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Ranking the best NFL draft picks of all time Barry Sanders headlines the top five taken at No. 3 Full-time Job

Jun 21st, 2023 at 09:19   Marketing & Communication   Hastings   198 views
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The 2022 NFL Draft is mere days away. The team here at CBS Sports is continuing our countdown to when the are officially on the clock by ranking the best of the best to ever be selected in the top 32 spots. We've now entered the top five, where things get incredibly tough due to the ridiculous volume of excellent players selected at each spot.Today we'll be diving into the No. 3 overall selection.This year, the Houston Texans own the No. 3 pick, and we have absolutely no idea what direction they'll be going in because we still don't really know who's going to be picked at Nos. 1 or 2. Among the likely selections, according to our esteemed mock-drafters, are Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker, Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, and North Carolina State tackle Ikem Ekwonu. Pick Six Newsletter Crafted By The Best NFL Experts Get the day's big stories + fun stuff you love like mock drafts, picks and power rankings. 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There's always a chance that in a decade or so from now, whichever player is the pick at No. 3 this year can ascend into this top five, but in the meantime (and with apologies to Cortez Kennedy, Charlie Taylor, Cris Carter, and Dick Butkus), here's who made the cut.2007 NFL Draft: Round 1, No. 3 (Wisconsin)Team(s): (2007-2017) The aforementioned quartet of players all received serious consideration, but ultimately lost out to Thomas because he was the single best player at the league's second-most important position for a decade, and they weren't. Thomas entered the NFL as a phenom, and left it as a legend despite spending his entire career with the saddest-sack franchise in the NFL. He was that good.Thomas played 11 seasons. In the first 10, he made the Pro Bowl. In six of those 10, he was a First Team All-Pro. In two of them, he was a Second Team All-Pro. He would have been each of those things in Year 11 as well, but his season was cut short by injury. Prior to that, he played and started in 160 of 160 po sible games. He holds the unofficial NFL record for consecutive snaps, having played 10,363 in a row before suffering a Dana Barros Jersey torn triceps seven games into the 2017 season.According to Pro Football Focus, Thomas allowed just 30 total sacks and 49 quarterback hits in his 11 NFL seasons. Among qualified tackles, he ranked seventh, eighth, first, seventh, 19th, 11th, sixth, third, third, third, and third in their grading system, indicating that he played at a consistently elite level throughout his career. The only thing working against Thomas is longevity, and as we'll get into a bit further down, that's not enough to keep him off the list. 1962 NFL Draft: Round 1, No. 3 (Utah State)Team(s): (1962-1976)Olsen entered the NFL in 1962 and immediately emerged as a dominant force on the interior of the Rams defensive line. He remained one until... well, until he retired.Let's start with the accomplishments: Olsen played 15 NFL seasons and made the Pro Bowl in the first 14 of them. Those 14 Pro Bowls remain an NFL record, though he shares it with , , Tony Gonzalez, and Bruce Matthews. (Those four guys all played offense, though, so no defender has ever made more Pro Bowls than Olsen.) He was a First Team All-Pro five times and a Second-Teamer thrice. He made the NFL's All-1960s Team and All-1970s Team, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982. Along with Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier, and Lamar Lundy, Olsen was part of The Fearsome Foursome, the great Rams defensive line that terrorized opposing offenses through the 1960s. Butkus at one point called them "the most dominant line in football history," and they were collectively the subject of a terrific NFL Films documentary. When NFL Films listed the 100 greatest players in NFL history, Olsen himself No. 27 on the list.Olsen also had a long post-playing career as both a broadcaster and an actor. He worked NBC broadcasts covering the AFC in the 1970s and 1980s (and was the lead commentator on four Super Bowls), then with Dick Stockton Sergio Rodriguez Jersey at CBS in the early 1990s. He had long-running roles both and , and co-starred in several movies as well.Olsen pa sed away in 2010 after a yearlong bout with cancer, but before that he was elected to the California Sports Hall of Fame, and his alma mater (Utah State) named its field in his honor and put a statute of him outside the building. Given his career and far-reaching influence, all of that seems well-deserved. 