With the 2009 NFL Draft so close that we can almost taste the "fantastic upside," I think it'll be fun to look back at previous year's picks.
I will go through every selection, declare the hits and busts, and grade the selections. Today, the last three picks of the first round (and first pick of the 2nd round in certain drafts).
(Note: It's hard to grade guys in the 08 and 07 drafts, so they won't be official grades)
2009: Pittsburgh Steelers
2008: Phillip Merling - DE - Miami Dolphins
2007: Anthony Gonzalez - WR - Indianapolis Colts
2006: Mathias Kiwanuka - DE - New York Giants - Grade: B+
2005: Logan Mankins - OG - New England Patriots - Grade: A-
2004: Ben Watson - TE - New England Patriots - Grade: C
2003: Tyler Brayton - DE - Oakland Raiders - Grade: B-
2002: Patrick Ramsey - QB - Washington Redskins - Grade: F
2000: Dennis Northcutt - WR - Cleveland Browns - Grade C+
1999: Kevin Johnson - WR - Cleveland Browns - Grade: C-
Analysis: The creme of this crop is obviously Brees. He did well in San Diego before going down with a shoulder injury, prompting them to draft Phillip Rivers. Now with the Saints, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
The biggest bust at this position is Ramsey, who was a major reach for the Redskins, who desperately needed a quarterback at the time. He has had a journeyman career with few satisfying results.
Gonzalez looks like he will be a new favorite target of Peyton Manning in upcoming years, and Mankins has been great on the Patriots O-Line.
There have been some picks such as Johnson and Watson who were disappointments, but not busts, but overall teams have had solid picks with the 32nd slot.
2009: Arizona Cardinals
2008: Kenny Phillips - S - New York Giants
2007: Greg Olson - TE - Chicago Bears
2006: Kelly Jennings - CB - Seattle Seahawks - Grade: C+
2005: Mike Patterson - DT - Philadelphia Eagles - Grade: A-
2004: Rashaun Woods - WR - San Francisco 49ers - Grade: F
2003: Nnamdi Asomugha - CB - Oakland Raiders - Grade: A+
2002: Robert Thomas - LB - St. Louis Rams - Grade: C-
2001: Todd Heap - TE - Baltimore Ravens - Grade: A-
2000: Trung Canidate - RB - St. Louis Rams - Grade: D
1999: Al Wilson - LB - Denver Broncos - Grade: A-
Analysis: The 31st pick has certainly been up-and-down so far. The best player of the this group is Nnamdi Asomugha, who also happens to be the best cornerback in the league.
Al Wilson was great for many years, but injuries cut his career short. Injuries have plagued some of Todd Heap's seasons as well, but he has been great for the Ravens.
A fellow tight end taken with the 31st who looks to have a bright future is Greg Olson of the Bears. The worst pick was Rashaun Woods, who dealt with some injuries as well in parts of his career, but he never played well, even when healthy. He is out of the league now.
Kelly Jennings can (and has gone) go either way whether he is a boom or bust, but this past season has been a disappointment for the young corner.
2009 - Tennessee Titans
2008 - Dustin Keller - TE - New York Jets
2007 - Craig Davis - WR - San Diego Chargers
2006 - Joseph Addai - RB - Indianapolis Colts - Grade: A
2005 - Heath Miller - TE - Pittsburgh Steelers - Grade: A
2004 - Kevin Jones - RB - Detroit Lions - Grade: B-
2003 - Sammy Davis - CB - San Diego Chargers - Grade: C-
2002 - Kendall Simmons - OG - Pittsburgh Steelers - Grade: B+
2001 - Reggie Wayne - WR - Indianapolis Colts - Grade: A+
2000 - Keith Bulluck - LB - Tennessee Titans - Grade: A
1999 - Patrick Kerney - DE - Atlanta Falcons - Grade: A-
Analysis: Wow, the Titans should feel good holding the 30th slot based on this pick's history. It has produced several studs over the years (and Keller and Davis are both looking very good as well), the best of them being Reggie Wayne who is a top 10, perhaps even top 5 receiver in the league.
Addai is a premier running back, Miller is a top tight end, Bulluck has been consistently great for the Titans, and Kerney has done very well for the Falcons and Seahawks, accumulating 77 sacks on his career so far.
The worst pick of the bunch was corner Sammy Davis, who had a good rookie season but went down from there. Ironically, at one point he was traded for fellow bust Rashaun Woods.
Next edition: Picks 29, 28, and 27