It's never easy to look back at NFL drafts for grading purposes. Outside of the war room, we're not privy to much of the behind-the-scenes jockeying or decision making that happens. That said, we can still look at back at superstars and wonder why they didn't land with our favorite teams. FOX Sports South did just that with its gander at 12 teams that ultimately passed on iconic players who fell just one draft slot later.
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1993 Atlanta Falcons -- Jerome Bettis
MISSED CHANCE: Bettis went to the Los Angeles Rams with the 10th-overall pick … ACTUAL PICK: The Falcons chose tackle Lincoln Kennedy at No. 9… REALITY BITES: Atlanta drafted offensive tackle Bob Whitfield in the first round of the 1992 draft and thought it was getting the second portion of bookend tackles for years to come when the Falcons grabbed Kennedy in 1993 in the first round. What they got in Kennedy was a guy who made just 22 starts in three years and was traded to Oakland in 1996. Had the Falcons passed on Kennedy, they could have had a future Hall of Fame running Back in Bettis. (Assorted Images)
2002 Oakland Raiders -- Ed Reed
MISSED CHANCE: Reed was the 24th-overall selection in the 2002 draft to the Ravens … ACTUAL PICK: The Raiders picked linebacker Napoleon Harris at No. 23 … REALITY BITES: The Raiders had two picks in the first round of the 2002 draft thanks to head coach Jon Gruden, who went to Tampa Bay and multiple picks were returned to Oakland as compensation. Phillip Buchanon was Oakland's first pick in the round, with Harris as its second at No. 23. Harris started 38 games in three years for the Raiders and helped Oakland to the Super Bowl that year. But he wasn't overly productive and was later traded to Minnesota in the Randy Moss deal. One pick after Harris, the Ravens selected Reed, who many believe is the best safety to ever live.
USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
1989 Green Bay Packers -- Barry Sanders
MISSED CHANCE: Sanders went to the Lions with the third pick in the 1989 draft … ACTUAL PICK: The Packers picked Tony Mandarich with the second-overall pick ... REALITY BITES: No one knew at the time, but the reason why Mandarich was head and shoulders better than everyone else because he was using an illegal edge to get there. No one knew the effects anabolic steroids would eventually have, and just how short -- six seasons in the NFL; only three with Green Bay -- Mandarich's career would be. Sanders left the field of play early as well, but not before turning the league on its ear. Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards and was nearly unstoppable in his 10 seasons carrying the football. (Assorted Images)
1990 Buffalo Bills -- Emmitt Smith
MISSED CHANCE: The Cowboys took Smith with pick No. 17 in the 1990 draft … ACTUAL PICK: Buffalo, at No. 16 in the first round, selected defensive back James Williams … REALITY BITES: Bills running back Thurman Thomas rushed for 1,244 yards during the 1989 season, his first of eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Buffalo didn't really need a running back. That's why with the 16th-overall pick in the 1990 draft, the Bills took defensive back James Williams instead of Smith, who went to Dallas one pick later. James made just 35 starts in six seasons with 11 interceptions. Smith ... well, he ended up as the league's all-time leading rusher. (Assorted Images)
1998 Arizona Cardinals -- Charles Woodson
MISSED CHANCE: Woodson went to the Raiders with the fourth pick in the draft … ACTUAL PICK: Arizona's pick at No. 3 was defensive end Andre Wadsworth ... REALITY BITES: Wadsworth was a can't-miss prospect it seemed. He was a Consensus All-American, the Defensive Player of the Year and notched 16 sacks in his final season at Florida State. Most people remember the struggle the Colts had deciding between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf at the top of this draft. There was no turnoil for Arizona when they wrote Wadsworth's name down at No. 3. Unfortunately, he played just three seasons with a mere eight sacks. The next guy taken, Woodson, has been to eight Pro Bowls and is still playing 18 seasons later. (Assorted Images)
1975 Baltimore Colts -- Walter Payton
