1. Ed Too Tall Jones – Tennessee State, Dallas Cowboys Defensive End: Jones was a giant at 6-9, 275 and he was an immediate impact with the Cowboys. He was a 3 time Pro Bowler and played on one Super Bowl champion team. Jones took time off in the middle of his career to become a pro boxer and he was 6-0. But, it was obvious that he was not going to make it as a pro boxer and he came back to the NFL and the Cowboys. In spite of leaving football to box, Jones was a model of consistency and retired after the 1989 season and never missed a game.
2. Bo Matthews – Colorado, San Diego Chargers Running Back: Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Matthews played collegiately for the Buffaloes of Colorado. He was a Running Back, but measured 6-4, 230. He played on one of the better Colorado football teams in 1971 1971 Big 8 Conference
Matthews was never a huge star in the NFL and he wound up with 1,566 career rushing yards and he caught 75 passes.
3. John Hicks – Ohio State, New York Giants Offensive Line: Hicks was a two time 1st team All American and blocked for Archie Griffin. He was a consensus All American in 1973 and amazingly finished 2nd in the Heisman Trophy voting. 1973 Heisman voting
Hicks played on some really solid Buckeyes teams that finished 28-3-1 during his playing days in Hicks
Columbus. During his senior season, Hicks won both the Outland and Lombardi Trophies. Hicks was an incredible Offensive Lineman and was the Rookie of the year in 1975. Even with his talent, Hicks only played 4 seasons in the NFL. Tragically, Hicks died in October of 2016 from Diabetes.
4. Waymond Bryant – Tennessee State, Chicago Bears Linebacker: Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Bryant attended Roosevelt High School in Dallas. He signed with Tennessee State, an historically black college where he played Linebacker. Bryant was only with the Bears for 4 seasons. Bryant is a forgotten man in Chicago and some internet site placed him on the all time Chicago Bears flop team.
5. John Dutton – Nebraska, Baltimore Colts Defensive End: What a great high school athlete Dutton was. Growing up in South Dakota he was All State in football and basketball twice each. He was also one of the state’s best in the Discus. He led his team to the state basketball championship and he supposedly had more offers in basketball than football. I love former basketball players as football players, that just shows they are more athletic and not a stiff. Dutton was no stiff. Dutton was a sophomore in 1971 on that great Husker team and he played in the thrilling victory over Oklahoma of that season. In 1972, Dutton was named the starter at Defensive End, and the 6-7, 265 Dutton was one of the team’s top tacklers and the same for 1973. Dutton played in Baltimore for 5 seasons and was dominating. He had 17 Quarterback sacks in 1975. Dutton was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 1979 because of a contract dispute and he played in Dallas for 9 more seasons.
6. Carl Barzilauskas – Indiana, New York Jets Defensive Tackle: The Waterbury, Connecticut native was huge for his day at 6-6, 280 and he supposedly led the Hoosiers in tackles as a junior. He played his entire senior year with a broken foot, but that didn’t stop the Jets from taking him with their first pick. He played 4 years with the Jets and another 2 years with the Green Bay Packers. A serious neck injury forced him to retire, after 6 NFL years. Odd for an Indiana Hoosier football player to be first round material.
7. J.V. Cain – Colorado, St Louis Cardinals Tight End: Cain’s number 88 is retired by the Cardinals because he died from heart failure at training camp. He even passed away on his own birthday as he had just turned 28 years old. Cain grew up in Houston, Texas and played at Houston Washington before signing with the Colorado Buffaloes. His first season playing at Colorado was in 1971, but he only caught 8 passes sharing time with senior Tight End Bob Masten. If you recall, the Buffaloes were a force in 1971 and they finished ranked 3rd in the country behind fellow Big 8 members Nebraska and Oklahoma. Cain took over as the starter at Tight End in 1972 and caught 30 passes. His production dropped to 23 receptions, but the talent was there. After a couple of seasons with the Cardinals, he became a starter there as well. The 6-4, 230 Cain had a bright future.
8. Ed O’Neil – Penn State, Detroit Lions Linebacker: Not to be confused with the Ed O’Neil that played Al Bundy on Married with Children. That Ed O’Neil did play football, too. This O’Neil was a high school All American in Warren, Pennsylvania. Naturally, living in Pennsylvania and playing Linebacker he might be interested in playing for Penn State with it’s Linebacker reputation. He signed with them and was another in a long line of greats at Linebacker. He was a team captain and an All American on Penn State’s undefeated team in 1973. O’Neil played 7 years in the NFL and 6 of them
with the Lions that drafted him in the 1st round and another season with the Green Bay Packers. After his playing time was over with, he got into coaching starting at Indiana and coaching all over college, NFL Europe, the CFL and even high school. His own boys played Linebacker and one played for the Dallas Cowboys. Even his son in law played in the NFL.
