It appears that for the 21st consecutive year, the top pick in the NFL draft will be quarterback-centric. In other words, his job will either be to play quarterback, protect the quarterback or crush the quarterback.
A month out, Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett is the consensus No. 1 in this year’s draft, which would make him the fourth defensive end to be drafted first overall during that 21-year span (Courtney Brown in 2000, Mario Williams in 2006 and Jadeveon Clowney in 2014).
It’s a run that dates back to 1997, when offensive tackle Orlando Pace was chosen first overall by the Rams. Twelve years later, Jake Long went to the Miami with the top pick, and Kansas City used a top selection on Eric Fisher fives years after that.
Twenty years. Three defensive ends, three offensive tackles and 14 quarterbacks. And now, barring something unforeseen, that streak should be extended on April 27. It really goes to show where emphases now lie across the league, stemming from a passing explosion the last couple decades.
Prior to this run, a wide receiver (Keyshawn Johnson), a running back (Ki-Jana Carter) and a defensive tackle (Dan Wilkinson) were the previous three No. 1 overall picks. Another defensive tackle (Russell Maryland) came off the board first in 1991, and even a linebacker (Aundray Bruce) was picked first in 1988.
Gone are those days. It’ll be a while before a back, receiver, linebacker or defensive tackle is chosen first overall. And tight ends, interior offensive linemen and defensive backs have never received that kind of love, at least in modern NFL history.
These days, it’s all about the guys who can throw, the guys who keep those guys out of the dirt and the guys who try to put them there. Look no further than the top of the draft. Again.