From Chris Godwin to Randy White to Joe Flacco: The Best Delaware Players on Every NFL Team

Chris Godwin as voted to his first Pro Bowl last week

Chris Godwin, a wide receiver from Middletown High who now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL, was voted to his first Pro Bowl last week, and he’s just the fourth Delawarean to be selected for that All-Star game, joining Randy White of Dallas, Steve Watson of Denver and Montell Owens of Jacksonville.

That got us thinking about other people with Delaware connections who have played in the NFL, so we came up with a list of the best from Delaware to play for each NFL team, and we expanded this list to include players from the University of Delaware and Delaware State.

Every NFL team has had a player with a Delaware connection at one time or another, but only a few have become real stars. Most of them have been journeymen who had a couple of seasons in the big leagues before getting on with their lives.

Here are our selections, which were made with the understanding that we probably overlooked somebody. Feel free to let us know of any snubs.

 

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

EAST

New England: Safety Duron Harmon: He was drafted in the third round out of Rutgers in 2013 and has been an integral part of the Patriots’ defense ever since — and he has three Super Bowl rings to show for it. He also lost one Super Bowl, but he did have an interception in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory in Super Bowl LII.

Buffalo: Kicker Grant Guthrie. He played at Claymont High and Florida State, where he set numerous kicking records. Guthrie was drafted in the sixth round by the Bills and was their kicker for two seasons when he kicked a then-team record 52-yard field goal. Guthrie was an old-time, straightaway kicker and working in frigid, snowy Buffalo didn’t help his accuracy – Guthrie attempted 29 field goals in his 20 NFL games and made 13.

N.Y. Jets: Running back Steve Davis. The Delaware State star was drafted by Pittsburgh in the third round of the 1971 draft and spent three seasons with the Steelers before joining the Jets. In two years in New York, Davis had 164 carries for 608 yards and four TDs – and he got to play in the same backfield as Joe Namath, which is pretty cool.

Miami: Running back Clarence Bailey. He just had a cup of coffee with the Dolphins in 1987, as the Milford High and Wesley College player appeared in just three games and started one. It’s not much, but it’s more than anybody else from Delaware has done with the Dolphins, at least as far as we could find. Bailey had 10 carries for 55 yards – an excellent average of 5.5 yards per attempt. Plus, he had the ball handed to him by Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino.

 

SOUTH

Houston: Defensive end Angelo Blackson. The Red Lion Christian and Auburn ace was drafted by Tennessee in the fourth round in 2015, but he’s made his mark in Houston. He’s started all 14 games this season and was recently voted AFC special teams player of the week after blocking a field goal in an important victory over the Titans.

Tennessee: Running back Tim Wilson. This team used to be in Houston and Wilson had an important job for the Houston Oilers – he was the lead blocker for one of the best running backs in history, Earl Campbell. Wilson, who played from 1977-84, died in 1996. He played at De La Warr High and Maryland, made his mark clearing the way for Campbell, but he also had 398 carries for 1,414 yards and nine TDs.

Indianapolis: Defensive back Mike Adams. The Delaware ace, who helped the Blue Hens win the 2003 national championship, could be listed with a bunch of teams. He also played for San Francisco, Cleveland, Denver (winning a Super Bowl in 2016), Carolina and Texas. But he went to the Pro Bowl with the Colts, so they get the nod.

Jacksonville: Running back Montell Owens. The former Concord High and Maine star made the Jaguars as an undrafted rookie and made his mark on special teams — Owens played in two Pro Bowls as a special-teams ace. He played from 2006-2012 with the Jags and he even got to carry the ball a few times – for his career he had 56 carries for 292 yards and three TDs. 

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, 2.13.13)

 

NORTH

Baltimore: Quarterback Joe Flacco. He led the University of Delaware to a national championship game and then he led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title. Flacco was voted as the MVP after the Ravens beat San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and then signed one of the richest contracts in NFL history. He had a long and distinguished career in Baltimore as their franchise QB and now his future is uncertain.

Pittsburgh: Running back Anthony Anderson. He didn’t have a long or distinguished career in Pittsburgh, but he did wear the uniform for one season, in 1979. That’s when the McKean High and Temple product played in all 16 games, mostly on special teams, and had 18 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Cleveland: Offensive lineman Jim Bundren. The Alexis I. duPont and Clemson product spent two seasons with the Cleveland Browns before injuries ended his career. He was initially drafted by Miami in the seventh round in 1999, but then signed with the Browns. Bundren earned a starting job in 2000, starting nine games before the injury bug bit him and his career ended prematurely.

Cincinnati: Defensive tackle Devon Still. He starred at Howard and then at Penn State and the Bengals drafted him in the second round of the 2012 draft. His NFL career never took off as he battled injuries – Still played in 33 games in four seasons, with 43 tackles and a half-sack. But he helped accomplish something greater – Still became a national figure when his daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with cancer. She is currently cancer-free and Still is still a spokesman for childhood cancer.

 

WEST

Kansas City: Quarterback Rich Gannon. We didn’t want to use Gannon here, since his best days came later with Oakland, and we also chose him as their best player. But we couldn’t find anybody else with Delaware ties who have played for the Chiefs, so… Gannon played four seasons in Kansas City as he resurrected his career after a disastrous season in Washington, when many thought his career was over. The former Blue Hen started 19 games in those four seasons, completing 365 of 630 passes for 3,997 yards, with 23 TDs and 11 interceptions.

Oakland: Quarterback Rich Gannon. He was initially drafted by New England to be a wide receiver, but Gannon, who led Delaware to a national championship, was determined to be a quarterback. He got his chance with Minnesota and also played for Washington and Kansas City, but he really blossomed with Oakland – Gannon was the MVP of the NFL in 2006 when he had one of the best passing seasons in NFL history and the Raiders made it to Super Bowl XXXVII before losing to Tampa Bay.

Denver: Wide receiver Steve Watson. He had great careers at St. Mark’s High and Temple, but he still went undrafted in 1979. Just about every team in the NFL would regret that decision, as Watson became one of the best wide receivers in the league. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 1981 season. He played nine seasons in Denver and finished with 353 receptions for 6,112 yards – an outstanding average of 17.3 yards per catch – and 36 touchdowns. And he got to catch passes from Hall-of-Famer John Elway.

L.A. Chargers: Safety Nasir Adderly. He hasn’t had a chance to shine yet, but Adderly should be a fixture in the Chargers secondary for years to come. The Delaware star was drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft and was projected to be a starter as a rookie, but then a foot injury put him on injured reserve.

Randy White, the best Delaware football player of all time, is the only Delawarean in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

 

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

EAST

Dallas: Defensive tackle Randy White. This, of course, is the all-time no-brainer. White isn’t just the best Delaware player for the Cowboys, he’s the best Delaware football player of all time. He played at McKean High and Maryland and was selected by Dallas in the first round of the 1975 draft. White played in nine Pro Bowls in the 1970s and 1980s, was co-MVP of a Super Bowl, is the only Delawarean in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and just recently was named to the NFL’s list of top 100 players of all time.

Eagles: Center Jamaal Jackson. He had a great career at Delaware State but still went undrafted in 2005. He signed with the Eagles and spent time on their practice squad before making it big time – Jackson was the Eagles starting center for 4 ½ seasons. For his career, he played in 88 games and started 72, including five playoff games.

N.Y. Giants: Offensive tackle Luke Petitgout. The Sussex Central and Notre Dame star was drafted by the Giants in the first round in 1997 and he was an anchor of their offensive line for the next seven seasons, playing in 113 games and starting 106.

Washington: Defensive end Dennis Johnson. The Delaware star was drafted in the 13th round by the Redskins and played four seasons with them, playing in 51 games and starting 37. Johnson, who died in 1996, played in a couple of playoff games with Washington and his best year was in 1976, when he had 4.5 sacks.

 

SOUTH

New Orleans: Defensive lineman Joe Campbell. He starred at Salesianum and Maryland before the Saints drafted him in the first round in 1977. He played in 66 games in seven years, including Super Bowl XV with the Oakland Raiders when they beat the Eagles.

Tampa Bay: Wide receiver Chris Godwin. A second-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2017, the Middletown High and Penn State product was just voted to the Pro Bowl after three seasons as a rising star for the Bucs. He’s among the league leaders in just about every category and should be an elite player for years to come.

Atlanta: Linebacker Paul Worrilow. He wasn’t drafted in 2013, despite a great career at Delaware, so the former Concord High star signed with the Falcons as a rookie free agent. But he played well above that status and soon found himself in the starting lineup at middle linebacker. Worrilow led the Falcons in tackles his rookie and second seasons. He held his starting job for three seasons in that time started 43 out of 47 games and had 365 tackles.

Carolina: Offensive tackle Jeff Otah. The Panthers drafted Otah with the 19th overall pick in 2008 and the William Penn High and Pitt star appeared to have a bright future. Then injuries hit and Otah’s career only lasted three seasons, during which he played and started in 29 games.

 

NORTH

Green Bay: Running back Mike Meade. He was player of the year at Dover High before starring at Penn State. He was drafted by the Packers in the fifth round in 1992 and spent two seasons with them and two with Detroit before a broken leg ended his career. Meade was mostly a blocking back and finished his career with 72 carries for 261 yards and three TDs in 49 games.

Minnesota: Wide receiver Tom Hall. Actually, they just called them “ends” back in the day when Hall was a star at Salesianum School and a Rose Bowl winner at Minnesota. He was drafted by Detroit in the seventh round in 1962 but made his mark with the Vikings. Hall played four seasons in Minnesota when they played just 14 games, and he played in 96 games and started 37. In his career, he caught 103 passes for 1,441 yards and eight TDs.

Chicago: Defensive end Bilal Nichols. He was an All-State tight end for Hodgson before switching to defense at Delaware. The Bears drafted him in the fifth round of the 2018 draft and he eventually earned a starting job and was named to ESPN’s all-rookie team. He is now a key member of one of the NFL’s best defenses.

