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1983 NFL Draft – “The Best NFL Draft Ever”

The first ever NFL Draft took place in 1936. That draft only consisted of 81 players. Four of those players would become Hall Of Famers. Since then the NFL has developed the draft into a giant event. Another one of the players selected in that draft, Paul “Bear” Bryant would later give up playing football to become a coach. He would become one of the greatest college football coaches ever while at the University of Alabama. There have been many great draft classes in the years since but they all pale in comparison to one in particular.

The 1983 NFL Draft took place on Arpil 26th and 27th of that year in New York City. It included twelves rounds and 335 players were selected. Over 30 of those players selected would go to the Pro Bowl. Eric Dickerson, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino, Bruce Matthews, Darrell Green and Richard Dent who were all selected that day would later be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Other than all of the things I have mentioned the draft is remembered for another reason, the Quarterbacks.

This was the best draft class of quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. It also holds the record for most quarterbacks selected in the first round with six. Three of those six would make it into the Hall Of Fame. The standout quarterbacks of the class were by far John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

John Elway (Getty Images)

John Elway (Getty Images)

John Elway was taken with the first overall pick by the Baltimore Colts. He was eventually traded before the season to Denver due to his unwillingness to play for the Colts head coach Frank Kush. During his career he established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. When his career was over he won two Super Bowl Championships and was inducted to the Hall Of Fame in 2004.

Jim Kelly (Getty Images)

Jim Kelly (Getty Images)

With the fourteenth overall pick the Buffalo Bills selected Jim Kelly. Kelly played the season prior in the United States Football League after leaving the University Of Miami. Of the quarterbacks drafted that day Kelly made more Super Bowl appearances than any one else. Kelly lead the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl from 1990 through 1993. Unfortunately the Bills never won any of those Super Bowls. Nonetheless Kelly proved himself to be a great quarterback and was Inducted to the Hall Of Fame in 2002.

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

The final legendary quarterback taken in this draft was Dan Marino. He was projected to go early in the first round but fell back on a lot of teams boards due to reports of him using marijuana in college. The Miami Dolphins were willing to take a chance on this young man with a powerful arm and selected him with the twenty seventh overall pick. Marino played 17 season but only made one trip to the Super Bowl, the Dolphins lost that game to the San Fransisco 49ers. Marino did however finish career holding almost every quarterback record that existed. He was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2005.

An interesting note about this draft is all of the first round quarterbacks went to AFC teams. Also the three half Of Fame quarterbacks all played for only one team during their NFL career.

The Draft is such an intriguing event. Full of Pro Bowlers, Busts and Hall Of Famers. There will probably never be a quarterback class this good again. Some might argue that the 2012 class will stand the test of time but until it does the 1983 Draft will remain the best ever.

Otto Graham: The Greatest Quarterback Ever

Many modern football fans have never even heard the name Otto Graham.  Decades before Bernie Kosar was taking the Browns through many playoff runs.  Otto Graham was the best quarterback not only in Cleveland but in the NFL.  Years before Jim Brown dominated teams, Otto Graham was dominating the league.  Graham will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.  He was the 1st and possibly the biggest Cleveland sports star ever.

Otto Graham goes for a pass in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium. (Getty Images)

Otto Graham goes for a pass in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. (Getty Images)

Otto Graham started his professional career in Cleveland during the 1946 season.  At the time the Browns played in the All American Football Conference (AAFC).  In that season Graham lead the Browns to their 1st Championship and the team finished with a 12-2 record.  The winning did not stop there.  The Browns went on to win the 1947, 1948 and 1949 AAFC Championship prior to entering the NFL in 1950.  During his first 4 seasons he played in 54 games and had 86 TD’s and 10,085 yards passing in total.  Many people considered the AAFC to be the minor leagues so to speak.  The Browns were not expected to be as dominant in the NFL.

The critics were completely wrong with their assumption.  Graham had almost the same numbers in the NFL as he did in the AAFC.  Graham would play in 72 games in the NFL and have 88 TD’s and 13,499 yards passing.  Graham and the Browns made the Championship game from 1950 to 1955.  In total Graham led the Browns to 10 straight championship games with them winning 7 of them.  The only years during this period where they did not win a championship was 1951, 1952 and 1953.  Their playoff record was 9-3 during those 10 seasons.

Otto Graham retired after the 1955 season.  He retired with 174 TD’s and 23,584 yards passing.  In his career Graham was a 5 time Pro Bowler and was a 7 time First Team All Pro.  He was one of the first inductees into the Hall Of Fame in 1965.

Otto Graham's Plaque (Getty Images)

Otto Graham’s Plaque (Getty Images)

Otto Graham was able to accomplish something that will never happen again by leading his team to 10 straight championship games.  The only other player to come close was Jim Kelly with the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills made it to the Super Bowl from 1990-1994 but never won any of those games.

There are many names that are discussed when talking about who was the greatest quarterback ever.  Names like Dan Marino, John Elway, Johnny Unitas and Tom Brady but none of those players achieved the success that Graham was able to do.  The only argument that any one might have against Graham would be that the playoffs were shorter with less games when he played.  The fact of the matter is he still won those titles and in both leagues.  The only reason that most people do not consider him the best is because they don’t know anything about him or what he did during his career.

As long as the stats and film are around no one can deny his greatness.  For such a short career by today’s standards he really made an impact.  Otto Graham passed away in 2003.  He left a legacy that will never be forgotten, he will live forever in the Hall Of Fame.

