The NFL Draft is where dreams are made for the college elite as they find their place in the NFL, but it’s also where drama can unfold both in terms of shock picks, trades, and players seeing those dreams turn into nightmares.
From successful last-minute trade deals, teams running out of time to make their picks, and even players who refuse to play for the teams that drafted them – the NFL Draft has it all.
We’ve also seen top players slide down the order when they imagined going all the way to the first pick, making for an awkward sight in the green room as they watch team after team miss out on the opportunity to draft them.
Then we have players like the Raiders who have made some crazy choices over the years – they are always a team to watch.
Here, we take a look at some of the best moments from the NFL Draft soap opera over the years.
Dramatic drop in Aaron Rodgers’ draft
Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith were the top two quarterbacks in the 2005 draft, and many, including Rodgers himself, thought he would be drafted by his home team, the San Francisco 49ers, with the first overall pick. Rodgers has since said that the team even indicated they would draft him, but when the Niners decided to draft Smith, what followed was pure incident television as the nation watched a young QB sweat as the teams continued to pass him.
While it’s easy to say now in hindsight, it’s still insane to think that 23 teams failed to see the potential in Rodgers as he ultimately went to #24 at the Green Bay Packers. The problem wasn’t that too many teams had, or felt they needed, a QB and were busy tackling other areas of their teams, and as Rodgers watched, it became more awkward to see him in the green room. Finally, after waiting five hours in the now deserted green room, the Packers took him out of action, which proved to be a masterstroke as he turned into a four-time MVP and one of the best QBs ever to grill. . . However, we will never forget Rodgers’ nightmarish entrance into the NFL.
Exchange between Eli Manning and Philip Rivers
The lasting image of the 2004 NFL Draft is Eli Manning on stage with his family, all grinning sheepishly as they lifted a San Diego Chargers jersey, despite the quarterback letting it be known he would never play for the team.
His father, former NFL star Archie Manning, believed San Diego was hopeless and warned the Chargers not to draft his son with the first pick, but San Diego called his bluff.
What ensued was chaos – with the Mannings forcing a tight smile as Chargers fans in the crowd chanted “Eli sucks” and the team looked for business partners.
Luckily for all concerned, the New York Giants fell in love with Manning, so they drafted Philip Rivers with their fourth overall pick to use in a trade. Both QBs became huge success stories with their respective teams, even though Manning won two Super Bowls and Rivers never made it to the big game. It would have been better to draft the QB they ended up with, but that would have robbed us of some great Draft Day drama.
Mike Ditka trades entire shares of Saints Draft
Mike Ditka is a sports legend having won the Super Bowl as both a player and head coach with the Chicago Bears, but it’s fair to say that the Draft isn’t his forte. In 1999 he was in charge of a struggling New Orleans Saints team and desperately wanted to draft superstar running back Ricky Williams into the draft. He also told an NFL meeting that he would trade his entire set of draft picks to the Saints to sign Williams that year. Ditka is also not a poker player…
Teams took him at his word and when he looked around to trade from the 12th overall pick to Williams, prospective trading partners were asking for the world, knowing exactly how desperate he was. Most would have walked away, but Ditka took perhaps the biggest trade swing in Draft history by delivering the entire set of picks in the 1999 Draft in Washington to move up to a fifth pick for Williams.
He also cost the Saints first- and third-round picks in the following 2000 draft, resulting in eight overall single-player picks.
Williams had a good three-year stint in New Orleans putting up some good numbers, but it was nowhere near enough to warrant losing an entire series of draft picks!
The Minnesota Vikings lose their pick… twice!
It shouldn’t be that hard right? But confusion can sometimes confuse even seasoned NFL executives, as the Minnesota Vikings proved when they ran out the clock two years later. In 2002 the Dallas Cowboys ran out the clock and the Vikings went on the clock with a chance to pinch their sixth overall pick.
Minnesota couldn’t deal with the moving landscape and missed that opportunity when Dallas traded to the Chiefs, who had the pick ahead of the Vikings. A year later, in 2003, things got even worse when the Vikings attempted to go down their seventh pick to the Baltimore Ravens, but he was not tried in time. While Minnesota ran like headless chickens in their war room, the Panthers and Jaguars both pushed ahead of them in the Draft order as they quickly made their picks.
Elway says there’s no way to Baltimore
The Colts were still in Baltimore in 1983 and wanted to draft talented college quarterback John Elway with the first pick, but Elway had other ideas. He never actually gave a reason, but Elway let it be known that he would never play for the Colts, adding that if they drafted him he would play Major League Baseball instead since he was drafted by the New York Yankees. It was a dilemma for the Colts, who decided to draft him anyway but soon realized that Elway would actually transition into baseball rather than dress for them. Just six days after being drafted by Baltimore, Elway was traded to the Denver Broncos where he won two Super Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The article NFL Draft day drama: From Rodgers’ fall to the Manning-Rivers swap first appeared on Planetsport.com.