Reggie Bush was expected to go first overall in the 2006 draft, after an amazing college career at USC, every football analyst and fan alike were convinced it was a certainty.
The Texans lost the game in overtime then surprised the football world by choosing Mario Williams, leaving the New Orleans Saints to get Bush with the second pick and signing him to a six year, 50 million dollar contract.
Both Bush and Washington were known as an all-purpose backs, and while Reggie Bush was on top of the world, Leon Washington trying to prove himself in order to get carries with the Jets in his rookie year.
In the 2006 season, Bush got off to a slow start, not scoring a touchdown in the months of September or October. However, in the second half of the year he posted nine scores total; six rushing, two receiving, and one punt return during the New Orleans Saints magical run that reignited their devastated city.
His monster second half of the year lead to him being named Rookie of the Month for December and was named to the NFL all-rookie team.
While it seemed that the former Heisman Trophy winner was going to live up to his billing, he has not played a complete season since his rookie year.
In 2007, Bush missed the final four games of the season with a knee injury; in 12 games he averaged 3.7 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns (four rushing & two receiving) for the year. He returned only three punts the entire year for a measly 12 yards, down from 28 punts returns in 2006.
In 2008, Reggie Bush came out of the gates fast, posting over 100 total yards in two of the first three games. However, once again Bush was not able to escape an injury-filled year, as he played in only 10 games, matching his career high of nine touchdowns during that time.
On the flip side, Leon Washington has played in all 16 games each of his first three seasons. In his rookie season Washington took almost as many carries as his next two years combined, which is due to the fact that the Jets acquired Thomas Jones in 2007 to split time with him in the backfield.
In his rookie season, with four less carries than Bush, Washington posted 75 more rushing yards, and averaged 4.3 yds per carry, compared to Bush's 3.6.
Washington showed flashes of serious talent his rookie year with the Jets, as his 650 rushing yards in 2006 were the most by a Jets rookie since 1976. His best game of the season was a 129 yard effort in a game versus the Lions, making that the highest one-game total for a Jets rookie dating back to Matt Snell in 1964.
Once Thomas Jones arrived the following year however, Washingon's rushing average went up to an even five yards per carry. His receptions have also steadily gone up since Jones acquisition. Washington caught 11 more balls in his sophomore season and posted an amazing three touchdowns on kickoff returns in 2007.
This great performance led to him being voted the Jets MVP by his teammates.
In 2008, Leon Washington's rushing average jumped to 5.9 yards per carry, compared to Reggie Bush's average of 3.8, although Bush got 30 more carries in six less games.
Washington caught a career high 47 passes in 2008, 11 more receptions than 2007 and 22 more catches than his rookie year in 2006. In comparison, Reggie Bush had 52 receptions in the 10 games he played in 2008.
Leon Washington gets more versatile every year.
In his rookie campaign, he scored four touchdowns, all coming from rushes. The next year Washington scored six touchdowns, three rushing and three on kickoff returns. In 2008, he found the end zone nine times, scoring six rushing, two receiving, and one return.
Washington is an electric charge for the Jets, a playmaker whenever he touches the ball.
If Reggie Bush can stay healthy for an entire year, he may just live up to the hype and recapture the athleticism he showed during his rookie season and final year at USC.
In comparing the two picks, Washington came into the league virtually unheralded, while Reggie Bush was quickly becoming a superstar. Bush signed for millions and had endorsement deals before even stepping onto the field.
However, three years after the 2006 draft, Washington has shown vast improvements every season and garnered a pro bowl appearance, while Bush has struggled for the break-through year Saints fans have been waiting for.
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