Steelers '74 Class the Best of All Time
As we get ready for the 2008 draft, the NFL Network has ranked the top 10 draft classes of all time. After honoring a couple of Bears classes and the Cowboys classes from 1991 and 1992 (which somehow rank as one class for the purposes of this Top 10), the NFL Network determined that the 1974 Steelers class ranked as the top draft class of all time.
And in other news, Tiger Woods is a pretty good golfer.
We'll never see another draft class like the '74 Steelers one. With four of their first five picks, the Steelers took Hall of Famers. They did it despite not having a third-round pick. The video NFL Films put together is worth a watch, even if it's just to notice that the class was so good that they could barely mention Hall of Famer Mike Webster in the four-minute clip.
It's not like the Steelers hadn't been pretty good at drafting in the years before 1974. They had picked at least one Hall of Famer every year from 1969-1972, but even that couldn't come close to equaling 1974.
Although Randy Gradishar and Too Tall Jones could make arguments against him, the argument could be made that Lynn Swann (21st pick) was the top pick in the first round. Dave Casper was a very good tight end for the Raiders, but Jack Lambert was clearly the best second-round pick in that year's draft. John Stallworth was easily the best fourth round pick and Mike Webster was heads and shoulders above the other fifth-round picks. In fact, the argument could be made that the Steelers drafted the four best players in the entire 1974 draft.
At that point, Pittsburgh's Midas touch went away. Pittsburgh hasn't drafted a Hall of Famer since (although Rod Woodson will change that when he becomes eligible). Pittsburgh drafted nine Hall of Famers in a six years, and maybe two since then (if Dermontti Dawson every gets in as he should). That almost assuredly won't change later this month, but we can always hope for another class half as good as 1974.