99 Stats Until Kickoff (#90) Is the 1983 NFL draft the best ever?

John Elway tosses footballs to the crowd durin...

John Elway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From May 30 and every day until September 5… the start of the 2013 NFL season… Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ will publish “99 Stats Until Kickoff” a daily dose of NFL stats that will get you ready for the 2013 NFL season.)

How will this year’s NFL draft compare with the previous drafts? What kind of NFL careers will those players chosen at the top of the 2013 NFL Draft have 15 years from now?

That is part of the fun of the NFL draft… did those players chosen in the first-round deserve to be chosen that high? Did their NFL career warrant that selection?

With that in mind, here’s a quick look at one way to evaluate previous drafts. Following are those drafts that had the most first-round draft choices who eventually were elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

First-Round Selection Hall of Famers, Draft Year, Players
6… 1983: John Elway, Eric Dickerson, Bruce Matthews, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Darrell Green

4… 1952: Les Richter, Ollie Matson, Hugh McElhenny, Frank Gifford
4… 1957: Paul Hornung, Len Dawson, Jim Brown, Jim Parker
4… 1961: Mike Ditka, Jimmy Johnson, Herb Adderly, Bob Lilly
4… 1964: Bob Brown, Charley Taylor, Carl Eller, Paul Warfield
4… 1967: Bob Griese, Floyd Little, Alan Page, Gene Upshaw
4… 1989: Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders

3… 1965: Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Joe Namath
3… 1969: O.J. Simpson, Joe Greene, Roger Wehrli
3… 1978: Earl Campbell, James Lofton, Ozzie Newsome
3… 1985: Bruce Smith, Chris Doleman, Jerry Rice

While the 1983 draft had the most first-rounders that ended up in Canton, you can make a case that the 1989 draft had the most impressive first five selections. In that draft, four of the first five selections made the Hall of Fame (Aikman No. 1, Sanders No. 3, Thomas No. 4, and Sanders No. 5) The only Top 5 selection from that draft not in the Hall? Tony Mandarich.

For another angle, let’s look at the 73 players selected to the Hall of Fame since 2000. In the last 14 Hall of Fame classes, 39 (53.4 percent) were first-round picks in the NFL draft. Here’s a breakdown of where the last 73 Hall of Famers elected were drafted in the NFL draft.

First Round: 39

Second Round: 9

Third Round: 7

Fourth Round: 2

Fifth Round: 1

Sixth Round or later: 7

Undrafted: 4 (Jack Butler, John Randle, Emmitt Thomas, Warren Moon)

Drafted in the Supplemental Draft: 2 (Steve Young, Cris Carter)

No NFL draft: 2 (Benny Friedman, Fritz Pollard)

Here’s another quick stat… of the Hall of Famers elected since 2000, here are the players who were drafted with the lowest picks.

Pick, Round, Player

#245 (18th Round) Chris Hanburger

#203 (8th Round) Richard Dent

#192 (7th Round) Shannon Sharpe

#182 (7th Round) Rayfield Wright

#105 (4th Round) Harry Carson

#102 (13th Round) Nick Buoniconti

Did you know? Of the 73 players selected to the NFL Hall of Fame since 2000, four were the No. 1 overall pick in the draft: Bruce Smith (1985), Aikman (1989), John Elway (1983) and Ron Yary (1968).

“99 Stats Before Kickoff” (Stats you need to know before the start of the 2013 NFL season) is available from e-book publisher Smashwords. Go to www.smashwords.com to download a copy, including a pdf version which can be viewed on your home computer. Cost is $2.99.

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