Steelers '74 Best Draft ever
Rivals.com NFL Draft Editor
When it comes to the best draft class by a team, there can be no argument. It's Pittsburgh in 1974.
The Steelers drafted John Stallworth and Lynn Swann in 1974.
Why? The Steelers drafted four Hall of Famers in '74. That's right: four Hall of Famers in one draft by one team. It's rare enough that four players in one draft go on to become Hall of Famers. For one team to select four?
The Steelers grabbed WR Lynn Swann (from USC) in the first round, LB Jack Lambert (Kent State) in the second round, WR John Stallworth (Alabama A&M) in the fourth round and C Mike Webster (Wisconsin) in the fifth round.
Other strong drafts:
BALTIMORE RAVENS, 1996: The draft as a whole wasn't that good. Still, the Ravens got two potential Hall of Famers in the first round in tackle Jonathan Ogden (UCLA) and LB Ray Lewis (Miami) with the fourth and 26th picks, respectively.
BUFFALO, 1985: The Bills had the first pick in the draft and made it pay off with the selection of DE Bruce Smith (Virginia Tech). They also grabbed WR Andre Reed (Kutztown State) in the fourth round. CB Derrick Burroughs (Memphis) was a first-rounder whose career was cut short by a neck injury. WR Chris Burkett (Jackson State) in the second round and QB Frank Reich (Maryland) in the third round also had productive careers.
CHICAGO, 1965: The Bears had two picks in the top four and made them pay off in a big way. They took LB Dick Butkus (Illinois) with the third pick and RB Gale Sayers (Kansas) with the fourth pick. The Bears took DL Steve DeLong (Tennessee) with the sixth pick, though he ended up playing most of his career with the San Diego Chargers. The Bears nabbed Dick Gordon (Michigan State) in the seventh round. Though he was a running back in college, Gordon became a two-time All-Pro wide receiver. RB Jim Nance (Syracuse), who became a two-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Boston Patriots, was a fourth-round pick.
CHICAGO, 1983: This didn't have the star power of the Bears' '65 draft, but it was deeper. T Jimbo Covert (Pitt) and WR Willie Gault (Tennessee) were first-round picks. S Mike Richardson (Arizona State) was a second-rounder, CB Dave Duerson (Notre Dame) a third-rounder and G Tom Thayer (Notre Dame) a fourth-rounder. Not a bad haul. But consider this: The Bears grabbed G Mark Bortz (Iowa) and DE Richard Dent (Tennessee State) in the eighth round.
CLEVELAND RAMS, 1945: The Rams picked up one of the most-feared wide receiver duos ever in this draft, taking Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch (Michigan) in the first round and Tom Fears (UCLA) in the 11th round. Among the other selections were G/LB Mike Lazetich (Michigan) in the second round, T Dick Huffman (Tennessee) in the ninth round and FB Dick Hoerner (Iowa) in the 17th round.
DALLAS, 1964: The Cowboys got two Hall of Famers in this draft, and some NFL people will tell you it should be three. S Mel Renfro (Oregon) in the second round and QB Roger Staubach (Navy) in the 10th round are the two draftees now in the Hall. WR Bob Hayes (Florida A&M), a seventh-round pick, has Hall credentials, too. P Billy Lothridge (Georgia Tech) was taken in the sixth round by Dallas.
Randy White was the second pick in the 1975 draft.
DALLAS, 1975: The first-round picks — DT Randy White (Maryland) at No. 2 and LB Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson (Langston) at No. 18 — were hits. But the Cowboys hit on a few other selections in this draft, too. G Burton Lawless (Florida) in the second round, LB Bob Breunig (Arizona State) in the third round, OT Pat Donovan (Stanford) in the fourth round, S Randy Hughes (Oklahoma) in the fifth round, LB Mike Hegman (Tennessee State) in the seventh round, G Herbert Scott (Virginia Union) in the 13th round and RB Scott Laidlaw (Stanford) became starters or key reserves for Dallas.
