By Patrick Mondout
This was one of the worst drafts in modern times. There were a few
stars like Carl Banks and Wilber Marshall, but no one in this draft has
the slightest chance of making the Hall of Fame (at least as a player).
Given the incredible draft of 1983,
perhaps this shouldn't be surprising.
There was another reason, however. For all the dismissive remarks by
the NFL regarding the new United States Football League (USFL),
the latter had signed many young stars. The younger league held its draft
in January and began their season in March - well ahead of the May draft
date for the NFL. In fact, the NFL held
a special three round draft for the future rights of players who had
already been signed by either the CFL or USFL ahead of the regular NFL
draft. Take a look at the first four picks and you get some idea how
different this draft might have been sans the new league.
The number 1 pick overall originally belonged the to Tampa Bay
Buccaneers. They had fallen in love with Bengals QB Jack Thompson (the
third pick overall in 1979)
and had traded the pick prior to the 1983 season. Thompson played two
seasons for the Bucs before being released.
The Bengals tried to work out a deal with Brigham Young QB Steve Young,
but he instead signed the infamous 10-year, $40 million contract with the
Los Angeles Express of the USFL. Failing to get the quarterback they
wanted, Cincinnati traded the pick to New England for their three first
The Bengals took Brian Blados and Pete Koch with two of the picks and
Arizona linebacker Ricky Hunley with the 7th pick overall. He refused to
sign and Cincinnati shipped him to the Broncos for a 1986 first rounder
(#21 overall wide receiver Tim McGee), a 1986 third round pick (#78
overall safety David Fulcher), and a 1987 fifth rounder (#139 punter Greg
Horne). Hunley was a flop in Denver and accused Broncos organization of
racism after trade to the Phoenix Cardinals.
Cincy finally got their QB of the future in the second round of this
draft when Maryland's Boomer Esiason slipped out of the first round to #37
Nebraska's WR Irving Fryar and offensive lineman Dean Steinkuhler were
drafted with the first two picks. This would not happen again until
Courtney Brown and LaVar Arrington went 1-2 in 2000.
This draft was full of busts including Mossy Cade, Clyde Duncan and
Major League Baseball draft legend* linebacker Billy Cannon Jr.
Below is the first round of the 1984 NFL draft. We also have the
entire 12 round draft. The NFL held a special draft in June for
players from this class who had already signed with the CFL or USFL. We
have that three round draft here.
1 - Pick acquired from the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers (in the Jack Thompson trade)
2 - Pick acquired from the Buffalo Bills
3 - Pick acquired from the New Orleans Saints
4 - Pick acquired from the New England Patriots
5 - Pick acquired from the Denver Broncos (in the John Elway trade)
6 - Pick acquired from the Los Angeles Rams
7 - Pick acquired from the Miami Dolphins
8 - Pick acquired from the Washington Redskins
9 - Pick acquired from the Los Angeles Raiders
* The Cannon's - father and son - were no
strangers to controversy. The father won a Heisman Trophy in 1960 and with
the advent of the AFL, had a choice between signing with the L.A. Rams and
the Houston Oilers. He chose both! He signed a $50,000 deal with the Rams
and then a $100,000 contract with the Oilers. The courts sorted it out and
the Oilers retained him. In 1983 he was convicted as part of
counterfeiting conspiracy and sentenced to five years in jail.
His son sent out letters to 25 of the 26 major league teams prior to the 1980
MLB draft letting them know that he was going to college and to not
waste a draft pick on him. The team that he wanted to play for did not
receive such a letter nor did the Yankees (surprised?) have a pick until
the third round. They picked up the first round talent in that round but a
skeptical Bowie Kuhn investigated and found the Bronx Bombers guilty of
tampering and forced them to forfeit the pick.