MISSED CHANCE: The Bears nabbed Payton with the fourth pick in the 1975 draft … ACTUAL PICK: Ken Huff was Baltimore's pick at No. 3 ... REALITY BITES: Any time a player gets 11 seasons in the NFL, consider that guy to be lucky, and a darned good football player. That fits Huff perfectly after making 104 starts in his career. But his stint in the league was overshadowed by the guy, Payton, taken one pick after Huff in the 1975 draft. Payton tallied 16,726 career rushing yards and terrorized opposing defenses for 13 seasons. (Assorted Images)
1971 Philadelphia Eagles -- John Riggins
MISSED CHANCE: The Jets grabbed Riggins with the sixth-overall pick in the draft … ACTUAL PICK: Richard Harris went to the Eagles at No. 5 ... REALITY BITES: It will always hurt when you look back at draft classes and see a Hall of Famer picked directly after a questionable selection. The pain can be reduced if the position wasn't one of need when the team drafted. That wasn't the case in 1971. The Eagles had a need for a running back, but took a defensive end instead of Riggins. Harris played for seven seasons, but only three in Philadelphia. He had nowhere near the impact Riggins had on the NFL. (Assorted Images)
1968 New Orleans Saints -- Larry Csonka
MISSED CHANCE: Miami used its eighth-overall pick in the 1968 draft on Csonka … ACTUAL PICK: At No. 7 the Saints chose Kevin Hardy, defensive end from Notre Dame ... REALITY BITES: Hardy played for four seasons in the NFL but only started 11 games. Worse than that, he never played a game for the Saints. Csonka, on the other hand, played 11 seasons in the NFL and compiled a Hall of Fame resume along the way. The 1967 Saints were 3-11 and had next to nothing in terms of a rushing attack. Could Csonka have helped turn this team around? We'll never know. (Assorted Images)
1957 Green Bay Packers -- Len Dawson, Jim Brown
MISSED CHANCE: Dawson and Brown went at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively in the 1957 draft … ACTUAL PICK: Ron Kramer was the Packers' pick at No. 4 ... REALITY BITES: Kramer played for 10 seasons in the NFL and was an All-Pro in 1962 after hauling in 37 passes for 555 yards and seven touchdowns. Kramer put in great work for the Packers for seven seasons, then Detroit for three more. But the two players drafted after him were both Hall of Famers. Dawson and Brown each are enshrined in Canton, Ohio, and both could have been Packers. (Assorted Images)
2004 Houston Texans -- Ben Roethlisberger
MISSED CHANCE: Pittsburgh drafted Roethlisberger in the first round of the 2004 draft at No. 11 … ACTUAL PICK: Houston grabbed Dunta Robinson with the 10th-overall pick ... REALITY BITES: The 2004 draft was quarterback rich. Eli Manning was taken first, Philip Rivers at No. 4 and then Roethlisberger at 11. But why didn't Houston take Big Ben instead of letting him fall to Pittsburgh? David Carr wasn't truly the answer at quarterback for the Texans, but they grabbed Robinson anyway and missed on something special. Can you imagine the AFC South battles that could have been waged between Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning for all those seasons?
Jim Brown-USA TODAY SportsJim Brown
1992 Cincinnati Bengals -- Troy Vincent
MISSED CHANCE: The Dolphins picked up Vincent in the first round at pick No. 7 … ACTUAL PICK: David Klingler was the sixth pick to the Bengals ... REALITY BITES: It's got to be difficult to pass on the perceived best quarterback in the draft, no matter where a team is drafting and what its needs are. But had Cincinnati known Klingler was going to play just six seasons in the NFL and throw for a paltry 3,994 yards (that's a six-year total), the Bengals might have grabbed Vincent instead. Vincent played for 16 seasons, led the league in interceptions in 1999 and went to five Pro Bowls.
2007 Oakland Raiders -- Calvin Johnson
MISSED CHANCE: Johnson joined the Lions at No. 2 … ACTUAL PICK: JaMarcus Russell was the first-overall pick in the 2007 draft … REALITY BITES: The Raiders have taken a wide receiver in the first three rounds of a draft just once since 2003 (Darrius Heyward-Bey, 2009). Heyward-Bey didn't turn out exactly as planned, and neither did Russell, the quarterback Oakland picked first overall in 2007 right before the Lions took Calvin Johnson. Russell turned into a punchline while Johnson became the most feared receiver on the planet.