Atlanta Falcons: 15 best first-round picks of all-time

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

George Kunz was one of the first first-round picks selected by the Falcons in an NFL Draft. After being an All-American during his senior season at Notre Dame in 1968, Atlanta used its No. 2 overall pick to take the right tackle in the ensuing 1969 NFL Draft.

Kunz spent his first six NFL seasons in Atlanta uniform, where he would be one of the better offensive tackles in the NFL in the 1970s. As a rookie, Kunz would make his first career trip to the Pro Bowl, starting in all 14 games that year for the Falcons at right tackle.

After missing five games in his sophomore season in 1970, Kunz would never miss another start for the rest of his Falcons career. Kunz made four straight Pro Bowls with the Falcons from 1971 to 1974, bringing his total to five in Atlanta. He would be named Second-Team All-Pro in 1972 and 1973.

Though dominant out on the edge for the Falcons for half a dozen years, Kunz would leave Atlanta to spend the second half of his NFL career with the then-Baltimore Colts. Kunz had his best season as a professional in 1975 in his first year with Baltimore.

Though he played in just 12 games, he would make his fifth straight Pro Bowl and his sixth in seven seasons, earning First-Team All-Pro honors for the only time in his illustrious NFL career. Kunz made two more Pro Bowls with the Colts in 1976 and 1977. This brought his total to eight by the time he retired after the 1980 NFL season at the age of 33.

Frankly, Kunz gets overlooked in the grand scheme of things in terms of dominating NFL offensive line talent of the 1970s. Despite being an eight-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro, he has never really garnered much of a Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy. In fact, he was named to the Hall of Very Good in the Class of 2014.

So what is the biggest reason for this? It might have to do with the lack of playoff success the teams Kunz played on. Atlanta did not make its first trip to the NFC playoff until 1978, a full four years after he left the Falcons. While the Colts did win the AFC East in Kunz’s first three seasons with his new club, Baltimore never won an AFC playoff game during his time in the Charm City.

Overall, Kunz was a very good player during the 1970s, but has sadly been largely forgotten in the annals of NFL history. If he played for a more glamorous team of that era (Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers), maybe he would have a bust in Canton? Regardless, the Hall of Very Good will have to do for Kunz,.