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Continued: The NFL's big bang

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 22, 2012 - 10:49 PM

Once upon a time, in a world far different from ours, professional football drafts were held as people tended to other matters. Players were chosen without fanfare; without hugs from the commissioner; and without the instant analysis of 42 million television viewers with couch sores from watching seven rounds extended over not one but three days.

"My first job in football, I'm 13 or 14 years old and I'm a runner during the AFL draft in the early '60s," said Joe Horrigan, a vice president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "There were 28 rounds or whatever it was. And it was all held in one day, so I'm running the streets of New York at all hours of the morning."

It wasn't exactly glamorous work.

"I'd sit in [AFL Commissioner] Joe Foss' office until teams called their picks in to him," Horrigan said. "Every round, he'd write the picks on a sheet of paper, stick it in an envelope and hand it to me. I'd run over to the Waldorf Astoria to a room with maybe half a dozen newspaper reporters in it. I'd hand them the sheet of paper and, well, that was it."

The NFL wasn't any different. No Chris Berman. No squadrons of former players to break it all down. Heck, there wasn't even a senior version of Mel Kiper Jr.

The draft has come a long way since it was born in 1936. Player evaluation began to evolve in 1963 with a rudimentary precursor to today's scouting combine. Then came the 1970s and a Pittsburgh Steelers team that validated the increased emphasis on the draft by masterfully hand-picking the pieces that would form one of the most dominant dynasties the league has ever seen.

Things were progressing off the field, too. On Sept. 7, 1979, ESPN was launched. A few months later, the network asked then-commissioner Pete Rozelle if it could televise the 1980 draft in its entirety. Rozelle's answer -- "Why would you want to do that?" -- proved that not even a true league visionary could have anticipated this much hype.

Let history show ...

With the third overall pick on Thursday, the Vikings appear to be in a no-lose situation. They'll have the first swing at the best non-quarterback prospect and couldn't possibly lose by filling a need with USC left tackle Matt Kalil, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne or Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon. Right?

Well ...

If the first 76 NFL drafts have taught us anything it's this: Appearances can be deceiving. Not to mention embarrassing when viewed through years of hindsight.

Since 1980, the third pick in the draft has produced Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz (1980), Barry Sanders (1989) and Cortez Kennedy (1990). But No. 3 also has given us some unforgettable flops such as:

• Andre Wadsworth instead of Charles Woodson (4) in 1998.

• Joey Harrington instead of Dwight Freeney (11) and Ed Reed (24) in 2002.

• Gerard Warren instead of LaDainian Tomlinson (5) in 2001.

• Braylon Edwards instead of Aaron Rodgers (24) in 2005.

• Akili Smith instead of Edgerrin James (4), Ricky Williams (5), Torry Holt (6), Champ Bailey (8), Daunte Culpepper (11) and Antoine Winfield (23) in 1999.

"When you're picking, you know you're not always going to be right," Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said. "No one is ever perfect in this business. Everybody makes mistakes. The key is getting to a point where I know I can sit there at the end of the draft and say to myself, 'There is nothing I can think of that I could have done more to be better prepared for the decisions I made.' "

In addition to Spielman, the Vikings have a director of player personnel, a director of college scouting, an assistant director of college scouting, seven college scouts and two personnel consultants -- Paul Wiggin and Jerry Reichow -- with a combined 96 years of NFL experience. They also can walk down the hall and chat with a guy named Bud Grant if the need arises.

In other words, the Vikings have the manpower to handle a detailed scouting process that takes 11 months to piece together before draft day arrives. Most teams do, which certainly wasn't the case on Feb. 8, 1936, when the NFL's nine teams traveled to the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Philadelphia for the first draft.

Berwanger, Shakespeare, Rossi

The first-ever pick was Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger, who never played a down in the league. The Eagles traded him to Chicago, where Berwanger asked Bears owner George Halas for $25,000 over two years. Halas said no, so Berwanger went into the foam- rubber business and also worked as a sportswriter for the Chicago Daily News. Talk about a different era, financially.

The third pick that year was William Shakespeare. No, not that William Shakespeare. This one was a star at Notre Dame. But he, too, never played a down in the NFL, choosing a life in business instead.

A decade later, Cal Rossi was a star running back for UCLA. He also became the perfect illustration for just how inept scouting could be in the early decades of the draft.

"Cal was the only player to be drafted twice," Horrigan said.

Twice?

