We continue our “Falcons 50” countdown with a look at the Atlanta Falcons’ top 10 first-round draft picks. Falcons football is just 38 days away. You can follow along with the full countdown here.
So far, we’ve led the countdown of the top 10 Atlanta Falcons first round draft picks off with the Falcons all-time leading rusher, Gerald Riggs , with the legendary linebacker Tommy Nobis coming in at number nine. For the number eight selection, we have the 12th overall selection of the 1998 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech.
8. MLB Keith Brooking – 1st Round, 12th Overall, 1998 NFL Draft
It only seemed right. He was born in Senoia, Georgia. Graduated high school in Sharpsburg, Georgia. Attended Georgia Tech, where he became the all-time leading tackler for the Yellow Jackets. It only seemed right that the Georgia boy becomes the starting middle linebacker for the hometown team.
Getting drafted 12th overall, Keith Brooking was a key part for the Falcons during their Super Bowl run in 1998. The tackling machine recorded eight tackles in the NFC title game against Minnesota. During the 1999 season, Brooking got his first career start and started 13 games that season with 94 tackles and two sacks. His first Pro Bowl season came following his solid 2001 season as he recorded 125 tackles, 3.5 sacks, nine pass deflections, and two interceptions.
Beginning with the 2001 season, Brooking racked up five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and also earned two All-Pro seasons in 2002 and 2004. From 2001 to 2008, Brooking amazingly played and started in 16 games in each season, something that is quite rare in the physical game we tend to love.
Eleven seasons in the Red & Black, Brooking amassed 882 tackles, which places him third on the all-time list of total tackles in team history. His presence made the transition quite easy for the team as the bowed to Jessie Tuggle’s retirement after the 2000 season with Brooking carrying the torch for the team for several seasons.
Brooking was a sure tackler when playing and was the key cog on many defenses he played with that included names such as Ray Buchanan, Patrick Kerney, and others.
Brooking was let go as a free agent after the 2008 season but by then, the passionate linebacker already etched is name into the records books and the minds of Falcons fans, coaches, and players.