Memorable moments in NFL Draft history

The 2010 NFL Draft is finally here, kicking off on Thursday night with the first round and continuing on Friday and Saturday with rounds 2-3 and 4-7, respectively. Among the storylines this year: Where will Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen land? Which NFL team believes in Tim Tebow as a future starting signal-caller? And will Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant be this year’s Randy Moss and fall down the draft board?

But, before the memories of this year’s draft are captured, let’s take a look back at some of the more notable moments from drafts in the past quarter-century or so.

Feel free to share your own draft memories and ones I may have left off of this list at the bottom of the page.

University of Pittsburgh quarterback Dan Marino is passed over by 22 teams, finally selected by the Miami Dolphins with the 27th pick in the 1983 draft. Worse yet, quarterbacks Todd Blackledge (7th), Tony Eason (15th) and Ken O’Brien (24th) were taken ahead of Marino, who went on to become one of the greatest signal-callers of all time. While quarterbacks John Elway (1st) and Jim Kelly (14th) were also taken ahead of Danny Boy, a football fan can’t argue with the careers of those two prolific passers. Jets fans, however, likely have thought once or twice about how life would have been with Marino playing his home games at the Meadowlands.

• Speaking of Elway and the ’83 draft, the future Hall of Famer was selected by the Baltimore Colts first overall even after declaring that he would never play for the franchise. The Colts traded his rights to Denver, where he led the Broncos to appearances in five Super Bowls and two titles late in his career. It is worth noting, however, that having running back Terrell Davis helped Elway finally get over the hump.

• In 2004, Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning emulated Elway by telling the Chargers that he would not play in San Diego. The Bolts selected him with the first pick but immediately dealt his rights to the N.Y. Giants for the rights to current starting QB Philip Rivers and draft picks — one of which led to the selection of Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman the next season.

• The Chargers reaped the benefits of another deal when they traded the top pick in 2001 to Atlanta for its first-round selection, wideout/returner Tim Dwight and two other picks. While the Falcons selected quarterback Michael Vick, the Bolts grabbed LaDainian Tomlinson — who would go on to become one of the best running backs in league history.

• In another refusal to play for a franchise, running back Bo Jackson was selected first overall in the 1986 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but decided to exclusively play major league baseball instead. Playing outfield for the Kansas City Royals, Jackson was selected by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 7th round of the 1987 draft when his rights from the year before with the Bucs were forfeited. With Raiders owner Al Davis supporting his baseball career, Jackson joined the team midway through the ’87 season and rushed for 2,782 yards in parts of four seasons before a nasty hip injury ended his career.

• Well, they booed him then — and they seemingly never stopped booing him, even now when he’s no longer on the Philadelphia Eagles roster. Yes, Eagles fans detested the selection of Donovan McNabb at No. 2 in 1999, as they preferred the team to grab Texas running back Ricky Williams. Despite taking the Eagles to four consecutive NFC championship games and an appearance in the Super Bowl, Philly fans continued to let him have it up until his trade to D.C. a few weeks back.

• Meanwhile, Williams went to the New Orleans Saints that year after the team mortgaged the future of the franchise in a trade with the Redskins to select the Heisman winner. Let’s just say that head coach Mike Ditka wasn’t long for the city of New Orleans after that draft.

• After unsuccessfully completing a deal with the Baltimore Ravens, the Minnesota Vikings exceeded the 15-minute allotment on the seventh pick of the first round in 2003, prompting the Jacksonville Jaguars to make their pick of QB Byron Leftwich — whom the Ravens tried to move up and get. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Carolina Panthers also moved up and made a pick before the Vikes finally handed in their card to the commissioner and selected defensive tackle Kevin Williams at No. 9.

Wide receiver Randy Moss was clearly the best wide receiver in college during the 1997 season. But when the 1998 draft took place, character questions led to him falling all the way down to No. 21. As a rookie, Moss helped the Vikes become the top-ranked offense in the league, scoring a then-NFL record 556 points. After a trade to Oakland and a dip in production, Moss arrived in New England and immediately became an impact player again.

• Another player who had baggage entering a draft was running back Maurice Clarett. Clarett, though, also concerned teams because of his unimpressive workouts. Apparently, the Denver Broncos saw enough upside to select him in the third round of the 2005 draft. Clarett didn’t make the team and never played a down in the NFL. He did love his Grey Goose, however.

Notre Dame’s Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, a star receiver and returner, was a likely No. 1 pick in the 1991 draft. However, money talked, as he decided to sign a last-minute record contract with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League — an $18 million deal. Despite the announcement that he was going to Canada, the Los Angeles Raiders still selected the wideout — but with the 100th overall pick in the draft. He joined the Raiders two years later.

• The Oakland Raiders made many football fans laugh — and many of their own fans cry — in the 2000 draft when Al Davis and Co. selected Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski with the 17th overall pick. The Seminole became only the third kicker to be taken in the first round in NFL history.

• Once considered a potential top overall pick of San Francisco in 2005, quarterback Aaron Rodgers spent a long day in the green room in New York being unselected, as the Niners chose to take Utah signal-caller Alex Smith with the pick instead. Rodgers was ultimately selected by Green Bay at No. 24, and he would eventually be involved in the Brett Favre Drama Part I, which we are all familiar with by now.

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