The 2016 NFL Draft is less than 30 days away. The NFL’s three-day extravaganza ushers in a new wave of talent from college ranks, and debuts new stars not only to the gridiron, but to the world as well. The draft also doubles as the NFL’s marquee event of the off-season, as tons of media, fans, and even current and former players players attend the spectacle.
A lot of the coverage and popularity of that we see surrounding drafts of this century and for the last 30 plus years for that matter, an be attributed to the 1983 Draft. That year, the league’s annual event was historic. For the first time in it’s existence, the draft which was held at the New York Sheraton Hotel, had fans line up outside the night before just so they could make sure they got in. The draft was also the first to be held after the 1982 campaign that was abbreviated because of a player strike, which resulted in the regular season being shortened from 16 games to 9.
The event also stood out because it is the only draft in NFL history to have six quarterbacks taken in the first round. Out of the seven players that would end up in the Hall-Of-Fame out of this draft class, three of them would be QBs. Furthermore, the consensus number 1 pick in the draft, Stanford QB John Elway, who was drafted by the New York Yankees two years earlier, threatened to quit football if he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts who held the draft’s first overall pick.
Despite the Elway situation, the new-found popularity, and the NFL having to fend off the upstart United States Football League (USFL) from stealing the NFL’s players, the show still had to go on. What better way to jump into the circus that was the ’83 season, than to re-draft the first 20 picks of the first round of the of arguably the league’s most important draft? That’s exactly what we here at TheSportster will do. Without further ado, here we go.
* There will be no trades considered in this re-draft.
1. Baltimore Colts – Eric Dickerson
John Elway was a golden boy quarterback with a rocket arm, scrambling ability, and athleticism. What’s there not to like? If you’re were a member of the Colts however, there was plenty to not like because the QB did not want to play for the team, due to multiple reasons including the head coach Frank Kush, the instability of then owner Robert Irsay (yes Jim’s dad) as well as the franchise, and the fact that the team was coming off a 0-8-1 season.
So instead of taking the future Denver Broncos’ GM, I have them taking another Hall of Famer, and more importantly, someone who wanted to play for them in Eric Dickerson. The NFL’s single-season rushing king with 2,105 yards would eventually become a Colt after the team had moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis when he was traded from the Los Angeles Rams to the Colts in 1987 after a contract dispute. In five years with the franchise, Dickerson had 1,258 carries for 5,194 yards and 32 touchdowns. Imagine the numbers he would’ve put up if he played there the first four years of his career.
2. Los Angeles Rams – Bruce Matthews
In real life, the Rams picked Eric Dickerson. With Dickerson now off the board in this re-draft, I have the Rams taking another Hall-Of-Famer in Bruce Matthews, who is looked at by some as the best offensive lineman to ever play the game. The USC product, and key member of the Matthews clan, played 18 years in the league for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise, and made the Pro Bowl a record-tying 14 times. Can you imagine how dominating the Rams’ O-Line would have been with both Matthews and Jackie Slater? Having Vince Ferragamo already, the Rams likely would have passed on Elway.
3. Seattle Seahawks – John Elway
Seattle used this pick on Curt Warner. No, not the Quarterback, this Warner was a running back out of Penn State. In 100 career games in the NFL, he found the end-zone 63 times. Without a doubt that is solid production, but nowhere close to the production from the player I am sliding to them. The QB I have going to them is the number 1 pick of the draft, John Elway. The future Broncos’ player and executive, put up some of the best numbers at the position in the history of the game.
To make matters easier, unlike playing in Baltimore, Elway stated in the excellent ESPN documentary 30 for 30 documentary Elway to Marino, that he would have been fine playing in Seattle because of his respect for their head coach Chuck Knox, as well as due to the fact that he and his family were from the Northwest area.
4. Denver Broncos – Dan Marino
While the Bronos chose offensive lineman Chris Hinton, who was a key part of the Elway trade that took place after the ’83 draft, I am giving the 2015 Super Bowl champs at quarterback from the get-go, in Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino. Could you imagine Marino finishing out his career with the likes of Terrell Davis, Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe and Ed McCaffrey instead of O.J. McDuffie, Karim Abdul Jabbar (no, not the one you’re thinking of), Oronde Gadsen, and a past his prime Tony Martin?
5. San Diego Chargers – Darrell Green
The Bolts’ picked linebacker Billy Ray Smith Jr, from the University of Arkansas. The LB played 10 years in the league, but never made it to a Pro Bowl. Instead of Smith Jr., I am giving the Bolts a player who played the longest out of all 335 players selected in the 83′ draft, in corner back Darrell Green. The Hall of Famer played for an astonishing 19 seasons, won two Super Bowls as a member of the Washington Redskins, and set a standard for the position. That’s pretty impressive for the last player selected in the opening round.
