There are parallels between the 2008 NFL Draft and the 1988 draft
— There is no clear-cut No. 1 prospect in this draft; the same could be said of the ’88 selection meeting, according to most accounts.
— Both teams holding the No. 1 pick opened negotiations with prospects well before they were on the clock. A little more than two weeks before the draft, the Dolphins reportedly opened negotiations with Michigan OLT Jake Long. They have also reportedly talked contract with Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston. As of this writing, it’s unclear whom they will take, but it’s crystal clear they want to strike a deal before next Saturday.
There was less suspense surrounding the No. 1 pick in 1988. The Falcons indicated in late March
that they would select Auburn LB Aundray Bruce No. 1 overall. Bruce was expected to give the Falcons’ defense a much-needed dose of pass-rush pressure. The Falcons surrendered a league-high 363 points and notched an NFL-low 11 sacks the previous season.
Bruce made a half-dozen sacks as a rookie — 1½ more than the much-scrutinized Mario Williams did in ’06. But unlike Williams, Bruce never significantly improved. Bruce played three more seasons in Atlanta, then finished his career with the Los Angeles / Oakland Raiders. He notched 32 sacks in 11 NFL seasons.
As it turned out, the blue-chip performers in the ’88 draft were found further down the draft board, especially at receiver.
Notre Dame WR Tim Brown, selected five picks after Bruce, is likely Hall of Fame bound after an outstanding career with the Raiders. South Carolina WR Sterling Sharpe may have been on his way to a similar career with Green Bay when he suffered a career-ending neck injury. And Michael Irvin is already in the Hall of Fame thanks to his exploits with the Cowboys. Dallas made the Miami (Fla.) standout the No. 11 pick in ’88.
We would also be remiss not to mention Tennessee product Anthony Miller, who starred for San Diego and Denver and made five Pro Bowls as one of the top vertical threats of his time. He was selected four spots after Irvin. Also, productive pass-catchers Flipper Anderson of UCLA (No. 46, Rams) and Brett Perriman (No. 52, Sants) came off the board in Round Two.
The Bills didn’t have a pick in Round One of the ’88 draft but made up for it by getting one of the all-time steals in Round Two: Oklahoma State RB Thurman Thomas, like Irvin a Hall of Famer. Other teams who made excellent Round Two calls were the Eagles, who took Arizona State CB Eric Allen 30th overall; and the Steelers, who found the anchor of their offensive line with the selection of Kentucky C Dermontti Dawson with pick No. 44.
In all, a draft with a lot of questions at the top turned out to be a fairly useful one. Even the Falcons got some value in the later rounds, too, selecting Northern Arizona WR Michael Haynes in Round Seven. Haynes was an important part of some explosive Falcons' offenses in the years to come.
Posted by Mike Wilkening on April 16, 2008 7:58 PM | Permalink