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: T Orlando Pace, 1997
TEAM: St. Louis Rams
THE SITUATION: The Rams, with new coach Dick Vermeil, were rebuilding. And they desperately wanted what looked like a sure thing in Ohio State offensive lineman Orlando Pace. So they traded up from No. 6 overall, swapping first-rounders with the New York Jets along with third-, fourth-, and seventh-round selections. Pace was going to St. Louis. The Jets later flipped the No. 6 pick to Seattle – who was supposed to draft eighth – and the Seahawks took tackle Walter Jones.
THE CAREER: Pace was exactly what the Rams had hoped for. He was a great left tackle for 12 years (he played a 13th with the Bears), protecting Kurt Warner’s blindside when the Rams won a Super Bowl and played in another. He also was put into the Hall of Fame – an honor, as it turned out, Jones as the No. 6 pick also earned.
THE OTHER OPTIONS IN TOP FIVE: You can’t do much better than a long-term Hall of Fame anchor at left tackle. Linebacker Peter Boulware (70 sacks) had a solid career with the Ravens as the No. 4 pick, winning a Super Bowl in Baltimore, but the Rams were not going to have any regrets about Pace.