The Tennessee Titans made NFL history by becoming the first team to select Heisman Trophy winners in back to back drafts when they took Alabama running back Derrick Henry with the 45th overall pick last night.
Last season they selected quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick, and now have five overall dating back to their days as the Oilers.
On the surface, adding a Heisman winner is not that significant, as more often than not they have gone on to become NFL busts. Names like Johnny Manziel, Troy Smith, and Matt Leinart immediately come to mind…and that’s just to name a few.
What makes Henry’s selection encouraging for Titans fans is the fact that the Oilers/Titans franchise has enjoyed unprecedented success with their Heisman winners.
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In 1978 the Oilers selected 1977 Heisman winning running back Earl Campbell with the first overall pick. Campbell went on to become a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time NFL rushing leader, and three-time first team All Pro, all while earning back to back NFL MVP awards in 1979 and 1980. His Hall of Fame bust is proudly displayed in Canton Ohio today.
In 1984 the Oilers selected 1983 Heisman winning running back Mike Rozier in the Supplemental Draft. He went on to earn back to back Pro Bowl selections in 1987 and 1988.
Twelve years later the Oilers selected their third Heisman winning running back. This time it was Eddie George out of Ohio State (1995). George went on to become one of the most celebrated Titans in the history of the franchise, and is still a beloved resident of the city of Nashville. On the field, George earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1996, All Pro first team honors in 2000, and four Pro Bowl selections. One of the greatest players in the history of the franchise.
Last season the Titans selected their first Heisman winning quarterback with Mariota. The former maestro of the Oregon spread-option attack quickly answered any questions of being able to transition to a pro style offense, with an NFL record-setting career debut against Tampa Bay last season. He went on to break several rookie franchise and league records before injuries cut his season short.
And with Henry now in the fold, Titans fans are hoping that history continues to repeat itself.