Monday, March 28, 2022

1958 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
Bobby Mitchell had 66 carries for 479 yards after six games—on pace for a 960-yard season before tailing off. Mitchell was the consensus Rookie of the Year (UPI and The Sporting News) and a nice backfield compliment to Jim Brown—the NFL's best player.

Darrell Dess of the Steelers played both guard and tackle and when Mike McCormack got hurt, Willie Davis went both ways in some games, but was best at defensive end. We put Dess on the Second-team and Davis on the First-team. Davis looked good, very good at defensive end. 

Ray Nitschke played both middle and outside linebacker—two excellent Packer linebackers (Currie the other) "stuck" in a defense that was poorly coached, and many times misaligned. Dennit Morris also played outside linebacker as well as inside. Charlie Jackson was not very good, but who else is there? 

Bobby Joe Conrad had his moments as a rookie in the secondary. If we had chosen Conrad were that would mean EIGHT Chicago Cardinals listed on a 2-9-1 team that became strong in 1960. That Cardinal team was on the road to victory, yet not necessarily due to Pop Ivy's double-wing, just excellent young talent. 
Our retro Defensive Rookie of the Year is Erich Barnes narrowly edging Alex Karras who was a fine rookie defensive tackle for the Lions. Lou Michaels started all year for the Rams and played well. Jack Morris picked off six passes and took one to the house. 

The teams—


  1. Its hard to believe the Bears didnt keep Howley and Barnes but that defense had players.

    Of course Cleveland gets rid of Mitchell and Davis, along with Atkins,Rechichar, and Quinlan that made your earlier rookie teams.

    Had John David Crow been drafted by a better team, might have made the HOF, though he has a solid case for HOVG ...

  2. Jim Gibbons had almost as many TDs in one season--1964--as he did in his previous six seasons with the Lions.

    Jimmy Orr is one of the most underrated receivers in NFL history. Imagine learning and catching passes from Layne, Unitas, then Morrall.
    Red Phillips had some good seasons with the Rams as well despite revolving QBs ...

  3. ....the three team trade in '61 "forced" the Bears into giving up an excellent player to get one in much needed quarterback Billy Wade. When healthy, and holding onto the ball JD Crow was a complete back, and could carry a team. Film study of Orr shows a receiver who maximized his skills, and could be counted on to deliver. Jim "red" Phillips season in '61 is a classic example of a player who had done well, and then exploded. Watching him run routes against the Night Train is just damn enjoyable.

  4. Coach, did any receiver you consistently watched, have any type of sustained success against the Night Train ?

  5. ....hey Brian Wolf! Always enjoy your probing questions, succinct right to the point...and as we both know a talented receiver can get open against any corner, even one as elite as the Night Train. Watched film of McDonald in '60 beat the Train, and Red Phillips had his moments against him in '61. Johnny Morris tortured many a corner with his quickness, and he also had a couple strong games against the Train, but nobody, and I mean NOBODY consistently beat the Train when he played corner from '52 through '62. When Lane was at safety he at times tried to do too much, yet his instincts got him to the ball.