Served as GM of the Colts, Browns and Giants. He drafted John Elway (only to see the young QB force a trade). He drafted Bernie Kosar. He made the gutsy 2004 draft-day deal that brought Eli Manning to the Giants.
Drafting 12th, I felt the priority was to get a top quarterback. I am quarterback-oriented, and if I didn’t pick one at 12 I didn’t know what I was going to get at 24. So I narrowed down who I was going to get a shot at. The quarterback of my lifetime is Unitas, and I thought he could slip, because there are so many younger QBs who have moved up the ladder. But Rick Gosselin picked him early (third overall). When Ray Guy was taken, and some other positions went, I thought I might have a shot at Montana. I was worried that Elway was the last elite QB I would have shot at.
I wanted to get as many elite players as I possibly could. That’s why I went for Lenny Moore in the second round, because I wanted to get stars if I could. Again, picking 12th, I had to take what I was going to get. I knew I was probably going to have to get older players who may have been overlooked a bit. The guy I really love—because I saw him play on TV, so I knew how good he was—is Marion Motley. He was such a force in his time, long before players got the kind of exposure they get now. I saw most of these guys play. My father bought a TV in 1950. I saw every T-formation quarterback who is in the Hall of Fame, either in person or on television, except Sid Luckman.
What I was really proud of that is picking last, I got 18 Hall of Famers out of my 22 position players. All of my offensive players are Hall of Famers, and if you count Ray Lewis—who is going to be a slam-dunk—it’s 19. I feel pretty good about that.
|The namesake of the Super Bowl trophy, Lombardi took over a floundering Packers team in 1959 and led it to five NFL championships and two Super Bowl titles in the next nine seasons. Revered as a leader, motivator and football strategist, Lombardi never had a losing season; his .738 winning percentage is second all-time to John Madden among coaches with at least 10 seasons, and his .900 postseason winning percentage is best in NFL history. Following his one season as coach of the Redskins, he died of cancer in 1970 at the age of 57.|
|After the Colts drafted Elway No. 1 overall in 1983, he forced a trade to Denver, where he played for 16 seasons and made nine Pro Bowls, won one MVP award and led the Broncos to four Super Bowl berths. Denver lost the first of those (in 1986 and ’87) but won the second two (in 1997 and ’98). When he retired, Elway had the most wins in NFL history and the second-most passing yards, trailing only Dan Marino. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.|
|Sharing a backfield with Johnny Unitas for 12 seasons, Moore established himself as one of the most versatile running backs of his era. He was an effective runner, evidenced by his career average of 4.8 yards per carry, but he was also an effective receiver. Over a five-year stretch when Moore was in his prime, he averaged 46 catches, 827 receiving yards and seven touchdown catches per year, providing a glimpse of how his position would evolve. He made seven Pro Bowls, won two NFL championships with Unitas and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975.|
|One of the first African-Americans to play in the modern era, Motley starred at running back on Paul Brown’s Cleveland teams in the late 1940s. In his eight years in Cleveland, Motley won four AAFC championships and an NFL title in 1950. His career average of 5.7 yards per rush still stands as a record for running backs. He also played linebacker and was considered one of the best two-way players in history. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1968.|
|One of Len Dawson’s favorite targets and one of the best wide receivers of his era, the 6’ 3”, 215-pound Taylor was a formidable downfield weapon for the Chiefs—with a build and skill set akin to Randy Moss. He averaged 17.8 yards per catch over his career and was a key member of the Chiefs’ teams that won two AFL championships (1966 and 1969) and Super Bowl IV.|
|Stallworth was part of a formidable receiving tandem with Lynn Swann as the Steelers won four Super Bowls in six years during the 1970s. Named to three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team during his 14-year career, Stallworth made his biggest impact in the postseason. In Super Bowl XII he caught three passes for 115 yards and two TDs, and in Super Bowl XIII he had three receptions for 121 yards, including the 73-yard fourth-quarter bomb from Terry Bradshaw that put Pittsburgh ahead for good. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.|
|Mackey was a favorite target of Johnny Unitas in the 1960s and one of the best tight ends of his era. Over his first six seasons, Mackey made five Pro Bowls while averaging 41 catches, 684 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He also made a key 75-yard reception that helped the Colts win Super Bowl V. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992.|
