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6 Best NFL Draft Picks in History to Remember

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The 2024 NFL draft wrapped up on April 27 and it sparked curiosity about the best NFL draft picks in history. This is one of the biggest events in the game as teams hunt for talent that’ll keep them firing. Chicago Bears drafted Caleb Williams as a first-round, number-one pick this year. 

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He’s been the most exciting prospect for years and many wait to see if he’ll live up to the hype. Over the years, teams have recruited hot prospects who didn’t live up to expectations and others who delivered on the promise. 

Here are the best NFL draft picks in history.

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Ray Lewis 

6 Best NFL Draft Picks in History to Remember
Ray Lewis. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Baltimore Ravens drafted Ray Lewis in 1996 as a first-round 26th pick. It’s the only team he played for in his 16-year career. The linebacker turned out to be one of the best. And by the time he hung his boots, Lewis had 2.059 tackles and holds three NFL records:

  • Highest number of combined tackles: 2,059
  • Highest number of solo tackles: 1,568
  • Highest number of solo tackles in a season: 156

In the 2000 (XXXV) and 2012 (XLVII) seasons, Lewis won the Super Bowl and was the MVP in the former. Adding to his list of accolades, he was twice the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2002 & 2003) and was three times the tackles leader.

The Ravens benefited from his presence in defense making this one of the best NFL draft picks in history. 

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Lawrence Taylor

Lawrence Taylor’s career highlights. Video Credit: Set the Edge

1981 saw the New York Giants draft linebacker Lawrence Taylor in the first round. His career spanned 12 years with the Giants, during which he achieved enormous success. He won the Super Bowl twice (XXI and XXV) and in one of those years, 1986, he was the MVP.

Taylor was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year thrice and in his first season, was the Rookie of the Year. In 1986, he was the sack’s leader and his overall game earned him a place in the Pro Bowl 10 times.

Statistically, he recorded 1,088 tackles. These achievements earned him a place in our list of the best NFL draft picks in history. 

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Gale Sayers

Highlights of Gale Sayers’ career. Video Credit: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Sayers was a first-round fourth-pick in the 1965 NFL draft. He joined the Chicago Bears and played for them until 1971. His career immediately began as he won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. The halfback went on to write records in the league that still stand today.

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Sayers still holds the record for having the most touchdowns (22) in his rookie year. He finished his career with 4,956 and over 1,300 receiving yards.

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Mel Blount

Mel Blount was a third-round pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970 NFL draft. He was a starter from the 1972 season and became a formidable part of it. This resulted in him winning four Super Bowls among other individual awards.

In 1975, he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was included in the Pro Bowl five times. He’s in the Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Honor and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Randy Moss

6 Best NFL Draft Picks in History to Remember
San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-2.0

After a successful college career at the Marshall Thundering Herd and being named the All-American in 1997, the Minnesota Vikings drafted him. He began life in the league on a high, earning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year recognition.

After six years with the Vikings, the wide receiver moved to the Oakland Raiders for two years and then had brief spells at:

Moss still holds the record for the most receiving touchdowns in the NFL with 23.

Shannon Sharpe

Highlights of Shannon Sharpe’s career. Video Credit: Blitz

You could know Shannon Sharpe from his broadcasting work though he was a footballer, considered one of the best NFL draft picks in history. He enjoyed a nice college career at Savannah State, earning an All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection and a Kodak Division II All-American. 

In 1990, the Denver Broncos drafted him in the 7th round, which turned out to be the right decision. The Broncos converted him from a receiver to a tight end, a position he excelled. He still holds the record for scoring the most receiving yards (214) by a tight end. 

Additionally, Sharpe won the Super Bowl twice with the Broncos, and then his third with the Baltimore Ravens. He returned to the Broncos, where he finished his career.

The best NFL draft picks in history strengthened their teams. They left an indelible mark on the game and are still spoken about. Will the 2024 NFL draft picks be successful? 

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