The NFL Draft for RBs Over the Last 10 Years
I was not able to get this article done before the draft so I will keep comments to as much of a minimum as possible. It's kinda hard though because there are a lot of stories with the RB's drafted since 1998.
Since The 2009 draft has already taken place, I will comment on a few of the RB's that were selected. As this draft summery has proven, it is impossible to rate someone until they strap on the equipment...but I'll do my best.
Please remember, my grades will be for that particular athlete's overall effect on the league. So let's get started...
1998: Tavian Banks—MJD Before MJD
1998 will always be remembered by Jacksonville Jaguars' fans as the year they drafted future Hall of Famer Fred Taylor. A few of us will never forget the 5-foot-10 RB drafted out of Iowa named Tavian Banks.
Brought in to compliment Taylor's "between the tackle" running, Banks was a quick kid who could catch the ball out of the backfield. He was more inclined to juke you out of your jock than run you over.
Though Banks had experienced some injury issues in college, he was mostly healthy over his last two years and had been recognized as one of the nation's most successful RBs.
The reason Banks is not well known is because he was injured much of his rookie year, playing only six games. The preseason of 1999 showed a timid Banks who started making a name for himself with flashes of brilliance.
I still remember a preseason game that had Banks in the open field with a safety lining him up. After a shift, Banks stutter-stepped and then hurdled the tackler.
It may have only helped gain another couple of yards, but the gasps from the stadium were deafening. We all knew this kid could be a star.
Tavian Banks career was cut short in November 1999 season by a cowardly out-of-bounds hit. His shredded knee never recovered.
Tavian Banks is out of the league now after a few failed comebacks. He is remembered by few.
I contend that a healthy Tavian Banks, along with Fred Taylor's impressive second year, may have been the difference in the Jaguars' unsuccessful run to the Super Bowl.
Tavian Banks is, and will always be, one of my favorite Jacksonville Jaguar players. I hope he reads this one day and smiles.
Drafted No. 5: Curtis Enis (3)
Notes: Nothing to say here; FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Drafted No. 9: Fred Taylor (94)
Notes: Strong and fast; injury concerns early but has proven durable; has never received attention that he should; future Hall of Fame candidate.
Drafted No. 18: Robert Edwards (85)
Notes: Former CB converted to RB; smallish but ran with authority; ran for over 1,000 yards his rookie season but was then injured in All-Star beach football game; injured knee so severely that he almost lost his leg; made comeback four years later and was rewarded with a "comeback" award; Another impressive career cut short.
Drafted No. 29 : John Avery (24)
Notes: Reach pick; smallish & soft; special team specialist; FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Other notables :
(mid 3rd) Ahman Green (79)*
(early 4th) Michael Pittman (74)
(early 4th) Tavian Banks (50)*
Special note : As always, "*" indicates an impressive and inspired pick.
1999: Ditka Sacrifices the New Orleans Saints
Mike Ditka was convinced he had seen the next Earl Campbell...except faster. Mike Ditka wanted Rick Williams and he wanted him BAD!!!
Mike Ditka was also a golf freak and liked the idea of playing golf instead of spending all day in a draft war room. So Ditka did the unimaginable.
He offered New Orleans' entire cache of draft picks to the Washington Redskins for their fifth pick in the first round. Shockingly, Washington refused.
They wanted more and knew that Ditka was desperate. Ditka then added the first and third round picks in 2000 also. Washington then accepted. Ditka picked his RB, opened a new cigar, and left to go play golf.
Ricky Williams never became the RB that Ditka envisioned. Serviceable but not awe-inspiring. New Orleans got worse and Ditka eventually was fired.
The pressure Ditka's actions put on Ricky Williams caused a social-anxiety disorder he suffered from to grow.
Williams discovered that marijuana helped his condition and multiple suspensions followed. It was a very interesting draft.
Drafted No. 4 : Edgerrin James (88)
Notes: Strong and quick; took off immediately as a 1,000-yard rusher; was heading for all-time numbers before knee injury derailed him; left Colts the year before they won the Super Bowl.
Drafted No. 5 : Ricky Williams (76)
Notes: See above; never reached potential; still playing but for free; paying back money owed to Miami.
Only other notable would be Kevin Faulk (78), selected mid-second round. Average player with multiple skills and small ego. Has earned multiple championship rings.
2000: Hit and Miss
There were five RBs chosen in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft, tied for the most over the last 10 years.
Of those five selected, two were immediate All-Pro's, one has come around the last couple of years, while the other two never achieved a career.
