NFL Draft day drama: From Rodgers' fall to the Manning-Rivers swap

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The NFL Draft is where dreams are made for the college elite as they find their place in the NFL, but it's also where drama can unfold both in terms of shock picks, trades and players seeing those dreams turn into nightmares.

From blockbuster trade deals at the last minute, teams running out of time to make their picks and even players refusing to play for the teams that drafted them - the NFL Draft has it all.

We've also had top players slide down the order when fancied to go as high as the top pick, making for some awkward viewing in the green room as they watch team after team pass up the chance to select them.

Then we've got the likes of the Raiders who have made some crazy picks over the years - they're always a team to watch out for.

Here, we take a look at some of the best soap opera NFL Draft moments from over the years.

Aaron Rodgers' dramatic Draft drop

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith were the top two quarterbacks in the 2005 Draft and many, including Rodgers himself, felt he'd be chosen by his local team the San Francisco 49ers as the first overall pick. Rodgers has since claimed that the team even indicated that they'd be picking him, but when the Niners opted to pick Smith, what followed was pure car crash television as the nation watched a young QB sweating as teams kept on passing on him.

While it's easy to say now in hindsight, it's still crazy to think that 23 teams could not see the potential in Rodgers as he eventually went at number 24 to the Green Bay Packers. The problem was not too many teams had, or felt they had, any need for a QB and were busy addressing other areas of their teams, and as Rodgers watched on it became more awkward seeing him in the green room. Finally, after waiting five hours in the now deserted green room, the Packers put him out of his misery, and that proved to be a masterstroke as he's turned into a four-time MVP and one of the best QBs ever to step onto the gridiron. We'll still never forget just what a nightmare entrance Rodgers had into the NFL though.

The Eli Manning - Philip Rivers swap

Quarterback Eli Manning (C) from the University of Mississippi holds up a New York Giants jersey
Quarterback Eli Manning (C) from the University of Mississippi holds up a New York Giants jersey

The enduring image of the 2004 NFL Draft is Eli Manning stood on the stage with his family, all cracking awkward smiles as they held up a San Diego Chargers jersey - despite the quarterback making it known he'd never play for the team.

His father, former NFL star Archie Manning, believed San Diego were no-hopers, and warned the Chargers not to draft his son with the first pick, but San Diego called his bluff.

What followed was mayhem - with the Mannings forcing a half-smile through gritted teeth as the Chargers fans in the crowd chanted "Eli sucks" and the team searched around for trade partners.

Luckily for all concerned, the New York Giants fancied Manning, so drafted Philip Rivers with their fourth overall pick to use in a swap deal. Both QBs went on to be huge success stories with their respective teams, although Manning won two Super Bowls and Rivers never made it to the big game. They'd have been better just drafting the QB they ended up with, but that would have robbed us of some terrific Draft day drama.

Mike Ditka trades entire Saints Draft stock

Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka is shown in this 1999 file photograph
Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka is shown in this 1999 file photograph

Mike Ditka is a legend of the sport having won the Super Bowl as both a player and head coach with the Chicago Bears, but it's fair to say the Draft is not his strong suit. In 1999 he was in charge of a floundering New Orleans Saints team and was desperate to take a swing at drafting superstar college running back Ricky Williams. He even said at an NFL meeting that he'd trade the Saints' entire set of Draft picks that year to sign Williams. Ditka also isn't a poker player...

Teams took him at his word, and when he was looking around to trade up from the 12th overall pick to nab Williams, potential trade partners were asking for the world - knowing exactly how desperate he was. Most would have walked away, but Ditka took possibly the biggest trade swing in Draft history by handing the entire set of 1999 Draft picks to Washington to move up into fifth to pick Williams.

It also cost the Saints their first and third round picks in the following 2000 Draft, making it eight picks overall for just one player.

Williams had a fine three-year stint in New Orleans putting up some good numbers, but it was nowhere near enough to justify losing an entire set of Draft picks!

Minnesota Vikings miss their pick...twice!

It shouldn't be that hard should it? But confusion can sometimes muddle even seasoned NFL executives, as the Minnesota Vikings showed as they ran out of time two years on the spin. In 2002 the Dallas Cowboys ran out of time and the Vikings then went on the clock with the chance to pinch their sixth overall pick.

Minnesota couldn't deal with the moving landscape though and missed that chance as Dallas traded with the Chiefs - who got the pick ahead of the Vikings. A year later, in 2003, it was even worse as the Vikings tried to trade down from their seventh pick with the Baltimore Ravens, but it did not get processed in time. As Minnesota ran around like headless chickens in their war room, the Panthers and Jaguars both pushed ahead of them in the Draft order as they got their picks in quickly.

Elway says no way to Baltimore

Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway
Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway

The Colts were still in Baltimore in 1983 and they wanted to draft talented college quarterback John Elway with the first pick, but Elway had other ideas. He never actually gave a reason, but Elway let it be known that he'd never play for the Colts, adding that if they drafted him he'd play Major League Baseball instead as he'd been picked by the New York Yankees. It was a dilemma for the Colts, who decided to pick him anyway but soon realised that Elway would indeed switch to baseball rather than suit up for them. Just six days after he had been drafted by Baltimore, Elway was traded to the Denver Broncos where he went on to win two Super Bowls and make it into the Hall of Fame.

The article NFL Draft day drama: From Rodgers' fall to the Manning-Rivers swap appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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