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Eli's 2004 Draft Class ranked among best by

In 100 days, the 2015 NFL Draft Class makes its on-field debut.


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From that first kickoff until all 256 members hang up the cleats, their careers will be linked, eventually becoming talking points in one of the most common debates among football fans: Which is the best draft class? tackled the subject as it pertains to the last quarter-century and ranked the top five draft classes of the last 25 years.

The 2004 draft, which set the Giants on a course for multiple championships, fittingly came in at No. 4. That was the year the Giants acquired future two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning in one of the most memorable draft-day trades of all time. The Giants followed that up with another home run when they selected guard Chris Snee, a cornerstone of the franchise for a decade until his retirement last year.

On the NFL landscape, the class also produced fellow franchise quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers as well as perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

"The Steelers' selection of Ben Roethlisberger made the 2004 draft the first in league history to produce two quarterbacks that each won multiple Super Bowls," NFL Media editor Jim Reineking wrote. "Seven of the first eight selections went on to become Pro Bowl players. The lone exception was Robert Gallery, who didn't live up to expectations after being taken at No. 2 overall by the Raiders.

"Like the 2001 draft before it, the 2004 draft class will produce some heated debates come time for Hall of Fame consideration. Strong cases will be made for Roethlisberger (three Super Bowl appearances with two wins), Manning (two Super Bowl wins), Larry Fitzgerald (one of the game's finest receivers), Philip Rivers (comprehensive statistical prowess), Vince Wilfork (one of the NFL's premier defensive tackles) and Jared Allen (one of the NFL's elite edge rushers). Sean Taylor was well on his way to greatness before his untimely death in 2007."'s Top Five NFL draft Classes of Last 25 Years

1. 2001

Notable: LaDainian Tomlinson, Steve Hutchinson, Drew Brees, Michael Vick, Justin Smith, Richard Seymour, Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Todd Heap, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Chad Johnson, Kris Jenkins, Matt Light, Shaun Rogers, Adrian Wilson, Steve Smith

2. 2007


Photos from Eli Manning's draft day

Notable:** Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis, Marshawn Lynch, Jon Beason, Joe Staley, Eric Weddle, Ryan Kalil, Jacoby Jones, Marshal Yanda

3. 1996

Notable: Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Marvin Harrison, Brian Dawkins, Terrell Owens, Keyshawn Johnson, Eddie George, Mike Alstott, Lawyer Milloy, Tedy Bruschi, Stephen Davis, Joe Horn, Zach Thomas, La'Roi Glover

4. 2004

Notable: Eli Manning, Chris Snee, Ben Roethlisberger, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Sean Taylor, Vince Wilfork, Steven Jackson, Bob Sanders, Darnell Dockett, Shaun Phillips, Jared Allen, Michael Turner

5. 2011

Notable: J.J. Watt, Richard Sherman, Cam Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Tyron Smith, Robert Quinn, Ryan Kerrigan, Colin Kaepernick, Torrey Smith, Randall Cobb, Justin Houston, DeMarco Murray

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