DALLAS, 1991: Teams with three first-round picks should pick up a few starters, but the Cowboys did more than that. DT Russell Maryland (Miami) was the No. 1 overall pick and was a solid pro for a decade. WR Alvin Harper (Tennessee) went 16th overall and had a nice career. DT Kelvin Pritchett (Ole Miss) was picked 21st, then dealt to Detroit, where he also had a nice career. Dallas got LB Dixon Edwards (Michigan State) in the second round, and he was an OK pro, too. They then hit big with two small-college stars: OT Erik Williams (Central State) in the third round and DE Leon Lett (Emporia State) in the seventh round. And they grabbed CB Larry Brown (TCU) in the 12th round — a nice pickup, considering Brown later was a Super Bowl MVP.
GREEN BAY, 1958: The first-round pick, LB Dan Currie (Michigan State), wasn't necessarily a star, but he was a solid player for a decade. But three other picks were stars: Green Bay selected RB Jim Taylor (LSU) in the second round, LB Ray Nitschke (Illinois) in the third round and G Jerry Kramer (Idaho) in the fourth round. (Kramer also wrote one of the best sports books ever, "Instant Replay.") Sixth-round pick Ken Gray, a guard from Howard Payne, ended up playing in the league for a decade.
KANSAS CITY, 1963: This was in the AFL draft. The Chiefs nabbed two of the best defenders of the 1960s in the same draft, with DT Buck Buchanan (Grambling) in the first round and LB Bobby Bell (Minnesota) in the seventh round. Both became Hall of Famers. The Chiefs also drafted G Ed Budde (Michigan State) in the first round, P Jerrel "Thunderfoot" Wilson (Southern Miss) in the 11th round and T Dave Hill (Auburn) in the 24th round. All five are members of the Chiefs' Hall of Fame. A tragic note from this draft: RB Stone Johnson (Grambling), taken in the 14th round, suffered a broken neck in an exhibition and died 10 days later, on Sept. 8, 1963. The Chiefs retired his No. 33 jersey number.
PITTSBURGH, 1970: The Steelers grabbed two Hall of Famers in this draft, QB Terry Bradshaw (Louisiana Tech) with the No. 1 overall pick and S Mel Blount (Southern) in the third round. The rest of the draft wasn't that good, but how do you argue with two Hall of Famers?
SAN FRANCISCO, 1986: Can you have a great draft without a first-round pick? The 49ers proved you could. Among the stalwarts grabbed in this draft were FB Tom Rathman (Nebraska), CB Tim McKyer (Texas-Arlington) and WR John Taylor (Delaware State) in the third round, DE Charles Haley (James Madison) and OT Steve Wallace (Auburn) in the fourth round and CB Don Griffin (Middle Tennessee) in the sixth round. DEs Larry Roberts (second round from Alabama) and Kevin Fagan (fourth round from Miami) also were solid players.
TAMPA BAY, 1995: The Bucs had two first-round picks, and they used them on DT Warren Sapp (Miami) at No. 12 and LB Derrick Brooks (Florida State) at No. 28. The rest of the draft wasn't all that great, but does it matter?
WASHINGTON, 1964: The Redskins selected two Hall of Famers in this draft — but one became a true star for another team. WR Charley Taylor (Arizona State) was the first-round selection, and S Paul Krause (Iowa) was a second-round selection; the Redskins dealt Krause to Minnesota after the 1967 season. The Redskins also grabbed OT Jim Snowden (Notre Dame) in the fifth round and C Len Hauss (Georgia) in the ninth round.
WASHINGTON, 1981: The Redskins picked up two members of the famed "Hogs" in this draft — T Mark May (Pitt) and G Russ Grimm (Pitt), chosen in the first and third rounds, respectively. DE Dexter Manley (Oklahoma State) was a fifth-round selection. WR Charlie Brown (South Carolina State) came aboard in the eighth round. DT Darryl Grant (Rice) was taken in the ninth round, and TE Clint Didier (Portland State) was a 12th-round choice.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals