April Madness: Easley vs. Jones

Yesterday: Cortez Kennedy dispatched Curt Warner in the final matchup of the second round, and did so rather handily.

Kennedy, the NFL defensive player of the year in 1992 and an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, tackled 79 percent of the votes – or 737. Warner, who led the team in rushing six time during a seven-year run in the 1980s, was left with 21 percent – or 193 votes.

We didn’t want to let on that we actually seeded this bracket exercise, but we did and the top seeds all advance to the semifinals – where Kennedy runs into the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, Shaun Alexander; and there is an offense vs. defense matchup on the other side, as well …

Today: That’s right, the field is down to four and the first matchup pits a player who redefined how the strong safety position was played (Kenny Easley) against perhaps the best to ever play the left tackle position (Walter Jones).

Again, in addition to offense (Jones) vs. defense (Easley), it’s high pick (Jones was drafted sixth overall in 1997) vs. even-higher pick (Easley was drafted fourth over in 1981). This also is a matchup of Ring of Honor member (Easley was inducted in 2002) vs. the obvious next player to enter the Ring (Jones).

Easley was NFL defensive player of the year in 1984, when he intercepted a club record-tying 10 passes. He was voted to the Pro Bowl five times and All-Pro three times, and named the NFL All-Decade team for the 1980s.

Jones has been voted to a club-record nine Pro Bowls and was selected All-Pro six times. He also was named to the league’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.

An intimidating defensive player? Or a dominating offensive player? You make the call.

Tomorrow: Alexander vs. Kennedy

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