A perfect compliment to yesterday's blog, the draft picks that treated us ATL sports fans the best.
10. 2008, Falcons, #3, Matt Ryan - Will most likely be higher on this list in a few years, but right now he is still deserving of a spot in the top 10. Dare I say in 5 years this pick is #1? All it would take is a Super Bowl MVP...
9. 2004, Hawks, #17, Josh Smith - This pick makes the top 10 mostly because he was a high-risk local product that was very raw. Knight took a chance on him and he has blossomed into a consistent rebounder, solid scorer, and world-class shot blocker. Ended up being the 4th or 5th best player in the entire draft (Howard, D. Harris, Jefferson, Biedrens, Iggy).
8. 2002, Braves, #64, Brian McCann - The less heralded of the metro Atlanta HS studs that came out in 02 (Francoeur, Hermida), McCann already sets the standard offensively for catchers in all of baseball. A .297 career hitter, McCann came on the scene early, hitting a post-season home run off of Roger Clemens at only 21 years old.
7. 1974, Braves, #5, Dale Murphy - Murph had a great career for the Braves, twice winning the MVP and becoming the face of Atlanta sports in the 80's. His career came up just short of Hall of Fame calibur but the pick here is a top 10'er nonetheless.
6. 1975, Falcons, #1, Steve Bartkowski - Bartkowski had a solid career, leading the Falcons to the playoffs in 1982 with a 12-4 record. He led the league in passing TD's in 1980 and in passer rating in 1983. Bartkowski was also a 2-time Pro Bowler and the heart of the success of the early 80's Falcon teams.
5. 1984, Hawks, #11, Kevin Willis - The only other Hawk on the list (Nique was drafted by Utah and Lou Hudson by the STL Hawks), Willis was a intregal part of the late 80's run the Hawks made. Five times in his 9+ seasons in ATL Willis averaged a double-double including an 18.3-15.5 season in 91-92. His value also led to acquiring Steve Smith, who was the go-to guy on the mid-90's teams that were as good as anyone that didn't have Michael Jordan on the roster.
4. 1985, Braves, #94, David Justice - A steal in the 4th round, Justice makes the top 5 because his homer in '95 led to the only World Championship in Atlanta sports history. Won rookie of the year in 1990 and was in the middle of the order for the best run in Atlanta sports history (91-96).
3. 1989, Falcons, #5, Deion Sanders - Deion was the only reason the Falcons were significant at all in the early 90's and his attitude and star-power gave the Birds some much-needed national recognition. The whole city jumped on board with the MC Hammer, high-stepping, prime-time Falcons with Deion. Deion was also by far the best player on the 1991 team that beat hated rival New Orleans in the playoffs. The six wins ATL got the next year were almost all due to Deion's brilliance. While Chris Miller was hurt and the running game was non-existant, Deion topped 1000 return years and made his 2nd of 8 Pro Bowls.
2. 1984, Braves, #47, Tom Glavine - A future 300 game winner without overpowering stuff or great size is drafted out of a small high school in Massachusetts. Give the Braves scouts some credit with this pick. While most teams search for 6'5 guys with "pop" in their fastball, Atlanta took a shot on Glavine with their 2nd round pick in '84. The 2-time Cy Young award winner and World Series MVP is a Hall of Famer without a doubt. Interestingly enough, his future teammate, 300 gamer winner, and Cy Young award winner Greg Maddux is also taken in the 2nd round of the '84 draft.
1. 1990, Braves, #1, Chipper Jones - The Baseball draft is one of the biggest crap-shoots in drafts when it comes to HS players, and picking a future Hall of Famer with the #1 overall pick is as big a home run as you can hit. Chipper, along with Griffey Jr and A-Rod, are the only #1 overall picks to have HOF careers. He has been the cornerstone of the franchise since he made it to the bigs in '95 and will go down as one of the best 3rd basemen of all-time. Chip is a 6-time all-star, league MVP, and most recently, league batting champion.