There was also a small number of successful picks after the first. The 2000 RB class was just OK.
Drafted No. 5 : Jamal Lewis (90)
Notes: Strong and quick; fullback with RB moves; immediate success; holds record for most rushing yards in one season; Super Bowl ring; league MVP for 2003; prison time for possible involvement in drug deal.
Drafted No. 7: Thomas Jones (89)
Notes: Small and elusive; would be considered a BUST after underachieving in Arizona and Tampa Bay; came into his own while with the Bears and is now one of the best backs in football for the New York Jets.
Drafted No. 11 : Ron Dayne (40)
Notes: Big and lumbering; Heisman Trophy winner; played much slower and weaker as a pro; fumble issues and weight concerns; would show promise but fall back again; per his high draft position...FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Drafted No. 19 : Shaun Alexander (92)
Notes: Big and physical; early fumble issues; unbelievable nose for the end zone; multiple All-Pro; worked hard for big contract then rested; went from one of the best backs in the league to out of a job within two years.
Drafted No. 31 : Trung Candidate (10)
Notes: WHO?!?; brought in to be the power to Marshall Faulk's finesse; bad, bad reach; FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Other Notables :
(late 5th) Dante Hall (79)*
(late 6th) Mike Anderson (82)***
Special Notes : Dante Hall was drafted as a RB but was eventually converted to WR.
2001: The Draft That Brought the Best RB of Our Generation
The San Diego Chargers used the flexibility afforded them by the Michael Vick trade to take the best athlete available, LaDainian Tomlinson. A "five-tool" RB with speed to burn, LT stepped in immediately and became the best RB is the NFL.
Tomlinson has taken a bit of a hit recently with injuries and his seeming unwillingness to step up when his team has needed him in the playoffs. He was still an excellent pick and a no-brainer Hall-of-Fame candidate.
Drafted No. 5 : Ladainian Tomlinson (99)
Notes: See above; loses perfect score per inability to win "the big one."
Drafted No. 23 : Deuce McAllister (83)
Notes: Bull-rusher with deceptive speed; was cruising towards a good career when derailed by injury.
Drafted No. 27 : Michael Bennett (78)
Notes: Thin and slight; elusive; has always been "just a guy," has been given opportunities to be the man but just falls short; will always be a complement back; considering where he was drafted...FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Other notables :
(early 2nd) Anthony "A-Train" Thomas (67)
(mid 2nd) Lamont Jordan (71)
(late 2nd) Travis Henry (78)
(early 4th) Rudi Johnson (83)***
(late 4th) Correll Buckhalter (70)*
2002: Character, Character, Character
William Green was as inspirational as he was maddening. The orphaned child of heroin addicts, Green overcame much turmoil to become one of college football's most exciting RBs.
When the draft was nearing, it was learned that Green had been suspended twice from Boston College's football team because of marijuana-based failed drug tests. This information caused a top five pick to fall to Cleveland with the 16th pick, which they made gladly.
Green's rookie year was stellar, playing every game and showing promise for the future. Unfortunately, that future was more controversial than productive.
After being very productive the first few games of 2002, the following things happened: He was arrested for DUI with marijuana possession. He was suspended by the league for four games.
While on suspension, he got into a domestic dispute where his fiance stabbed him in the back. The league, tiring of all the drama, suspended Green for the remainder of 2002 and the entire 2003 season.
A series of injuries, combined with an altercation with a teammate, eventually ended William Green's career in the NFL. It's even more painful to see when you review RB's drafted outside the first round.
His story is an example of the fact that Character matters and shouldn't be trumped by talent.
Drafted No. 16 : William Green (1)
Notes: See above; though I am very sympathetic to his past, he definitely warrants FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Drafted No. 18 : T.J. Duckett (64)
Notes: Downhill power runner; never really established himself as more than a goal-line carrier; because of his high pick position...FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Other notables :
(early 2nd) Deshaun Foster (78)
(mid. 2nd) Clinton Portis (94)***
(late 3rd) Brian Westbrook (96)***
(late 6th) Chester Taylor (86)***
2003 : Three Men and a Baby
In 2003, There were two RB's selected in the first round, both successful. Another was selected in the 3rd, also successful. A final notable pick was made in the fourth round...and he was a PUD!!!
Onterrio Smith was trouble from the beginning. He was kicked off the University of Tennessee football program by Phil Fullmer.
As a fan of the SEC, let me fill you in on something: No one gets kicked out of Tennessee!!! He went to Oregon & had a successful career.
The Minnesota Vikings, overlooking character for talent, drafted Smith. Long story short.
Smith played 2 years, getting multiple starts per injuries to other backs, but was never able to establish himself as a starter.
Prior to his 3rd year, he was detained at an airport for attempting to board a plane with dried urine and a prosthetic penis. A failed urine test cause him to be suspended the entire 2005 season.
He was later released & never worked his way back to the NFL. Onterrio Smith will always be a loser, but atleast he introduced us all to the "Whizzinator."
Drafted #23 : Willis McGahee (84)
Notes: Great college career; devestating knee injury just prior to entering the drafted dropped him down the board; shocked the league by making an immediate impact; multiple injuries & paternity suits has diminished his star power.
Drafted #27 : Larry Johnson (10)
Notes: Fantastic college career; drafted by Chiefs over coach's objectives; waited his turn, then took off; All-Pro & Pro Bowl selection; very vocal when he's not happy; bad habit of hitting women which brings his score down from an 88; men who hit women are scum!
Other notables :
(late 3rd) Justin Fargas (79)*
(early 4th) Onterrio Smith (5)
2004 : Lots of Guys...Only a Few Men
There were 18 RBs chosen in the 2004 draft, but only 5 are notable. The draft is literally littered with under-achievers or "never-weres." Lets get to it...
Drafted #24 : Steven Jackson (89)
Notes: Big, physical, & amazingly quick, high Wonderlic score; Pro Bowl selection; only "stud" player left on a poor team.
Drafted #26 : Chris Perry (61)
Notes: proto-typical third down back; nagging injuries; given chance after chance to establish a firm position but couldn't stay healthy; still young but for now...FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Drafted #30 : Kevin Jones (72)
Notes: Good college player; fine rookie year; constant injuries have ruined his career.
Other notables :
(mid 5th) Michael Turner (91)***
(late 7th) Derrick Ward (78)***
2005 : Mike Shanahan Is an Idiot!!!
Marion Barber, Brandon Jacobs, and Darren Sproles. These are three fantastic RB's that were drafted AFTER Maurice Clarett.
Why is that significant? Only an egotistical idiot like Mike Shanahan wouldn't have realized what a loser Clarett was. Let me tell the the sordid story that is Maurice Clarett.
Maurice Clarett, a former USA TODAY high school player of the year winner, had just helped Ohio State win the 2002 national championship. He was easily considered one of the best RBs in college football. Then things started going wrong.
After a 2002 season marked by confrontations with coaches & university officials, Clarett was suspended for the 2003 season for an arrest pertaining to attempting to defraud an insurance company with a false report. As rumors of academic misconduct and illegal funds circulated, Clarett pulled up stakes, went to California, hung out with rappers, and shot up to 256 pounds.
With no further college career possible, Clarett sued for the right to enter the NFL though he had not fulfilled his college elegibility requirements. Clarett's suit was eventually dismissed.
Maurice Clarett, already owing money to various sources and pitifully out of shape, would have to sit out until the next year's draft.
Clarett showed up at the combine before the 2005 draft still not in his college shape. He ran ridiculously slow 40 times.
He looked completely unprepared. The scouts gave him the nickname "Slo-mo." The whole affair was a train wreck.
Projected as a 5th to 6th round pick, if he was picked at all, imagine everyone's shock when the Denver Broncos drafted Clarett in the 3rd round. Mike "The Genius" Shanahan lauded the pick as a boon and told everyone that we'd see how brilliant he was.
Because of the debt he had accumulated from his suit and a year off, he negotiated a contract with no signing bonus in return for incentives that would pay him more for a successful career. Clarett showed up at mini-camp still woefully out of shape.
He never regained the ability he showed in college. He was cut before training camp broke, and rightfully so.
The story doesn't end there. Maurice Clarett is now in jail after being arrested for being involved in an armed robbery. The term was increased because he was caught before the trial cruising in the neighborhood of a key witness in his case.
He had multiple firearms, alcohol, and had left suicidal messages for colleagues & family members. Maurice Clarett was a pompous, self-important, and egotistical jerk who most people feel got what he deserves.
I also feel it is people like Mike Shanahan, who fell in line with other people in Clarett's life, that filled his head with the belief that he still had it when it was clear he didn't. It also proved what I have stated in other articles.
You can't take a year away from the NFL and come back the same athlete. I hope teams remember that when Mike Vick is re-instated.
Drafted #2 : Ronnie Brown (84)
Notes: Strong & quick; heavy between the tackles; successful start of career temporarily derailed by injury; resurrected by "wildcat" offense.
Drafted #4 : Cedric Benson (37)
Notes: Strong & quick in college; weak & slow in NFL; bad attitude & alcohol ended career in Chicago; appears to have reclaimed a career in Cincinnati; We'll see; FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Drafted #5 : Cadillac Williams (72)
Notes: Great in college; started out fast & strong with immediate success; career has been prematurely slowed by injuries; hopeful to be healthy when training camp opens in 2009; only because of being a top 5 pick...FIRST ROUND BUST!!!
Other notables :
(mid 3rd) Frank Gore (90)***
(late 3rd) Ryan Moats (69)
(early 4th) Marion Barber (91)***
(early 4th) Brandon Jacobs (89)***
(late 4th) Darren Sproles (83)***
Special Note : Taken late in the 7th round...Madison Hedgecock(0). Nothing notable,just a damn funny name!
2006 : The Greatest RB EVER!!!! (or was he?!?)
It was considered a done deal. The Houston Texans would draft Heisman Trophy winning RB Reggie Bush with the first overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. That's what was supposed to happen...but it didn't.
Reggie Bush was the most popular player coming to the league. Lightning quick, Bush was known for exciting plays both running, catching, and on special teams.
Though smallish, his legend in the NFL was already being predicted by scouts who were wowed by his amazing ability. Leading up to the draft, Bush was signed to endorsement deals with Adidas and Pepsi. It was a forgone conclusion who would be picked #1.
Then things got interesting. Reports came out that Bush was suspected of accepting money from boosters.
Further reports had an agent suing Bush and his family for monies owed on the rental cost of a multi-million dollar home Bush's family lived in while he was attending USC. Rental costs that were being paid by the agent with the understanding that he would represent Bush when he turned pro.
A promise that Bush chose not to honor. An act that was a clear violation of NCAA rules.
An act that threatened to cause USC to have to forfeit their entire 2005 season. Suddenly, Reggie Bush looked less like the new face of the NFL and more like the spoiled, money-grubbing athlete.
Whether it was the controversies, fear of potential injury concerns with a smallish back, money concerns, or just a personality conflict, the Texans chose to pick defensive end Mario Williams with the #1 overall pick in the draft. Bush went #2 to the New Orleans Saints and the Texans were called fools.
It's only been a couple of years now but the Texans and Mario Williams have easily proven that the right player was picked that year. It's years like 2006 that prove anything is possible, nothing can be assumed, and the drama of the NFL draft truly can not be underestimated.
Drafted #2 : Reggie Bush (82)
Notes: See above; extremely exciting yet maddeningly injury-prone; hasn't proven capable of being a full-time RB; is really a better receiver than RB; only reason I can't give him the "first round bust" label is because he dates Kim Kardashian!
Drafted #21 : Laurence Maroney (74)
Notes: Successful college career;average NFL player; Glimpses of brilliance in some games followed by nothing; hasn't proven capable of being the main back.
Drafted #27 : DeAngelo Williams (89)
Notes: Great college career; Small & very fast; played backup in split backfield first two years: main RB in split backfield last year; outstanding back.
Drafted #30 : Joseph Addai (81)
Notes: Unspectacular college career; Physical yet quick; serviceable RB that puts up good stats but doesn't dazzle; can disappear in some games.
Other notables :
(mid 2nd) LenDale White (84)*
(late 2nd) Maurice Jones-Drew (90)***
(mid 3rd) Jerious Norwood (70)*
(mid 4th) Leon Washington (80)***
2007 : Six Teams...
There were six teams. Oakland, Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Arizona, and Washington.
They all had the opportunity to draft what most say is the best RB currently in the NFL. His name is Adrian Peterson, and the Minnesota Vikings are THRILLED to have him.
Adrian Peterson was named the top high school athlete by numerous periodicals. He had the highest finish for a freshman ever for the Heisman Trophy.
He finished his career at Oklahoma only 73 yards short of breaking Billy Simms' all-time leading rushing record. Yet many teams were scared of him.
What would be the reason for that? Was it fear that he had peaked his freshman year as the following three never equaled the first?
Was it the label he had accumulated as being injury-prone in college? Could it have been his upright running style that has proven to hurt RBs at the next label?
Could it be something as deep as the assumed psychological effects caused by having an incarcerated father or the two brothers that died too young, including one the night before his showing at the combine?
Whatever reason it was, there are six teams that had a shot at Adrian "All Day" Peterson and passed....And that's gotta HURT!!!
Drafted #7 : Adrian Peterson (100)
Notes: See above; Fantastic speed; nose for the end zone; could break for a score at any time from anywhere on the field; simply the best RB in the NFL.