2004 NFL Draft: Round 1, No. 3 (Pittsburgh)Team(s): (2004-2021)The living legend with perhaps the strongest hands in NFL history is still doing it, though he finally slowed down a bit toward the end of his career. He's yet to officially retire, but he's also stated that he won't return to the field. Fitzgerald ranks second in NFL history with 1,432 career catches and 17,492 receiving yards, and sixth with his 121 receiving touchdowns. His five 100-catch seasons are second all-time, while his nine 1,000-yard seasons are fourth.Perhaps the most impre sive thing about Fitzgerald's career as a wide receiver, though, is that he basically had two careers and two different receiver positions, and dominated in both roles. Early on, Fitzgerald was a prototypical perimeter wideout who won on contested catches and deep balls and in the red zone. As he got older, he shifted into the slot, where his route-running, physicality, and blocking made him an electric player and extended his prime for several years. He has the distinction of being the youngest player in NFL history to accomplish several receiving-related feats, largely because he entered the league after just two years of college. He succe sfully petitioned to have the time he spent at Valley Forge Military Academy counted as being a year spent removed from high school, and so he was allowed to enter the NFL after two dominant seasons at Pitt.Fitzgerald, like the rest of the players on today's list, has racked up Pro Bowls (11) and All-Pro appearances (one First Team, two Second Team) and was on an All-Decade Team (2010s). He, too, has played for an incredibly long time with just one franchise. He's the Cardinals' all-time leader in basically everything, and probably will be for quite some time. He is going to walk into the team's Ring of Honor and the Hall of Fame, presumably as soon as he's eligible, and he's going to deserve it.1980 NFL Draft: Round 1, No. 3 (USC)Team(s): (1980-1992)Muoz was like the Joe Thomas of the 1980s, but Jahlil Okafor Jersey he played for the other Ohio . He entered the NFL in 1980, the Bengals plopped him on the blind side of the offensive line, and he just camped out there making Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams for 13 years. Muoz played 185 of 208 po sible games in his career, all of them at left tackle, where he protected the likes of Ken Anderson and later Boomer Esiason. He was such a dominant athlete that the Bengals often involved him in tackle-eligible plays, and he ended his career with seven receptions and four touchdowns. He went to two Super Bowls with Cincinnati in the 1980s, though the team ultimately came up short against the 49ers in both appearances.Through his 13-year career, Muoz made the Pro Bowl 11 times. He was a nine-time First Team All-Pro, which gives him more such selections than all but three players in NFL History. (Jim Otto and Jerry Rice each made it 10 times, while Ron Mix tied Muoz with nine.) He made two Second Teams as well, and was voted Walter Payton Man of the Year in 1991, NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1981 and 1988 (and the Players A sociation's Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1981, 1985, 1988, and 1989), a member of the league's 75th Anniversary Julius Erving Jersey Team, the All-1990s Team, and No. 12 on the NFL's 100 Greatest Players list. Had it not been for a late-career knee injury, he might have accomplished even more.Earlier this month, the Bengals announced that Muoz in their inaugural Ring of Honor cla s, along with Paul Brown. "The organization has had some amazing, amazing players over the 50plus years of existence," Muoz said. "I think this is great because now we get to celebrate all the guys and that's what it's all about." 1998 NFL Draft: Round 1, No. 3 (Oklahoma State)Team(s): (1989-1998)Arguably the best running back in NFL history, and the "arguably" is only nece sary here because he hung up his spikes after just 10 years in the league, at the age of 30.Sanders was, to put it as simply as po sible: impo sible. He was impo sibly quick, impo sibly fast, impo sible to tackle. He had impo sible vision. He made impo sible plays with impo sible frequency, and was impo sibly efficient both between the tackles and in open space. (This was particularly true given his size, as even by modern running back standards, Sanders was small at around 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds.) In 10 NFL seasons, Sanders led the league in rushing four times. He led it in rushing touchdowns once, and total touchdowns and yards from scrimmage twice each. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his 10 seasons, and was named a First Team All-Pro in six of them and a Second-Teamer the four times he mi sed out. He was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1989, the Offensive Player of the Year in 1994 and 1997, and the MVP in 1997. He was on the All-1990s Team and the NFL 100 All-Time Team.At the time he retired, Sanders w
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