The NFL Draft is certainly an exciting time in the offseason during America’s most popular sport—a time when unfortunate teams seek their franchise savior and a time when playoff teams seek their final piece that will hurdle them through the championship threshold.
But, even the best scouts in the country state that the NFL Draft is far from being a perfect science. If that were the case, the San Diego Chargers would have never selected Ryan Leaf in 1998 when Charles Woodson and Randy Moss were both still available.
Moreover, the Raiders would not have selected JaMarcus Russell when… well, the best wide receiver, the best running back, the best cornerback, and the best linebacker in today’s NFL were available.
11. 2007 NFL Draft
Notable Players: Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, Darrelle Revis, Adrian Peterson, Joe Thomas, Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Joe Staley, Marshal Yanda
In a few decades, this draft class has the potential to hurdle 11 spots to number one. Unfortunately, time travel is not available with contemporary technology. The list of current NFL superstars from this class really makes the 2007 Raiders front office seem incompetent.
10. 2011 NFL Draft
Notable Players: Cam Newton, Von Miller, A.J Green, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, J.J Watt, Ryan Kerrigan, Andy Dalton, Justin Houston
The 2011 NFL Draft has players who—albeit some being troubled in nature—have potential to have a strong presence in Canton in twenty years.
9. 1968 NFL Draft
Notable players: Larry Csonka, Art Shell, Ron Yary, Elvin Bethea, Charlie Sanders, Curley Culp
Featuring half of the Dolphins perfect season-earning rushing attack, the 1968 NFL Draft features many obscure Hall of Famers who—when researched—make the NFL’s history seem poorly remembered in the modern era.
8. 1965 NFL Draft
Notable players: Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Joe Namath, Fred Biletnikoff, Chris Hanburger
A draft class that sported arguably the most feared hitter of all time coupled with the man who—with one single win—brought the American Football League into relevance, 1965 was a year that planted many seeds of change in the professional football world.
7. 1969 NFL Draft
Notable players: O.J Simpson, “Mean” Joe Greene, Roger Wehrli, Ted Hendricks, Charlie Joiner
The best draft class from the sixties—featuring the league’s first 2000 yard rusher and the scariest defender of the 1970’s.
6. 1974 NFL Draft
Notable Players: Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Lynn Swann, Dave Casper, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Mike Webster
The only notable player not in the Hall of Fame on this list is Ed “Too Tall” Jones. However, he was such an iconic figure in the decade that earned the Cowboys the nickname of “America’s Team”.
But, this draft class belongs to the Steelers—a draft that deserves praise due to the Steel City football team drafting a staggering four Hall of Famers.
5. 2004 NFL Draft
Notable Players: Eli Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Vince Wilfork, Steven Jackson, Chris Snee, Darnell Dockett, Shaun Philips, Jared Allen
It’s still undecided as to who in this class will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But, this class has three of the league’s franchise quarterbacks and several key defenders. Hence, this class—while being nine years ago—still has a serious influence on today’s NFL.
4. 1989 NFL Draft:
Notable Players: Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas
Only four Hall of Famers came from this Draft. However, they were four Hall of Famers who dominated the nineties. Troy Aikman took the helm of the dynastic team from the era, while Deion Sanders and Barry Sanders remain two of the most electric players in recent memory. Finally, Derrick Thomas—a linebacker with Canton-worthy talent– stands as one of the most tragic stories in NFL history.
3. 1981 NFL Draft
Notable Players: Lawrence Taylor, Ronnie Lott, Mike Singletary, Howie Long, Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm
The draft class of pain infliction, Lawrence Taylor was a pass rusher who changed the game. In addition, Mike Singletary stood at the heart of the legendary 1985 Bears defense while Ronnie Lott roamed the backfields of the 1980’s 49er defense.
2. 1983 NFL Draft
Notable Players: John Elway, Eric Dickerson, Bruce Matthews, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Darrell Green
This draft is a class that is known for its quarterbacks. But, while the trio of stellar signal callers is rightly remembered, there were other players in this draft who deserve equal recognition. Bruce Matthews stands in a bloodline that equally deserves the title of “Football’s First Family”.
Also, the electrifying Darrell Green dominated the NFL for nearly two decades while Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record remains elusive to this day.
1. 1957 NFL Draft
Notable Players: Jim Brown, Paul Hornung, Len Dawson, Sonny Jurgensen, Tommy MacDonald, Henry Jordan, Gene Hickerson, Don Maynard
Jim Brown was in this class, which should be enough to vault it into the top of any list. But, accompanied by seven other Hall of Famers, this class included many stars such as a key member of the first ever Super Bowl champions.