When Andy Reid and John Dorsey selected Eric Fisher with the first overall pick in the draft in April, it was largely considered a safe pick by most analysts. To find out how safe of a pick the Chiefs made and try to gauge a level of expectation for Fisher, I took a look at all of the tackles selected with the top three picks in the draft since 1980.
From 1980 to 2012 only 11 tackles were selected with the one of the top three picks in the draft. Here are the players who were picked and how their careers went.
Orlando Pace (1997): A seven-time Pro Bowl player and three-time first team All-Pro, Pace was one of the best left tackles in football from the late 90’s to the early 2000’s. He was key in protecting Kurt Warner and their high powered offense during the St. Louis Rams two Super Bowl runs, and was a big part in making Marshall Faulk one of the best running backs to ever play the game. Pace retired after the 2009 season and is sure to make the Hall of Fame someday.
Jake Long (2008): Injuries have slowed Long’s career, but when he was healthy Long was considered to be one of the best offensive tackles in football. In his first four seasons with Miami, Long went to four-straight Pro Bowls and made first team All-Pro in 2010. But injures put his future in doubt, so the Dolphins let him walk after the 2012 seasons. What he becomes with St. Louis in 2013 is unknown but when healthy Long is one of the better left tackles in all of football.
There have been mixed results for tackles selected number two overall in the draft.
Busts include Green Bay Packer Tony Mandarich, Oakland Raider Robert Gallery, Houston Oiler Dean Steinkuhler, and St. Louis Ram Jason Smith. While these picks did start quite a few games, none of them were impact players and were either moved to the right side or replaced shortly after being drafted.
The two biggest success were Tony Boselli and Leonard Davis. Davis was never the stalwart left tackle Arizona envisioned when they drafted him in 2001, but he became one of the best interior offensive linemen in the game when he signed a four year deal with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007. He made three straight Pro Bowls while in Dallas and was named second team All-Pro by the Associated Press in 2007.
Boselli was a three-time first team All-Pro left tackle from 1997 to 1999 and a five-time Pro Bowl selection before back injuries derailed his career in 2001. Had he stayed healthy he may have been considered for a spot in Canton, Ohio.
There have only been three left tackles take with the third overall pick since 1980 and all three may be the best of any of the tackles listed above.
Joe Thomas (2007): Thomas has been in the league for six seasons and has made the Pro Bowl in each one of them. A future Hall of Famer (at this rate, anyway), Thomas has been selected to five All-Pro teams and had a string of three-straight first team All-Pro selections snapped in 2012. It is unlikely Fisher will be this dominant of a player, but he is the modern standard barer for an elite left tackle.
Chris Samuels (2000): Samuels is a six-time Pro Bowl player who has spent his entire career with Washington. While he is not Joe Thomas, Samuels is probably a more reasonable target for Fisher, who is not quite as developed as Thomas was coming out of college. It should be noted that Brandon Albert has never made a Pro Bowl, so to ask for six Pro Bowls from Fisher will not be an easy benchmark to achieve. Still, Chiefs fans should aim reasonably high in their expectations of the number one overall pick.
Anthony Munoz (1980): Anthony Munoz played 13 seasons in the NFL, making 11-straight Pro Bowls and nine All-Pro teams before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. He played his entire career in Cincinnati and appeared in two Super Bowls, losing both.
Given where Fisher was drafted, Chiefs fans should expect Fisher to be a perennial Pro Bowl selection who occasionally makes an All-Pro team. It is not fair to ask him to be a Hall of Famer, but most of the selections have ended up being one of the top players at their position during their era. If Fisher can stay healthy, the expectation should be for him to lock down his side of the offensive line for the next decade and eventually find himself on the Chiefs’ Ring of Honor when his playing days are over.