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Flashy Deion Sanders is Falcons' top all-time draft pick

Deion Sanders had five kick-return touchdowns with the Falcons, including this one against the Rams on Sept. 10, 1989. Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
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Apr 24, 2016
  • mcclure_vaughn_m.jpg&w=80&h=80&scale=cro
    Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer

Although Julio Jones might rewrite the record books when all is said and done, Deion Sanders, the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft, has to go down as the franchise's top draft pick ever.

Why Sanders is best draft pick in Atlanta Falcons history: For starters, Sanders is a Hall of Famer as part of the 2011 class. The flashy cornerback from Florida State was a three-time Pro Bowl starter during his five seasons with the Falcons. "Prime Time" was also an electrifying return man. He had five kick-return touchdowns with the Falcons in 70 games to go with three interceptions returned for touchdowns and two touchdown receptions on offense. He was a game-changer; a guy who could shut down one side of the field while guarding top receivers. Sanders had 24 interceptions during his stint with the Falcons. He was the first Falcon ever to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated back in November of 1989. Sanders went on to play nine more seasons with the 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins and Ravens.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Claude Humphrey, DE: Another Hall of Famer, Humphrey was the third overall pick in the 1968 draft. He finished his 10 seasons with the Falcons as the franchise's all-time sack leader with 94.5. Humphrey tied a franchise record in being named to six Pro Bowls, including five straight from 1970 to 1974. Humphrey finished his career with three seasons in Philadelphia.

Julio Jones, WR: The Falcons traded five draft picks to Cleveland to move up in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft in order to select Jones sixth overall. It seemed like a steep price until you consider how dynamic a playmaker Jones has been since entering the league. Jones has reached 1,000 yards receiving in three of his five seasons, including the second-best total in NFL history with 1,871 last season. Jones has 240 total receptions in his past 31 games.

Mike Kenn, OT: The 1978 first-round draft pick has been a Hall of Fame nominee. He holds the franchise record for most games played and started (251) while ranking second best in most played with the Falcons (17). He was a Pro Bowler five times from 1980 to 1984. Kenn was named either first- or second-team All-Pro five times in his career.

Jeff Van Note, C: An 11th-round draft pick in 1969, Van Note came to the Falcons as a linebacker and made the transition to center. He went on to establish the team record for most seasons played (18) and most consecutive games (155). Van Note made six Pro Bowls with the Falcons, which is tied with Humphrey for the most in franchise history.

Tommy Nobis, LB: He was the first player drafted by the Falcons in 1966 as the first overall selection. Nobis also became the first Falcon selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Nobis, nicknamed "Mr. Falcon," led the team in tackles in nine of his 11 seasons. His 294 tackles as a rookie is a team record. Nobis retired in 1976.

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15 minutes ago, Old Pappy falcon said:

not yet.

So, what's he got to do to get on the list?

Multiple Pro Bowls?

Multiple playoffs appearances?

Become the franchise's all time leading passer?

No, for some reason, unlike anyone else, he has to win a Super Bowl. Lest we forget Deion spent most of his career away from the Falcons.

I like the line "Nobis became the first Falcon selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie." Well duh the team didn't exist before then so of course he did.

Edited by Jesus
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Of all time, for all teams, I would be hard pressed to say anyone other than Tom Brady, given where they selected him. 

For the Falcons... selections like Deion Sanders and even Mike Vick help put us on the map, but when all is said and done, Matt Ryan will have done more for this franchise than any other pick.

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1 minute ago, Jesus said:

Since the tackle became an official stat one player sits at the top of the all time tackling list:

Mr. Jesse Tuggle

Unfortunately he was undrafted so he doesn't count as football player this week. 

He was one of my favorites. Had a mean steak to him. I think Grady Jarrett will be great with a bigger role this year!

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34 minutes ago, Smiler11 said:

Tackle stats from back then are a little unreliable though.

Even some stats in the last 2 decades are unreliable my name showed up in the NCAA College Football record book back in 2001 as having recorded a tackle for my college team.  Thing is I was on the team, but I never played Defense, only Offensive Tackle and I never tackled a guy. :lol:  Seriously though I firmly believe though with the amount of gambling that happens with pro sports that the stats are as close to 100% accurate as humanly possible. 

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3 hours ago, Tim Mazetti said:

Steve Bartkowski put the excitement in Atlanta back in 1978-1982 IMHO. The first time there was playoff/SB talk in ATL.

As Ryan did in ATL, and also has basically every team passing record in his grasp.

I think best draft pick also should account for who they passed on to take him...how ballsy was the move? For instance everyone thought Dorsey should have been the pick (with Brohm in later rounds) and was a cant miss guy. TD had the jugs to take the QB at 3 anyways, and the rest is history. Where is Dorsey now a days anyways?

Sanders was possibly the best TALENT ever drafted, but he only played out one contract and left, so he wasn't the best pick ever for the team IMO. Not the sexiest pick, but IMO Mike Kenn is the best pick in franchise history. All time great LT, who didn't get the press he deserved. 5 time ALL PRO, who played many years for us. If he was a Cowboy he would have been a hall of famer before he even retired. Its a shame!

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3 hours ago, 1989Fan said:

As Ryan did in ATL, and also has basically every team passing record in his grasp.

I think best draft pick also should account for who they passed on to take him...how ballsy was the move? For instance everyone thought Dorsey should have been the pick (with Brohm in later rounds) and was a cant miss guy. TD had the jugs to take the QB at 3 anyways, and the rest is history. Where is Dorsey now a days anyways?

Sanders was possibly the best TALENT ever drafted, but he only played out one contract and left, so he wasn't the best pick ever for the team IMO. Not the sexiest pick, but IMO Mike Kenn is the best pick in franchise history. All time great LT, who didn't get the press he deserved. 5 time ALL PRO, who played many years for us. If he was a Cowboy he would have been a hall of famer before he even retired. Its a shame!

Good post.

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8 hours ago, Jesus said:

So, what's he got to do to get on the list?

Multiple Pro Bowls?

Multiple playoffs appearances?

Become the franchise's all time leading passer?

No, for some reason, unlike anyone else, he has to win a Super Bowl. Lest we forget Deion spent most of his career away from the Falcons.

I like the line "Nobis became the first Falcon selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie." Well duh the team didn't exist before then so of course he did.

lmao so true

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