The One At 1: 1989 -- Troy Aikman

Pete Rozelle, NFL commissioner, right, began the 54th annual draft of collegiate talent. His final draft, by announcing the selection of UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman left, as the first pick by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, April 23, 1989 in New York. Aikman already has signed a six-year, $11.2 million contract wih the Cowboys.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Troy Aikman holds up his Cowboys jersey with NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle at the 1989 NFL draft.

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.)

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