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QBs in 1983 NFL Draft overshadow talent in 1984's group

  • By NFL Media staff
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Forgive the NFL teams that were looking for a quarterback going into the 1984 NFL Draft if they were crying about their misfortune.

They were simply one year too late.

The 1983 NFL Draft is often considered the draft with the greatest and deepest quarterback talent pool ever. Six -- John Elway (No. 1 overall), Todd Blackledge (No. 7), Jim Kelly (No. 14), Tony Eason (No. 15), Ken O'Brien (No. 24) and Dan Marino (No. 27) -- were taken during the first round, and several others selected later hung around on rosters for many years. Four -- Elway, Kelly, Marino and Eason -- led their teams to Super Bowl appearances, with the Elway-guided Broncos going to five and Kelly's Bills playing in four. Three -- Elway, Kelly and Marino - are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


NFL Network provides a comprehensive look back at the past 50 years of the NFL draft with a new series "Caught in the Draft", airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.

April 9 -- 1964: The Greatest Draft Ever?
A draft that includes 11 Pro Football Hall of Famers -- more than any other draft in NFL history.

April 16 -- 1974: The Future is Now
The Steelers change the way organizations view the draft by adopting a philosophy of building a championship team through the draft.

April 24 -- 1984: A War Is Upon Us
The 1984 NFL Draft takes place in one marathon day after the USFL draft had concluded.

April 30 -- 1994: A Day That Will Live in Infamy
Two highly touted quarterbacks and an on-air spat between analyst and GM make the NFL draft the must-see event it is today.

May 7 -- 2004: Storm Over Eli
When No. 1 overall pick Eli Manning refuses to play for the Chargers, it triggers the biggest showdown between an organization and player in two decades.

The 1984 NFL Draft followed up the stunning QB class of '83 with, well, a weaker class in terms of quality and depth. On Thursday night, NFL Network heads back 30 years with "Caught in the Draft: 1984" and goes deep into the process as teams looked to shore up their futures one year after what many believed was one of the greatest drafts ever.

The Cincinnati Bengals made Boomer Esiason the first quarterback taken, grabbing the left-handed prospect in the second round with the 38th pick overall. In just a few seasons, the move paid dividends: Esiason led the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII, losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the waning minutes.

The next quarterback to go also led his team a Super Bowl, though in a different manner. Jeff Hostetler was taken by the New York Giants in the third round with the 59th overall pick.

Giants coach Bill Parcells wanted a reliable backup to starter Phil Simms, and Hostetler, who had a stellar career at West Virginia, fit what the team was looking for. He started a few games during the next few years, but his experience paid off late in the 1990 season. Simms broke his foot in a Week 15 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Hostetler then led the Giants to the postseason and a rematch win against the Bills in Super Bowl XXV.

Another future Pro Bowler, UCLA's Jay Schroeder, went to the Redskins later in the third round (No. 83 overall). But the quarterback acquisition that would be the eventual highlight of all of the signal-callers selected in 1984 occurred in a draft held one month later.

On June 5, 1984, the NFL held a supplemental draft for players who had signed with the United States Football League or the Canadian Football League. Tampa Bay held the first pick and selected the quarterback of the USFL's Los Angeles Express, a player who set multiple NCAA passing records during his time at Brigham Young University. And although he was the impact player the Bucs had hoped he'd be, he would later win three Super Bowls with another team, earning a spot in Canton.

Who was that quarterback?

How about Steve Young?

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