WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The 6 quarterbacks taken in the first round of the legendary 1983 NFL Draft

Rich Barnes/Getty ImagesJim Kelly (left) and Dan Marino (right) are both Hall of Famers from the 1983 NFL Draft class.

The 1983 NFL Draft is one of the most famous in the game’s history, for one key reason: the quarterback position.

NFL teams drafted six quarterbacks in the first round of that draft, a record which still stands today. And despite quarterbacks being difficult to project (not to mention develop), those six would have a lot of success between them, including three who went on to the Hall of Fame.

With this year’s NFL draft also loaded at quarterback, now seemed like the perfect time to go back and see how the six from ’83 fared.

The statistics are courtesy of NFL.com.


John Elway was taken first overall out of Stanford by the Baltimore Colts, then traded to the Denver Broncos.

Elway was a highly touted prospect not only in football, but baseball. In fact, he used his prospective baseball career as leverage to force the Colts to trade him to the Broncos.


Elway went on to have a Hall of Fame calibre career with the Broncos, leading the team to 5 Super Bowl appearances and winning back-to-back Super Bowls to end his career.

Elway eventually joined the Broncos as the team’s General Manager, guiding the franchise to a Super Bowl win in 2016. He is currently the teams President of Football Operations/General Manager.


Todd Blackledge was taken 7th overall out of Penn State by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Blackledge had a decorated college career with the Nittany Lions, highlighted by leading Penn State to its first national title in 1982 and winning the Davey O’Brien award as college football’s best quarterback.


Blackledge played seven seasons in the NFL.

Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

He has worked as a college football analyst for ESPN for several years.


Jim Kelly was taken 14th overall out of the University of Miami by the Buffalo Bills.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Kelly, however, initially refused to play in Buffalo, instead signing and spending the first couple of years of his career with the Houston Gamblers in the upstart USFL, where he had tremendous success.


Kelly finally joined the Bills in 1986 after the USFL folded, and went on to have a Hall of Fame career in Buffalo, leading the franchise to four straight Super Bowls — albeit without winning one.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

For the past few years, Kelly has been publicly battling oral cancer.


Tony Eason was taken 15th overall out of Illinois by the New England Patriots.

George Rose/Getty Images

Eason was a former junior college quarterback who had led the Illini to their first bowl game in decades. He even had his own fight song written for him by a retired Illinois professor.

Source: The Champaign Room, United Press International


Eason played eight seasons in the NFL, most of them with the Patriots, before ending his career with the Jets.

Mike Powell/Getty Images

He has the dubious distinction of being the only starting quarterback in Super Bowl history to fail to complete a single pass in the big game.

Source: ESPN


Ken O’Brien was taken 24th overall out of UC Davis by the New York Jets.

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Playing for the then-Division II UC Davis Aggies, O’Brien was fairly unknown heading into the draft, so much so that Jets fans attending the draft booed his selection, having preferred the more well-known Marino.

Source: ESPN


Although O’Brien is now infamous for having been drafted before Dan Marino, he managed to play over 10 seasons in the NFL and throw for over 25,000 yards in his career.

O’Brien currently works in financial management. He has also tutored quarterbacks before the draft, including Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.

Source: IWP, ESPN


Dan Marino was taken 27th overall out of Pittsburgh by the Miami Dolphins.

Marino’s draft stock had fallen after a disappointing senior season at Pitt, as well as rumours of recreational drug use, rumours which even led Marino’s hometown team the Pittsburgh Steelers to pass on selecting him.

Sources: SB Nation, Bleacher Report


Marino had a Hall of Fame career with the Dolphins, including setting what were then NFL single-season records for passing yards and touchdowns in his second season.

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

He has had a notable media career outside of football as well, serving as an NFL analyst for CBS for several years and even starring in the Jim Carrey comedy “Ace Ventura Pet Detective.” He has also taken on a large role with the Dolphins front office in recent years.

Source: The Palm Beach Post


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