As a draft pick, Jason Hanson was good for three.
It is not fair to hold players responsible for their value as draft picks. Warren Moon proved to be an excellent NFL quarterback, but he went undrafted, played in the Canadian Football League, and then finally got a shot with the Oilers. Racism might explain why the NFL overlooked him, but it wasn’t Moon’s fault they didn’t give him a shot. The Dallas Cowboys drafted fullback Todd Christenson, but it was the Raiders who turned him into a tight end. He then led the NFL in receptions twice.
Brett Favre’s value as a draft pick plummeted when the Falcons gave up on him after one season and two games. If he played his entire career in Atlanta and appeared in as many games, he would have finished as one of the greatest picks ever. Instead, Favre became just another good draft pick.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, linebacker Monte Coleman rarely started over his long career, but played well on special teams and won three Super Bowls with the Redskins. Literally, dozens of better linebackers entered the NFL during Coleman’s career, but few had the good fortune to possess the right mix of luck and durability to end up providing depth on a series of great teams. Coleman made the Redskins better and deeper, but he wasn’t as good as Lance Briggs, for example, a better linebacker for the Bears who nonetheless was not as good a draft pick as Coleman. If Lance Briggs had been drafted by the Giants he might have won two Super Bowl rings, and if Coleman played for anybody but Joe Gibbs, Coleman probably wouldn’t have lasted so long.
This takes me to kicker Jason Hanson. Hanson played in a remarkable three hundred twenty-seven games, all with Detroit. If the Cowboys drafted Hanson in 1992 he would have won three Super Bowls and, assuming the same long career in a Dallas uniform, would be the greatest draft pick ever. Hanson’s lot was to play for Detroit, a franchise that never really put the pieces together, so his great kicking talent was somewhat wasted. He put in the work and the training to do his job well, but the rest of the organization failed to match his excellence. We’ll never know if Joe Montana would have been the same great quarterback without Bill Walsh, or if Walter Payton would have gained 20,000 yards playing for Don Coryell and with Dan Fouts instead of Neil Armstrong (the football coach, not the astronaut), and nominal quarterback Bob Avelini. It is both hard to imagine and easy to imagine Payton would have been even better had he spent the early part of his career on a better team.
I don’t think Hanson could have been much better as a kicker, but if the Lions had reached the Super Bowl a time or two during Hanson’s career, he might have been the greatest draft choice ever. As it stands, he was the third best ever, and a damn great pick.
|Rank||N/Y||Team||Last Name||First Name||P||College||PTS||AY||DY||AG||DG||SB1||SB2||SB3||SB4||HOF||ADCS|
|4||1685||San Francisco||Rice||Jerry||WR||Mississippi Valley State||1||20||16||303||238||20||20||20||1||50||689|
|6||8682||New Orleans||Andersen||Morton||KK||Michigan State||5||25||13||382||196||1||0||0||0||50||672|
|8||8676||Los Angeles||Slater||Jackie||OG||Jackson State||5||20||20||259||259||1||0||0||0||50||614|
|11||688||Los Angeles||Brown||Tim||WR||Notre Dame||1||17||16||255||240||1||0||0||0||50||580|
|16||1767||Oakland||Upshaw||Gene||OT||Texas A & I||1||15||15||217||217||1||15||15||0||50||546|
|19||4093||New York||Strahan||Michael||DE||Texas Southern||2||15||15||216||216||1||15||15||0||50||545|
|22||2895||Tampa Bay||Brooks||Derrick||LB||Florida State||2||14||14||224||224||14||0||0||0||50||542|
|38||7668||Houston||Bethea||Elvin||OT||North Carolina A&T||4||16||16||210||210||0||0||0||0||50||506|
|39||8379||San Francisco||Montana||Joe||QB||Notre Dame||5||15||13||192||167||15||15||15||15||50||502|
|51||30267||New York J||Rasmussen||Randy||OG||Nebraska-Kearney||16||15||15||207||207||15||0||0||0||0||475|
Rank: Where the player ranks among all draft picks taken in the Super Bowl era.
N/Y: The draft pick number and year. Jason Hanson was the 56th pick taken in 1992 (5692).
PTS: All picks chosen between 1 and 20 gain the team one point if the player makes the team. Every twenty picks add one more point. Detroit earned 3 points because they took Hanson 56th.
DY: All years played for the team that drafted the player.
AG: All games played in the NFL.
DG: All games played for the team that drafted the player.
SB1: Every time a player wins a Super Bowl ring, the team gets one point for every year of that player’s NFL service. The Lions scored 0 points because Hanson 0 played in 0 Super Bowls and lost 1. Since Tom Brady played in nine Super Bowls, his chart goes from SB1 to SB9.
HOF: The team earns 50 points if their pick makes the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
ADCS: The total points a team earned for choosing a given player. If the draft pick never plays in the NFL, the team scores a zero. 2 other players earned as high or higher scores than Jerry Rice.
*The actual draft score belongs to the team that drafted the player. Even though Eli Manning won two Super Bowls with the Giants, he was actually drafted by the Chargers, so the Chargers get the credit for drafting him. If Manning achieved his career in a Chargers’ uniform, San Diego/Los Angeles would have gotten a higher score for drafting him.
The Answer to today’s trivia question. Which 2 kickers won a Super Bowl and led the NFL in field goals made in the same season?