With the 2009 NFL Draft so close that we can almost taste the "next Barry Sanders," 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: picks 27, 28, and 29.
(Note: It's hard to grade guys in the 08 and 07 drafts, so there won't be official grades. Also, the grade will be based on how well the player played for the team that drafted him, so if the player ended up having success elsewhere, he will have a lower grade.)
2009 - New York Giants
2008 - Kentwan Balmer - DT - San Francisco 49ers
2007 - Ben Grubbs - OG - Baltimore Ravens
2006 - Nick Mangold - C - New York Jets - Grade: A
2005 - Marlin Jackson - CB - Indianapolis Colts - Grade: B-
2004 - Michael Jenkins - WR - Atlanta Falcons - Grade: B+
2003 - Nick Barnett - LB - Green Bay Packers - Grade: A
2002 - Marc Colombo - OT - Chicago Bears - Grade: C
2001 - Ryan Pickett - DT - St. Louis Rams - Grade: B
2000 - R. Jay Soward - WR - Jacksonville Jaguars - Grade: F
1999 - Dimitrius Underwood - DE - Minnesota Vikings - Grade: F
Analysis: Two simply awful picks in 1999 and 2000. Underwood walked out on his team one day into training camp, was cut less than a month later, and tried to commit suicide two times. Not to mention, he never did anything productive in the NFL.
Soward's substance abuse problems were too much for him to overcome and he only spent one year with the Jags. Picking the bigger bust out of these two is like choosing whether you want to burn to death or freeze to death.
On the brighter side of things, there were some very good picks at the 29 slot. The best of the bunch is probably Nick Barnett who may just be the most underrated linebacker in the NFL. He has been great for the Packers since they drafted him. Also, Mangold has been an excellent leader of the Jets' offensive line.
Jenkins broke out this season with Matt Ryan at quarterback, Jackson hasn't been bad for the Colts but his play leaves some to be desired, and Colombo didn't do very well with the Bears but has rebounded nicely with the Cowboys.
Ben Grubbs is looking like a future star at the guard position in Baltimore. Overall, there were mostly solid picks at the 29 slot.
2009 - Philadelphia Eagles
2008 - Lawrence Jackson - DE - Seattle Seahawks
2007 - Joe Staley - OT - San Francisco 49ers
2006 - Mercedes Lewis - TE - Jacksonville Jaguars - Grade: B+
2005 - Luis Castillo - DT - San Diego Chargers - Grade: B
2004 - Chris Gamble - CB - Carolina Panthers - Grade: A-
2003 - Andre Woolfolk - CB - Tennessee Titans - Grade: D
2002 - Jerramy Stevens - TE - Seattle Seahawks - Grade: C
2001 - Derrick Gibson - S - Oakland Raiders - Grade: C
2000 - Rob Morris - LB - Indianapolis Colts - Grade: B-
1999 - Andy Katzenmoyer - LB - New England Patriots - Grade: D
Analysis: Katzenmoyer, by all statistical accords, was a complete bust. However, serious neck injuries negated his chance of really being effective in the league (he only played three seasons in the NFL, most of the time in IR) so that makes his grade a D instead of an F.
Woolfolk never had many injury problems, he just wasn't very good.
Gamble has been very good for the Panthers and has recently emerged as possibly the best player in their secondary.
Morris had some good years with the Colts, but injuries shortened what could have been a much better career. And Jerramy Stevens is better known for his trash-talk with Joey Porter before Super Bowl XL than anything he ever did on the football field.
Overall, it wasn't a very good pick history at No. 28 since 1999. However, with further research, the 28th picks in the 98, 97, and 96 draft were R.W. McQuarters, Trevor Pryce, and Jerome Woods. So maybe the Eagles will turn it around again this year.
2009 - Indianapolis Colts
2008 - Antoine Cason - CB - San Diego Chargers
2007 - Robert Meachem - WR - New Orleans Saints
2006 - DeAngelo Williams - RB - Carolina Panthers - Grade: A
2005 - Roddy White - WR - Atlanta Falcons - Grade: A
2004 - Jason Babin - DE - Houston Texans - Grade: C-
2003 - Larry Johnson - RB - Kansas City Chiefs - Grade: A-
2002 - Mike Rumph - CB - San Francisco 49ers - Grade: D
2001 - Michael Bennett - RB - Minnesota Vikings - Grade: B
2000 - Anthony Becht - TE - New York Jets - Grade: B-
1999 - Aaron Gibson - OT - Detroit Lions - Grade: F
Analysis: Out of Gibson and Rumph, Gibson was the bigger bust due to the hype surrounding a player of sheer size (at one point, he weighed 440 pounds) with a relatively impressive 40 time (5.35).
He only played in 11 games through three years and was out of the league within a few years.
Johnson would have been the best player of the bunch (and probably is talent-wise) if he wasn't such a headache for the Chiefs over the last few years.
Williams and White both had breakout seasons in 2008 and have emerged as among the best at each of their respective position.
All in all, there were some solid picks and some busts. A few, such as Bennett, looked like stars early on but faded out, but it has been solid overall.
Next edition: Picks 26, 25, and 24