No. 3: WR Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh Steelers, 1974
Pittsburgh’s 1974 draft is without question the greatest in history, as they selected four Hall of Famers (Swann, Jack Lambert, Mike Webster, John Stallworth) in one draft while adding Donnie Shell as an undrafted free agent. The first pick of that class was the former USC star Swann, who became a vital member of arguably the greatest dynasty in the history of the sport.
Swann’s numbers are very ordinary, as he has fewer receiving yards than Jabar Gaffney and Nate Burleson while posting fewer touchdowns than Michael Crabtree, but the wideout came up clutch time and again for the Steelers as they won four championships in six years. Seems like his numbers were the product of a run-heavy scheme, huh?
Swann was integral to those Steelers teams, and he’s an epitome of the kind of reliable role player that Indianapolis needs to find in this draft if this franchise is to follow in The Burgh’s footsteps as a dynasty.
No. 2: DT Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots, 2004
Belichick shows up yet again, as he entered 2004 in need of a space-eating defensive tackle that he could plug in to help solidify his run defense. Wilfork, who was a star at Miami, fulfilled his potential almost immediately, as he was a ubiquitous presence on some of Belichick’s best defenses ever.
Conservatively listed at near 330 pounds, Wilfork started almost 150 games in 11 seasons with the Patriots, winning two championships in between five Pro Bowl appearances and four All-Pro nominations. With big No. 75 plugged in, the Patriots could forget about anyone running the ball up the middle against them.
While Ty Law did make it to Canton, the lack of respect Hall of Fame voters have shown to Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison could make it tough for Wilfork to get elected. However, if they examine how important he was to this team, they’ll see that he is the dictionary definition of a Hall of Fame nose tackle.