|One of the most reliable offensive tackles of his era, Roaf played at a high level late into his career, for two teams. New Orleans drafted him with the eighth overall pick in 1993 and he played nine seasons in the Big Easy, making the Pro Bowl seven times. After an injury cut short his 2001 season, the Saints traded him to the Chiefs, with whom he played four more years and made four more Pro Bowls. Roaf was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.|
|Creekmur was the dependable left tackle on the 1950s Lions teams that won three NFL championships. He appeared in every regular-season and postseason game the Lions played for nine years, from 1950 to 1958. During that span he made the Pro Bowl eight times and was a first-team All-Pro six times. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.|
|Turner was the anchor of the Bears’ offensive line when they won four NFL championships during a span of seven years in the 1940s. Chicago drafted Turner in the first round, seventh overall, in 1940. He played 13 seasons for the Bears and was named first-team All-Pro seven times. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.|
|Grimm played 11 seasons with the Redskins as one of the team’s famed “Hogs” on the offensive line. At 6’ 3” and 273 pounds, Grimm made four Pro Bowls and anchored the offensive line as the Redskins reached four Super Bowls, three of which they won. Grimm was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.|
|Wistert played nine seasons with the Eagles as a two-way player, and eventually had his jersey retired by the team. He won two NFL championships with Philadelphia, served as the team captain for five years and was named a first-team All-Pro four times. He also holds the distinction of being the first player from the University of Michigan drafted into the NFL.|
|A key member of the Browns’ dominant teams from the 1950s, Ford played in Cleveland for eight seasons, during which he made the NFL Championship Game seven times, won the title three times and was selected to four Pro Bowls. At 6’ 4”, 245 pounds, he had a rare combination of size and speed that would eventually become a requisite for playing the position. He was enshrined in Canton in 1976.|
|One of the best pass rushers in NFL history, Strahan finished with at least nine sacks in eight seasons. In 2001, his best year, he set the NFL record with 22.5 sacks, and he was the emotional leader of the Giants team that upset the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Strahan finished his career with 141.5 sacks, which ranks him No. 6 in that category (though it only became official in 1982). He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.|
|Buchanan was a productive and durable member of the Chiefs teams that won two AFL championships (in 1966 and ’69) and Super Bowl IV. At 6’ 7” and 270 pounds, he was a towering presence on a Chiefs defense that boasted four other Hall of Famers (Bobby Bell, Curley Culp, Willie Lanier, Emmitt Thomas). In his 13 seasons, Buchanan made eight Pro Bowls. He earned his gold jacket in Canton in 1990.|
|Donovan was a standout defensive tackle on Johnny Unitas’s Colts teams. He made the Pro Bowl five consecutive years, from 1953 to ’57, and then helped Baltimore win back-to-back NFL titles in 1958 and ’59. In the 1958 title game, dubbed “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” Donovan made a key tackle that allowed Unitas to get the ball back and lead the game-winning drive. Donovan was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.|
|The fiercest linebacker of his generation, Lewis spent 17 seasons as the beating heart of a dominant Ravens defense. A first-round pick for the reborn Baltimore franchise, in 1996, he was a seven-time All-Pro and 13-time Pro Bowler. He was twice named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.|
|At 6'4" and 225 pounds, Webster had several great seasons as a fast, young linebacker in the AFL in the late 1960s. The Oilers drafted him in the first round, fifth overall, and he proceeded to win the 1967 Rookie of the Year Award and make three consecutive All-Star teams.|
|A standout linebacker and center from Georgia Tech, Baughan developed into a perennial Pro Bowl ’backer for the Eagles and Rams during the 1960s. He made nine Pro Bowls over his first 10 seasons. His best career highlight, perhaps, was helping the Eagles win the NFL championship as a rookie in 1960.|
