In some years the quarterback pool is weak; other times it’s a bonanza of future Hall of Famers and franchise passers. How will the 2010 class of Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy et al measure up to the five greatest quarterback drafts? Here’s a refresher course on the big names in those previous classes.
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Class of 1948
Alabama’s Harry Gilmer (number 52), a single-wing back, went first overall in ’48, but it was the two Southern gunslingers taken after him who distinguished this draft. Bobby Layne of Texas (Round 1, 3rd overall, Bears) and Y.A. Tittle of LSU (R1, 6, Lions).
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Class of 1957
A draft that produced nine Hall of Fame players (second-most behind the 10 in 1964), including Paul Hornung, Jim Brown and Don Maynard; also was one of the richest in passing. John Brodie of Stanford (R1, 3, 49ers), Len Dawson of Purdue (R1, 5, Steelers), Milt Plum of Penn State (R2, 17, Browns), Sonny Jurgensen (pictured) of Duke (R4, 43, Eagles) and Jack Kemp of Occidental (R17, 203, Lions).
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Class of 1961
The Expansion Vikings waited until the third round to tap their quarterback of the future, Fran Tarkenton (pictured) of Georgia (R3, 29), who turned out to be the best of a top-notch trio of long-lasting passers. Also taken in that draft were Norm Snead of Wake Forest (R1, 2, Redskins) and Billy Kilmer of UCLA (R1, 11, 49ers).
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Class of 1971
No, there isn’t a Hall-of-Famer among this bunch, but the Class of ’71 produced six QBs who became solid pros and some of the decade’s most memorable names. Jim Plunkett (pictured) of Stanford (R1, 1, Patriots), Archie Manning of Mississippi (R1, 2, Saints), Dan Pastorini of Santa Clara (R1, 3, Oilers), Lynn Dickey of Kansas State (R3, 56, Oilers), Ken Anderson of Augustana (R3, 67, Bengals) and Joe Theismann of Notre Dame (R4, 99, Dolphins).
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Class of 1983
Greatest QB Class ever? Hard to argue with three Hall of Famers, though how the Chiefs, Pats and Jets passed on Dan Marino (pictured) remains one of the NFL’s great mysteries. Note, too, that future Saints stalwart Bobby Hebert came out in ’83 but went to the USFL and (unlike Jim Kelly) was not part of this stellar draft of John Elway of Stanford (R1, 1, Colts), Todd Blackledge of Penn State (R1, 7, Chiefs), Jim Kelly of Miami (R1, 14, Bills), Tony Eason of Illinois (R1, 15, Patriots), Ken O’Brien of UC-Davis (R1, 24, Jets), and Marino of Pitt (R1, 27, Dolphins).
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