Notable Picks and Misses From The MMQB's All-Time NFL Draft
The MMQB tackled a massive project in its All-Time NFL Draft, tasking 12 individuals to build teams out of a player pool more than 100 years deep.
The group included Hall of Famers, former executives, media members and more. Out of 300 total picks, many were elite Hall of Famers and a handful of active greats. Of course, 300 picks also allows for a few eyebrow-raising choices, which we’ll outline below.
Here are the most notable picks from The MMQB’s All-Time NFL Draft.
Hall of Fame punter Ray Guy selected fourth overall
There’s no questioning Guy’s merit as one of the greatest punters ever. But does he deserve to be the fourth player selected, directly ahead of players like Jim Brown, Tom Brady and Joe Montana? Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts thought so.
“I didn’t want to be stuck at the end of the draft without a punter because there are so few of them that are great and in my mind he is the best,” Fouts explained. “I was going to take Unitas but Unitas taken in the pick before me.”
Fouts doubled down on his affinity for special teams by selecting longtime kicker and Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud with his fourth-round pick. It wasn’t until the fifth round arrived, with the 52nd overall selection that he nabbed a quarterback in Terry Bradshaw. Like many others, Fouts stacked his team with Hall of Famers. But the order he build his team was by far the most unconventional.
Tom Brady picked as the first active player
Brady’s place in Canton will come soon enough. For now, Patriots fan can celebrate their QB being selected as the first player in the All-Time Draft who will suit up for the upcoming NFL season. MMQB editor in chief Peter King nabbed New England's quarterback with his first-round pick—ninth overall.
No other active player would be selected for another four rounds, when King selected Houston’s J.J. Watt as a member of his all-time team’s defense. Behind only Johnny Unitas, Brady was the second quarterback taken in the draft.
O.J. Simpson taken in the second round
Before showing up on television screens in a courtroom, Simpson starred on the field as an electric running back. The Bills picked Simpson first overall in the 1969 NFL Draft following his Heisman season at Southern California. He led the league in rushing yards four times and averaged more than 100 yards per game in three of his eight seasons with the Buffalo.
Longtime player and scout John Wooten took the plunge on Simpson, grabbing him with the 23rd overall pick. He was the fifth running back selected in the All-Time Draft.
Jim Thorpe oldest player selected
Most of the players taken in the draft come from the post-facemask era. One guy predates them all, though: Jim Thorpe. Considered one of the greatest multi-sport athletes ever, Thorpe didn’t even join the NFL until he was 32, after he had already played seven years of Major League Baseball and won two gold medals in track and field. He played with six different teams during his stint in pro football, beginning in 1915 with the Canton Bulldogs.
Wooten took Thorpe with his fourth-round pick, going 47th overall.
Bill Belichick drafted as only active coach
In addition to selecting a 25-man team, the All-Time Draft “GMs” selected a head coach after their squads had been filled out. In a round headlined by Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and other coaching greats, Belichick stood out as the only active head coach selected in the bunch.
Appropriately, King selected Belichick to pair with his quarterback, Brady, but then traded Belichick to football historian John Turney for the eighth pick.
Hall of Fame coach and owner George Halas not selected
Halas qualifies as one the most notable figure not selected as a part of the All-Time Draft. "Papa Bear" coached Chicago for 40 years and won six NFL Championships. He’s remembered not only for his great success in Chicago (the team had only six losing seasons in his tenure), but as one of the NFL’s founding fathers.