BY Steve Rudman 07:43AM 04/27/2011

Nobody Asks But Us: Hall of Famers & the draft

Has an NFL team taken two Hall of Famers in a single NFL Draft?

Terry Bradshaw was one of two future Hall of Famers picked by Pittsburgh in 1979. / Wikimedia Commons

The National Football League held its first college draft in 1933. Since then, which team had the best single draft, and has there ever been an instance in which a team selected two future Hall of Fame players in the same draft?

Several teams grabbed two future Hall of Famers in the same body snatch, but it hasn’t occurred in quite a while. Back in 1970, the Pittsburgh Steelers, about to launch a mini dynasty, selected quarterback Terry Bradshaw in the first round (First overall) and cornerback Mel Blount in the third round (53rd overall). That gave the Steelers a leg up on winning four Super Bowls over the next decade.

But the best draft, by far, came in 1974, again orchestrated by the Steelers. That year, Pittsburgh selected four players who would go on to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame (and help the Steelers win the last two of the four Super Bowls).

Pittsburgh took wide receiver Lynn Swann at No. 21 overall in the first round, linebacker Jack Lambert (coached at Kent State by Don James) at No. 46 overall in the second round, wide receiver John Stallworth 82nd overall in the fourth round, and center Mike Webster at 125th overall in the fifth round.

Between 1969 and 1974, Pittsburgh selected nine players who would one day deliver a speech in Canton, Ohio. In the 36 NFL drafts since 1974, the Steelers have drafted just one future Hall of Famer, Rod Woodson in 1987.

On more than one occasion, a team drafted two future Hall of Famers, and never received the benefit of either of them. Ponder the fate of the 1964 Buffalo Bills. Then an American Football League franchise, the Bills selected defensive end Carl Eller and defensive back Paul Krause that year. Eller (elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004) snubbed the Bills and signed with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. Krause (elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998) also rejected the Bills, opting to play for the Washington Redskins.

That same year, the AFL’s Denver Broncos selected Paul Krause (Hall of Fame, 1998) and wide receiver (and Olympic gold medalist) Bob Hayes. Krause went to Washington and Hayes signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

Among the teams that picked two future Hall of Famers in the same draft, our favorite is the 1965 Bears. That year, Chicago took running back Gale Sayers with the first overall pick and linebacker Dick Butkus. Teams selecting two or more future Hall of Famers in the same draft:

Year Team Player//HOF Player Player Player Total
1974 Steelers Lynn Swann (2001) Jack Lambert (1990) John Stallworth (2002) Mike Webster (1997) 4
1957 Browns Jim Brown (1971) Henry Jordan (1995) Gene Hickerson (2007) 3
1936 Bears Dan Fortman (1965) Joe Stydahar (1967) 2
1945 Browns Elroy Hirsch (1968) Tom Fears (1970) 2
1956 Packers Bart Starr (1977) Forrest Gregg (1977) 2
1957 Eagles Tommy McDonald (1998) Sonny Jurgensen (1983) 2
1958 Packers Jim Taylor (1976) Ray Nitschke (1978) 2
1964 Texans Bobby Bell (1983) Buck Buchanon (1990) 2
1964 Bills Carl Eller (2004) Paul Warfield

(1983)

2
1964 Redskins Charley Taylor (1984) Paul Krause (1998) 2
1964 Browns Paul Warfield (1983) Leroy Kelly (1994) 2
1964 Oilers Charley Taylor (1984) Dave Wilcox (2000) 2
1964 Broncos Paul Krause (1998) Bob Hayes (2009) 2
1965 Bears Gale Sayers (1970) Dick Butkus (1979) 2
1970 Steelers Terry Bradshaw (1989) Mel Blount (1989) 2

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