One week until the 2009 NFL draft. There are plenty of past drafts one can review to see if the pick you "NEED" to make is in fact the pick you "WANT" to make. Past drafts are littered with as many broken dreams as shining moments.
For every "Franchise" player taken in the early rounds, there is a reason the term "First Round Bust" is so commonly used. People will say that the NFL draft is nothing but a crap shoot.
The possiblility of making a mistake with your first round pick has increased every year with the proliferation of underclassmen, growing number of NFL teams, and the general lack of proper scouting.
The NFL combine used to be a chance to solidify what you had already gained knowledge of with certain stud players. It also gave a chance for unknown players to make a name for themselves, especially ones from smaller colleges.
Over the recent past, a player's performance at the combine has suddenly become a "make or break" tryout. Suddenly players that even a knowledgable college fan have never heard of is called a "Phenom."
No longer do NFL teams care about how the athlete played over the last three to four years. "What was his 40 time?" is heard much more than "What kind of person is he off the field?"
The reality of the draft is this...You just don't know what you're getting until they show up in minicamp. In my opinion though, it is MUCH easier to make a mistake than to score it right.
You just hope your team with perform the due diligence required to not waste the potential that the draft offers to improve your team.
For this story, I chose to go back and start with the 1998 draft, which I feel is the greatest example of a first round with both a "dream" pick and the "nightmare."
I will go over each first round QB pick, grade them, and also address picks made in the later rounds that shows that there is quality to be found after the first round.
If you enjoy this story, please become a "FAN", as I will be posting articles grading the drafts for RB's & WR's before the draft. I hope you enjoy the article...
There is no more perfect example than to 1998 NFL draft. Peyton Manning had been the leader of the Tennessee Volunteers for all four years he attended.
He had led them to successful winning records and multiple bowl games. He was even the son of one of the most respected QB's in NFL history, Archie Manning. It should have been a no-brainer!
Ryan Leaf had also experienced success. Took Washington State to bowl games & finished third in the Heisman voting. Then there was the "GLORIOUS" combine performance that made scouts project him ahead of Manning even though he was less experienced & had a few character issues.
Luckily for the Colts, they didn't fall prey to the hype. Unluckily for the Chargers, they will be forever known as the team that drafted the Ryan Leaf that has inspired the "Ryan Leaf Bust-Pick" cliche.
First Round Picks (grade out of 100) :
Pick No. 1 Peyton Manning (99) Comments: Future Hall-of-Famer; Super Bowl Champion; Super Bowl & NFL Most Valuable Player; Fantastic off the field; excellent pitchman & SNL host; only reason he didn't get 100 is he should have MORE championships.
Pick No. 2 Ryan Leaf (1) Comments: Inexperienced; False sense of ability; COMPLETE JERK; inability to hold QB & golf coach job at a division three college.
Other notables: (late second) Charlie Batch (80)
(late third) Brian Griese (70)
(late sixth) Matt Hasselbeck (90) *
Special Note - * indicates noteworthy & inspired picks.
Many consider 1999 as the real special year for QB's in the draft. In fact, five QB's were drafted in the first round that year. No first round has had that many QB's drafted since. It was a big bag of mixed nuts. There were very few "diamonds in the rough" that draft also.
First round picks :
Pick No. 1: Tim Couch (30) Notes: Never played to potential; showed no growth; only successful year ended prematurely by injury; retired amid allegations of a pending drug suspension.
Pick No. 2: Donovan McNabb (93) Notes: Super Bowl starter; perenial All-Pro; has played entire career with same team; Campbell's soup ad's; questionable work-ethic & has never won the "Big One".
Pick No. 3 : Akili Smith (5) Notes: Inexperienced; lengthy contract holdout that he never recovered from; eventually failed in NFL Europe & CFL; Interesting rumor that Cincinnati turned DOWN trade offer of MULTIPLE picks in that and FUTURE drafts from New Orleans for the third pick that they used on this bust.
Pick No. 11: Dante Culpepper (80) Notes: Big & strong; played hard; was on top of his game when injury changed him; started strong but will not finish his career that way.
Pick No. 12: Cade McNown (20) Notes: came in cocky but hadn't earn it; contract hold-out casuality; inspired www.tradecade.com Web site; suspected of alleged possible point-shaving in college; score would be lower if he hadn't been banned from Playboy mansion for trying to steal one of Hef's girls.
Other notables : (mid second) Shaun King (65)
(mid third) Brock Huard (60)
(late fourth) Aaron Brooks (75)*
2000 was very interesting in hind sight. It wasn't then. There was Chad Pennington, and then...no one. The next QB taken wasn't until the third round. But now, nine years later, we know there were a couple of other guys.
Drafted No. 18: Chad Pennington (81) Notes: Smart player; limited arm strength; under-respected by the Jets, now is a savior for the Dolphins.
Other notables: (early sixth) Marc Bulger (83)*
(early seventh) Tim Rattay (65)*
(LATE SIXTH ROUND) TOM F'ing BRADY(105)***
Special note - Tom Brady...sixth round...it's all about scouting, people! Three rings; loved by women; envyed by men; gets extra credit for being married to a Victoria Secret model...God, I hate him!!!
Michael Vick was the only QB chosen in the first round in 2001. Pretty boring until you realize that he how many ways he changed the league.
Michael Vick was a dynamic presence that drove defenses nuts. An Athlete with a QB's arm & RB's legs, he made the QB position look like a video game. After a few years, it became very apparent that Vick would never be a prototypical QB.
His runs were his only highlights, combined with off-passes & interceptions. Regardless, Vick during his tenure took Atlanta to the playoffs, got on the cover of the Madden video game, & helped the Falcons sell out every home game.
The team that owned the No. 1 pick, San Diego, traded out, many believe, because they didn't want Vick. They used the aquired picks to draft a franchise RB (Ladainian Tomlinson) & an eventual superstar QB (Drew Brees). It helped San Diego get back into the playoff picture.
The final effect is a professional athlete getting into the legal troubles that eventually befell Michael Vick. Some people ruffle at the comparison to O.J. Simpson, but I see it in the sense that we just aren't used to seeing professional athletes getting into this level of trouble.
What Michael Vick did was deplorable, he got what he deserved, and I feel sorry for the team who sells their soul to sign him when he is reinstated. I will remind them of tragic stories of Maurice Clarett & Mike Williams. One year away from football is a LIFETIME.
Drafted No. 1: Michael Vick (69) Notes: Most exciting player in NFL for many years; Grossly underacheiving in QB skill growth; TERRIBLE person who seems to be showing no remorse.
Other notable: (high second) Drew Brees (89)
Special Note: Quincy Carter (-100), chosen in the late second round by the Dallas Cowboys, still goes down as one of the worse reaches in NFL history. (And this is coming from a HUGE Georgia Bulldog fan!)
When I was finished looking at the 2002 QB class, I immediately showered because I just felt dirty. This is truly a poor class. I will waste no further time commenting on it.
Draft No. 1: David Carr (65) Notes : Um...nice smile?; Not giving him a failing grade because I haven't met a QB in my life with a high completion rate throwing from their back...This kid was a tackling dummy for an expansion team.
Draft No. 3: Joey Harrington (25) Notes : For a QB, he was an excellent pianist; was given every opportunity to succeed but just couldn't get it together; gets a VERY low score because he trashed the Harrington name... his cousins are two-time British Open Champion Pádraig & World Series of Poker Champion Dan. There are winners in the bloodline!
Draft No. 32: Patrick Ramsey (50) Notes : I don't get it!!!...He came in the league from a pass-happy college to be coached by the offensive "Genius" Steve Spurrier. Why didn't it work?
Spurrier quickly realized his college antics don't work with the big boys, & he took this kid down with him. Too bad...Seemed like a likable enough guy! Be careful who you hang with I guess.
Other notables : (mid fourth) David Garrard (86)*
(mid sixth) J.T. O'Sullivan (79)
Special Note : The Raiders selected Ronald Curry out of North Carolina & converted him to WR. He's had his moments.
2003 had four QB's drafted in the first round, and not one of them can be termed undeniably a success. All started. Most are still in the league. You have an All-Pro.
A Super Bowl Starter. A son of a Hall of Famer. But you put them together, and what stands out is inconsistancy.
Drafted No. 1: Carson Palmer (84) Notes : Sat out a year learning & it paid off; strong arm; seemingly good leader; injury-prone & doesn't seem to bounce back quickly. Jury is still out but he has time to make the next level.
Drafted No. 7: Byron Leftwich (78) Notes : Big arm; terrible mechanics; such a complete lack of willingness to embrace change that he lost his starting position & his team; Super Bowl Ring...Who's laughing now?!?
Drafted No. 19 : Kyle Boller (30) Notes : Was given one responsibility with the excellent defense of the Ravens...PROTECT THE BALL!!! He couldn't do it.; no longer a viable starter.
Drafted No. 22 : Rex Grossman (55) Notes : I mean it...this pud started in a Super Bowl!...typical Gator quarterback; would throw for two touchdowns in first half & then five interceptions in the second; collecting unemployement waiting for a free agent offer.
Other Notables : (late third) Chris Sims (71) appeared to be taking off when a horrific hit damaged his spleen & he almost died on the field. Now three years later, he's attempting to reclaim his starting position. I, for one, is wishing him good luck.
(mid sixth) Drew Henson (8) proved once again my theory that one year away, let alone a couple, spells death to your football career.