6. Chicago Bears – Jim Kelly
The Bears actually drafted left tackle Jimbo Covert. The LT would go on to start every game of his 8-year career with the team. With all due respect to Jim McMahon however, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Chicago Bears might have won more than one Super Bowl, had they had a quarterback that could match their legendary defense, and Sweetness himself.
In this re-draft, I am giving them that option in QB Jim Kelly. Kelly, who was shockingly picked after Penn State and Kansas City Chief QB Todd Blackedge, brought the Bills to a record four straight Super Bowl in the early 1990s. Imagine the damage he would’ve done with the Bears of the 80s.
7. Kansas City Chiefs – Richard Dent
The Chiefs went with quarterback Todd Blackledge. Heading into the 83′ draft, Blackledge was just coming off of winning a National Championship at Penn State. While he was definitely expected to go in the first round, he was viewed by many scouts as the 4th best QB in the group. After four seasons and 24 starts as a Chief, the most noteworthy thing he accomplished was holding the franchise for interceptions thrown in a game with 6. It’s a mark that still stands today.
Instead of Blackledge, I have the Chiefs choosing defensive end Richard Dent. The Chicago Bears’ 8th round pick (203rd overall) was the 7th member of this draft class to be elected to the Hall of Fame 2011. Throughout his career, Dent had an amazing 137.5 sacks, and added 8 interceptions, one of which he ran back for a touchdown. What’s even more amazing, is the fact that a total of 26 defensive linemen including 10 defensive ends were selected in front of the two-time champion, and MVP of Super Bowl XX.
8. Philadelphia Eagles – Roger Craig
The Eagles went running back, and ended up with colossal bust Michael Haddix. Over the course of his eight year career, he set the NFL record for fewest yards per carry for a RB with a minimum of 500 carries, with a 3.0 average. So instead of Haddix, I am giving the Eagles a much better RB in former San Francisco 49er, Oakland Raider, and Minnesota Viking, Roger Craig. One of the key components to Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense, as well as 3 Super Bowl winning 9er teams, was the first player in league history to produce 1,000 rushing and receiving in the same season. How Craig isn’t in the Hall-Of-Fame is a mystery.
9. Houston Oilers – Jimbo Covert
With Hall of Fame tackle Bruce Matthews gone to Rams in my re-draft, I am giving the Oilers a replacement in Jimbo Covert. The former Chicago Bear was the team’s starting left tackle for eight seasons, and helped paved the way for Sweetness himself, the late great Walter Peyton. While Covert’s career wasn’t as decorated as Matthews’, the University of Pittsburgh product won a Super Bowl with the ’85 Bears, and was named to the NFL 1980’s All-Decade Team.
10. New York Giants – Dave Duerson
The G-Men took Clemson safety Terry Kinard. In seven years with New York, he made the Pro Bowl once (in 1988), recorded 27 interceptions, and won a Super Bowl. Instead of Kinard, I have the Giants drafting the late Dave Duerson. While he has become one of the most recognizable names in the NFL/Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) issue, the fact of the matter is that Duerson was a fantastic safety. His punishing hits to receivers going over the middle, coupled with his quick hands that led to him getting 20 career interceptions, turned the two-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowler into one of the most feared defenders in football.
11. Green Bay Packers – Gill Byrd
The Packers took cornerback Tim Lewis. A severe neck injury suffered during a Monday Night Football game forced the Pittsburgh product to retire after only four seasons. Lewis’ 16 interceptions in such an abbreviated career suggest that he could have been an all-time great. Instead of Lewis, I have the Pack taking CB Gill Byrd. The father of current New Orleans Saints’ Safety Jarius Byrd was the definition of ball-hawk as he picked off opposing quarterbacks 42 times during his nine-year career.
12. Buffalo Bills – Henry Ellard
Before taking Jim Kelly with their second 1st round draft choice, the Bills selected tight end Tony Hunter out of Notre Dame. Just like the aforementioned Lewis, Hunter’s career was cut short after four seasons due to an injury (knee). Instead of going TE, I am giving the Bills another receiving option in Henry Ellard. The Rams 2nd round pick lasted 15 years in the league, and had over over 800 receptions (814) and nearly 14,000 yards (13,777). An offense featuring Ellard, Don Beebe, and Hall-Of-Famers James Lofton Andre Reed, and Thurman Thomas would have been even more prolific than Buffalo already was.
13. Detroit Lions – Chris Hinton
The Lions being the Lions, decided to use their 1st on fullback James Jones…Yes, a fullback. In my re-draft, I have Detroit taking the big piece that went back to Baltimore in the Elway trade, offensive lineman Chris Hinton. While his career wasn’t as celebrated as the ex-Broncos’ Quarterback, Hinton’s was definitely impressive. Over the course of his 12-year career, he made the Pro Bowl seven times, and was named an All-Pro at both Left and Right Guard, as well as Right Tackle.
