The Bears kept the Illinois linebacker in the state by taking him with the third pick in the draft, and he rewarded the team throughout his career. The Hall of Famer made eight Pro Bowls in his nine seasons and is considered one of the best linebackers of all-time. The next pick, fourth overall, also belonged to Chicago, who selected another future Hall of Famer in Gale Sayers.
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Weeb Ewbank and Joe Namath
The Alabama QB takes a look at his contract, held by Jets coach Weeb Ewbank. Broadway Joe received a record three-year, $427,000 deal. The Hall of Famer led the NFL in passing three times and led New York to an upset of 18-point favorite Baltimore in Super Bowl III.
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The NFL commissioner writes down the name of Tommy Nobis, the linebacker drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the first pick. The draft has changed dramatically since its founding in 1936.
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O.J. Simpson and Al Cowlings
Future Hall of Famer Simpson joins Buffalo Bills' first-round pick Cowlings in Las Vegas. The pair had been teammates since high school, but their most famous moment together came on June 17, 1994, when Cowlings drove Simpson's white Bronco during a low-speed police chase that ended with Simpson's surrender to authorities.
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William Bradshaw, Dan Rooney and Terry Bradshaw
The No. 1 overall pick signs his contract with the Steelers inside of soon-to-be-finished Three Rivers Stadium, along with his father, William (far left), and Pittsburgh vice president Dan Rooney. The Hall of Fame QB led the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles and earned the 1978 NFL MVP after leading the league with 28 touchdown passes.
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The NFL commissioner points to Terry Bradshaw's name at the top of the NFL draft board. Rozelle was in charge of the NFL from 1960 until 1989 and helped it grow into the most popular professional sports league in America.
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Tom Landry and Ermal Allen
The Hall of Fame coach and special assistant Ermal Allen go through scouting reports before the draft. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl trophy a few days before this picture was taken, thanks in part to their draft success.
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Lynn Swann and Chuck Noll
The Hall of Fame receiver went to the Steelers with the No. 21 pick in the 1974 draft. He helped Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls in six years, and he won the Super Bowl MVP in 1976.
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The Saints head coach tells the press he was "surprised" that running back Chuck Muncie was still available with the No. 3 pick in the draft. The Hall of Fame coach spent only two seasons in New Orleans, going a combined 7-21. Muncie's time with the Saints was better -- he made one Pro Bowl -- but his best years came after a trade to San Diego, where he made two more Pro Bowl appearances.
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Leroy Selmon and Pete Rozelle
The defensive tackle poses after being the No. 1 overall pick and first selection ever by the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Hall of Famer went to six-straight Pro Bowls and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1979.
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The Heisman Trophy winner waits to be interviewed after being drafted by the Cowboys, who acquired the pick in a trade with Seattle. He ran for 12,739 yards in his Hall of Fame career and made four Pro Bowl appearances.
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Earl Campbell and Pete Rozelle
The No. 1 overall pick holds up his Oilers jersey with NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. The Hall of Famer led the NFL in rushing yards during his first three seasons, but the hard-running tailback only lasted eight years in the league.
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William Bidwell and Ottis Anderson
The Cardinals' first-round pick holds up his jersey alongside owner William Bidwell. The running back won Rookie of Year in 1979 and made the Pro Bowl in his first two seasons. He later added the 1991 Super Bowl MVP award for his performance in the Giants' win over the Bills.
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The former Heisman Trophy winner and Los Angeles Ram was traded to the Chargers on draft day for a future first-round pick. The running back had an unspectacular career, playing nine years but never rushing for more than 700 yards in a season.
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Anthony Munoz and Brad Buddle
The USC teammates both went in the first round of the draft: Munoz to the Bengals with the No. 3 pick and Budde to the Chiefs with the No. 11 pick. Their careers diverged from there. Munoz had a Hall of Fame career at left tackle, while Budde had a mediocre seven-year career as a guard.
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Jack and John Elway
Elway, seen here with his father, Jack, makes an announcement that he will sign to play baseball with the Yankees rather than play for the Baltimore Colts, who took the QB with the first pick in the draft. Elway leveraged a trade to Denver, where he had a Hall of Fame career. He led the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles and threw 300 touchdown passes in his career.
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After a year in the USFL, James signed with the Patriots, who had drafted him in the seventh round in 1983. James played five seasons for New England, earning one Pro Bowl selection.
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Bruce Smith and Family
The Hall of Famer poses for a photo with his family after the Buffalo Bills drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick. He compiled 200 sacks during his career, an NFL record, and was the league's defensive player of the year twice.
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Michael McCaskey and William Perry
The Fridge, pictured here with Bears' president Michael McCaskey, made an instant impact of the Bears, who drafted him in the first round. He started nine games and had five sacks as a rookie. More famously, he ran in a touchdown that season in Chicago's 46-10 drubbing of New England in the Super Bowl.
