Good morning, 1984. Scouts and media from around the country have been evaluating players at the combine in Indianapolis the last few days. What they have found is a lack of elite talent in this year’s NFL Draft. There are many starters, perhaps Pro Bowl caliber players, but there is a void of “special” talent. The 1984 draft featured 22 Pro Bowlers and no Hall of Famers. The quarterback who had the best NFL career and was eligible to be picked in 1984 was Warren Moon. He went undrafted. Both this year's draft and the 1984 edition were sandwiched around elite classes.
The 1983 draft is regarded as one of the best of all time. It featured six quarterbacks in the first round, three of whom are now enshrined in Canton. Eleven times in the 16 years following the 1983 draft one of the QB's drafted that season represented the AFC in the Super Bowl. If John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino aren't enough to impress you, the 1983 draft also featured Eric Dickerson, Bruce Matthews, Darrell Green, and Richard Dent. A total of seven Hall of Famers and 40 players who earned a trip to the Pro Bowl were picked in 1983.
Four Hall of Famers were selected among the top 16 picks in 1985. Jerry Rice and Bruce Smith combined to play in seven Super Bowls. Chris Doleman joined them in the Hall of Fame after making eight Pro Bowl teams and totaling 150.5 sacks, the fourth most of all time. The class of 1985 produced 31 players who made Pro Bowl's including Randall Cunningham, Jack Del Rio, Herschel Walker, and borderline Hall of Famers Andre Reed and Kevin Greene.
Six players from last year’s draft class made the Pro Bowl as rookies including quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson. In their first season Trent Richardson, Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner and Casey Hayward all made a major difference but will have to wait another year or two before they get a free trip to Hawaii. For the Oakland Raiders, who did not have picks in either the first or second rounds last year, it may have been a special group of players to miss out on. Not that they would have picked them, but at number 17, the pick Oakland traded Cincinnati for Carson Palmer, Wilson and Doug Martin were both available.
If they opt to leave college early, next year's draft could be filled with upside talent. A top three of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, Louisville's do-everything quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and super freak Bruce Smith clone Jadeveon Clowney will have eliminated NFL teams tanking like crazy towards the end of the season. It is a top of the draft that could rival 1983, 1985, or 2012.
As for this year, many teams will add key pieces to the puzzle through the draft. It is likely a Hall of Famer or two will emerge. However, at this stage in the game there are no obvious no-brainer players to chose from. The team that trades this year’s pick for an extra selection next season will be taking advantage of the knowledge that a 2014 pick holds more value.