|Johnson didn’t earn his first All-Pro nod (of four straight) until his ninth year in the league. This, according to SI’s Paul Zimmerman, was because the 49ers had no national profile in the ’60s and Johnson’s INT numbers were low because quarterbacks feared throwing at him. He finished with 47 interceptions and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994, his 15th and final year of eligibility as a “modern” candidate. “I’d never seen anyone as smooth and graceful in pass coverage,” said Dr. Z, who called Johnson, “without reservation … the greatest defensive back who ever lived.”|
|LeBeau was one of the most durable and productive cornerbacks of his generation. He played 14 seasons in the NFL, all for the Lions, and recorded five or more interceptions seven times. LeBeau made the Pro Bowl three times and finished his career with 62 interceptions. Now a renowned defensive coordinator, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.|
|Lary was one of the most versatile athletes of his era, a true throwback who played as a safety, punter and return specialist. He spent 11 seasons in the NFL, but missed two others while serving in the Army during the Korean War. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who finished his career with 50 interceptions, which ranked fifth all-time when he retired. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.|
|One of the hardest-hitting safeties of his generation, Harrison earned his chops with the Chargers for nine seasons before moving to New England, where he contributed to Patriots Super Bowl titles in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. In those two postseasons combined Harrison made six interceptions, including two off of Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb in Super Bowl XXXIX.|
|One of the best kickers of his generation, Anderson played for six teams over the course of 23 seasons. He is the second-most prolific kicker in NFL history, trailing only Morten Andersen in regular-season games played (353), field goals made (538) and points scored (2,434).|
|Lary was one of the most versatile athletes of his era, a true throwback who played as a safety, punter and return specialist. He spent 11 seasons in the NFL, but missed two others while serving in the Army during the Korean War. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who finished his career with 50 interceptions, which ranked fifth all-time when he retired. He was induced into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.|
|A fluid, elusive runner with remarkable speed around the edge and in the open field, “Willie the Wisp” is sometimes considered Gale Sayers before Gale Sayers. Never a workhorse for the Bears, he averaged 4.5 yards per rush and 25.6 yards per kickoff return in his career and won a championship with Chicago in 1963. He was killed in a car accident on his way to training camp in 1964, at the age of 29, and his No. 28 has been retired by the Bears.|
|One of the best athletes of his generation, Van Buren was a gifted running back and return man. He played eight years for the Eagles, was a five-time All-Pro, and led the league in rushing four times. Van Buren averaged 13.9 yards per punt return, 26.7 yards per kick return and finished his career with five return touchdowns. He also helped the Eagles win two NFL championships. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.|
The fourth of the four teams to open quarterback-running back. Team Accorsi claimed the least well-known of the RBs in the first two rounds, Lenny Moore. He also might have the most versatile of them, given Moore’s pass-catching success as a flanker. Perhaps the rugged Marion Motley is meant to see the bulk of the carries, with Moore joining Willie Galimore and Steve Van Buren as movable pieces for the passing attack. Between those three, WRs Otis Taylor and John Stallworth and TE John Mackey, John Elway’s passing stats should be quite healthy.
Accorsi drafted both Galimore and Van Buren as wild cards; he had the double wild card available because he selected Yale Lary at pick No. 156. Lary averaged 44.3 yards per punt during his storied career and also picked off 50 passes as a standout safety. He’s slotted in for the latter role on this depth chart, alongside Rodney Harrison. Lary’s former Lions teammate Dick LeBeau lines up at cornerback with Jimmy Johnson (the 49ers’ Hall of Famer, not the coach).
This draft board spun almost 180 degrees from King’s lean toward the modern era. Team Accorsi has a handful of players whose career wrapped in the relatively recent past (Elway, Ray Lewis, Michael Strahan, Willie Roaf) but the overall roster takes a heavy dip in the ’50s and even the ’40s—C Clyde “Bulldog” Turner and T Al Wistert each made his pro debut around the time of World War II.
Does the old-school commitment necessarily mean that this roster is any better or worse than the rest? No, although it does beg a little more trust of the GM. There are a limited number of folks who ever saw Bulldog Turner in action, for instance, so to some extent we’ll have to take Accorsi’s word for it that his roster is a juggernaut.
— Chris Burke