This Week in NFL History: April 19 to April 25; Generational talents begin their NFL journey – NFL.com

Welcome to This Week in NFL History! Every week, the Research team will spotlight the anniversaries of notable events and birthdays.

— The Chiefs selected HOF TE Tony Gonzalez 13th overall in the 1997 NFL Draft

  • Chiefs traded up from the 18th pick to select Gonzalez
  • 1,325 receptions (3rd-most in NFL history, most by TE), 15,127 receiving yards (6th-most in NFL history, most by TE) & 111 receiving TD (8th-most in NFL history, 2nd-most by TE)
  • Chiefs’ all-time leader in receptions (916), receiving yards (10,940) & receiving TD (76)
  • Played 12 (1997-2008) of his 17 career NFL seasons with KC and 5 with ATL

— The Rams selected HOF T Orlando Pace 1st overall in the 1997 NFL Draft

  • Rams traded up from the 6th pick to 1st pick with the Jets 2 days prior
  • 7-time Pro Bowl selection & 3-time First Team All-Pro
  • Super Bowl XXXIV Champion with the Rams & Member of 2000’s All-Decade Team
  • Played 12 (1997-2008) of his 13 career NFL seasons with STL and 1 with CHI 

— Notable Birthday: HOF Troy Polamalu (40)

— The Panthers selected DE Julius Peppers 2nd overall in the 2002 NFL Draft

  • 2002 AP Defensive ROY
  • 9-time Pro Bowl selection (5 with CAR) & 3-time First Team All-Pro (2 with CAR)
  • Member of 2000’s & 2010’s All-Decade Team
  • Played 10 (2002-2009, 2017-2018) of 17 NFL seasons with the Panthers

— The Falcons acquired the 1st overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft (QB Mike Vick) from the Chargers in exchange for WR Tim Dwight, the 5th overall pick (HOF RB LaDainian Tomlinson) & 2 additional draft picks (3rd Rd pick & 2002 2nd Rd pick)

  • Vick: 4-time Pro Bowl selection (3 with ATL) & 6,109 rush yards (most by QB in NFL history)
  • Tomlinson: 145 rush TD are 2nd-most in NFL history behind only HOF Emmitt Smith (175)

— GM Charley Casserly made QB David Carr the 1st draft pick in Texans history with the 1st overall pick in the NFL Draft in 2002

  • Sacked an NFL record 76 times in his rookie season
  • Played 5 of his 10 NFL seasons with the Texans

— Notable Birthdays: HOF Ernie Stautner, Steve Spurrier (76), Peter Schrager (39) & LB Luke Kuechly (30)  

— The Chargers selected HOF RB LaDainian Tomlinson 5th overall in the NFL Draft in 2001

  • 2006 AP NFL MVP (Set NFL single-season rushing TD (28) & scrimmage TD (31) records)
  • 2nd-most rush TD (145) & 3rd-most scrimmage TD (162) in NFL history

— The Falcons selected QB Michael Vick 1st overall in the NFL Draft in 2001

  • 4-time Pro Bowl selection (3 with ATL) & 6,109 rush yards (most by QB in NFL history)
  • Set then-single season QB rush yards record with 1,039 in 2006 (Broken by BAL QB Lamar Jackson in 2019)

— The Chargers selected QB Drew Brees 32nd overall (1st pick in 2nd Rd) in the NFL Draft in 2001

  • Earned 1st of 13 Pro Bowl selections in 2004 (Only one with SD)
  • Played his first 5 seasons with the Chargers (2001-2005) before playing his last 15 with the Saints (2006-2020)
  • Finished career with 80,358 pass yards (most in NFL history) & 571 pass TD (2nd-most in NFL history)
  • Super Bowl XLIV Champion (Super Bowl MVP) with Saints to conclude 2009 season

— The Cardinals & Steelers were granted permission to merge for one season under the name Card-Pitt in 1944

  • Went 0-10 under co-coaches HOF Walt Kiesling & Phil Handler

— Notable Birthdays: HOF Steve Owen, HOF Ken Strong, QB Tony Romo (41)

— The Cowboys selected HOF RB Emmitt Smith 17th overall in the 1990 NFL

  • The Cowboys traded up from the 21st pick with the Steelers to select Smith
  • Most rush yards (18,355) & rush TD (164) in NFL history
  • 3-time Super Bowl champion & 1993 AP NFL MVP

— The Buccaneers selected HOF DT Warren Sapp 12th overall in the 1995 NFL Draft

  • The Buccaneers traded down from the 7th overall pick (Mike Mamula) with the Eagles to draft Sapp
  • Buccaneers also acquired two 2nd Rd picks in addition to 12th overall
  • 96.5 career sacks (77.0 w/ TB, most in franchise history)
  • Super Bowl XXXVII Champion with the Buccaneers

— The Chargers selected HOF LB Junior Seau 5th overall in the 1990 NFL Draft

  • Earned 12 consecutive Pro Bowl selections (2nd-most selections by LB in NFL history behind HOF Ray Lewis (13)

— Notable Birthday: QB Jeff Hostetler (60), NE OC Josh McDaniels (45) & RB Marshawn Lynch (35)

 April 23

— The Lions selected HOF RB Barry Sanders 3rd overall in the 1989 NFL Draft

  • 1997 AP Co-MVP along with HOF Brett Favre (Led NFL with 2,053 rush yards)
  • Rushed for 1,000+ yards in all 10 NFL seasons (Led NFL in rush yards 4 times)
  • Made the Pro Bowl in all 10 NFL seasons; 6-time First Team All-Pro
  • 15,269 career rush yards (4th-most in NFL history)