Drafted #12 : Marshawn Lynch (79)
Notes: Good college career; enabled the Bills to trade away Willis McGahee; two productive seasons; both shortened by injuries; could be an outstanding RB if he would drive better, stop smoking weed, and not carry loaded weapons; score lowered per upcoming three game disciplinary suspension.
Other Notables :
(early 4th) Michael Bush (70)*
(late 4th) Le'Ron McClain (75)***
(early 7th) DeShawn Wynn (67)***
(late 7th) Ahmad Bradshaw (61)*
2008 : What a Great Year for RBs!!!
There was a ton of RB talent in 2008. This translated to five RBs being taken in the first round.
Four backs chosen had direct effects on their team making it to the playoffs. It was a very good year...let's check it out.
Drafted #4 : Darren McFadden (79)
Notes: Outstanding college career; big & fast; can score running, receiving, & passing; great talent on a BAD team; too early to call on this one.
Drafted #13 : Jonathan Stewart (83)
Notes: Exciting college career; came into league with injury concerns; combined with DeAngelo Williams for one of the best RB tandums in the league; Helped get the Panthers back into the playoffs. Inspired pick.
Drafted #22 : Felix Jones (73)
Notes: Fast & smart; great running & receiving RB; was having a good & growing first year before season ending injury.
Drafted #23 : Rashard Mendenhall (no score)
Notes: injured in his first real action; season ending; will give a "no score" for now but if he doesn't come back strong next year, then he will be close to "bust" area per much better backs picked after him.
Drafted #24 : Chris Johnson (91)
Notes: Outstanding college career; too damn fast; perfect compliment to LenDale White; Pro Bowl selection; finished 2nd for rookie of the year; helped Titans reach best record & playoffs; needs to work on conditioning as he began slowing down late in season.
Other notables :
(early 2nd) Matt Forte (88)***
(early 3rd) Kevin Smith (84)***
(late 3rd) Steve Slaton (82)***
(mid 5th) Tim Hightower (78)***
Special notes : The Broncos drafted three RB's (Ryan Torain in the 5th round. Peyton Hillis & Cory Boyd in the 7th).
It appears that Mike Shanahan knew that Torain, Hillis, and every other RB they touched would get injured in 2008. With so many RBs on the roster and Shanahan fired, they wouldn't need anymore RBs...Right?!?
2009 : What Have We Learned?...And What Happened?!?
Eliminating 2008's draft, there has been thirty RBs drafted in the first round. Looking at them as a whole, I came up with 14 "pros", 12 "mostly busts", and 4 "just guys".
Meaning, it's a fifty-fifty crap shoot. I understand now why a lot of teams say they will NEVER draft a RB in the first round. Lets see what happened in the 2009 RB draft...
Drafted #12 : Knowshon Moreno
Notes: Outstanding college career; can run like the breeze & can catch the ball like a WR; has skills that should have him ready to start in NFL immediately; a little slight & could disappear in games; Not exactly sure why Denver was the team to draft him but hey...They did pretty damn well with another Bulldog RB...Terrell Davis!!!
Anticipated success grade : (90)
Drafted #27 : Donald Brown
Notes: Great college career; led nation in rushing in 2008; reputation as a team leader; should be able to split carries with Joseph Addai; typical intelligent & hardworking player that gets drafted by the Colts. Good place for his skills & time to develope.
Anticipated success rate : (89)
Drafted #31 : Chris "Beanie" Wells
Notes: Great college career; big & broad; dynamic runner; suspected to be injury prone though there is no evidence to prove that; hasn't shown ability to catch the ball yet; enabled the Cardinals to release Edgerrin James.
Anticipated success rate : (84)
Others drafted that I think will make a difference :
(late 2nd) LeSean McCoy (89) Philadelphia Eagles
(early 3rd) Shonn Greene (86) New York Jets***
(late 6th) James Davis (82) Cleveland Browns***
(late 7th) Rashad Jennings (88) Jacksonville Jaguars***
Special note : Bernard Scott of Abilene Christian, RB selected late in the 6th round. Perfect build for NFL RB.
Was voted best RB in Division II; massive yards & tremendous TD totals. Also, Kicked out of high school program for off-field fight, kicked out of college program for hitting a coach.
He has also gotten in trouble behind the wheel of a car. Why should you care? He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, I guess some things never change!
I hope you enjoyed this article. Sorry I couldn't get it done before the draft.
If you have any comments, please write me. If you have any story suggestions, please write me. If you think I'm an idiot, please just don't tell me mom.