By David Fong
In roughly 24 hours, a series of future millionaires wearing suits that set them back several thousand dollars will be trotted across a stage at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, where they will be hailed as the saviors of National Football League franchises.
Millions will watch the three-day spectacle on television, as the NFL Draft has become the second-biggest event on the NFL calendar, trailing only the Super Bowl in viewership and over-the-top pageantry.
That’s a big of a change from the way Tom Vaughn remembers things.
“I honestly didn’t even know the draft was that weekend until the day before,” said Vaughn, the former Troy High School and Iowa State star who was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1965 draft. “I really didn’t know what to expect. Nobody had really talked to me about it or prepared me for it. I knew the draft was coming, but I didn’t have any idea what to expect. I didn’t have an agent or anything like that.
“Things are so much different today. These days, all the kids have agents and people around them telling them what to do. The biggest decision they have to make is whether to wear a bow tie, a regular tie or no tie. They all have golden spoons in their mouths. I didn’t even know if I was going to be drafted. I had no clue what was going on.”
While no former Miami County football players are expected to be taken in this year’s NFL Draft, the county does have a rich history of former players being drafted — although it does bear mentioning that the player with the most successful NFL career, Troy graduate Kris Dielman, went undrafted in the 2003 draft, signing a free agent rookie contract with the San Diego Chargers, where he would appear in four Pro Bowls as an offensive lineman.
Another former county player, Covington graduate Tim Vogler, went undrafted out of Ohio State, but would have the longest NFL career — 10 years, all with the Buffalo Bills — of any county graduate. Another, Milton-Union graduate Carl Brumbaugh, also was undrafted, but played nine years in the NFL and won a pair of NFL Championships with the Chicago Bears in the 1930s.
All of which just goes to show that, despite the hype currently heaped upon the NFL Draft, it remains an inexact science, to be sure.
Here’s a look back (in chronological order), at Miami County players who were drafted by NFL teams:
Bob Ferguson (Troy High School, 1962 Draft)
Ferguson, a two-time All-American fullback at Ohio State, remains the highest draft pick of any Miami County player. He was actually drafted twice in 1962, taken in the first round (fifth overall) of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the first round (eighth overall) of the AFL Draft before the two leagues merged in 1966.
Ferguson would play just two years in the NFL before injuries cut short his pro career.
Other notable players drafted that year: Roman Gabriel (second overall), Merlin Olsen (third overall) and Lance Alworth (eighth overall).
Tom Myers (Troy High School, 1965 Draft)
Myers, an All-American quarterback at Northwestern University, was taken in the fourth round (46th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions and the 12th round (89th overall) of the AFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
Myers would play two years with the Lions.
Other notable players drafted that year: Dick Butkus (third overall), Gale Sayers (fourth overall) and Joe Namath (12th overall).
Tom Vaughn (Troy High School, 1965 Draft)
Vaughn — who was Myers’ favorite receiver at Troy — both were taken by the same teams in the 1965 NFL and AFL drafts. The Lions selected Vaughn in the fifth round (57th overall), while the Broncos took him in the 11th round (81st overall).
Vaughn would play seven years in Detroit as a defensive back and kick returner.
Charlie Green (Milton-Union High School, 1965 Draft)
Green, who is in the Wittenberg University Hall of Fame, was taken by the Boston Patriots in the 13th round (103rd overall) of the AFL Draft. Green would end up playing quarterback for one season with the Oakland Raiders.
Craig Clemons (Piqua High School, 1972 Draft)
Following his career at the University of Iowa, Clemons was drafted in the first round (12th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.
Clemons played defensive back in the NFL for six years, all with the Bears.
Other notable players drafted that year: Bobby Moore (fourth overall) , Riley Odoms (fifth overall) and Franco Harris (13th overall).
Dave Gallagher (Piqua High School, 1974 Draft)
Following his playing days at Piqua, Gallagher would go on to play defensive tackle at the University of Michigan.
The Chicago Bears selected Gallagher in the first round (20th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft. He played in the NFL for five years, one year with the Bears and two years each with the New York Giants and Detroit Lions.
Other notable players drafted that year: Lynn Swann (21st overall), Jack Lambert (second round) and John Stallworth (fourth round).
Gordon Bell (Troy High School, 1976 Draft)
Bell — who would go on to become a star running back at the University of Michigan after graduating from Troy — was selected by the New York Giants in the fourth round (104th overall) of the 1976 draft.
Bell would play three years in the NFL — two with the Giants and one with the Saint Louis Cardinals.
Other notable players drafted that year: Lee Roy Selmon (first overall), Jackie Slater (third round) and Steve Largent (fourth round).
Elmo Boyd (Troy High School, 1977 Draft)
Boyd did not play high school football until his senior year, but that didn’t stop the speedy receiver from earning a chance to play college football at Eastern Kentucky University. He was taken in the third round (65th overall) of the 1977 draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Boyd played one year in the NFL with both the 49ers and Green Bay Packers.
Other notable players drafted that year: Tony Dorsett (second overall), Eddie Edwards (third overall) and Pete Johnson (second round).
Jon Dumbauld (Troy High School, 1986 Draft)
Following a standout career as a defensive lineman at the University of Kentucky, the New Orleans Saints drafted Dumbauld in the 10th round (253rd overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft.
Dumbauld played three years in the NFL with the Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.
Other notable players drafted that year: Bo Jackson (first overall), Keith Byers (10th overall) and Charles Haley (fourth round).
Matt Finkes (Piqua High School, 1997 Draft)
Finkes would earn All-American honors as a defensive end at Ohio State following his playing days at Piqua.
He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round (189th overall) of the 1997 draft, but played his lone season in the NFL with the New York Jets.
Other notable players drafted that year: Orlando Pace (first overall), Walter Jones (sixth overall) and Tony Gonzalez (13th overall).
Quinn Pitcock (Piqua High School, 2007 Draft)
Pitcock, an All-American defensive tackle at Ohio State, was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round (98th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft.
Pitcock played one season for the Colts.
Other notable players drafted that year: Calvin Johnson (second overall), Joe Thomas (third overall) and Adrian Peterson (seventh overall).
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong