Top 20 Draft Classes <br>Since NFL-AFL Merger (1970)
April 25, 2007
1 of 20Damian Strohmeyer/si
Everyone knew Randy Moss was an incredible athlete, but the Vikings were the first team that had the guts to take him despite his character issues. Moss instantly turned the Vikings into the most potent offensive team in the NFL and helped them go 15-1 in '98. They also landed perennial Pro Bowl center Matt Birk in the sixth round.
2 of 20NFL/WireImage.com
The Cardinals landed Hall of Fame offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf in the second round and Pro Bowl wide receiver Mel Gray in the sixth. Those two helped the Cardinals capture the NFC East over the fearsome Cowboys in 1974 and 1975.
3 of 20John Iacono/SI
Denver was wise enough to trade the No. 4 overall pick, Chris Hinton, for the rights to No. 1 pick John Elway on draft day, and the rest is history. The Broncos also landed Pro Bowl linebacker Karl Mecklenburg in the 12th round and valuable backup QB Gary Kubiak in the eighth.
4 of 20Robert Beck/SI
The Chargers had the No. 1 overall pick and traded down to No. 5 with Atlanta. The Falcons took Michael Vick and San Diego selected LaDainian Tomlinson, who is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career. The Chargers also got a second-round pick that they used on quarterback Drew Brees, who led them to the playoffs before departing via free agency.
5 of 20Al Messerschmidt/WireImage.com
New England took a couple of defensive stalwarts in the first two rounds: cornerback Ty Law and linebacker Ted Johnson. Then it landed running back Curtis Martin in the third round. He had three solid seasons with the Patriots before he left for the Jets and ended up fourth on the league's all-time rushing list.
6 of 20MPS/WireImage.com
The 49ers's Bill Walsh knew he needed help in the secondary, so he landed safety Ronnie Lott in the first round, Pro Bowl CB Eric Wright in the second and Pro Bowl S Carlton Williamson in the third round. While the Niners' offense got most of the attention in the '80s, this group was a huge part of three Super Bowl teams.
7 of 20Walter Iooss Jr./SI
They landed defensive mainstays Carl Banks and Gary Reasons, offensive tackle William Roberts, receiver Lionel Manuel and quarterback Jeff Hostetler, who led them to victory in Super Bowl XXV.
8 of 20Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The Bengals found three offensive stars in WR Chad Johnson (second round), RB Rudi Johnson (fourth round) and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (seventh round) and landed solid DE Justin Smith in the first round.
9 of 20Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Talk about value. The 49ers took Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana in the third round and Pro Bowl wide receiver Dwight Clark in the 10th. That duo hooked up for "The Catch," which helped the 49ers beat the Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship Game and propelled San Francisco to a decade of dominance.
10 of 20John Iacono/SI
All you have to say about this class is that the Dolphins got Dan Marino at No. 27. Marino went on to rewrite the NFL record book. They also got one of his main targets, WR Mark Clayton in the sixth round and one of the best punters ever, Reggie Roby, in the fourth.
11 of 20Kevin Terrell/WireImage.com
The Cowboys' proud franchise bottomed out in the late 1980s, but drafting Troy Aikman No. 1 overall in the 1989 draft started a process that resulted in three Super Bowl rings. They also landed G Steve Wisniewski, FB Daryl Johnston, C Mark Stepnoski and DE Tony Tolbert.
12 of 20Walter Iooss Jr./SI
The Steelers were the joke of the NFL until this draft class. They landed Hall of Famer quarterback Terry Bradshaw in the first round and HOF CB Mel Blount in the third, two of the most important players on a team that won four Super Bowls.
13 of 20Bill Frakes/SI
The Bucs landed two future Hall of Famers in the first round -- defensive tackle Warren Sapp and linebacker Derrick Brooks. That duo turned Tampa Bay into a perennial playoff team and helped it win Super Bowl XXXVII.
14 of 20AP
This was the first draft after the team moved from Cleveland to Baltimore, and the Ravens hit the jackpot. They took future Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden in the first round and future HOF linebacker Ray Lewis in the second. They also selected Pro Bowl return man Jermaine Lewis in the fifth.
15 of 20John Iacono/SI
They landed the NFL's all-time sack leader, Bruce Smith, in the first round, seven-time Pro Bowl WR Andre Reed in the seventh. They also landed DB Derrick Burroughs in the second, quality backup QB Frank Reich in the fifth and serviceable OT Dale Hellestrae in the eighth round.
16 of 20NFL/WireImage.com
The Redskins started by building the foundation of one of the best lines in NFL history by taking OT Mark May in the first round and C Russ Grimm in the second. They also landed DE Dexter Manley in the fourth, WR Charlie Brown in the seventh and TE Clint Didier in the 12th.
17 of 20John Biever/SI
1983 Chicago Bears
This draft class helped make the 1985 Bears one of the greatest teams ever. Chicago landed OT Jimbo Covert in the first round, WR Willie Gault in the second, CB Dave Duerson in the third, C Tom Thayer in the fourth, DE Richard Dent in the seventh and G Mark Bortz in the eigth.
18 of 20Brad Mangin/SI
This class is distinguished because of its late-round picks. Coach Jimmy Johnson landed defensive tackle Leon Lett, left, in the seventh round and defensive back and future Super Bowl MVP Larry Brown in the 12th round. Dallas also got Pro Bowl OT Erik Williams in the third round, and DT Russell Maryland and WR Alvin Harper in the first round.
19 of 20Allen Dean Steele/WireImage.com
The Niners didn't make his first pick until No. 39 overall, when they grabbed DE Larry Roberts. They then landed FB Tom Rathman, DB Tim McKyer, WR John Taylor, DE Charles Haley, OT Steve Wallace, DT Kevin Fagan and DB Don Griffin. This group helped the Niners cement their status as the team of the 1980s.
20 of 20Walter Iooss Jr./SI
The Steelers nabbed Hall of Fame WR Lynn Swann in the first round, HOF LB Jack Lambert in the second, HOF WR John Stallworth in the third and HOF C Mike Webster in the fifth. No other team's single draft class has had more than two Hall of Famers.
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