9. Wilbur Jackson – Alabama, San Francisco 49ers Running Back: Much is made of the big game between USC and Alabama in 1970 and it’s role in integration, but Wilbur Jackson was already a player on the team and ineligible because he was a freshman. Jackson was 6-1, 215 and played high school ball in Ozark, Alabama. Yes, I had never heard of it, either. As a halfback in Alabama’s Wishbone offense, Jackson averaged an impressive 7.2 yards per carry for his career. Jackson played 6 seasons in San Francisco and 3 more seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
10. Bill Sandifer – UCLA, San Francisco 49ers Defensive Tackle: Sandifer was a huge Defensive Lineman for those times at 6-6, 280. From nearby Oceanside, California, the giant Sandifer signed with the Bruins where he played on some really good teams featuring Quarterbacks John Sciarra and Mark Harmon. Harmon, of course, is a famous actor and son of a Heisman Trophy winner, Tom Harmon. Sandifer really didn’t last long in the NFL playing for the 49ers for 3 seasons before being traded to the brand new franchise the Seattle Seahawks where he played another 2 seasons. He was traded for Linebacker Ed Bradley.
11. John Cappelletti – Penn State, Los Angeles Rams Running Back: Cappelletti was the 1973 Heisman Trophy winner and he may have been more famous for his sick little brother, Joey. Cappelletti made a very heart warming and touching speech about his little brother when he won the trophy. A book was written and a movie made called Something for Joey. While a sophomore at Penn State, Cappelletti moved to Defensive Back while Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell played Running Back for the Nittany Lions. In 1973, Cappelletti ran for over 1,500 yards while helping Penn State post an unbeaten 12-0 record in the same year that Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Michigan all went unbeaten and they only finished ranked 6th. After being drafted, Cappalletti played for the Los Angeles Rams for 5 seasons and then 4 more with the San Diego Chargers with mixed results.
12. Barty Smith – Richmond, Green Bay Packers Running Back: Although listed as a Running Back on the draft boards, Barty Smith was really a Fullback, all 6-3, 240 of him. Fullbacks were much more valuable back in these days and Smith ran for nearly 2,000 in his college days and he was a great all around player for Richmond from 1971 through the 1973 seasons. For the Packers, he played 7 seasons and ran for almost 2,000 yards again and scored 18 career Touchdowns. Packer fans may not remember Barty Smith, but in Virginia they surely do. He is in the Virginia High School football Hall of Fame and also the Richmond Hall of Fame.
13. Rick Middleton – Ohio State, New Orleans Saints Linebacker: The Delaware, Ohio native started his career at Ohio State off at Wide Receiver. But, he grew and moved to Linebacker by Woody Hayes. He was about 6-2, 230 when the New Orleans Saints drafted him with their 1st pick. He didn’t work out so well and played 2 seasons with New Orleans and 3 more with the San Diego Chargers. He taught in high school after football.
14. Randy Gradishar – Ohio State, Denver Broncos Linebacker: Gradishar was the leader of the Buckeye defense and he was a two time consensus All American. He was one of the all time great
Ohio State linebackers and the Buckeyes might have been the best team in the country in 1973. In the NFL, Gradishar may have even been better if that was possible. He was one of the leaders of the famous Orange Crush defense for the Denver Broncos. Gradishar went to 7 Pro Bowls and was All Pro multiple times. He was considered the heart and soul of the Orange Crush defense. He played 10 seasons before retiring after the 1983 season. He’s not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, although, he should be. But, he is in the College Football Hall of Fame.
15. Don Goode – Kansas, San Diego Chargers Linebacker: A native of Houston, Texas, Goode attended Booker T Washington High School in that city. He was recruited to play for the Kansas Jayhawks and there was still a lot of bad blood between inner city kids and the old Southwest Conference, so Kansas and the Big 8 is where he landed. After a good college career, Goode played for the Chargers for 6 seasons before finishing his playing career with the old Cleveland Browns.
16. Woody Green – Arizona State, Kansas City Chiefs Running Back: Green was a 1st team All American and ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons at Arizona State under legendary coach Frank Kush. He was one of the first running backs in college football to run for over 1,000 yards in three straight seasons after Chris Gilbert of Texas did it in 1966-1968. Green was a great player, but he ran into trouble in Kansas City with his knees. He only lasted 3 seasons in the NFL because of those injuries
17. Fred McNeill – UCLA, Minnesota Vikings Linebacker: The first person to be diagnosed with CTE while still alive. McNeill was a star linebacker for the Bruins in the early 1970’s on some really good teams. After being drafted by the Vikings, he became a regular on one of the NFL’s best defenses, the Purple People Eaters. He played 12 seasons in the NFL before retiring and becoming an attorney. McNeill tragically passed away in 2015 at the age of 63 and the CTE was confirmed.
