The 1992 NFL Draft Class Might Have Been the Weakest in History
Every year, every draft in every sport has its blue chips, sleepers, and total busts. Rarely does a draft class produce underwhelming pick after underwhelming pick.
However, exactly that scenario played out in the 1992 NFL Draft, which produced zero Pro Football Hall of Fame players.
The Indianapolis Colts go 0-for-2
Even before any of the players would take the field, this was destined to be a highly unusual NFL draft. For the first time since 1958, one team held the first two overall picks. Due to a highly fortuitous set of circumstances, the Indianapolis Colts would pick both first and second.
It was a win-win proposition. If one pick didn’t work out, surely the other one would. For the Colts, it was a godsend. Aside from a fluke division title in 1987, they had been a hapless team ever since arriving in Indianapolis in 1984. Unfortunately, the Colts threw away their picks on two players who fizzled out quickly.
The first overall pick was spent on Washington defensive end Steve Emtman. While he showed flashes of promise in his rookie season, frequent injuries forced him out of the NFL after only six seasons. The second pick was linebacker Quentin Coryatt, whose most notable moment came when he broke another player’s jaw in college. He had a solid but unspectacular seven-year NFL career before calling it quits.
The Colts did finish the 1992 season at 9-7, a marked improvement over 1991, but just missed the playoffs. They would have to wait until 1995 to reach the postseason.
Other swings and misses from the 1992 draft
That being said, the Colts were not the only team to be sold a bill of goods from the 1992 NFL Draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals were spellbound by Houston’s run-and-shoot maestro, David Klingler, and picked him sixth overall. He had shattered NCAA records with the Cougars, including a 54-touchdown season in 1990. When he had to deal with NFL-caliber defenses, however, life became much more difficult. He threw for only 3,994 yards in his pro career, 1,146 yards less than he threw in his junior year alone at Houston.
The “2 Legit 2 Quit” Atlanta Falcons received an extra first-round pick in the ill-advised trade that sent Brett Favre to the Green Bay Packers. With this pick, the Falcons selected Tony Smith, who quickly fell out of favor with head coach Jerry Glanville. He played only one NFL season and ran for a meager 329 yards, picking up only 3.8 yards per carry.
Were there any winners in the 1992 draft?
That being said, not all of the players from the 1992 draft class were busts. Some were very fine players indeed.
Troy Vincent, picked seventh overall, was a great defensive back for both the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles. Darren Woodson, taken in the second round, contributed to three Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl teams. Another Cowboys pick, Jimmy Smith, became a Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Some players from the 1992 draft took a while to show their true potential. At first, 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard looked like a surefire bust as a receiver with Washington. By 1996, he surfaced as a return specialist with the Green Bay Packers and won Super Bowl MVP.
Tommy Maddox’s redemption took even longer. The Denver Broncos selected him in the first round as the heir apparent to John Elway. Elway stuck around, however, and won two Super Bowls. Maddox wound up in two other football leagues and won the original XFL’s MVP award before returning to the NFL for the 2002 season. That season, he led Pittsburgh to a division title and won Comeback Player of the Year.
All in all, though, it wasn’t the strongest draft class. To this day, not one member of this class has entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame. By contrast, four selections from the 1998 NFL Draft have made it into Canton.
Statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.