The best NFL Draft classes of all time

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In the illustrious history of the National Football League (NFL), numerous draft classes have left an indelible mark on the sport, shaping the future of teams and defining eras. As we journey through the annals of NFL history, let’s explore and celebrate the best NFL draft classes of all time—those that produced gridiron legends and transformed franchises.

  1. 1974 NFL Draft

The 1974 NFL Draft stands as a testament to scouting brilliance, as it unleashed a wave of future Hall of Famers. Headlined by the iconic quarterback class of Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth, the Pittsburgh Steelers laid the foundation for their dynasty. This class also featured Hall of Famers such as Mike Webster and Jack Lambert, solidifying the Steelers as a powerhouse for years to come.

  1. 1983 NFL Draft

Often referred to as the “Quarterback Class,” the 1983 NFL Draft remains unparalleled in its impact on the league. Boasting a remarkable trio of Hall of Fame signal-callers—John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino—this draft reshaped the quarterback landscape. Elway’s heroics with the Denver Broncos, Kelly’s leadership for the Buffalo Bills, and Marino’s prolific career with the Miami Dolphins make the 1983 class one for the ages.

  1. 1996 NFL Draft

The 1996 NFL Draft stands out for producing a surplus of talent across various positions. Key contributors from this class include future Hall of Famers like Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, and Marvin Harrison. Lewis, a defensive juggernaut, became the face of the Baltimore Ravens, while Ogden anchored the offensive line. Harrison, one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, etched his name in the record books with the Indianapolis Colts.

  1. 2004 NFL Draft

The 2004 NFL Draft is often lauded for its stellar quarterback class, headlined by Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger. Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP with the New York Giants, and Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, have left an indelible mark on the league. Additionally, this class produced perennial Pro Bowlers such as Larry Fitzgerald, Sean Taylor, and Vince Wilfork.

  1. 2011 NFL Draft

The 2011 NFL Draft showcased an abundance of talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Superstars like J.J. Watt, Von Miller, and Richard Sherman emerged from this class, dominating the league with their exceptional skills. Watt’s defensive prowess with the Houston Texans, Miller’s edge-rushing dominance for the Denver Broncos, and Sherman’s shutdown cornerback play for the Seattle Seahawks define the legacy of the 2011 class.


While numerous draft classes have contributed to the rich tapestry of NFL history, the 1974, 1983, 1996, 2004, and 2011 drafts stand out as the best of the best. These classes not only produced exceptional players but also shaped the identity and success of the franchises they represented. As we look forward to future drafts, we can’t help but marvel at the enduring impact these classes have had on the gridiron, leaving an everlasting legacy in the hearts of football fans worldwide.

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