The march to the NFL draft in April continues, so we continue our look back at the past drafts that are shaping our current NFL. This time we are looking at the 2004. What made it special, what made it different, but most importantly why in Paul Tagliabue’s name did San Diego pick Eli Manning?

Paul Tagliabue and the Manning family looking elated about being drafted by San Diego.

As with any draft, we will start at the top. The first pick in 2004 belonged to the San Diego Chargers. They picked the top notch QB out of Ole Miss, Eli Manning. They made that pick even though it was reported that Eli would never, ever, play for the Chargers. Ok, so it was Eli’s agent that told Chargers management that Eli was prepared to sit out the entire 2004 season if the Chargers picked him. After some back and forth and some he said/he said, Eli was traded to the New York Giants. Who is the joke on now?

So here’s the trade; the Giants got Eli Manning and the Chargers got Philip Rivers, 2004 3rd round pick (65th overall, Nate Kaeding), and 2005 1st round pick (12th overall, Shawne Merriman). That’s cool because the Giants have since won two super bowls. Where as the Chargers and Philip Rivers have won zero super bowls, a measly 4 games in the playoffs, and have only reached the AFC championship game once.

Philip Rivers weighing his options…

Fun bonus stat of the day: Eli has defeated every NFL team, except the Colts and the Chargers.

Mr. Irrelevant of the draft was a linebacker from Colorado State by the name of Andre Sommersell. He was born in Guyana, South America, but played high school football in California. He got drafted by the Raiders and didn’t make the team. However, he did play a year in the Canadian Football League for the Edmonton Eskimos. He followed that up by a year in the NFL Europe with the Berlin Thunder. He is now a coach for the Dubai Stallions in the Emirates American Football League. Go Stallions.

Sommersell coaching a player with the Dubai Stallions

Here is a list of players from this draft that are still active in the NFL. A lot of these guys will be disappearing soon.

– Eli Manning, QB – New York Giants
Drafted by San Diego Chargers, Rnd 1 Pick 1

– Larry Fitzgerald, WR – Arizona Cardinals
Drafted by Arizona Cardinals, Rnd 1 Pick 3

– Philip Rivers, QB – San Diego Chargers
Drafted by New York Giants, Rnd 1 Pick 4

– DeAngelo Hall, DB – Washington Redskins
Drafted by Atlanta Falcons, Rnd 1 Pick 8

– Ben Roethlisberger, QB – Pittsburg Steelers
Drafted by Pittsburg Steelers, Rnd 1 Pick 11

– Ben Watson, TE – Baltimore Ravens
Drafted by New England Patriots, Rnd 1 Pick 32

– Karlos Dansby, LB – Arizona Cardinals
Drafted by Arizona Cardinals, Rnd 2 Pick 33

– Matt Schaub, QB – Atlanta Falcons
Drafted by Atlanta Falcons, Rnd 3 Pick 90

– Andy Lee, P – Arizona Cardinals
Drafted by San Francisco 49ers, Rnd 6 Pick 188

Going off the idea that a successful career in the NFL last at least 200 games there are just five of those players that meet the criteria. Philip Rivers, Ben Watson, and DeAngelo Hall are the only ones that have not played over 200 games. Rivers is at 196 games, Watson is sitting at 179, and Hall has 171 games. The rest in order of most to fewest are:

Larry Fitzgerald – 218
Andy Lee – 217
Eli Manning – 216
Karlos Dansby – 212
Ben Roethlisburger – 200


In this draft class, of the 255 players selected, there were 33 that went to a Pro Bowl at least once. Of those 33, 15 of them were players drafted in the first round. That means almost half of all the Pro Bowl players AND almost half the players drafted in the first round alone were selected to a Pro Bowl. In all that’s a pretty solid first round selection of players.

Here’s some interesting names of a couple players that went undrafted, but were signed afterwards. Brock Lesnar of WWE fame was signed by Minnesota to be a defensive tackle. His football career may not have lasted very long, but he’s doing alright for himself.

FRICKIN’ WES WELKER was signed by the San Diego Chargers after the draft. Welker eventually found a groove with Miami collecting the second most all purpose yard in NFL history during a three year period, only Gale Sayers has more. Oh, and he went on to do well in New England and Denver too but no one cares about that. MOVING ON!


There is a long list of stars that came from this draft, sure there’s Manning, Rivers, Fitzgerald, and Roethlisberger. But there was also Jonathan Vilma, Sean Taylor, Steven Jackson, Bob Sanders, Chris Cooley, and Jared Allen. There were also a record of 13 players selected from one school, THE Ohio State University. The 2004 draft also provided great names like Igor Olshansky, Tank Johnson, Jerricho Cotchery, Niko Koutouvides, Adimchinobi Echemandu, and Jeff Smoker.

The 2004 class is a top five draft over the last 25 years. There may not be any of those bronze busts in Canton just yet, but spaces are being made as with every tick of a clock. It’s just a matter of time.

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