Saturday, March 26, 2022

1957 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
1957 rookie crop ranks right there with 1952 & 1953 in quality. Jim Brown was the consensus Rookie of the Year and was the AP and Sporting News Player of the Year and a consensus All-Pro and made the Pro as well—a rookie could hardly do better. On top of all that Brown led the NFL in rushing and rushing touchdowns on the 9-2-1 Browns.

Paul Hornung, one of our Second-team Halfbacks started all three backfield positions for the Packers, quarterback, fullback, and halfback. 

Center Frank Morze was a stonewall on Niners goal line defense in addition to being a fine pivot. Second-team guard Nisby began as a starting defensive end but was moved to guard where he shined but was not quite as effective as Sandusky and Gordy.

Once the Lions gave Steve Junker gets a chance—from week 4 on—he was excellent and Ron Kramer was not as consistent, but his game against Baltimore showed he could be a force. 

As Second-team end, we tied Jon Arnett who started the first four games of the season at split end and Tommy McDonald was opening day starter at running back, then benched he was basically a kick return man, but when allowed to play outside at flanker. Rather than snub one we picked both, but bother were hybrid ends and backs. 

Milt Davis is the Defensive Rookie of the Year. However, there is a caveat, Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the NFL lists him as having played one game in 1956 but film study does not reveal where that actually occurred. Thus under the rules of the era, he was a first-year player—eligible for All-Rookie honors. We are going with that unless someone can show that he actually played in 1956.
Davis picked off 10 passes and returned them for 219 yards taking two to the house (leading the league in all three of those categories), making All-Pro along the way. 

Billy Ray Smith had an excellent, near-Pro Bowl season for the Rams and Paige Cothren had the first of two good seasons with the LA club. 
The teams—


  1. Despite being a huge fan of Weeb Ewbank, I think he made a big mistake along with Carroll Rosenbloom in not convincing Milt Davis to remain with the Colts after only four seasons. He was a great player and would have made the HOF. A big loss that might have helped Weeb save his job, had he kept playing.

    According to what I read, he didnt like how black ball players were being treated throughout the league and even on his own team, he probably wasnt happy with the treatment of players like Sample, Lyles and Lipscomb as all ended up leaving the team after he retired. Had Rosenbloom given him enough money, maybe he stays but those were tough times for black players.

    The 1957 NFL Draft was strange with teams passing on Jim Brown for Paul Hornung, Jon Arnett, John Brodie, Ron Kramer and Len Dawson. Maybe Brown had some red flags coming out of college or teams trying to placate their fan bases but his size and speed alone should have made him and easy pick.

    Lots of great players on this team. Thanks guys !

    1. Sorry, Lenny Lyles left the Colts after his rookie season with Davis still there but wasnt embraced by the veterans.
      When he came back to Baltimore, he challenged any veteran that had a problem and was finally accepted ...

    2. Brian, my Colts losing Milt Davis was a blow to their long-term (and certainly Weeb's) prospects, but I think your speculations connecting Milt's retirement and the issues with Sample and Big Daddy a reach....Sample was "suspected" of stealing from teammates' lockers (no suggestion of truth/falsity, but 'chemistry' is a factor in 'team' and especially that era of Colts), and Big Daddy, who everyone here knows I am his greatest champion, was traded for Jimmy Orr and Billy Ray Smith...arguably a "fair" exchange at the time and tragically for Pittsburgh, lopsided in Baltimore's long-run favor.....hindsight is 20-20, but the notion that Jim Brown of Syracuse wasn't the Heisman winner of 1956 or the 1st pick in the NFL draft is clear evidence of incompetence or something darker....

    3. Thats true Jim but after Weeb had given Sample another chance, he got rid of em for refusing to field a punt. Of course, Sample was frustrated and lashed out at Weeb but he was done with the Colts. At least Weeb was smart enough to sign him with the Jets. Lyles could have been kept as well but just couldnt adjust to his teammates. The value for Lipscomb was good, though he played when he wanted. Could Weeb have done better with keeping those players? Maybe, maybe not but Davis was a huge loss and could have helped save Ewbank's job.

    4. Brown was clearly the pick of the draft. At the time, however, it's really difficult to tell what teams thought. Hornung led ND in pretty much every category -- offense, defense, and special teams. Plus, he played in the Midwest, so fans and scouts in Packerland easily knew him. It's hard to say how much press Jim Brown would have gotten, how many scouts actually saw him -- remember this is the day when teams sent postcards to prospects to learn more about them. Ron Kramer was a huge star at Michigan, so again that local recognition when teams didn't have large scouting departments.

      Brodie -- again, Stanford guy, local kid. The 49ers already had McElhenny and Joe Perry. They probably weren't looking at Brown 2,000 miles east on the Syracuse campus. Same with the Rams and Arnett at USC.

      I'm not saying that I know exactly the reasons why Brown wasn't taken, but those are some plausible reasons. It's not like the other teams chose terrible players, either. That was a stacked draft class.

  2. You guys give a lot of respect for '50s Chicago Cardinals players. Too bad poor ownership-management, forced the team to move to St.Louis. Its hard to believe this team couldnt win more with Night Train Lane and Ollie Matson on the same team ...

    1. they played a loot of rookies---so did Washington... maybe the mediocre teams gave younger guys more chances...maybe of them didn't work out it seems . . .