Posted: 12:20 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013
By Omega Wolf
On Tuesday we looked at the top Pack and La. Tech alums by offensive position based on their NFL accomplishments. Today's installment focuses on the defense and paints a similar picture. Like with Terry Bradshaw and Willie Roaf on offense, the Bulldogs boast a hall of famer, but the Pack have an advantage in overall depth and may yet have a couple enshrined in Canton when their careers are through.
*Sanders was actually a linebacker, but there just weren't enough Bulldog linemen to fill all the spots.
Dean is La. Tech's hall of famer from the defensive side of the ball. An every-down lineman for six years and a pass rush specialist for five years after that, Dean is unofficially credited with 93 career sacks (the stat did not become official until 1982). In 1983 for the 49ers, Dean recorded 17.5 sacks despite only starting two of the 16 games he played. Dean won a pair of rings with the Niners and accomplished the rare feat of multiple fat guy touchdowns in the same season, returning both a fumble and an interception for six in 1977 with San Diego, the team that drafted him in the second round of the 1975 NFL draft. The Chargers were 3-0 and averaging 22.7 points allowed per game when they traded Dean to the 49ers; the Chargers went 8-7 after the deal and gave up an average of nearly three more points per contest, including getting 42 dropped on them in their very first game without the future hall of famer.
Had Mario Williams been a second round pick from a small school in Ruston, LA, his career thus far in the NFL would be considered in a much different light. A surprise pick ahead of Reggie Bush, everyone's favorite to be the #1 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft, Williams is seen as a bust in the eyes of many NFL fans and pundits. The fact is that Williams has been a much better pro than Bush, who has stayed healthy for all 16 games of the regular season just twice in seven years while managing a grand total of one 1,000-yard season (such a luminary as Willie Parker, an undrafted free agent, had three in the same span).
Super Mario may not have fully fulfilled his enormous potential, but he has started all 16 games in five of his seven NFL seasons, and, if not dominant, he has at least been productive. His 63.5 career sacks are 15th most among active players, and he has made it to the pro bowl twice (compared to a goose egg for Bush). If Williams continues to average nine sacks a year over the remainder of his (100 million dollar) contract with the Bills, he will eclipse 100 sacks for his career, putting him in the top 30 all-time and in the conversation for a bust in Canton.
Agnew joins Williams as a former first-round pick on this list- -including Johnson and Washington there are four first rounders- -and is a big reason why the Pack alums have an advantage on the defensive line. Agnew enjoyed an 11-year career and started at least one game in 10 of those seasons. He recorded 22.5 career sacks. Walker averaged 5.3 sacks per season in his five years as a starter in the league, a very productive number for an interior lineman. Jones was at times a starter for three different teams over a nine-year career and totaled 27.5 career sacks. After Dean, the Bulldogs have bubkis. I had to fill a spot with a linebacker just to complete the 4-3.
The Pack's second wave is also much stronger than La. Tech's linebacking unit. Johnson was a seven-year starter, four-time pro bowler, and recorded 669 tackles in his career. He also notched 12 sacks and four interceptions. Tulloch, currently a starter for the Lions, has a seven-year career going, including five as a starter. Tulloch has 491 tackles so far, including a 100+ tackle season in 2010. He has recorded eight sacks, four interceptions, and 10 fumble recoveries, one which he returned for a score. And he mocks Tebow.
Both teams boast solid alums at the corners. Washington enjoyed 11 years as a starter in the NFL, during which he picked off 31 passes and scored five defensive touchdowns, a feat that is tied for 25th-best all-time. Perry Williams had seven years with at least 10 starts for the Giants and totaled 18 career picks. Evans was an eight-year starter with 28 career interceptions, and Tramon Williams, who has this nifty website, may end up being the best of the bunch. He already has 22 career picks after six years in the league; he's been a starter for the past five seasons for the Packers.
A strong safety, Wilson is the best of the bunch among active players for either the Pack or the Bulldogs and is likely to stake his claim as the best defensive player ever produced by either school by the time his career is finished. The fearsomely gruesome hit deliverer has returned both a fumble and an interception 99 yards for a score in his career, and he has been a pro bowler five times. Only 13 active players have more than Wilson's 27 career interceptions, and Wilson has also racked up 721 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, and exactly 100 passes defended in what is likely a hall of fame career.
Campbell was a two-time all-American at N.C. State but never quite lived up to expectations in the NFL; still, he enjoyed a seven-year career, including four as a starter, and registered 304 total tackles. The Bulldogs have never produced a starter at the safety position, though Anderson won a couple of rings as a kick returner and reserve safety for the Steelers in the late 70s.
I didn't list specialists in the chart above, but Anderson probably deserves the nod as the return man after amassing nearly 5,000 return yards in his career, including one kick off brought back for six. Alvis Whitted had a return touchdown for Jacksonville but never caught on as more than a fifth wide receiver and second string return guy despite his world-class jets.
As far as place kickers, Mike Cofer somehow managed to last eight years in the league despite sucking at kicking. He made under two-thirds of his career field goal attempts and doinked nine extra points in his career. Steven Hauschka only has two years as a first-team field goaler, but he has been quite good, making better than 80% of his tries. But the best kicker from either school is easily Matt Stover, who enjoyed a 19-year career. Dude's 2,004 career points are the fifth most of anyone to ever don a helmet. Bulldog David Lee led the league in average yards per punt twice in a 13-year Colts' career, making him an easy winner over color man P/QB Johnny Evans.
Of course none of this has any bearing on who will win August 31st, but it is interesting to note that the Bulldogs have managed more NFL hall of famers (three) than bowl victories (two) in their history. Last year La. Tech appeared in the top 25 for just the second time in program history, but with the departure of about 423 seniors and head coach Sonny Dykes, a return to obscurity seems inevitable. Let's hope that fall from semi-glory starts with a resounding loss to the Fight Dave Doerens IN JUST NINE DAYS!!!