2012 NFL Draft: 5 Hall of Fame Players and Their Place in Draft History
We are now a little over 24 hours away from the 2012 NFL draft, and the buzz surrounding this annual event is at a fever pitch.
The Indianapolis Colts have officially announced that they will take Andrew Luck with the first pick, and the Minnesota Vikings are rumbling about possibly skipping over Matt Kalil for Morris Claiborne. If this is true, Thursday night should be full of drama and make for a compelling evening.
In the meantime, let’s take a stroll down memory lane, look at five Hall of Fame players and review where they were taken in the draft as well as the players that were taken before them.
Dan Marino: Miami Dolphins
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Dan Marino, out of the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), was the No. 27 pick in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft.
The aforementioned draft is often referred to as the “QB draft,” since John Elway, the No. 1 pick, and Jim Kelly, the No. 14 pick, were also taken in that draft.
The following QBs were also taken prior to Marino that year:
- Todd Blackledge: No. 7 pick to the Kansas City Chiefs
- Tony Eason: No. 15 pick to the New England Patriots
- Ken O’Brien: No. 24 pick to the New York Jets
Clearly, the Dolphins either got very lucky or knew what they were doing when they selected Marino.
Roger Staubach: Dallas Cowboys
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Tom Landry, the former but legendary head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, once said of Roger Staubach: “Possibly the best combination of a passer, an athlete and a leader to ever play in the NFL.”
However, there were others that didn’t have the foresight to draft Roger Staubach in 1964—actually, the Dallas Cowboys, who selected Staubach in the 10th round, also selected Billy Lothridge in the sixth round of the same draft.
Staubach had to serve in the military, which included a tour in Vietnam, after graduating from the Naval Academy. This may have played into the Cowboys’ decision.
Here are the other QBs who were selected prior to Staubach in 1964:
Johnny Unitas: Pittsburgh Steelers
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Shockingly, the Steelers cut Unitas before the season started because they already had four QBs on the roster.
Even more ludicrous is the fact that Steelers head coach Walt Keisling felt that Unitas wasn’t smart enough to run an NFL offense.
The Steelers are known for making excellent draft and personnel decisions, but clearly they made a huge mistake with Unitas.
In 1956, the Baltimore Colts took a chance on Unitas and signed him, and the rest is history.
Which QBs were selected ahead of Unitas in 1955?
- George Shaw, the No. 1 pick in the first round, Baltimore Colts
- Ralph Guglieimi, the No. 6 pick in the first round, Washington Redskins
- Dave Leggett, seventh round, Chicago Cardinals
Joe Montana: San Francisco 49ers
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“Joe Cool”, “Golden Joe” or “Comeback Joe” is arguably one of the greatest QBs in NFL history.
What he accomplished with the San Francisco 49ers is legendary.
Those in San Francisco may have loved Steve Young, but they absolutely adored Montana.
However, when Montana graduated from Notre Dame and entered the 1979 NFL draft, he wasn’t well thought of—so much so that the 49ers selected Montana in the third round with the No. 82 pick.
Check out the QBs that went before “Comeback Joe.”
- Jack Thompson: No. 3 pick in the first round of the Cincinnati Bengals
- Phil Simms: No. 7 pick in the first round of the NY Giants
- Steve Fuller: No. 23 pick in the first round of the Kansas City Chiefs
Jerry Rice: San Francisco 49ers
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Few will argue that Jerry Rice is not only the greatest WR to ever play in the NFL, but the greatest player—period—of all-time.
If you never got a chance to see Jerry Rice during his days with the San Francisco 49ers then I feel sorry for you.
If I could, I would use “The Greatest” regarding Jerry Rice. However, that is reserved for Muhammad Ali, and rightfully so.
Two WRs were selected before Rice in the 1995 NFL draft, probably because he played at Mississippi Valley State and most felt he would never flourish in the NFL. Those two WRs:
- Al Toon: No. 10 pick in the first round to the N.Y. Jets
- Eddie Brown: No. 13 pick in the first round to the Cincinnati Bengals
Is it me, or do the N.Y. Jets often come up as a team that blows their first-round draft pick?