Detroit: Quarterback Jeff Komlo. He led Delaware to second place in Division II in 1978, and then was drafted in the ninth round of the 1979 draft by the Lions. And Komlo, who died in 2009, was thrown into the deep end of the pool right away – as a rookie, injuries forced him into the starting lineup of a bad team. The Lions went 2-12 that season. Komlo’s career numbers: 49 percent completion rate for 2,603 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 28 interceptions.

 

WEST

San Francisco: Wide receiver John Taylor. He teamed with Jerry Rice to form perhaps the best wide receiving tandem in history after Taylor was drafted by the 49ers in the third round of the 1986 draft. Taylor always played in Rice’s shadow, but the Delaware State All-American had plenty of shining moments, including the game-winning catch from QB Joe Montana in Super Bowl XXII. Taylor won three Super Bowls and played in two Pro Bowls, once as a returner and once as a receiver.

Seattle: Defensive back Marcus Burley. He played two seasons with the Seahawks, during which time he won a Super Bowl and lost a Super Bowl. Burley was undrafted out of Delaware before signing with Seattle and making an immediate impact. He played two seasons with the Seahawks and played in 26 games with two interceptions.

L.A. Rams: Running back Ron Waller. Perhaps the best high school player in Delaware history, the former Laurel ace also starred for Maryland before being drafted by the Rams in the second round (15th overall) in 1955. He made All-Pro as a rookie, when he rushed for 713 yards and scored seven TDs in a 12-game season and led the Rams to a division title.

Arizona: Defensive tackle Rodney Gunter. The Delaware State All-American was drafted by the Cardinals in the fourth round in 2015 and became a solid starter for the Cards, starting 10 of 16 games last season and 14 this season before a toe injury put him on injured reserve two weeks ago and ending his consecutive-games streak at 77. For his career, Gunter has 120 tackles and 11 sacks.

 


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About the Contributor

Kevin Noonan

Kevin Noonan

Kevin Noonan has covered and commented on the Delaware sports scene for more than 30 years, everything from amateur recreation leagues and high schools to local colleges and the Philadelphia professional teams. He’s been voted Delaware Sportswriter of the Year multiple times and currently covers the Philadelphia Eagles for CBSSports.com and teaches creative writing courses at Wilmington University.

7 Comments

  • Your missing:
    1.Darnell Savage starting safety for the Packers this year. Graduated from Caravel
    2. Troy Reeder starting Middle Linebacker for the Rams. 2013 graduate from Sallies
    3. Brian O’Neill starting RT for the Vikings. 2013 Sallies grad
    4. Andre Patton Wide Receiver for the Chargers. 2015 graduate of St. ELIZABETH’S
    5. Bob Pietuzka 1973 St ELIZABETH’S. Safety for Redskins. He ran a 4.35
    40. Was Little All American for Delaware
    6. Frank Cephas, starting RB for NYG
    Graduated from St. Mark’s
    7. Justin Perillo started TE for Packers. Graduated from Tatnall
    8. Jamie Sczenski nearly made the Dophins . Won a National Champioship for Wesley College and another National Championship for Millersville. Graduated from St ELIZABETH’S in 1976.
    9 Kevin Reilly Miami Dolphins and Eagles MLB and Special Teams Captain for the Eagles. Graduated from Salesianum in 1969

  • Hi “D” and thanks for reading — and you’re absolutely right. I definitely whiffed by not including Savage, who has played well for a division-winning team. Good catch by you…

  • Excellent column and fine research by Kevin Noonan, one of the leading lights in Delaware sports.
    In response to David: (1) Kevin named the leading Delawarean, and didn’t undertake to itemize every one; (2) Note the spelling on St. E’s quarterback: when you play touch football, you’re not allowed to rush the quarterback until you have recited S-Z-C-Z-E-C-I-N-S-K-I; (3) Best not to exaggerate: Bob Pietuszka, a Little All-American, was released by Washington a month before the 1977 season; Frankie Cephous was a fine kick returner and special teams player for the Giants, but only toted the bread [h/t Caesar] from scrimmage three times.

  • Don’t forget Conway and Gary hayman.

    Conway played for ud and then played for the redskins in the 70’s.

    Gary was all state at Newark hs, played at penn state and, if my memory serves me right, buffalo bills.

  • Hi “D” and thanks for reading. And you are correct — Savage should have been the Packers selection. I whiffed on that one and certainly no excuse since he just got drafted last year. Good catch by you — thanks.

  • I would gladly surrender my Green Bay Packer selection to my man Darnell Savage as after football accolades really mean nothing to me and me and my son are huge Green Bay Packer fans and Love seeing Delaware represented! I only hope that the new NFL CBA leads to better pensions for all my fellow NFL Ballers.
    However Kevin, just for historical accuracy I was drafted in 1982 and broke my leg 2nd game of the season which was the last game before the NFL strike of ’82. Ironically, my man Chuck Durante did an interview with me that weekend for I believe a Philly newspaper or the old Bulletin. I played 3 more seasons and was released by Detroit after preseason in my 5th year and retired.
    Great article and I Love seeing and hearing about all my Delaware/NFL Brothers.