Yes, twice. After World War II, the Washington Redskins were a team in disrepair under owner George Marshall, who didn't believe in spending money on scouts. In 1946, the Redskins drafted Rossi ninth overall only to discover that Rossi was a junior, which was a problem since only seniors were eligible for the draft.

"George was embarrassed by his stupidity and drafted Cal again the next year," Horrigan said. This time, the Redskins used the fourth overall pick on Rossi.

"The only problem is everyone in the league knew Rossi wasn't going to play pro ball," Horrigan said. "Everybody, except the Redskins."

Rossi, a top-10 pick two consecutive years, not only never played a down in the NFL, he never even intended to. Somewhere, JaMarcus Russell has to feel a little better.

"There were a lot of misses back then because teams had one, maybe two scouts to cover every school in the country," said Hall of Famer Jack Butler, who played cornerback for the Steelers (1951-59) before becoming a scout for the team and the director of the league's first scouting service.

There was no Internet to rank every player in the country. No up-to-the-microsecond tweets of information. No pro days. No combine. And only a handful of games were televised. After television was invented, of course.

"It was a tremendous expense to scout college players," Butler said. "A lot of teams just didn't have the money to visit every player or bring in every player to see their doctors. That's when we decided something had to be done to improve the process."

Butler helped form the first multi-team scouting service in 1963. Three teams joined together to form what was called LESTO (Lions, Eagles and Steelers Talent Organization). The Bears joined in 1964, giving the organization its current name, BLESTO.

It didn't take the Bears long to cash in. A year after joining the group, they had the third and fourth overall picks in the 1965 draft. They used the third pick on Dick Butkus and the fourth pick on Gale Sayers.