This was the most dramatic draft I had ever seen. I was aware of the story with John Elway advising the Baltimore Colts if they drafted him, he would play baseball instead. It was 1983 and I had more important things on my mind...like the prom.
The story got hot again when Eli Manning made it very clear he had no interest in playing for San Diego. Some theorized that it was a pre-draft interview gone wrong.
Some claimed Eli was a little diva trying to get to a bigger market. But here it was, the first pick & Paul Tagliabue read off that the Chargers had selected Manning.
Even my wife, who cares less about football, couldn't stop watching the pouty Manning pose for pictures. The Chargers had already worked out a trade with the Giants for fellow draftee Phillip Rivers but seemingly enjoyed watching Eli squirm.
It was a soap opera of the highest rating and still the best draft I ever watched.
Drafted No. 1: Eli Manning (91) Notes : Strong arm; good family; questionable leader; Super Bowl Winner but VERY inconsistant ; his draft day performance will always make him look soft...He'll never be Peyton!
Drafted No. 4: Philip Rivers (87) Notes : Strong but unorthidox throwing motion; gunslinger; playoff caliber QB; team leader who earned players' respect by playing playoff game injured; a little bit of a punk...but in a Jim McMahon way.
Drafted No. 11 : Ben Roethlisberger (99) Notes : Very strong arm; Super Bowl winning starter TWICE...but still humble; injury prone yet rarely misses considerable time; Only reason he doesn't get 100 is because I'm a Jaguar fan (sorry) and he won't stop riding motorcycles.
Drafted No. 22 : J.P. Losman (47) Notes : The player keeping this from being unquestionably the greatest QB class; given multiple opportunities to be the starter but kept getting hurt or hurting the team; one more bad season from being "retired" by the Bills; only getting points for looking like Adam Sandler.
Only other notable was Matt Schaub (79) late in the third round. Looks to be a good starting QB if he can just stay upright.
2005 was a pretty uninteresting draft QB-wise except for the uncomfortable situation with Aaron Rodgers going MUCH later than expected.
It was like he was covered with money, but with each pick that went off without his name being called, the money was being snatched off his body. It was sad, unfortunate, and I couldn't look away.
Drafted No. 1 : Alex Smith (15) Notes : Suspect arm; inexperienced; make hay in a "spread" offense that doesn't prepare you for the pro game; given many chances to grab the brass ring but didn't have the game.
Drafted No. 24 : Aaron Rodgers (80) Notes : Painfully LONG draft...took it like a man; painfully LONG time waiting to play...Took it like a man; Dealt with Farve's "un-retirement" & all the press that came with it...Took it like a gentleman; has management & the team behind him; looks like a NFL QB.
Drafted No. 25 : Jason Campbell (79) Notes : Nice arm; good leader; doesn't seem to have the "it" factor; has no respect from the fans or team owner...always looking for the "next big thing".
Other notables : (early fourth) Kyle Orton (81)
(mid sixth) Derek Anderson (82)*
(mis seventh) Matt Cassel (85)***
Special note : Those Pats are friggin' amazing!!!
Vince Young was quite a story in 2006. He had just led Texas to a national Championship & was looked at as the next great QB. Then came a lackluster combine. Doesn't matter.
Then it was leaked that he scored the lowest Wonderlic score for a potential QB draftee. Um...shouldn't make a difference. With hindsight, we all know that they were red flags but sometimes you just can't walk away from talent.
All three first round QB picks have a story that has prevented them from achieving superstardom...but it's not too late.
Drafted No. 3 : Vince Young (78) Notes : strong arm but inaccurate at times; looks to run too much but also has hard time avoiding turnovers; came out of gate strong & won rookie of the year (BIG JOKE...Should have been Maurice Jones-Drew...But that's another article.); coddled life prior to NFL hasn't served him well...no leadership...can't have a thin skin & make it in the NFL!!
Drafted No. 10 : Matt Leinart (55) Notes : Nice guy; good spokesperson; great college career; prolonged holdout put him behind; has the reputation for being a "partier" when he should be preparing; Stuck behind the story that is Kurt Warner.
Drafted No. 11 : Jay Cutler (84) Notes : Strong arm...but not as strong as he thinks; Accurate thrower...But not as much as he thinks; Gunslinger...if the gun is a BB gun!
The kid, in my opinion, is weak...weak physically & mentally; Have heard nothing but weakness in the leadership area also; I'm so glad the Jags didn't look for his services!
Only other notable QB was Tarvaris Jackson (71) taken late in the second round. Lost his starting position with the best running game in the NFL to GUS FREROTTE ...That's all I've got to say about that!
Sometimes once is just not enough. There was no drama in 2007. Atleast not QB-wise.
We all knew the Raiders would be selecting JaMarcus Russell. There were some other storylines but no one expected another "Aaron Rodgers" situation, not so soon.
Lo & behold, there was Brady Quinn. Looking all Notre Dame like, he was pouting with the best of them as he slipped further & further down the board.
