Monday, March 22, 2010

Reliving, Part II: 1991 - 1995.

You might say that these 1st Round picks were their best crop of players taken in a five-year span.

1991: With the 10th pick the draft, the Lions selected Wide Receiver Herman Moore out of Virginia. At the height of his career, Moore was an elite receiver, in the company of other receivers like Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, and Tim Brown. A four-time Pro Bowl Selection, Moore was also a three-time All-Pro First Team selection between 1995 and 1997, and an All-Pro Second Team selection in 1994. Moore, along with WRs Brett Perriman and Johnnie Morton, was considered the best 3-WR tandem in the NFL until the Minnesota Vikings drafted Randy Moss (they already had Chris Carter and Jake Reed). Moore led the NFL in receptions in 1995 en route to the Lions having the No.1 offense that year (that included of course, Barry Sanders at Running Back).

1992: The Lions were No. 28 in the draft order that year, an unusually late draft pick for the Lions because they went 12-4 the prior year and came within one game of the Super Bowl. With that pick, the Lions took Defensive End Robert Porcher out of South Carolina State. Porcher was a stud DE, a three-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro selection in 1997, 1999, and 2001. He easily could be considered the best defensive lineman, if not the best defensive player the Lions picked in the past twenty five years.

1993: The Lions decided to go with defense again, as they picked Linebacker Pat Swilling out of the New Orleans Saints. Okay, so he wasn’t exactly a draft pick. He was only the worst trade the team had made all that decade. The Lions had the seventh pick in the draft, and they traded away a 1st rounder to New Orleans for a guy who was clearly on the downside of his career. On top of that, Swilling publicly vented that “Pat Swilling don’t do pass coverage!” No one would question that in his time, Swilling was one of the finest LBs to play the game. In fact he played quite well in the 1993 season, helping the Lions win their last NFC Central championship. But in 1994, his production fell off and he left to play for the Oakland Raiders in 1995.

Adding insult to injury, the Saints drafted Lincoln Kennedy, one of the best offensive linemen of the 1990s, a position the Lions have struggled with to this day.

1994: Picking at No.21, the Lions selected WR Johnnie Morton out of USC. One could say that Morton was an odd pick; he was selected to be the Lions’ No.3 receiver. While Morton proved valuable in his role and just as valuable as a No.2 receiver when Brett Perriman left in 1997, Morton never got picked up for the Pro Bowl. Nonetheless, he was still a productive receiver, catching for over 1,000 receiving yards in four seasons.

1995: At No.20, the Lions selected Defensive Tackle Luther Elliss out of Utah. I met Luther Elliss the year following his rookie season, so I had high hopes for this guy. Elliss did not disappoint. While not having an outstanding rookie campaign, Elliss progressed rather well in his position, eventually earning two Pro Bowl selections in 1999 and 2000. He had no sacks in 1995, but had 6.5 in 1996 and his personal best of 8.5 sacks one year later. His career was cut short due to injuries, but he still remained a solid player in a team that would transition from slightly above mediocre to NFL irrelevancy.

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