Not a bad day in the league's 77-year history of teams struggling to pick the studs instead of the duds.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Chicago 12:00 PM
Boston
Golden State 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Dallas 6:30 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
Detroit
New Orleans 6:30 PM
Atlanta
LA Clippers 7:00 PM
Houston
New York 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Orlando 7:00 PM
Indiana
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Phoenix 8:00 PM
Denver
Memphis 9:00 PM
Portland
Minnesota 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
NY Rangers 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Chicago 3:00 PM
Anaheim
NY Islanders 4:00 PM
Washington
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Boston
Montreal 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Detroit 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Vancouver 6:00 PM
Columbus
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Florida
Edmonton 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Minnesota 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tennessee 31 1st Half 1:10
Kansas 38
Eastern Ill 20 2nd Half
NC Central 40
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Texas A&M
Radford 12:30 PM
NC A&T
Butler 1:00 PM
Georgetown
Prairie View 1:30 PM
Brown
Southern U 1:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Santa Clara 1:30 PM
Rhode Island
IUPU-Ft Wayne 2:00 PM
Dartmouth
FIU 2:30 PM
Wright State
Texas-El Paso 2:30 PM
Xavier
Penn State 3:00 PM
Bucknell
James Madison 3:00 PM
Ohio State
Yale 3:00 PM
Providence
Lamar 3:00 PM
Texas Southern
Miss Valley St 3:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Missouri State 3:00 PM
Alaska-Anchorage
Minnesota 3:30 PM
Georgia
Oklahoma 3:30 PM
Wisconsin
Stephen F Austin 4:00 PM
Austin Peay
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
St Francis-NY
USC Upstate 5:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Middle Tennessee 5:00 PM
Cincinnati
Char Southern 5:00 PM
Florida State
Princeton 5:00 PM
San Diego
Drake 5:00 PM
Valparaiso
Rice 5:15 PM
Washington St
Rider 5:30 PM
Georgia Tech
High Point 6:00 PM
Clemson
Emerson 6:00 PM
Hartford
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Jacksonville St
Monmouth 6:00 PM
Maryland
South Alabama 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Boise State 6:00 PM
NC State
Vanderbilt 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Gonzaga 6:00 PM
St Johns
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Bradley 6:00 PM
TCU
Alabama State 6:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Tennessee St 6:30 PM
Saint Peters
North Carolina 7:00 PM
Florida
Memphis 7:00 PM
Indiana State
Hofstra 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Samford 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Cleveland State 7:00 PM
Marshall
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Nebraska
SE Louisiana 7:00 PM
Tulane
Creighton 7:30 PM
Ole Miss
Murray State 7:30 PM
Portland
North Texas 8:00 PM
Arkansas
UNC Greensboro 8:00 PM
Indiana
Michigan State 8:00 PM
Marquette
Western Mich 8:00 PM
San Jose St
Stetson 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Texas-Arlington 8:05 PM
Montana State
Pacific 8:30 PM
Colorado State
Miss State 8:30 PM
Saint Louis
La Salle 8:30 PM
Virginia
North Dakota 9:00 PM
Utah
UCLA 9:30 PM
UAB
Baylor 9:30 PM
Illinois
Long Beach State 10:30 PM
Washington
Mercer 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10 3rd Qtr
Western Mich 21
Nebraska 0 2nd Qtr 9:07
Iowa 7
Western Ky 28 1st Qtr 2:15
(19) Marshall 21
UCF 7 2nd Qtr 10:38
So Florida 0
Houston 7 2nd Qtr 13:52
SMU 0
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Michigan 44 2nd Half
Washington St 28
Green Bay 34 2nd Half
Georgia Tech 29
Eastern Kentucky 42 2nd Half
Western Carolina 30
NJIT 28 2nd Half
Florida Atlantic 31
Fordham 12:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Furman 12:00 PM
Florida State
Illinois State 12:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Eastern Michigan 12:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
George Washington 12:00 PM
NC State
Ohio State 12:15 PM
Wichita State
Western Ky 1:00 PM
Tulane
La Salle 1:00 PM
Long Island
Binghamton 1:00 PM
St Johns
UNC-Asheville 1:00 PM
NC Central
North Florida 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Akron 1:00 PM
Belmont
Miss Valley St 1:00 PM
UMKC
Liberty 1:00 PM
Penn State
Colgate 1:00 PM
(21) Rutgers
Mercer 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Northeastern 1:30 PM
No Dakota State
(10) Maryland 1:30 PM
James Madison
Villanova 1:30 PM
Arizona State
Tulsa 2:00 PM
Buffalo
Boston College 2:00 PM
Brown
Wyoming 2:00 PM
Iowa State
Weber State 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Texas Tech 2:15 PM
Purdue
Washington 2:30 PM
Hartford
Fla Gulf Coast 2:30 PM
Clemson
Drake 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
UNC Greensboro 2:30 PM
Navy
(15) Nebraska 3:00 PM
UCLA
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Hofstra
Austin Peay 3:00 PM
Southern Miss
(17) Iowa 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Cal-Irvine 3:00 PM
Bowling Green
Samford 3:00 PM
Georgia State
Siena 3:30 PM
Denver
Abilene Christian 3:30 PM
George Mason
Towson 3:30 PM
Rhode Island
Howard 4:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Houston 4:00 PM
Idaho State
IUPUI 4:30 PM
Texas Southern
East Carolina 4:45 PM
Wisconsin
USC 5:00 PM
Sam Houston St
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kent State 5:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Montana 5:00 PM
Princeton
(9) Kentucky 5:00 PM
Oklahoma
Arizona 5:00 PM
FIU
Northern Ky 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Stetson 5:00 PM
Marist
American Univ 5:30 PM
Gonzaga
UAB 5:30 PM
Loyola Marymount
Oral Roberts 5:30 PM
NC A&T
Stony Brook 5:30 PM
(8) Duke
TCU 6:00 PM
Colorado State
(5) Stanford 6:00 PM
(11) North Carolina
Monmouth 6:00 PM
Wagner
Portland 6:00 PM
Nevada
Stephen F Austin 6:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Alcorn State 6:00 PM
Rice
Lafayette 6:00 PM
(12) Louisville
Florida 6:00 PM
Georgetown
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Oakland
SE Missouri St 6:05 PM
Southern Ill
Florida A&M 7:00 PM
SMU
Northern Colorado 7:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Montana State 7:00 PM
CS-Northridge
(22) Syracuse 7:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Dartmouth 7:00 PM
Cal Poly
Utah State 7:00 PM
(13) Baylor
Toledo 7:00 PM
Virginia
Christian Brothers 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
South Florida 7:15 PM
Illinois
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
(3) Connecticut
Wake Forest 7:30 PM
Charlotte
San Jose St 7:30 PM
(14) California
Central Michigan 8:00 PM
Oregon
Fresno State 8:00 PM
San Diego
Boston U 8:00 PM
New Mexico
Missouri State 8:30 PM
Colorado
Ole Miss 8:30 PM
Utah
Prairie View 8:30 PM
Hawaii
Army 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Cincinnati 9:30 PM
Creighton
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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