— The Rams traded 3 picks (3rd overall, 4th round pick & 1984 4th round pick) to the Oilers for the 2nd overall & selected HOF RB Eric Dickerson in the 1983 NFL Draft

  • Set single-season rush yards record (2,105) in his second season (1984)
  • 1983 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year (Led NFL with 1,808 rush yards)

— The Packers selected QB Aaron Rodgers 24th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft

  • 3-time NFL MVP (2011, 2014 & 2020; T-2nd-most in NFL history only HOF Peyton Manning has more with 5)
  • Super Bowl XLV champion (Super Bowl MVP) to conclude 2010 season  
  • The Cowboys selected HOF QB Troy Aikman 1st overall in the 1989 NFL Draft
  • 3-time Super Bowl Champion & 6-time Pro Bowl selection in 12 seasons with the Cowboys from 1989-2000

— The Chiefs selected HOF LB Derrick Thomas 4th overall in the 1989 NFL Draft

  • Played 11 seasons with the Chiefs from 1989-1999
  • 1989 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year; 1990 sacks leader (20.0)
  • Chiefs’ all-time leader in sacks

— The Falcons selected HOF CB Deion Sanders in the NFL Draft in 1989

  • 1994 AP Defensive Player of the Year (Led the NFL with 303 INT return yards & 3 INT return TD)
  • 2-time Super Bowl Champion with 49ers & Cowboys  

— The Cowboys selected LB DeMarcus Ware 11th overall in the NFL Draft in 2005

  • Led the NFL in sacks in 2008 (20.0) and 2010 (15.5)
  • 1 of 7 players to lead the NFL in sacks in multiple seasons (Others: M. Gastineau, HOF R. White, HOF K. Greene, HOF M. Strahan, J. Allen & ARI J.J. Watt)
  • 138.5 career sacks are 9th-most in NFL history & his 117.0 with the Cowboys are the most in franchise history
  • Super Bowl 50 Champion with the Broncos to conclude the 2015 season  

— The Falcons acquired HOF Tony Gonzalez for a 2010 2nd Round pick in 2009

  • 4 Pro Bowl selections in 5 seasons with ATL from 2009-2013

— Notable Birthdays: 49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk (30)

— The Giants acquired the right to 1st overall pick QB Eli Manning in exchange for the rights to 4th overall pick QB Philip Rivers & 3 draft picks (3rd round pick, 2005 1st round pick & 2005 5th round pick) in 2004

  • Manning: 2-time Super Bowl MVP, 4-time Pro Bowl selection & Giants’ all-time leader in pass yards (54,938) & pass TD (354)
  • Rivers: 8-time Pro Bowl selection, 5th-most pass yards (63,440) & pass TD (421) in NFL history, 2nd-longest consecutive starts streak among QBs in NFL history (240)   

— The Steelers drafted QB Ben Roethlisberger 11th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft

  • 2-time Super Bowl Champion, 6-time Pro Bowl selection & 2004 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • 60,348 pass yards (7th-most in NFL history & most in PIT history) & 396 pass TD (8th-most in NFL history & most in PIT history)

— The Dallas Cowboys drafted HOF WR Michael Irvin 11th overall in the 1988 NFL Draft

  • 5-time Pro Bowl selection & 1991 First Team All-Pro (Led NFL with 1,523 receiving yards)
  • 3-time Super Bowl Champion in 12 seasons (1988-1999) with the Cowboys

— The Colts selected HOF RB Marshall Faulk 2nd overall & the Patriots selected LB Willie McGinest 4th overall in the 1994 NFL Draft

  • Faulk: Super Bowl XXXIV Champion w/ STL, 7-time Pro Bowl selection, 3-time First Team All-Pro, 2000 AP NFL MVP & 1994 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • McGinest: 2-time Pro Bowl selection, 3-time Super Bowl champion & all-time postseason sacks leader (16.0)

— In advance of the 1978 NFL Draft, the Oilers acquired the 1st overall pick (HOF RB Earl Campbell) from the Buccaneers in exchange for TE Jimmy Giles & 4 draft picks (17th overall, 2nd Rd pick, 1979 3rd Rd pick & 5th Rd pick)

  • Campbell: 1979 AP NFL MVP (Led NFL with 1,697 rush yards & 19 rush TD) & 3-time AP Offensive Player of the Year (1978-1980)

— The Cardinals selected WR Larry Fitzgerald 3rd overall in the 2004 NFL Draft

  • 11-time Pro Bowl selections (2nd-most by WR in NFL history behind HOF Jerry Rice’s 13)
  • 1,432 receptions & 17,492 receiving yards are both 2nd-most in NFL history behind only HOF Jerry Rice

— Notable Birthdays: HOF Mike Michalske & CHI HC Matt Nagy (43)

— The Lions selected QB Matthew Stafford 1st overall in the 2009 NFL Draft

  • 2015 Pro Bowl selection & 2011 AP Comeback Player of the Year
  • Lions’ all-time leader in QB wins (74), completions (3,898), pass attempts (6,224), pass yards (45,109), pass TD (282) & passer rating (89.9)
  • Traded to Rams in exchange for QB Jared Goff & 3 draft picks (2021 3rd Round pick, 2022 & 2023 1st Round picks)

— The Cardinals selected QB Kyler Murray 1st overall in the NFL Draft in 2019

  • 2019 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year (Joined Cam Newton as only rookies in NFL history with 3,500+ pass yards & 500+ rush yards) & 2020 Pro Bowl selection

— Notable Birthdays: S Darren Woodson (52) & RB DeAngelo Williams (38)

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