20 for 20: 1998

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 1998 NFL Draft Class.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s a pattern forming here. Every team that’s had the best draft class has been to a Super Bowl since. I can’t say this is much of a surprise, but it does solidify the importance of the draft. Of course you will find teams with great draft classes that haven’t capitalized since, most notably the Bengals in ’92 and ’98.

My Top Ten from the 1998 NFL Draft class:

Peyton Manning: Rd. 1 Pick 1 – Indianapolis Colts
Charles Woodson: Rd. 1 Pick 4 – Oakland Raiders
Keith Brooking: Rd. 1 Pick 12 – Atlanta Falcons
Randy Moss: Rd. 1 Pick 21 – Minnesota Vikings
Alan Faneca: Rd. 1 Pick 26 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Olin Kreutz: Rd. 3 Pick 64 – Chicago Bears
Hines Ward: Rd. 3 Pick 92 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Matt Birk: Rd. 6 Pick 174 – Minnesota Vikings
Jeff Saturday: Undrafted – Baltimore Ravens
London Fletcher: Undrafted – St. Louis Rams

Other Significant Players – Kyle Turley, Greg Ellis, Fred Taylor, Tra Thomas, Takeo Spikes, Corey Chavous, Flozell Adams, Sam Cowart, Patrick Surtain, Samari Rolle, Jeremy Newberry, Jamal Williams, Leonard Little, Jeremiah Trotter, Ahman Green, Allen Rossum, Lance Schulters, Matt Hasselbeck

My Top Player: Manning
Consensus Top Player: Manning
No Hall of Famers
Possible Future HOF: Manning, Woodson, Moss
Best Value: Between Fletcher and Saturday, I’ll give the slight edge to Saturday.
Biggest Bust: Ryan Leaf

Best Patriots Pick: It probably would have been Robert Edwards, but it’s honestly probably Greg Spires who was a six year starter for the Bucs. From a merely Patriots perspective it would be Tebucky Jones since he was a starter on the 2001 team.

Worst Patriots Pick: It was a pretty bad draft overall, but it’s Tony Simmons. Strangely enough, you could probably also argue Tebucky was the worst. He was taken right before four better safeties in Shaun Williams, Donovin Dareus, Corey Chavous and Tony Parrish.

Best Team Class: No one’s class stands out too much from this draft, but it’s between the Eagles(Thomas, Trotter, Rossum, Brandon Whiting, Ike Reese), Bengals (Spikes, Brian Simmons, Artrell Hawkins, Steve Foley, Mike Goff), Vikings (Moss, Kailee Wong, Birk) and Steelers (Faneca, Ward, Deshea Townsend, Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala). Steelers win this one.

Overall Grade: Even though Manning, Moss and Woodson are all top 5 career at their positions, this class is just barely behind 1996 for me. A-

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11 Responses to “20 for 20: 1998”

  1. TD says:

    Although I don’t/did not like the Colts, much you can’t put Hines ahead of Harrison because of the issues you mentioned.

    Seriously, Harrison did play with Manning, but he played a lot of games on grass and against every teams best CB. He not only had to beat press coverage but he had to overcome being manhandled all over the field like when we played them. We saw what kind of year Welker had when he had 122 catches, but Harrison had 140 from the WR spot.

    It’s even harder to compare the older players because the competition was not as good and they played less games.

    • Billy C. says:

      So I guess the cold-weathered arguement didn’t sway you. Oh well, maybe I’ll try another debate later on, but it definitely won’t be in 1999 as that draft class was god awful.

  2. Billy C. says:

    Doug, I’d say artificial turf, hall of fame quarterbacks, and in TO’s case a lot of dropped balls and a pervasive negative attitiude while rarely being on a winning team (although I’d like to exclude the Philly year/that was one heck of a year).

    • Billy C. says:

      My last thought on the Hines Ward discussion. If Ward has two more solid years of production then not only will he be in the top ten all-time receiving yards, but he will be the all-time cold weather receiver ie.. northern, cold weathered team that doesn’t play on artificial turf or a dome. Don Maynard, Andre Reed, Art Monk, and Irving Fryar will all be in the rearview mirror.

