Rich Milot, Kelvin Bryant, or Gus Frerotte? These are the names that plagued my brain when trying to decide on who I would call the Redskins best 7th round pick ever. All good choices in my mind but ultimately I kept leaning to and then decided on Rich Milot.
There's a lot to consider, but for me it came down to how many times did that player play in and start in games for the Redskins? How much of a contributor was the player? To have a 7th round pick amount to much more than camp fodder is an achievement in its own right. To have a 7th rounder become a starter is quite the feat and a very rewarding pick in hindsight.
Rich Milot played in 121 games for the Redskins and started in 91 of those games. Not to mention, he was a contributor on Defense for three different Redskin Super Bowl Teams. His 9 year career started and ended with the Redskins. For those who don't remember or weren't around for Milot, picture a 6'4", 234lb linebacker with shoulders so broad his chest looked like a billboard from which the number 57 read more clearly than all others.
Milot came to the Redskins from Linebacker University (Penn State) under Joe Paterno. He spent most of his time at Penn State trying to discover himself. The question of, "What position am I playing today Coach?" was not one unfamiliar to Milot. Those times were so trying that he gave more than a little consideration to walking away from Football. It turns out though, that it was during those times that Milot discovered the position best suited for himself, outside linebacker. He talked to Paterno who agreed to have him play linebacker his senior year. That decision led to Milot having a successful year totaling 30 tackles and 3 interceptions and drawing attention from NFL teams.
He came to a Jack Pardee led Redskins team in 1979, that was in the midst of uncertainty at linebacker. Chris Hanburger had departed the team the year before. Pete Wysocki was seen as Hanburger’s replacement. But who would back up Wysocki and Brad Dusek? Also, with veterans Ken Geddes and Dallas Hickman along with rookies Monte Coleman and Neal Olkewicz, how would Milot separate himself?
Pardee made it clear that those who stay on the team would also perform well on Special Teams. As luck would have it, from his position-swapping days at Penn State, Milot had played on all of Penn State’s Special Teams and was quite comfortable in such units. Milot secured a spot on the team and performed well in his first two seasons.
Then, a changing of the guard, Pardee was gone and Wysocki as well. The Gibbs era began and Milot found himself amongst an entirely new coaching staff. "They were better teachers. [Defensive Coordinator] Larry Peccatiello in particular was a better teacher. Jack, I think, assumed you knew a lot. Maybe more than you actually did. I think Larry really helped me with learning the game" Milot said in the Jim Gehman book titled "Then Gibbs said to Riggins.."
From then on Milot was known as a force to be reckoned with on the right side. He was an integral part of a Redskins team that won three NFC title games and two Super Bowls. For more insight on Milot and the Champion Redskins Defense he was a part of, grab yourself a beer and relive the Pete Wysocki, George Stark, and Tony Kornheiser interview of Rich below from a Saturday night at Champions.
Redskins Pete Wysocki Rich Milot at Champions (via championsstuff)