San Francisco's Worst Draft Blunders of the Last 15 Years
Recently, I wrote a piece about the Jags' draft history.
That assignment was relatively easy, although there was some controversy about my inclusion of Tony Boselli on that list. But controversy is what makes these lists inherently interesting.
That got me thinking about my favorite NFL team: the San Francisco 49ers. I chose to focus on the last 15 years for two reasons.
First, our last Super Bowl title came in 1994, which is the first year I looked at. Since that year, things have gone downhill pretty quickly.
The 49ers have only made the playoffs six times in the following 14 years, and only two of those trips came after 2000.
The second reason is that I have been hypercritical of the current ownership and front office team, and thought that this would be a good way to vent some of my frustration.
While there were more than a few crappy draft picks in this decade, there were plenty of shockingly bad draft picks in the second half of the 1990s, some that I had forgotten.
Enough with the intro. On to the top five (or should I say bottom five) awful draft picks.
5. Mike Rumph
Career highlights: 27th overall pick in 2002 NFL Draft, 138 tackles, 17 pass breakups, three interceptions
Possible alternatives: Marc Colombo (29th overall), Deion Branch (65th overall)
At the University of Miami, Rumph played in a secondary that included Ed Reed and Phillip Buchanon.
While Reed and Buchanon routinely made big plays, Rumph's biggest contribution was deflecting a pass with his knee that was intercepted by Reed and returned for a touchdown in a very close game against Boston College.
Honestly, it was just bad timing for the 49ers. Reed was taken 24th in 2002, and Lito Sheppard was picked right before Rumph.
Either pick would have dramatically improved San Francisco's secondary. As it turned out, Rumph was no better than average and didn't bring much to the table.
He only played in SF for four years (and only played five games in his last two seasons). He was traded for Taylor Jacobs (another bust), played in Washington for a season and hasn't been heard from since.
4. Reggie McGrew
Career highlights: 24th overall selection of 1999 NFL Draft, one career sack
Possible alternatives: Patrick Kerney (30th), Al Wilson (31st)
McGrew was supposed to play alongside Bryant Young and create a formidable DT tandem.
Instead, McGrew played in 24 career games and only played three seasons in the NFL.
Not only is he one of the biggest busts in recent 49er draft history, but he's also one of the biggest first round flops in the history of the University of Florida.
3. Rashaun Woods
Career highlights: 31st overall draft pick in 2004, 160 receiving yards, one touchdown
Possible alternatives: Benjamin Watson (32nd overall), Bob Sanders (44th overall)
When the 49ers made this pick, I have to admit I was pretty excited.
He had great size, solid hands and decent speed.
Our receiving corps was garbage, so I thought he could come in and make an immediate impact. Boy was I wrong.
The Oklahoma State alumnus has only played 14 career NFL games, all of which came during his rookie season.
His contribution to the 49ers: seven receptions, 160 yards, one touchdown. He never played after his rookie season.
2. Israel Ifeanyi
Career highlights: 46th overall pick of 1996 NFL Draft,
Possible alternatives: Bobby Engram (52nd overall), Brian Dawkins (61st overall)
The 49ers didn't have a No. 1 pick in 1996 because they traded the pick away in 1995 to get J.J. Stokes.
Another pick that didn't quite pan out, but he still had a solid NFL career, unlike the rest of the guys on this list.
Anyway, Ifeanyi, a defensive lineman out of USC, was the Niners' first pick of the 1996 draft. When I went back through the draft annals, I saw his name and couldn't remember ever seeing him play.
There's a reason why.
Ifeanyi's NFL career consists of three games in 1996. I tried to see if he suffered some sort of career-ending injury, but couldn't find anything. I guess he just sucked.
By the way, if anyone out there knows the story behind Ifeanyi's (lack of) rise and fall, I'd love to hear from you.
1. Jim Druckenmiller
Career highlights: 26th overall pick of the 1997 NFL draft, one career NFL start, one touchdown, four interceptions
Possible alternatives: Trevor Pryce (28th overall), Jake Plummer (42nd overall)
At this point, some people might be saying, "How could anyone be worse than Ifeanyi?"
Well, there are a few reasons why the V-Tech alum edged out the USC bum.
First was where the two players were drafted.
Even though Druckenmiller was taken late in the first round, he was still a first round pick. Ifeanyi, as pathetic as his NFL career was, was a second-round pick, so expectations weren't as high.
But the primary reason Druckenmiller took the No. 1 spot is because he played the most important position on the football field on a team that has a storied history when it comes to signal callers.
Think about the revolving door of quarterbacks the 49ers have had since the loss of Montana and Young (and Garcia, to a lesser extent). We're STILL looking for that solid quarterback.
Now think about what would have happened if SF had drafted Jake the Snake. Not saying that he would have been the savior of the franchise, but we damn sure would have had more success than we've had in the last decade.
Two things that struck me during my research:
First, I was surprised how many crappy draft picks we had before 2000.
That's when I thought things started going downhill. Apparently, it started well before that.
The second thing is that the really good first-round picks of the last 15 years have come on the defensive side of the ball.
Bryant Young (seventh overall in '94), Julian Peterson (16th in 2000), Andre Carter (seventh in 2001), Patrick Willis (11th in 2007).
Here are the crappy honorable mentions: Kwame Harris (26th in 2003), Alex Smith (first in 2005), Vernon Davis (sixth in 2006). And I don't feel really confident about Kentwan Balmer (29th in 2008).