 career returns and they all came after his 7th NFL season.

        And if he was the Giants’ deep threat, he wasn’t much of one with a career 11.7 yards per reception and three seasons with less than 10 yards per reception.

        Like I said in the article, he was a solid receiver, but he was no Derrick Mason and personally if Julio Jones or AJ Green have a career similar to Hilliard I would view that as a disappointment.

        You make a good point about his best QB being Collins, and as for injuries, I believe that has to play a roll in whether a player is considered a “bust” or not.

        Also, once again, I would not say Hilliard was a “bust” on his own, only as part of a group that was drafted prior to Mason.

  6. TD says:

    In 2 drafts the Bucs formed a championship team and not by moving up in the first round to get “studs”, “franchise players” or pass rushers. They were patient and let the talent fall to them or they had great evaluators, hell they even missed on a WR.

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