The NFL's 6 Worst Drafting Teams of the Last Decade
As history would show, the NFL teams that have the most success on draft day tend to find themselves in playoff contention year after year.
Just look at the moves made in this year's free-agency frenzy so far. Most of the teams making the biggest moves are the one who found themselves at the bottom of their division, while the Packers, Patriots, Steelers, Giants, etc. have been relatively quiet. The difference between those teams is the success they have in their player evaluations.
Since 2002, there have been a lot of busts and franchise-changing superstars to come out of the draft.
Let's take a look at some of the teams that have found themselves on the wrong side of draft decisions over the past 10 years.
Few teams have suffered more consistent years of mediocrity than the Redskins.
Daniel Snyder has single-handedly driven this once-proud franchise into the ground again and again with his meddling in football operations, despite having as much knowledge of the game as his season ticket holders.
The Skins have not had a lot of massive first-round busts, but they just have not found enough impact players, especially in the middle rounds—they have only drafted three Pro Bowlers in 10 years. They have relied too much on free agency and trades to compensate for their inability to find stars through the draft, and that tends to catch up to you.
Most importantly, they were unable to find themselves a franchise quarterback, which has a ripple effect on the rest of the team.
Snyder seems to have taken a step back in his approach and allowed Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan to call the shots, but they sure have a lot of ground to make up.
Few teams have been able to define futility over the past decade like the Oakland Raiders. To their credit, they have had much more success in the draft over the past few years, particularly in the later rounds. But some of their blunders in the first round cannot go unnoticed.
Obviously, the stench of JaMarcus Russell will linger for quite a while. Not only was he a terrible quarterback and a waste of the first overall pick, but he embarrassed the franchise with his weight problems and refusal to work.
Like most Raiders busts, Russell had all the talent in the world to be a great player—he just had no idea what he was getting himself into.
The Robert Gallery selection was not as big of a failure as it was made out to be—he wound up being a quality guard for a long time. However, he was touted as the best offensive tackle prospect ever, and some of the players picked after him went on to become elite players and win Super Bowls.
Again, to their credit, they found some talent in the second and third rounds, but the Raiders are a few decisions away from being perennial Super Bowl contenders.
The Bills started their 10-year run with one of their worst selections in franchise history, taking oversized offensive tackle Mike Williams out of Texas. Williams was a total bust, and while busts happen from time to time, the franchise never found a way to make up for its ineptitude.
Just four years removed from their selection of Willis McGahee, the Bills took yet another running back in the first round, Marshawn Lynch, who's now a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
Two picks later, the Jets called Darrelle Revis' name.
Just two years ago, the Bills tried picking a runner early in C.J. Spiller, who has given the Bills little return on their investment so far.
Even when the Bills picked "premium" positions, they did not find the right guys. Leodis McKelvin and Donte Whitner are decent starters, but nowhere near the elite players the Bills hoped they would become. Quarterback J.P. Losman was a complete bust. Aaron Maybin did virtually nothing during his time as a Bill.
The only "hits" the Bills have had in the first few rounds are Eric Wood and Marcell Dareus, and I guess you can throw in McGahee and Lynch. Still, two of those players are no longer on the team, and Eric Wood is a guard—and you had better hit on a first-round guard.
Yes, the Lions are now a playoff team, but I could not ignore their past draft-day sins just because they had a winning season.
The Matt Millen era was perhaps the most futile drafting period in NFL history. Of his seven first-round picks from 2002 to 2008, Millen got just two starters—Gosder Cherilus and Calvin Johnson.
Millen picked three wide receivers in a row—Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Roy Williams—who all proved to be massive busts (although Mike Williams has since revived his career in Seattle).
His worst pick, however, will forever be Joey Harrington, who was never quite regarded as a home-run pick coming out of the draft. Millen reached for him, and it never paid off.
As bad as his first-round picks were, his success beyond the first round is about as bad as it gets. It was not until 2008 that he struck gold with the selection of Cliff Avril in the fourth round.
Obviously, the Lions have enjoyed an incredible rebirth under the Martin Mayhew regime, with Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh as future stars on both sides of the ball. But if it was not for Matt Millen's draft ineptitude, the Lions would not have had the chance to draft such quality players.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams seem to be picking high just about every year, which comes as no coincidence relative to their draft success.
The Rams have had a history of taking the "safer" player as opposed to rolling the dice on a franchise-changing quarterback. In 2008, they elected to take Chris Long instead of Matt Ryan. Long turned out to be a pretty solid player, but Ryan was able to bring the Falcons out of a near-impossible situation.
Looking at their success with first-round picks, outside of Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson, their track record is about as bad as it gets. Tye Hill, Alex Barron and Jimmy Kennedy all failed to live up to expectations that came with their draft status. It appears as if the second pick in the 2008 draft, Jason Smith, is headed toward "bust" status.
What is surprising is that their second-round picks were actually better than their first-round picks. James Laurinaitis, Rodger Saffold, Ron Bartell and Donnie Avery have been quality selections in the second round.
After robbing the Redskins at gunpoint for three first-round picks, they will have to improve their draft decisions if they plan on making them count.
If there's one word to describe the last 10 years of the Jaguars on draft day, it would be "bland."
The Jags missed on a lot of top picks and only got themselves one or two players that could sell tickets.
Byron Leftwich was a solid pro but was never good enough to win a Super Bowl with. They did have some success in 2002 with John Henderson and David Garrard but have struggled to find impact players since then. Only five players from the last 10 drafts have been selected to a Pro Bowl—and one of them was Garrard.
Their 2004 draft was particularly awful. Only three players—linebacker Daryl Smith, defensive end Bobby McCray and kicker Josh Scobee—went on to relative success in the NFL.
Most importantly, the jury is definitely out on Blaine Gabbert—last year's top pick. Should he fail, this franchise would suffer yet another setback that it cannot afford.