For now, the Oakland Raiders have three first-round picks in next month’s draft. Should they make three selections in the first round, it would mark the seventh time since 1991 that a team made three picks in the opening round. In this week’s 6-Pack, we’re taking a look at the most recent six occasions a team had this much premium draft capital. Oakland has to make these picks count, but what did history tell us about other teams that faced this exact scenario and how did it turn out?
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open!
Dallas Cowboys – 1991 (DT Russell Maryland, WR Alvin Harper, DT Kelvin Pritchett)
The Cowboys’ dynasty in the early 90s will be remembered because of NFL legends Troy Aikman, Larry Allen, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, but the 1991 draft was instrumental in its own right to solidify the foundation of the roster that won three Super Bowls in a four year span.
Maryland was the No. 1 overall pick and played an important role as a starter to fortify the Cowboy’s defensive line. Harper became the No. 2 option in the passing game and his vertical receiving skill set perfectly complemented Irvin. Harper averaged over 20 yards per catch across his four seasons in Dallas.
Pritchett never played for the Cowboys as he was traded to the Lions for a 2nd, 3rd and 4th round draft pick. Those picks netted Dallas LB Dixon Edwards, G James Richards and DE Tony Hill. The real prize of the trio was Dixon Edwards, who was a starting linebacker for the Cowboys in all three Super Bowl years. Hill battled injuries and was waived in 1993 but was part of the Super Bowl XXVII Championship. Richards never made the team.
All in all, 1991 Draft cannot be overlooked in the Cowboy’s stretch of dominance.
Carolina Panthers – 1995 (QB Kerry Collins, DB Tyrone Poole, OT Blake Brockermeyer)
It’s hard to envision more immediate success for an expansion team than what Carolina was able to achieve. After a respectable 7-9 mark in its inaugural season in 1995, Carolina went 12-4 before losing to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in the 1996 NFC Championship Game.
While Dwayne Haskins is likely to change things in a few weeks, Collins was the last Big Ten quarterback drafted in the first round. A Pro Bowl selection in 1996, Collins led Carolina to the NFC Championship game. It wasn’t long after that he flamed out in Carolina, essentially quitting on the team in 1998. It has since been revealed that his behavior was due to problems with alcoholism. Collins went on to play 13 more seasons in the league, including a productive stretch as the Giants starter. It’s hard to say Collins’ run with Carolina was successful, but the 1996 season certainly was. With that said, a quarterback drafted No. 5 overall should be a franchise guy for years to come and that was certainly not the case.
Poole had a 12-year career and was a starter for Carolina from 1995-1997. Brockeyermeyer was a starter in Carolina from 1995-1998. Poole was selected No. 22 overall and Brockermeyer No. 29 overall. Hall of Famers Ty Law and Derrick Brooks were pick 23 and 28 respectively.
While the Panthers netted three starters and enjoyed some surprising short-term success as a team, the reality is that none of the three first round picks lasted more than four seasons in Carolina. For a team in its first ever draft, foundational pieces of the roster for years to come needed to be acquired and none proved to be that. After the deep playoff run in 1996, Carolina went without a winning record again until 2003.
New York Jets – 2000 (DL Shaun Ellis, EDGE John Abraham, QB Chad Pennington, TE Anthony Becht)
FOUR FIRST ROUND PICKS! Yes, 2000 was the first and only time in league history a team held four picks in the first round and the Jets nailed it.
Ellis was a two-time Pro Bowl selection in his 10 years with the Jets and his 73.5 sacks is the second most in franchise history.
Abraham played 15 NFL seasons, but only six came with the Jets where he racked up 53.5 sacks. For his career, Abraham tallied 133.5 sacks which ranks 12th in NFL history. The Jets still haven’t found his replacement after trading him the Atlanta in 2006 for a first round pick.
Multiple shoulder injuries derailed Pennington’s career but he did lead the Jets to the playoffs on three occasions, including the AFC East Division Title in 2002 which was the last time New York won its Division.
Only catching 188 passes for 1,537 yards and 21 touchdowns across 11 seasons, Becht was never a dynamic receiver at tight end but he was a standout blocker which kept him in the league for over a decade.
All four of the Jets first rounders in 2000 wound up playing for at least 10 NFL seasons and set the tone for five playoff appearances in 2000’s for New York, the most in franchise history. That’s great drafting.
St. Louis Rams – 2001 (DT Damione Lewis, DB Adam Archuleta, DL Ryan Pickett)
The Rams enjoyed incredible success from 1999-2001, making the playoffs all three seasons, winning two NFC Championships and one Super Bowl. The Rams entered the 2001 draft with three first rounders. Swapping Trent Green and Kevin Carter for first round picks, the Rams were set to build its defense around the greatest show on turf.
Lewis had a 10-year career, three of which he was a primary starter. He was a run stuffer and his impact across five seasons with the Rams was modest.
Archuleta tallied 409 tackles, 15 sacks, three interceptions, five fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and three defensive touchdowns in his five seasons as a starter for the Rams. He parlayed that into the richest contract ever given to a safety in NFL history at that point, inking a six-year, $30 million contract with the Redskins. He lasted one season in Washington before being traded to the Bears for a sixth-round pick.
Pickett enjoyed a 14-year career as a run stuffing machine, five of which came with the Rams before settling in with the Packers. He tallied 577 tackles while eating space and having the career expected for his skill set.
On one hand, the Rams got three quality NFL defenders. On the other, the Rams quickly faded after its dominant run and the three first rounders didn’t exactly re-set the foundation for continued success to prolong a dominant stretch of Rams' football. After going 12-4 and winning the division in 2003, it wasn’t until 2017 that the Rams boasted a winning record again.
Minnesota Vikings – 2013 (DT Sharrif Floyd, CB Xavier Rhodes, WR Cordarrelle Patterson)
Perceived as a top-10 pick, Floyd fell much further in the draft than expected with the Vikings snatching him up at No. 23 overall. He was flashy racking up 95 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 24 starts across three seasons, but injuries kept piling on and he hasn’t played since 2016.
The Vikings hit a homerun with Rhodes who is currently one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks. He’s already been a First-Team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl selection. Still in the prime of his career, Rhodes has 67 pass breakups and 10 interceptions across six seasons so far.
Patterson was a dynamic returner for the Vikings, taking five kicks back for scores across his five seasons with the Vikings. He was not re-signed after the 2016 season despite being named to his second Pro Bowl as a returner. Recently signing a two-year, $10 million contract with the Bears, Patterson is on his fourth team in as many seasons. His appeal is as a returner and a gadget player on offense.
Rhodes saves the haul, but Floyd’s career was short with minimal impact and Patterson’s inability to emerge as a receiver is disappointing.
Cleveland Browns – 2017 (DE Myles Garrett, TE David Njoku, S Jabrill Peppers)
Only two years removed from the class, it’s hard to truly evaluate what the Browns accomplished in 2017. A Pro Bowler in 2018, Garrett has 20.5 sacks in 27 games to kickstart his career and looks like he is poised to be an elite NFL pass rusher which was always the expectation. Njoku has 88 receptions for 1,025 yards and eight touchdowns so far in two seasons and appears to have the makings of a dynamic receiving tight end for the Browns. Peppers was recently traded to the Giants after a strong sophomore season as part of the deal that landed Cleveland wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
So far, so good for Cleveland’s haul in 2017.