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Draftniks hold up cards with their entry number as they wait for the doors to open. Tickets for the draft are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Since 2006, the draft has been held at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
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The long-time ESPN NFL analyst and host works the draft board during the telecast.
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The Heisman Trophy winner talks on the phone after being selected by the Buccaneers with the No. 1 pick in the draft. He struggled with Tampa Bay, throwing 25 more interceptions than touchdowns and compiling a 24-48 record. But he went on to have a productive 21-year career in the league and earned two Pro Bowl selections.
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Chuck Schmidt and Barry Sanders
The explosive Oklahoma State running back holds his jersey with Lions vice president of finance, Chuck Schmidt. Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards in his career, but he abruptly retired in 1999 despite being a near lock to break Walter Payton's all-time rushing record the following season.
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Deion Sanders and Andrea Kramer
Primetime is interviewed by reporter Andrea Kremer after being drafted fifth overall in the draft by the Falcons. The flashy Florida State cornerback and return man went to eight Pro Bowls during his career and is a member of the 2011 Hall of Fame class.
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Jerry Burns and Herschel Walker
Coach Jerry Burns smiles as his new running back holds up his Vikings jersey. But it cost a king's ransom to acquire the 1982 Heisman trophy winner from the Cowboys. Dallas received five players and seven draft choices, which helped set the table for the team's success in the 1990s. Among the players drafted with those picks: Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland.
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The Hall of Fame quarterback holds up his jersey after being taken with the No. 1 pick. The Cowboys gave the UCLA QB an $11.2 million contract, and Aikman led Dallas to three Super Bowl titles and tossed 165 touchdowns during his career.
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Favre takes a call from the Falcons while surrounded by friends and family in his bedroom. Atlanta drafted Favre in the second round but traded him to Green Bay the following season. The rest is history: Favre started 297 straight games, won three MVPs and led the Packers to the 1997 Super Bowl title.
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Drew Bledose and Family
The Washington State QB, posing here with his family, went to the Patriots with the No. 1 overall pick. Bledsoe compiled a 63-60 record as a starter for New England and led the team to the 1997 Super Bowl. He lost his starting job to Tom Brady in 2001 but went on to play three seasons with the Bills and two with the Cowboys.
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Peyton and Archie Manning
The Colts QB arrives at team headquarters alongside his father, Archie, the second pick in the 1971 draft. The Colts were torn between the 11-time Pro Bowl quarterback and Ryan Leaf. They made the right choice.
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Alex Spanos, Ryan Leaf and Paul Tagliabue
One of the biggest busts in league history, Leaf holds his Chargers jersey with owner Alex Spanos (left) and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue after being taken with the second pick in the draft. He lasted less than four seasons in the league, completing 48.4 percent of his passes and throwing 14 touchdowns against 36 interceptions in his career.
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Donovan McNabb and Family
The Syracuse QB was booed on draft day by Eagles fans who wanted running back Ricky Williams. But the six-time Pro Bowl QB led Philadelphia to five NFC championship games and a Super Bowl appearance.
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Chris Samuels and LaVar Arrington
The Redskins held the No. 2 and No. 3 picks in the draft and came out with a pair of contributors. Arrington made three Pro Bowls in his seven-year career, and Samuels made six in his 10 seasons with the team.
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Justin Smith, Leonard Davis, Kenyatta Walker, David Terrell, Michael Vick, and LaDainian Tomlinson
The careers of the six first-rounders highlight the uncertainty of the draft. Tomlinson is an all-time great and former league MVP, and Vick is a four-time Pro Bowler (but went to jail for his role in a dog-fighting ring). Leonard Davis and Justin Smith have had solid, productive careers. But Kenyatta Walker struggled in his six seasons and David Terrell was even worse, lasting only one game into his fifth season.
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Alex Smith, Ronnie Brown, Antrel Rolle and Cedric Benson
The four first-round picks have had mixed results in their careers. Smith, the No. 1 pick, lost his starting gig with the 49ers in 2012 and is now with the Kansas City Chiefs. Brown has battled injuries in his career but made the 2008 Pro Bowl. Rolle won a Super Bowl ring with the Giants in 2012 and has made two Pro Bowls. Benson was a bust for Chicago but restarted his career in Cincinnati, rushing for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, and played in 2012 for the Packers.
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Michael Oher and Family
The star of Michael Lewis' best-selling book The Blind Side (and the Sandra Bullock movie by the same name), Oher completed his rags-to-riches story by being drafted No. 23 overall by the Ravens.
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C.J. Spiller was the first running back taken in 2010 when the Buffalo Bills used the ninth overall pick on the Clemson tailback. After gaining just 283 yards his rookie season and 561 in 2011, he broke loose for 1,244 in 2012.
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The Atlanta Falcons traded five picks to Cleveland to move from 27th to 6th so that they could draft former Alabama star wideout Julio Jones.
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