Football fans around the world are always eager to know which NFL players will make it big after being drafted by their favorite team. Many draft picks have gone on to become household names in the league, but some players have made a more significant impact than others. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most impactful draft picks in NFL history.
Every year, the NFL draft brings excitement and anticipation as teams search for the next big star to take their franchise to the next level. While some picks turn out to be busted, others become superstars and legends in the game. These players are the ones who change the course of their teams and leave a lasting impact on the NFL.
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Jim Brown – Cleveland Browns, 1957
Jim Brown is considered one of the greatest running backs in NFL history and for good reason. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1957 and made an immediate impact in his rookie season, rushing for 942 yards and nine touchdowns. Brown went on to play nine seasons for the Browns and was named the NFL MVP three times. He retired in 1965 as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 12,312 yards.
Joe Montana – San Francisco 49ers, 1979
Joe Montana was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 1979 NFL draft. He didn’t start his rookie season but eventually became the starting quarterback and led the 49ers to four Super Bowl victories. Montana was known for his clutch performances in big games and was named the Super Bowl MVP three times.
Jerry Rice – San Francisco 49ers, 1985
Jerry Rice is widely regarded as the greatest wide receiver of all time. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1985 and played for them for 16 seasons. Rice holds numerous NFL records, including most career receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), and total touchdowns (208).
Reggie White – Philadelphia Eagles, 1984
Reggie White was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1984 and quickly became one of the most dominant defensive players in the league. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice and led the league in sacks twice. White played for the Eagles, Green Bay Packers, and Carolina Panthers during his career and retired as the NFL’s all-time sack leader in 1984.
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts, 1998
Peyton Manning was the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He played for the Colts for 14 seasons and led them to two Super Bowl appearances, winning one. Manning is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and holds numerous NFL records, including most career passing touchdowns (539) and passing yards (71,940).
Tom Brady – New England Patriots, 2000
Tom Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. He was initially a backup to starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe but took over as the starter in 2001 after Bledsoe was injured. Brady has since led the Patriots to seven Super Bowl victories and is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Ray Lewis – Baltimore Ravens, 1996
Ray Lewis was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 and quickly became the leader of their defense. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice and led the Ravens to two Super Bowl victories. Lewis is considered one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
Walter Payton – Chicago Bears, 1975
Walter Payton was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1975 and played for them for 13 seasons. He was known for his agility, power, and speed, and became one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. Payton retired as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards and was named the NFL MVP in 1977.
Lawrence Taylor – New York Giants, 1981
Lawrence Taylor was selected by the New York Giants as the second overall pick in the 1981 NFL draft. He quickly became one of the most dominant defensive players in the league, winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award three times. Taylor led the Giants to two Super Bowl victories and is considered one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history.
Randy Moss – Minnesota Vikings, 1998
Randy Moss was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 1998 and quickly became one of the most exciting wide receivers in the league. He set numerous rookie records and went on to have a Hall of Fame career, playing for multiple teams and retiring with 15,292 receiving yards and 156 touchdowns.
Deion Sanders – Atlanta Falcons, 1989
Deion Sanders was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft. He quickly became one of the best cornerbacks in the league, known for his speed and coverage skills. Sanders also played for multiple other teams and is the only player in NFL history to score touchdowns on both offense and defense in the same game.
Emmitt Smith – Dallas Cowboys, 1990
Emmitt Smith was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1990 and became one of the most dominant running backs in NFL history. He led the league in rushing four times and won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys. Smith retired as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards.
These are just some of the most impactful draft picks in NFL history. They changed the course of their teams and left a lasting impact on the league. Whether it’s a superstar quarterback, a dominant defensive player, or an electrifying wide receiver, these players have shown that the NFL draft can truly make or break a team’s future.
1. Who is considered the greatest draft pick in NFL history?
That is a subjective question, but many consider Jim Brown or Joe Montana to be the greatest draft picks in NFL history.
2. Which team has had the most impactful draft picks?
That is also subjective, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are often mentioned as one of the most successful teams in drafting impact players.
3. What is the NFL draft?
The NFL draft is an annual event where teams select eligible college football players to join their teams.
4. How many rounds are in the NFL draft?
There are currently seven rounds in the NFL draft.
5. Can a player decline to be drafted by a team?
Yes, a player can decline to be drafted by a team, but they must wait until the following year’s draft to be eligible again.