    • Doug Kyed says:

      Owens rarely being on a winning team? Hall of fame quarterbacks? He played with Steve Young for three years (two of his worst years), Garcia, McNabb, Romo, Fitzpatrick/Edwards and Palmer. Young is the only clear cut hall of famer of that group and McNabb might eventually get in. His team’s records in order: 12-4, 13-3, 12-4, 4-12, 6-10, 12-4, 10-6, 7-9, 13-3, 6-10, 9-7, 13-3, 9-7, 6-10, 4-12. 15 seasons, only 6 with a losing record. I mean, I know we all don’t like the guy, but he was one hell of a wide receiver and definitely top 5 all time.

      As for home-road splits for Harrison. His road average/16 games is still 91 receptions, 115 yards and 10 touchdowns. Home is 93/1274/12 touchdowns.

  3. TD says:

    I would take Ward on my team any day, he is a bigger, more physical version of Welker; quick, hard working, fearless and clutch.

    I think I would take London Fletcher over Saturday. He has performed at a very high level since being drafted and has played at that level for several different teams. He would look really good next to Mayo.

  4. Billy C. says:

    Wow! Doug I’m definitely taking you to task on the “no one’s class stands out too much from this draft”. The Pittsburgh Steelers have two bona fide hall of famers in this class with Hines Ward and Alan Faneca. Faneca was a 9 time pro bowler who was a cog on the line for the “Bus” and Hines Ward will go down as the greatest blocker from the wide receiver postition who by the way is just shy of 12,000 yards receiving and 1,000 catches. You can forget about anyone else from that Steelers draft class because when you come out with those two guys I’ll take it all day long. Are you sure you still want to stick with the “no one’s class stands out too much”? or was that a typo?

    • Doug Kyed says:

      I disagree that the Steelers came away with two hall of famers from this class for two reasons, first of which is that it’s incredibly difficult to make the hall as a guard. As far as guards in the hall McDaniel played most recently (2001), before him was Mike Munchak (’93), Russ Grimm (’91) Joe DeLamielleure and John Hannah (’85). As far as players who have played in the same era as Faneca, I would put Larry Allen and Will Shields in before him. I still think Faneca makes it eventually, but it might take a while.

      As for Ward, he’s going to have to wait until Andre Reed, Tim Brown and Cris Carter get in. Randy Moss and Terrell Owens will obviously go in before him and I would also put in Isaac Bruce, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Torry Holt in before him as well. To me, he ranks closer to the Jimmy Smith, Irving Fryar, Derrick Mason, Rod Smith sort of guys. Only six 1000 yard seasons, ranking 21st in yards and 19th in touchdowns won’t help him out either. Like you said, his blocking might put him ahead some of his contemporaries, but I’m not sure how much. If he ever makes the hall, it will be from a veterans committee.

      I also hold the belief that for a truly great draft class, it’s got to be deep. With Deshea Townsend and Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala as the third and fourth best players taken, it doesn’t scream depth. By your same standards, wouldn’t the Vikings class also “stand out?” Moss is one of the 5 best receivers ever and while Matt Birk might not be as great as Ward or Faneca, wouldn’t the fact that Moss is so great cancel that out?

      • TD says:

        Very true, we are not talking the Steelers draft that yielded Webster, Ham, etc. This Steelers class was not part of a dominant team like in the 70’s that won 4 lombardi’s. Ward is a very good player and may have a ton of yards, etc, but compared to the 70’s when they played 12/14 games, well, there is no comparison.

        • Billy C. says:

          You’re right there is no comparison. Those 70’s teams were stacked with a dynasty team and hall of fame players on both sides of the ball. However, even though they were a balanced offensive team with the running of Franco and Rocky, they had an all pro quarterback throwing to their recievers. It wasn’t untill the last five years that Ward actually had a decent quarterback throwing to him as the Steelers’ teams continuously led the league in rushing yards. In addition, as graceful as Stallworth and Swann were they didn’t hold a candle to Ward and his toughness and abilities. As for the list of receivers that Doug noted, I agree that Tim Brown, Chris Carter and Moss will prevail before Ward, but the other on the list I don’t even think deserve the nod whether it be by the Veterans or not (although I could be swayed in Andre Reed’s favor).

        • Doug Kyed says:

          Marvin Harrison (1102 rec, 14580 yds, 128 tds), TO (1071, 15865, 152), Torry Holt (920, 13382, 74) and Isaac Bruce (1024, 15208, 91) don’t deserve to get in but Hines Ward (954, 11702, 83) does?? I’d love to hear your arguments for Harrison and Owens.

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