14. Buffalo Bills – Ken O’Brien
With quarterback Jim Kelly already off the board, I have the Bills taking QB Ken O’Brien. While he wasn’t as successful as Kelly, Elway, or Marino, he was a lot more productive than Eason and Blackledge. He threw for over 25,000 yards, made the Pro Bowl twice, was the highest rated passer during the 1985 season, and combined with Marino to throw for the most yards ever in a single game with 927. It was a record that lasted 25 years, until it was broken by Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers in 2012. O’Brien, might have had a chance to be even better had he played on a team with options at wide receiver than the Jets.
15. New England Patriots – Don Mosebar
Yes, their actual pick quarterback Tony Eason helped lead the Patriots to Super Bowl XX, but Rex Grossman also led a team to the NFL’s signature game, and no one would ever confuse him with being a franchise QB. In the aforementioned game, the Pats were pounded 46-10 by the 86′ Bears. A lot of blame was placed at Eason’s feet, as he was sacked three times, and achieved the dubious record of being the only passer in SB history to start the game and not complete an actual pass (0 for 6).
Instead of taking Eason, I am giving them someone who would have helped the Pats offensive line that gave up 7 sacks in the game. That person is former Raiders center Don Mosebar. The USC product was a three-time Pro Bowler that stepped into the lineup as a rookie at guard, before switching to the middle of the O-Line, and raising his game to an even higher level, as he helped open up holes for legends like Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson.
16. Atlanta Falcons – Leonard Marshall
Looking for some help at defensive end, the Falcons selected Alabama DE Mike Pitts. Pitts would put up 48.5 career sacks, including 25 in his four years as a Falcon. While that is solid production, I am giving the franchise a true pass rush specialist in Leonard Marshall. The Giants’ second pick out of Louisiana State University had an impressive 83.5 sacks. He also made the Pro Bowl three times, and was named an All-Pro on two occasions. More importantly, for the man that delivered the bone crushing hit on Joe Montana, that led to the quarterback’s departure from the 49ers, Marshall played a key role in two Giant Super Bowl wins.
17. St. Louis Cardinals – Darryl Talley
No, this isn’t the baseball team. These were the Arizona Cardinals before the team into the desert for the 1988 season. Back to the draft, the Rams picked defensive back Leonard Smith from McNeese State. Instead of adding to the secondary, I have the team addressing the pass rush, by adding Buffalo Bills’ outside linebacker Darryl Talley. The 2nd round pick is the team’s all-time leading tackler (1,137), and was a key member of a Bills defense that helped the franchise reach an NFL record four-straight Super Bowls.
18. Chicago Bears – Willie Gault
The Chicago Bears took wide receiver Willie Gault with their first round pick, and that’s exactly who I have the team taking in my re-draft. Why stay with Gault you might be asking – because he was a difference-maker who had blazing speed that he used to keep defenses honest when teams tried to stuff eight and nine men in the box to stop the great Walter Payton. Although he never had a 1,000 yard season,
Quarterback Jim McMahon’s go-to WR seemed to save his best performance for his biggest games. In the club’s 1985 Super Bowl victory, the former Tennessee Volunteer had a game-high four catches for 129 yards.
19. Minnesota Vikings – Albert Lewis
Since Browner is off the boards for the Vikes, I have them taking cornerback Albert Lewis. If he was playing today, Lewis would be an extremely rich man as the 6’2 CB who reportedly ran a sub 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, would fit the on-going trend of fast and long Defensive Backs getting huge paydays. The second round pick of the Chiefs, who would be inducted into the team’s Hall-Of-Fame in 2007, was also a ball-hawk in his own right, as he recorded 42 interceptions. Over the course of his 16-year career, he produced at least 2 INTs in 10 seasons, and even registered a pair of picks – one of which he ran back for his only touchdown – in his final year, at the age of 38.
20. San Diego Chargers – Joey Browner
The Bolts chose Arkansas running back Gary Anderson. After playing two years in the USFL, and then being primarily used as a kick returner once he finally played for San Diego, Anderson finally won the starting RB job in 1988. Instead of Anderson, the Chargers should have taken safety Joey Browner out of USC. Browner was a difference-maker on defense. The defensive back went on to make 6 Pro Bowls as a member of the Minnesota Vikings who took him with the 19th pick of the first round.
Browner, who was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team, was a four-time All-Pro, and had 40 career interceptions, would have fit in great on the Chargers, as his play-making skills would’ve helped a Chargers team that had a powerful offense led by Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow Sr., Charlie Joiner, and their late Head Coach and offensive mastermind Don Coryell.
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