Pro Football Draft History: The 1970s

The 1970'sThe NFL added the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976. In a drawing held before the Steelers-Colts playoff game on December 27, 1975, the Bucs were awarded the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. Tampa Bay wasted little time as the team took future Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon with that selection.

The following year, in 1977, the annual draft was reduced from 17 rounds to 12 rounds.

Select among the years below to see more in-depth coverage of that year's draft:
1970The Steelers build through the draft with a pair of future Hall of Famers. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw was taken first overall and defensive back Mel Blount was drafted in the 3rd round. Both had careers spanning 14 seasons, and both were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
1971The Los Angeles Rams bolstered their defense with two first round picks. With the 10th pick, the Rams selected linebacker Isiah Robertson and then took Hall of Fame Class of 2001 enshrinee Jack Youngblood with the 20th pick.
1972Perhaps better known for his role in the TV series "Hill Street Blues," Cornell running back Ed Marinaro was drafted in the second round, 50th overall, by the Minnesota Vikings. He played six seasons in the NFL with the Vikings, New York Jets, and Seattle Seahawks.
1973The Buffalo Bills selected Hall of Fame guard Joe DeLamielleure out of Michigan State with one of their two first round picks. Joe D became the final piece of the Bills’ “Electric Company” offensive line that helped O.J. Simpson become the NFL’s first 2,000-yard rusher.
1974The Dallas Cowboys drafted quarterback Danny White in the third round. White eventually replaced the legendary Roger Staubach at quarterback while also handling the Cowboys’ punting duties for most of his career.
1975The Chicago Bears drafted Walter Payton in the first round. Then, in the 17th and final round, the team selected fullback Roland Harper who shared the backfield, primarily as a blocker, with Payton for the next seven seasons.
1976The Saints' offensive backfield was strengthened considerably with the selections running backs Chuck Muncie in the first round, and Tony Galbreath in the 2nd round.
1977With their 11th round pick, the San Francisco 49ers drafted tight end Brian Billick from BYU. Billick, who as head coach of the Ravens guided his team to a Super Bowl championship in January, never played in the NFL.
1978The Cleveland Browns enjoyed a fruitful first round as they landed linebacker Clay Matthews and tight end Ozzie Newsome. Matthews played 19 seasons in the NFL and Newsome earned induction into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
1979With their 3rd round pick, 82nd overall, the San Francisco 49ers selected Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana. The rest is history!


1970s Draft Notes


The Washington Redskins traded away every first-round pick during the 1970s. In fact, after 1971, the earliest the team made a selection in the draft during the decade was the fourth round!

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were scheduled to have their third straight first overall pick in 1978, traded it to Houston. With the pick, the Oilers drafted Hall of Fame fullback Earl Campbell. The Buccaneers received TE Jimmie Giles, and the Oilers 1978 first and second round picks and their third and fifth-round picks in 1979. Those picks ended up being QB Doug William, G Brett Moritz, DE Reggie Lewis, and QB Chuck Fusina.