With the 2009 NFL Draft so close that we can almost taste the 24-7 round-the-clock coverage, 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 24, 25, and 26.
(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.)
2008—Duane Brown—OT—Houston Texans
2007—Anthony Spencer—DE—Dallas Cowboys
2006—John McCargo—DT—Buffalo Bills—Grade: C-
2005—Chris Spencer—C—Seattle Seahawks—Grade: C+
2004—Chris Perry—RB—Cincinnati Bengals—Grade: D+
2003—Kwame Harris—OT—San Francisco 49ers—Grade: D
2002—Lito Sheppard—CB—Philadelphia Eagles—Grade: A-
2001—Jamar Fletcher—CB—Miami Dolphins—Grade: D+
2000—Erik Flowers—DE/LB—Buffalo Bills—Grade: F
1999—Fernando Bryant—CB—Jacksonville Jaguars—Grade: B
Analysis: Yikes. If Ozzie Newsome wasn't such a great drafter, I would strongly encourage him to trade the Ravens out of the 26th slot this year.
The best player of the group is clearly Sheppard who was a multiple Pro-Bowler with the Eagles and recently signed with the New York Jets. He is a multi-faceted cornerback who was a great pick for the Eagles.
It hard to choose which was the worst pick because there is so many to pick from. Maybe 10 years from now, it will be Perry or McCargo (who the Bills attempted to trade this season but had to keep him because he failed his physical...awkward), but for now it's Erik Flowers who wasted away two years in Buffalo and became a vagabond for various teams for several years (mainly in training camps) but never became even a solid or decent player.
A couple of solid picks were Chris Spencer who is getting better on the Seahawks O-Line and Fernando Bryant who is still in a league as a veteran presence in the secondary.
2008—Mike Jenkins—CB—Dallas Cowboys
2007—Jon Beason—LB—Carolina Panthers
2006—Santonio Holmes—WR—Pittsburgh Steelers—Grade: A
2005—Jason Campbell—QB—Washington Redskins—Grade: A
2004—Ahmad Carroll—CB—Green Bay Packers—Grade: D
2003—William Joseph—DT—New York Giants—Grade: C-
2002—Charles Grant—DE— New Orleans Saints—Grade: B
2001—Freddie Mitchell—WR—Philadephia Eagles—Grade: D
2000—Chris Hovan—DT—Minnesota Vikings—Grade: B
1999—Antuan Edwards—S—Green Bay Packers—Grade: C
Analysis: The best of the bunch were Campbell and Holmes. Campbell has emerged as one of the top young quarterbacks in the league with a bright future and Holmes as one of the top young wide receivers with a Super Bowl MVP under his belt.
Even though he wasn't graded, Jon Beason is a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Panthers and the defensive leader on a very good defense.
William Joseph wasn't a big bust as he stayed with the Giants for 5 seasons and played well at times. He worked hard, but the fact of the matter was that the Giants reached when they drafted him
The worst picks were Carroll and Mitchell. Carroll was cut after being burned several times on Monday Night Football, which was essentially his career with Green Bay summed up.
Freddie Mitchell played well at times and his grade would have been higher if he wasn't such a malcontent or if he would shut up every now and then. Alas he didn't and he was probably the biggest bust at this pick.
2008—Chris Johnson—RB—Tennessee Titans
2007—Brandon Meriweather—S—New England Patriots
2006—Johnathan Joseph—CB—Cincinnati Bengals—Grade: B+
2005—Aaron Rodgers—QB—Green Bay Packers—Grade: B+
2004—Steven Jackson—RB—St. Louis Rams—Grade: A
2003—Dallas Clark—TE—Indianapolis Colts—Grade: A-
2002—Ed Reed—S—Baltimore Ravens—Grade: A+
2001—Willie Middlebrooks—S—Denver Broncos—Grade: D-
2000—Ahmed Plummer—CB—San Francisco 49ers—Grade: B
1999—Reggie McGrew—DT—San Francisco 49ers—Grade: F
Analysis: Chris Johnson, like Beason, wasn't graded but has been great for the Titans in his rookie year, making the Pro Bowl.
Steven Jackson is a bright spot on an awful Rams team and Rodgers has handled the situation in Green Bay with great poise. Clark is a great option through the middle for Peyton Manning in Indy.
The best pick, however, was Reed. The Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2002, Reed has won Defensive Player of the Year, been to multiple Pro Bowls, named to several All-Pro teams, and is the best free safety in the NFL. Also, teams have learned not to throw in his direction because he will score a touchdown.
On the other side of the draft spectrum, Middlebrooks and McGrew were just awful for their respective teams. Middlebrooks was mainly a back-up and special teams player and McGrew was out in San Fran after two seasons.
Next edition: Picks 23, 22, and 21