Dan Marino: Did The Lack Of An Elite Running Back Really Cost Him Super Bowl Rings?

The day is January 20th, 1985 and the location is Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California.  It was Super Bowl XIX and the Maimi Dolphins took on the San Fransisco 49ers.  It was a battle between two Hall Of Fame quarterbacks,  Dan Marino and Joe Montana.  It was a very one sided game with the 49ers coming out victorious.  The final score was 38-16 as seen on the scoreboard while Dan Marino jogged back to the locker room.  Marino had an incredible second season and even though the Dolphins lost the big one it appeared he would be back again.  As history would have it Marino and the Dolphins never made it back to the Super Bowl.

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

Dan Marino (Getty Images)

Dan Marino retired in 1999 after 17 seasons.  Holding almost all of the records at his position, Marino was considered one of the best to ever play the game.  There are many who consider Marino not to be one of the best because he never won a Super Bowl ring.  Over the years the perception has been that Marino was talented enough to win a championship but never did because he never had an elite level running back.

I decided to crunch the stats and draft history to prove or disprove this theory.  Here are the results I found while I plunged deep into the various statistical categories that would help me solve this mystery.

There is evidence that the Dolphins never made a play for a high level free agent running back.  The Dolphins also never made a trade for a play maker at that position either.  They were and are still to this day a team that is not willing to make trades of future draft picks to acquire top talent.  The draft is a place where organizations can gain players that can affect their future.  The Dolphins drafted Marino in 1983 when he retired in 1999 they missed numerous opportunities to achieve greatness at the running back position.

In 1983 the very draft where they acquired Dan Marino they missed out on on two pro bowl running backs.  One of those running back was Roger Craig who turned out to be one of the best running backs of the 1980s.  Craig was also on the 49ers team that defeated the Dolphins at Super Bowl XIX.  Their draft picks only get worse from there.

The Dolphins only drafted 23 running backs of the 174 picks during the Marino era.  A total of 9 of those 23 backs never played a down in the NFL.  The dolphins did not draft one running back in 1994, 1995 and 1997.  With the exception of the 1997 draft the Dolphins had not so great performances at the back position the previous season, Mark Higgs was the leading rusher in 1993 with just 693 yards and in 1994 Bernie Parmalee was the leader with 878 yards.  The biggest blunder they made in one single draft would have to be the 1988 Draft.  In that draft the Dolphins could have selected the Hall Of Fame running back Thurman Thomas but instead selected three players that would never play in the NFL. Thomas wound up as a Buffalo Bill and won 4 AFC Championships with the team from 1990-1994.  In total the team missed out on 2 Hall Of Fame and 44 Pro Bowl running backs from 1983-1999.

During Marino’s time with the team they had only one season with a 1,000 yard rusher, Karim Abdul-Jabbar in 1996.  If you look at all of the teams that won the Super Bowl from 1983-1999 only 3 of the 16 teams that won did not have a 1,000 yard rusher.

The Dolphins made the playoffs 10 times during Marino’s Career.  They were 8-10 in all of those post season games.  Some blame many of the playoff losses to playing the Bills in the winter in freezing Buffalo, NY, which they did lose there many times.  The fact of the mater is if the Dolphins had at least a couple of the many running backs they passed up in the Draft history might have gone a little differently.

After looking at the stats, draft and history it leaves only one conclusion.  Dan Marino was one of the best,  unfortunately the Dolphins front office was not as skilled at what they did.  The blame must shift to the general managers and Don Shula especially.  Don Shula relied to much on Marino’s skill and talent and did not do enough to protect and enhance that talent.  Marino would have had more opportunities to win he was if the opposing defenses did not know he was going to pass most of the time.  They also would have been weary of a running attack if the Dolphins had one.  If Marino had a top level running back he not only would have made it to more Super Bowl’s he would have won at least one Super Bowl ring.

Dolphins QB!

With Peyton Manning being officially released by the Colts today and the possibility they might go after him I thought I would address the subject of the Dolphins QB spot. Let’s start with Matt Moore, replace him! While he did okay for the most part he is no long term QB for the Dolphins. I as a fan am tired of the revolving QB door since Dan Marino retired after the 2000 season. We have had the likes of Chad Pennington, Cleo Lemon and John Beck to name a few. I am sick of it! Find a new long term QB now Miami!

Let me touch on the Manning possibility now. No one can deny how great of a QB Manning is but with his age, and injury issues I don’t see him as a long term fix. I feel the dolphins need and have needed a long term fixture at the QB position in order to be consistently successful again.

That brings me to Robert Griffin III or RG3, which could be a possibility if the dolphins traded up from their 8th pick over all to the 2nd pick held by the Rams who have shown interest in trading it for the “right deal”. I think the dolphins should trade for the pick and bank the filigree on that kid. He is the complete football player like we have never seen before. He looks like he could be even greater than Cam Newton was this past season.

But there is a problem with the RG3 scenario that I have laid out. In order to get that pick from the Rams, the dolphins would have to do something they have never been comfortable doing before and that is to trade a few first round pick possibly 3 to make a deal come to life. I think they need to take a chance and pull the trigger o. This one. If there ever was a time to make a trade to move up in the draft it would be now.

We will have to see what happens in the next month with the Manning situation to get an indication as to which way the dolphins might go. I feel that the only real option us to get RG3. Not any other free agent not even Manning. The dolphins have been dragging their feet for too long and the fan wants to see it end immediately!