The Cardinals hold the No. 1 overall pick for April’s NFL draft for the first time since 1958. As the day for the Cards to make their selection draws closer, azcardinals.com will take a look at the last 30 No. 1 overall selections and each player’s impact on the team and league.
NAME/YEAR: QB Troy Aikman, 1989
TEAM: Dallas Cowboys
THE SITUATION: The Cowboys, newly bought by Jerry Jones and coached by plucked-from-college Jimmy Johnson, needed to rebuild a franchise that had fallen far from its heyday in the 1970s. They went with Aikman, the UCLA product who could be the foundation of a new offense. But in a move that would be stunning these days, the Cowboys then used a first-round pick in the supplemental draft to take Miami quarterback (and former Johnson player) Steve Walsh. Picking Walsh meant the Cowboys had to forfeit their first-round pick in 1990 – a rough decision when the Cowboys ended up with the worst record in the NFL again, meaning they didn’t have the first pick overall.
THE CAREER: Aikman made sure his selection, after beating out Walsh, was a good one. He became one of the “Triplets” -- the three-headed offensive beast of Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin – that led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins. Aikman had a Hall of Fame career, his numbers not as gaudy as many passers today because of the way the Cowboys played but still a great quarterback and leader. (And Walsh was later traded to the Saints for a first-, second-, and third-round pick.)
THE OTHER OPTIONS IN TOP FIVE: Well, the Cowboys were right in taking Aikman – obviously – but considering Hall of Famers Barry Sanders (No. 3 to the Lions), Derrick Thomas (4 to the Chiefs) and Deion Sanders (5 to the Falcons) were all available, the Cowboys likely would’ve gotten a pretty good player. (The Packers, who took tackle Tony Mandarich second overall, just did a facepalm.)