Summer is almost here, which is good for a lot of reasons and bad for the single reason that Louisville sporting events don't take place. Louisville baseball is the last team to cross the finish line, and they'll be worth following as they inch closer to what will hopefully be a lengthy postseason run in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
To fill in those gaps between Louisville baseball games until football season rolls around, we've been ranking the 20 best NFL careers by Louisville football alums leading up to the NFL Draft. We'll rattle off five more today and continue to reveal more in the two weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, with the top 5 being released on draft day.
The formula here isn't exact, but an attempt at structure was made. Here's a reminder of how it works.
Points are awarded for individual awards received by some of the greatest Cardinals to play in the NFL. They are as follows:
Hall of Fame: 7 points
League MVP: 6 points
All-Pro selection: 5 points
Pro Bowl selection: 4 points
Super Bowl MVP: 3 points
The brief explanation here is that the Hall of Fame is obviously the highest honor possible, league MVP is the next hardest to achieve, while All-Pro is ahead of Pro Bowl because less players are named All-Pro than make Pro Bowls. Finally, Super Bowl MVP is a great accomplishment, but is only for one game, no matter how big that game is.
To fill in the cracks, Pro Football Reference's Career Approximate Value (CarAV) numbers were used. Again, not strictly.
Before we get to the second group of our top 20, here's a reminder of five former Cards who we'll all remember that could get on this list later in their careers based on CarAV numbers:
Teddy Bridgewater — 9 CarAV in rookie season
Preston Brown — 8 CarAV in rookie season
Calvin Pryor — 5 CarAV in rookie season
Eric Wood — 30 CarAV over six seasons (5 average)
William Gay — 33 CarAV over eight seasons (4.1 average)
Without further ado, let's keep rolling with numbers 15-11 on the authoritative rankings of Louisville football players in the NFL.
15. Ernie Green, RB/FB, 8 points
Years at Louisville: 1958-61
NFL team: Cleveland Browns (1962-68)
Why he's here: Green gets his points for being a two-time Pro Bowler (1966-67). He rushed for 3204 yards and 15 touchdowns of his own in his seven-year career, but is also significant for the teammates he helped succeed as a fullback. Green paved the way for a pair of Hall of Famers in Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly during his Browns tenure.
14. Ernest Givins, WR, 13 points
Years at Louisville: 1984-85
NFL teams: Houston Oilers (1986-94), Jacksonville Jaguars (1995)
Why he's here: Givins was named to Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams in 1990 and again to the Pro Bowl in 1992. Givins caught most of his passes from Hall of Famer Warren Moon, and racked 8215 yards and 49 touchdown catches over his 11 NFL seasons.
13. Joe Johnson, DE, 13 points
Years at Louisville: 1991-93
NFL teams: New Orleans Saints (1994-2001), Green Bay Packers (2002-03)
Why he's here: Johnson has the same credentials points-wise as Givens with two Pro Bowls (1998, 2000) and an All-Pro year in 2000. The tiebreaker here is Johnson's Comeback Player of the Year award in 2000. Over his nine NFL seasons, Johnson racked up 52.5 sacks and forced 13 fumbles.
12. Ray Buchanan, DB, 14 points
Years at Louisville: 1989-92
NFL teams: Indianapolis Colts (1993-96), Atlanta Falcons (1997-2003), Oakland Raiders (2004)
Why he's here: Buchanan was named All-Pro in 1994 and 1998, also making the Pro Bowl in 1998. Buchanan picked off 47 passes in his 12-year career. In 1994, his three interception returns for touchdowns led the NFL.
11. Otis Wilson, LB, 14 points
Years at Louisville: 1977-79
NFL teams: Chicago Bears (1980-87), Los Angeles Raiders (1989)
Why he's here: Wilson, who played most of his career under famous Bears coach Mike Ditka, is a two-time All-Pro performer (1984-85) and made his lone Pro Bowl in 1985. He gets the tiebreaker over Buchanan for his place on the Bears' Super Bowl-winning team in 1986. Wilson registered 36 sacks during his NFL career.
Next week, we'll crack into the top 10 on our NFL career list.