21 Apr 2005
Somehow between writing and editing chapters for Pro Football Prospectus 2005, I found time to put together this article for ESPN Page 2 on the best one-team draft classes since the combined draft began in 1967. Clearly, I am insane. As I note in the article, I could have just done this as "top Pittsburgh Steelers draft classes since 1967" and the list would have been about as good. Pittsburgh's ability to snag great players with both early and late picks is just remarkable. From 1969-1974 they drafted nine Hall of Famers, one of their 1980s drafts makes this list also, and I could have thrown on drafts like 1986 (Gerald Williams in the third, Brent Jones -- yes, from the 49ers -- in the fifth) or 1993 (Chad Brown in the second, Willie Williams in the sixth). To cut off complaints early, yes, I am sure the list is incomplete. Check the comments for some honorable mentions.
It's a year of huge cornerback contracts, with A.J. Bouye and Stephon Gilmore breaking the bank. But will these big-money contracts, and the big-time gambles associated with them, pay off?