Monday, March 14, 2005

Best ever WR, TE, OL

As I bide my time until the draft I'll definitively, or not, end all discussion of who are the greatest football players of all time. Today we finish up the offensive side of the ball.

WR-Only one player in NFL history has 22,000 yards receiving, 23,000 yards from scrimmage, 1,500 receptions, 200+ touchdowns, 280 consecutive games with a reception, 1,800+ receiving yards in a season, and 22 TD catches in a season...Jerry Rice. To put his numbers into perspective Rice's 22,000 yards receiving are 8,000 more than second place Tim Brown. His 200+ touchdowns are 60 more than Emmitt Smith's who sits at number two and Rice's 197 TD receptions gives him a 67 TD gap between him and Chris Carter who's second all-time. The consecutive game streak with at least one reception is 100 more than Art Monk's 183 game mark. Not to mention the three Super Bowl rings, the MVP in '87, 11 Pro Bowls, Rookie of the Year in '85, and ten All Pro selections. Rice's legacy as maybe the best to ever strap on shoulder pads is safe and his selection to the Hall of Fame may be the biggest slam dunk in NFL history. Rice put up ungodly numbers that may never be touched and is the gold standard by which all other receivers will from here after be compared.

Honorable mention-none, there is no one even close.

TE-This is at first glance a close race. But as you look at the numbers the best tight end picture comes more clearly into focus. First we'll examine the principles then give the verdict.

Kellen Winslow was the best tight end of his era. Winslow finished up a Hall of Fame career with 541 catches, 6,741 yards receiving, and 45 TD's. Winslow was named to the Pro Bowl five times and was a three time All Pro. Knee injuries cut his career short but not before Winslow turned in one of the gutsiest performances in NFL history. In 1981 the Chargers and Dolphins pushed there playoff game to overtime after Winslow blocked a last second field goal that would have won the game for Miami. Winslow finished the game with 13 catches for 166 yards. At the end of the game the severely dehydrated tight end had to be helped off the field in what is still one of the most stirring images in NFL history.

Ozzie Newsome was a two-time All Pro and three-time Pro Bowl participant. His 662 career reception, 7,980 yards, and 47 TD's are second all-time amongst tight ends. Newsome had a catch in 150 straight games and was the unquestioned leader of a Cleveland Browns team that played in three AFC Championship games.

Shannon Sharpe came out of Savannah State as a special teams wide receiver and wasn't a full time starter at tight end until '92. His 815 catches, 10,060 yards, and 62 touchdowns are by far the best ever from the position. Sharpe won three Super Bowls and was the crutch John Elway leaned on throughout much of his career. Sharpe is generally regarded as the greatest pass catching TE ever and was a surprisingly effective blocker despite only weighing 230 pounds. Sharpe's stellar play was out done only by his mouth. A memorable Monday not game saw Sharpe taunt Derrick Thomas mercilessly to the point of ejection. Another infamous moment came during a game in Foxboro where the Broncos were trouncing the home-town Patriots. Sharpe mocked a hostile crowd and feigned a call to the National Guard because the Broncos were "killing the Patriots". No one could talk like Sharpe.

Verdict-Sharpe's numbers say it all. He played with maybe the best quarterback ever and was the man's security blanket. Sharpe is the most prolific pass catching tight end ever by far and backed up his trash talking with spectacular reliability. Sharpe should be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer and is the best tight end ever.

Honorable mention-Tony Gonzalez, Mike Ditka, Dave Casper.

OL-All you need to know is that Anthony Munoz broke the weight machine at his rookie combine. The third pick overall in 1980 Munoz erased any and all reservations about his alleged brittle and injury proned college career. He was an All Pro and Pro Bowl selection eleven straight years. Munoz was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary team and won Offensive Lineman of the Year honors three times. As a sophomore in college Munoz pitched for Southern Cal's national title winning baseball squad. Few players ever dominated their positions like Munoz did and that's why he's the best O-lineman ever.

Honorable mention-Gary Zimmerman, Orlando Pace, Eric Williams, Larry Allen, John Hannah, Dwight Stevenson, Mike Webster.