Football 101: No. 49, Jonathan Ogden
We continue with our Wednesday roundups of the next players in the Football 101—my personal countdown of the greatest players in pro football history. Thanks for reading, and for those who aren’t subscribers, I hope you’ll consider joining!
Let’s take a moment to look at the rather remarkable NFL draft of 1996. What makes it rather remarkable is that at the time it was widely viewed as a singularly weak draft, in large part because there wasn’t even one first-round quarterback in the entire country. The consensus top talent was troubled running back Lawrence Phillips, but numerous teams were concerned about numerous off-the-field issues*, most worrying about an assault on his ex-girlfriend.*
*Yeah, those teams were right.
Meanwhile, there wasn’t supposed to be much offensive or defensive line depth. The one thing that draft had was a talented group of wide receivers, which was great as far as that goes, but wide receivers never really excited NFL teams or scouting directors. In the last 50 years, the top pick in the draft has been a wide receiver only twice.
In 1984, the Patriots took Irving Fryar.
And that year, 1996, the New York Jets took Keyshawn Johnson.*
*Johnson certainly had a more-than-creditable NFL career — 11 seasons as a starter, three Pro Bowls — but he probably ended up being the third- for fourth-best receiver in that crazy draft, behind Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison, and pretty close to even with Muhsin Muhammad, Eric Moulds and Joe Horn. And in addition, that draft also had Eddie Kennison, Terry Glenn, Amani Toomer and Bobby Engram. The experts were definitely right about that draft being loaded at receiver.
Point is, other than receiver, the ’96 draft was considered pretty sparse … but it actually ended up being one of the best drafts in NFL history. Thirty-three players from that draft went to the Pro Bowl, 17 were first-team All-Pro and five are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with the strong possibility of linebacker Zach Thomas eventually making it six.
And of the five Hall of Famers — Harrison, Owens, Brian Dawkins, Ray Lewis and today’s special guest star, Jonathan Ogden — all are in the Football 101.*
*I hope I’m not spoiling anything by telling you that Ray Lewis will be on the list.
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