NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Titans/Oilers franchise has never selected a player from the 17th overall spot in the NFL Draft, but the franchise has held that position three times.
The franchise dealt the pick in a trade all three times and twice yielded two of the best players in franchise history.
The first time the Houston Oilers were supposed to pick 17th was 1978, but the organization wanted to land Texas star and Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell.
The Oilers dealt their first-round pick, as well as a second round (44th overall) that year, a third and fifth-round pick in 1979 and TE Jimmie Giles to Tampa Bay for the first overall pick in 1978. Tampa drafted QB Doug Williams at 17 and G Brett Moritz at 44 in '78, and DE Reggie P. Lewis at 78 and QB Chuck Fusina at 133 in '79.
The decision yielded immediate results for the Oilers. Campbell's bruising style punished opposing tacklers. He earned NFL Rookie of the Year and NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors after his first season and led the league in rushing in and Houston to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons that included consecutive AFC Championship games.
Campbell ranks second in franchise history in career attempts (1,979) and yards (8,574) and first with 73 rushing touchdowns and 39 career games with more than 100 yards rushing. He was selected as NFL MVP by the Associated Press in 1979 and as NFL MVP by the Pro Football Writers Association in 1978 and 1979. He went to five Pro Bowls and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
The Oilers briefly held the 17 spot in the 1996 NFL Draft after trading with Oakland to move down from the ninth spot, but traded with Seattle to move up to the 14th position where they selected Eddie George.
Like Campbell, George delivered a crushing style but never missed a start in eight seasons (128 games). George became the franchise leader in career rushing yards (10,009), yards from scrimmage (12,153), combined yards (12,153), total touchdowns (74), attempts (2,733) and seasons with more than 1,000 yards rushing (seven).
The other time the Oilers were slated for 17 was in 1991 when they traded it to New England for the 28th (DB Mike Dumas) and 101st (DT David Rocker) picks that year. The Patriots, however, also engaged in a trade with the Cowboys, who eventually sent the 17th pick to Washington via another trade. The Redskins drafted DT Bobby Wilson at the spot.
The number 17 is also significant in that it was the number of rounds in the NFL Draft from 1967, when the first common draft between the NFL and American Football League occurred, and 1976. The format was reduced to 12 rounds in 1977, to eight in 1993 and to the current number of seven in 1994.
The Titans hold the 10th overall pick in this year's draft. Click here to visit Titans Draft Central.
Here are the selections made by the Oilers in the 17th rounds from 1967-76:
North Carolina College
N.W. Missouri State