Top 10 Greatest NFL Draft Classes of All Time

The NFL Draft is a revered institution in the world of professional football, an annual event that sees teams strategically selecting players who have the potential to transform and redefine their franchises.

Below are the draft classes that produced players who went on to have illustrious careers, broke records, and possibly, became legends of the sport. These are the draft classes that are renowned for their depth and for producing a wealth of talent that has left an enduring legacy in the NFL.
The Top Ten
1 2007 NFL Draft

This is my all-time favorite class of guys who would transcend the game, as they would with tons of great names. I felt 2007 was an underrated year in terms of football and video games in my eyes back then, but now it's beloved by fans. Here are those great players who ended up being drafted: the likes of Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Marshawn Lynch, Joe Thomas, Patrick Willis, Greg Olsen, Joe Staley, Reggie Nelson, Jon Beason, Robert Meachem, Ted Ginn, Paul Posluszny, Eric Weddle, Zach Miller, Ryan Kalil, Jacoby Jones, Marshal Yanda, Dashon Goldson, Ben Grubbs, & LaMarr Woodley.

2 1983 NFL Draft

This is probably the most well-known draft of all time. While it may be a bit overrated based on how it went down overall, this was about nothing but the quarterbacks. This 2018 draft class could headline as well, but, needless to say, this one had a crazy aftermath written all over it. Players included were John Elway, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Eric Dickerson, Bruce Matthews, Darrell Green, Roger Craig, & Richard Dent.

3 2011 NFL Draft

Entering a new decade, and man, did 2011 have a ton of guys who would later look like the brightest stars people were waiting to take to the next level. In that, we got Von Miller, Julio Jones, A.J Green, Cam Newton, Patrick Peterson, JJ Watt, Ryan Kerrigan, Cameron Jordan, Tyron Smith, Mark Ingram, Muhammad Wilkerson, Justin Houston, DeMarco Murray, Jurrell Casey, Richard Sherman, Jason Kelce, & Tyrod Taylor.

4 1996 NFL Draft

This mid '90s draft class has a lot of big-time players right from the get-go like Jonathan Ogden, Simeon Rice, Marvin Harrison, Ray Lewis, Eddie George, Mike Alstott, Lawyer Milloy, Muhsin Muhammad, Brian Dawkins, Terrell Owens, Tedy Bruschi, Joe Horn, & Zach Thomas.

5 1981 NFL Draft

A lot of Hall of Famers came out of this class from the '81 draft, and man, the defensive stars were incredibly massive. Thinking about guys like Lawrence Taylor, Kenny Easley, Ronnie Lott, Mike Singletary, Howie Long, Rickey Jackson, & an elite offensive lineman in Russ Grimm.

6 2004 NFL Draft

This was one of the crazier drafts that I can recall. When I was really young seeing this happen, I couldn't imagine this ever happening in this time. The Giants and Chargers switched their picks when the whole thing took place - it was unheard of. These include the two big stars of that night, Eli Manning, and Phillip Rivers. Others in the fold are Larry Fitzgerald, Sean Taylor, Ben Roethlisberger, Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma, Chris Snee, Steven Jackson, Jason Babin, Matt Schaub, Jared Allen, Michael Turner, and Andy Lee.

7 1993 NFL Draft

This near early '90s draft had a lot of superstar talent, such as the likes of Jerome Bettis, Willie Roaf, Garrison Hearst, Drew Bledsoe, Michael Strahan, Will Shields, Jason Elam, John Lynch, Mark Brunell, Troy Brown, Trent Green, and Lorenzo Neal.

8 2001 NFL Draft

This was probably the first 21st-century draft where we got a pretty solid class of talent such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Steve Hutchinson, Richard Seymour, Michael Vick, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Wayne, Drew Brees, Chad Johnson, T. J. Houshmandzadeh, Steve Smith, and Adrian Wilson.

9 2014 NFL Draft

I may have said in the past I have had mixed feelings towards this draft, but it did have a lot of great players to come out like Khalil Mack, Mike Evans, OBJ, Aaron Donald, Anthony Barr, Zack Martin, Jadeveon Clowney, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, along with great later round talents of DeMarcus Lawrence, Derek Carr, Allen Robinson, Devonta Freeman, Telvin Smith.

10 1969 NFL Draft

Old school draft that was still merged with the AFL, but was able to draft accordingly. This leaves me to say that with studs like the Juice, Mean Joe Greene, and Charlie Joiner were the standouts. While it is somewhat not as great of a standout, it did start something that would change the dynamic of draft style.

The Contenders
11 1989 NFL Draft

Four of the top five picks are in the Hall of Fame.

This was when Barry Sanders was drafted!

12 2005 NFL Draft

I'm very mixed about this draft as well, especially the first round I thought back then was very boring, but interesting in the sense of how many teams had no interest in Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers came up with the biggest steal ever in the 1st round nevertheless.

13 2018 NFL Draft

It's way too soon to tell for this class. It looks like the Browns have finally found a franchise QB in Baker Mayfield.

So far, Baker and Barkley are the only ones who have shown elite talent.

This is one of the better drafts and a big quarterback draft. Great players like Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, and so much more.

14 1974 NFL Draft

The Steelers drafted four Hall of Fame players that year (Jack Lambert, Mike Webster, John Stallworth, and Lynn Swann). Dave Casper is the only other HOF member, though Too Tall Jones should be in the hall.

15 1967 NFL Draft

This class spawned eight members (and two undrafted players) of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

16 1985 NFL Draft

It's hard to argue with a class containing two Hall of Fame receivers (Jerry Rice, Andre Reed) and three HOF pass rushers (Bruce Smith, Kevin Greene, Chris Doleman). Randall Cunningham is borderline.

Other big names: Herschel Walker (part of the biggest trade in league history). Doug Flutie (CFL legend). Future coach Jack Del Rio.

Busts: Kevin Allen by far (he lasted one season). George Adams (Jamal's dad).

17 1957 NFL Draft

Nine Hall of Fame players were drafted this year, with four in the top 8. Most notably Jim Brown (the greatest rusher until Walter Payton came along).

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