We continue our “Falcons 50” countdown with a look at the Atlanta Falcons’ top 10 first-round draft picks. Falcons football is just 39 days away. You can follow along with the full countdown here.
When the discussion of Atlanta Falcons legends is parleyed, the common names that are mentioned are Sanders, Humphrey, and many times , Vick. Yet, there is one name that is often and commonly forgotten about. That one individual is about as historic to the Atlanta Falcons name as the team itself. Literally.
The “Falcons 50” series continues to chug along with the #9 selection on the top 10 Atlanta Falcons first round draft picks of all-time:
9. MLB Tommy Nobis – 1st Round, 1st overall, 1966 NFL Draft
Nobis has an historic closeness with the Atlanta Falcons.
Why? Simply because the former Texas Longhorns linebacker is the first draft pick ever for the Atlanta Falcons. Starting off as an expansion team in 1966, Nobis was the first selection to kick things off for the Falcons franchise.
Around the time of the selection, Nobis was already an impactful figure at the collegiate level at the University of Texas, winning the Outland Trophy (nation’s top interior offensive lineman) and the Maxwell Award (College Football Player of the Year). Nobis was a classic two-way player in college as a linebacker and offensive lineman.
As a Falcon, Nobis won NFL Rookie of the Year in 1966 and as the legend goes, Nobis recorded an amazing 294 tackles in that entire season. No, you’re not going crazy and neither am I. Nobis wrangled that many amount of tackles, well on his way to a Pro Bowl that season as well.
Nobis accumulated five Pro Bowls during his NFL career, with three of them coming in his first three seasons in the league (1966-68). Nobis also led the Falcons in total tackles in nine of his 11 seasons with the team and also earned two AP All-Pro twice (1967 & 1968).
Equally impressive, Nobis was named to the All-Decade team for the 1960s after only playing four seasons within the decade itself. That same team stores historic names such as Ray Nitschke, Merlin Olsen, Dick Butkus, and Deacon Jones. Stellar company to say the least.
Amongst other accolades for Nobis include being inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor, and the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame. Amazingly, the legendary Falcons defender and his 11 seasons in the NFL with the Falcons, doesn’t have a bust in the NFL Hall of Fame. Many state the reason why a Hall of Fame bust of Nobis isn’t in Canton is because of the lack of success.
Nobis only played on three Falcons teams during his career who were .500 or better in overall record (1971-1973). In a time period where media coverage was scarce, the difficulty for a constant losing Falcons team to gain proper media coverage was absolutely tough. If not for that, the name Tommy Nobis would have a much-deserved presence in Canton, Ohio.