The One At 1: 1997 -- Orlando Pace

St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Orlando Pace (76) blocks during an NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 27, 1998 in San Francisco. The 49ers won the game, 30-19. (AP Photo/Greg Trott)
Rams tackle Orlando Pace blocks during a 1998 game against the 49ers.

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.

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