AFC East: Al Toon

AFC East influential in top five draft classes

April, 16, 2010
This must be some sort of record.

In three straight posts, I mention NFC West blogger Mike Sando.

The guy's all over the place.

Sando has completed a project to determine the five greatest draft classes since 1967, when the NFL and AFL combined for a common draft.

Sando, using a criteria that sorts through individual awards and championships, concluded the best were 1983, 1996, 1981, 1969 and 1985.

A lot of AFC East stars played roles in making those drafts great.

Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Ken O'Brien and Tony Eason were among that glorious quarterback class of 1983. Miami Dolphins receiver Mark Clayton and Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Darryl Talley also were selected that spring.

Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, found in the fifth round, was a highlight of the 1996 class.

The 1981 class included New York Jets running back Freeman McNeil, New England Patriots tackle Brian Holloway and outside linebacker Hugh Green, who later played for the Dolphins.

Bills running back O.J. Simpson was the first pick if the 1969 draft. Ten picks later, the Dolphins took defensive end Bill Stanfill.

Another notable No. 1 Bills pick started off the 1985 draft: defensive end Bruce Smith. The Bills also snagged receiver Andre Reed in the fourth round. Special-team ace Steve Tasker was a ninth-round pick for the Houston Oilers before making seven Pro Bowls for Buffalo. Another big name that year was Jets receiver Al Toon.

Welker doesn't know the score anymore

December, 29, 2009
Wes Welker is on the verge of another achievement.

But I don’t mean the good kind this time.

The New England Patriots slot receiver leads the NFL with a franchise-record 122 catches.

But he has made 83 consecutive receptions without a touchdown. That's the second-longest drought since 1990, and nine behind Tampa Bay wideout Keyshawn Johnson's famine in 2001.

Other lengthy touchdown-less streaks include Curtis Duncan's 78 with the Houston Oilers in 1992, Al Toon's 74 for the Jets in 1991 and Frank Sanders' 73 for the Arizona Cardinals in 1999.

Welker has four touchdowns this year, but they all came in Weeks 5 through 7. He hasn't scored a touchdown since October.