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A Decade of Drafting

Peter King's Top 10 of 1997

Posted: Wed April 15, 1998

Sports Illustrated's NFL writer selects the best players to come out of the 1997 draft, based on last season's performance (with original round and selection number).

1. QB Jake Plummer, Arizona (2, 42)

A year ago, the Cards thought they got their quarterback of the future in the middle of the second round. Today, the Cards know they have their quarterback of the future in Jake Plummer.

2. DE Jason Taylor, Miami (3, 73)

In five years, he'll be thought of as the premier pass-rusher of this draft.

3. SS Sam Garnes, Giants (5, 136)

Chased off some mediocre veterans and was the Giants' second-best defensive back in 1997.

4. RB/KR Leon Johnson, Jets (4, 104)

Two returns for touchdowns last year, and heading into a third-down back role this year. Terrific, instinctive player.

5. LB Derek Smith, Washington (3, 80)

Started and flourished as a rookie on a team that desperately needed front-seven help.

6. LB Derrick Rodgers, Miami (3, 92)

Third-rounder got a bunch of rookie-of-the-year votes. 'Nuff said.

7. DT Seth Payne, Jacksonville (4, 114)

Jags might owe him a win—he played great in emergency role in home victory vs. Houston. Gutty player who tries hard.

8. RB Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay (1, 12)

He changed the way teams play the Bucs.

9. RB Antowain Smith, Buffalo (1, 23)

Classic big back will be NFL staple for years. He'll win a rushing title some day.

10. OT Walter Jones, Seattle (1, 6)

Any team any year would use the sixth pick in the draft on a franchise left tackle, and that's what Jones is on his way to becoming.

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