18. Reuben Gant – Oklahoma State, Buffalo Bills Tight End: From Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 6-4, 230 Gant played tight end for the nearby Oklahoma State Cowboys. Remember, Gant played a long time ago and teams didn’t throw the ball frequently as they do now. Reuben Gant was a good blocker and receiver when he had the opportunity. His best year as a receiver in college was his senior year when he caught 19 passes for 447 yards and 5 touchdowns. He played 7 years for the Buffalo Bills and his best season was in 1977 when he caught 41 passes for 646 yards and 2 touchdowns.
19. Henry Lawrence – Florida A%M, Oakland Raiders Defensive Tackle: The Oakland Raiders struck it rich when they selected Lawrence. He was a 13 year starter for them at offensive tackle and played in 3 Super Bowls. He also played in 2 pro bowls. Any time you spend a 1st round draft choice on a player and he starts for 13 years and performs well, you’ve done well.
20. Dave Gallagher – Michigan, Chicago Bears Defensive End: Considered one of the greatest football players in the history of the Michigan Wolverines. He was a sophomore all American in 1971 and then a consensus All American in 1973 as a senior. However, in the NFL he was not quite as successful. He was with the Bears in 1974 and then with the New York Giants for a couple of seasons and then the Detroit Lions for a couple of more seasons and then he was out of football.
21. Lynn Swann – USC, Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver: One of the very best players of all time, and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a very athletic receiver and made more than his share
of circus catches and many of them on the biggest stage possible in football, the Super Bowl. Swann helped the Steelers win 4 Super Bowls and they were easily the best team of this era. His numbers are not astounding at Pittsburgh or at USC because of the offenses of the day and his teams were known for running the ball. Swann was maybe the most graceful and smooth wide receiver that the game has ever seen.
22. Charley Young – North Carolina State, Dallas Cowboys Running Back: Young was one of two black recruits that were the first ever for North Carolina State. He was a bit ahead of his time at 6-1, 230 and played in a split back, veer offense for the Wolfpack and coach Lou Holtz. Supposedly, the Dallas Cowboys had Swann pegged as their second 1st round pick of this draft but the Steelers took him first. But, Young was available. He ran for over 1,600 yards at North Carolina State in 3 seasons. With Dallas, he mostly played fullback. He lasted 4 seasons before he tore up his knee.
23. Bill Kollar – Montana State, Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Tackle: Kollar was originally from Warren, Ohio when he was recruited by Montana State. In the Big Sky country, he was a 3 time All Conference player and a 2 time little All American. In the NFL, Kollar played 3 seasons for Cincinnati and another 5 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kollar is a huge success because he got into coaching after that starting with the Bucs and he’s currently the Denver Broncos defensive line coach.
24. Roger Carr – Louisiana Tech, Baltimore Colts Wide Receiver: Became Bert Jones go to guy at Baltimore and was an All Pro. He grew up in the Ruston, Louisiana area and went to the same school as the Duck Dynasty grandfather and Terry Bradshaw. Carr led the NFL in receiving yardage and yards per catch in 1976 and was kind of an unknown star. He got into coaching after he retired, but mostly at the high school level.
25. Steve Riley – USC, Minnesota Vikings Offensive Tackle: Another in a long line of outstanding offensive linemen coming out of the offensive linemen factory, USC. It’s no wonder they’ve had so many great tailbacks and Heisman winners. Riley grew up Chula Vista, California and was a standout in basketball and football at Castle Park High School. He signed with the USC Trojans in the 1970 recruiting class and started on the 1972 Trojan team that some think was the greatest of all time. He was an All American in 1973 and the Vikings loved USC offensive tackles because of Ron Yary their starting left tackle. Riley became their right tackle and played for the Vikings for 11 seasons.
26. Donald Reese – Jackson State Miami Dolphins Defensive End: The south was still a wee bit racist in the 1970 recruiting period so Prichard, Alabama native Reese signed with historically black school Jackson State where he was a standout. Reese was about 6-6, 260 and talented. He played for the Dolphins for 3 seasons and with the New Orleans Saints for 3 seasons and a year in San Diego with the Chargers. The problem with Reese was illegal drugs. He was really into cocaine. Reese, sadly, passed away in 2003 at the young age of 52 from liver cancer.
Dave Casper – Notre Dame Oakland Raiders Tight End: One of all time great tight ends.
Jack Lambert – Kent State Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker: Fierce middle linebacker in the 1970s. Just a beast of a man on the football field and maybe off.
John Stallworth – Alabama A#M Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver: Teamed with Swann to form unstoppable wide receiver duo.
Mike Webster – Wisconsin, Pittsburgh Steelers Center: One of the strongest and best Offensive Linemen to ever play and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The person in charge of the Draft for the Steelers should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. There are 5 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in this draft and 4 of them were drafted and played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.