Unlike Rodgers, Quinn grabbed his girlfriend and went to a private suite to cry. It was a GLORIOUS TRAINWRECK & the only real drama of the draft.
Drafted No. 1 : JaMarcus Russell (59) Notes : Strong arm; no accuracy in college...why did they think he would get better? College mobility doesn't exist in the pros; prolonged contract holdout...when will these idiots learn...your football career is FINITE.
Sign the damn contract & get to camp before you fall so far behind you can't beat out Josh McCown!!!...sorry for the rant.
Drafted No. 22 : Brady Quinn (72) Notes : Good guy; intelligent; hard worker; had sideline ticket to watch 2005 6th round pick Derek Anderson have the season of a lifetime for the team he was planning to start for.
After Anderson woke up last year, was given chance to play; a few good & bad outings until injury ended his season; assumed to be starter next year or traded.
Other notables : (early second) Kevin Kolb (63)
(late third) Trent Edwards (80)*
(early seventh) Tyler Thigpen (78)*
The QB's picked in the first round in the 2008 draft will be remembered for one thing...PLAYOFFS, BABY!!!! They will also be remembered as the only QB's to make any noise that season. But the noise they made was deafening!
Drafted No. 3 : Matt Ryan (91) Notes : Mature well beyond his age or experience; leader & motivator; gym rat & big film watcher; exactly what the Atlanta Falcons needed to move on from Michael Vick; I feel in my heart that we will see Mr. Ryan have success for years to come.
Drafted No. 18 : Joe Flacco (86) Notes : Cannon-like arm strength; game-smart; deceptive speed; played the way Boller was incapable of playing...Protect the DAMN ball; first rookie to ever win two playoff games; one example of a "combine" phenom who backed up the hype.
Special note: No other QB drafted moved past backup status but I guess I would recommend paying attention to Kevin O'Connell (incomplete), the 94th player picked by the New England Patriots...Those guys know their stuff!!!
Honestly...I mean it...What have we learned. I truly believe nothing will change the fact that three QB's will be taken in the first round this year.
Matthew Stafford will go No. 1 overall (Did you see him smash those plates on Jimmy Fallon?!?). I just hope he can survive the football injury that is known as "playing for the Lions". Atleast I will get to see him play on Thanksgiving.
Mark Sanchez will go to a team who is over-reaching...Probably the Broncos (Please don't reach, Jags!!!). Whoever gets him will be doing him a REAL disservice if he even sees the field in a real NFL game his first year.
Josh Freeman will probably go to the Jets with another over-reach. Nice kid...hard worker...looking to make his mark immediately...New York will eat this kid ALIVE!!!
There are rumors that the Patriots are infatuated with Pat White, but unless they are really embracing the "wildcat" offense, I don't see it.
As for any team that wants to take my advice on drafting QB's, here they are:
1) Draft experienced players. Both Ryan & Flacco were seniors with a lot of playing experience. It showed in their ability to adapt to the NFL lifestyle.
2) Draft QB's from "pro-style" offenses. I have yet to see a "spread" offense QB have any success in the NFL.
3) Character should mean more than 40 times. Leaders are not made...they're born. If an athlete doesn't do his school work, he won't study the playbook.
If he walks around with a self-entitled attitude without money, what's he gonna do with a couple of millions at his disposal? Respect in the NFL has nothing to do with your contract...it's earned on the field & in the practice facitility. Basically...once a scumbag, always a scumbag!
4) If an athlete has a jerk agent, DON'T DRAFT HIM! Contract holdouts are STUPID and need to be stopped.
The athletes are to fault but the main culprits are agents who could care less about the name on the contract as much as the dollar amount. COME ON, NFL...Start working on a rookie salary cap & get this under control.
5) Don't draft any athlete you wouldn't have to your house for dinner. Football is a sport but it is also entertainment. You are asking people to hand over hard-earned cash for the right to watch your team.
I know that I have no interest in watching a bunch of jerks who could care less that I'm part of the reason they are making multiple millions of dollars.
6) Like in a restaurant, if you don't like what's in front of you...send it back. I know the NFL GM's all have a chart that tells them the value of your pick.
But I don't want to hear "We couldn't trade out of our spot." we are talking about millions & millions of dollars. If there isn't someone worth what you will have to pay at your draft position, trade down.
If you can't get what you think you deserve, swallow your pride & take what you can get. You will save millions, gain extra picks, and who knows. Maybe next year, the roles will be reversed and the other GM will come back to you first to make a deal because he owes you.
I know it sounds naive, but I just think the GM's who sell their souls & draft these problem children, are ruining the game.
Whew...I have monopolized enough of your day with this article. I will try to get my RB & WR grades done before the draft. I hope you enjoyed my opinion & I reminded you of some great stories. See ya at the draft!!!