AFC East: Darrell Green
Nevertheless, NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly made a bold statement Friday about this year's draft class.
"This is the best first round I've seen since 1983," Casserly said at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Of the 28 players selected in the first round in 1983, six have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They went to 77 Pro Bowls and won nine Super Bowls.
The 1983 quarterback class is legendary. All five AFC East clubs selected quarterbacks.
The Baltimore Colts took John Elway first overall. The Buffalo Bills drafted Jim Kelly 14th. One spot later, the New England Patriots chose Tony Eason. The New York Jets got Ken O'Brien 24th, and the Miami Dolphins used the 27th pick on Dan Marino.
Other first-round stars included running backs Eric Dickerson and Curt Warner, offensive linemen Chris Hinton, Jimbo Covert and Bruce Matthews and defensive backs Joey Browner, Gil Byrd and Darrell Green.
Casserly claimed only that crew will surpass the one that comes together in April.
With a rookie salary cap expected to be part of the next collective bargaining agreement, 53 underclassmen declared for this year's draft so they can sign under the current CBA, which allows rookies to get whatever they can.
"In talking to general managers throughout the league, decision-makers," Casserly said, "I think it's the result of two things. Last year, there was a concentrated effort to keep players in school. Conversely, both sides in the labor negotiations have talked about a rookie wage scale.
"So when you have those two things working, players without a motivation to stay in school will say 'The players who stayed in last year, you have a perfect storm to have the best junior crop you've had since all the way back to '83.' So I think this is the best first round I've seen going into a draft since 1983."
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
|AP Photo/Mark Duncan|
|Andre Tippett acknowledges fans as he is introduced at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday in Canton, Ohio.|
CANTON, Ohio -- Saturday obviously was a celebrated day for the Washington Redskins, but there were several highlights from today's other 2008 Hall of Fame inductees.
Here were the notables:
- Former New England Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett was introduced by team owner Robert Kraft, who explained how Tippett impacted the franchise.
"We had two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in our division in Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, and he completely changed the passing attack of those two teams," Kraft said. "Once [Tippett] joined the joined the team, the New England Patriots improved dramatically."
- Former defensive end Fred Dean promised early in his speech that he wouldn't cry Saturday. He held true to his declaration for a special reason.
"Because I know there's a wager waged somewhere [that I would]," Dean said.
- Five-time Pro Bowler Emmitt Thomas mentioned his rough upbringing and his ability to persevere to lead him to this day.
"Growing up, I was resentful and angry at other families around us because they seemed fully intact," Thomas said. "I'd often lay awake at night wondering why our family had to be different.
"But I came to the stark realization that the good Lord wanted us to be reared and raised under the guiding hands of my grandfathered, who in his own right was a giant of a man."
- Newly inducted Hall of Fame tackle Gary Zimmerman addressed how he used smarts and technique to overcome a bad left shoulder injury that could have otherwise cut short his 12-year career.
- As a final goodbye, a group of Washington Redskins fans sang "Hail to the Redskins" in the corner of the end zone in Fawcett Stadium as Darrell Green was doing interviews with the NFL Network.