So another year, another endless parade of media hype surrounding the NFL draft and who will be the first to don a team's cap with that "the $20 million+ guaranteed money will make this losing a bit easier to swallow" grin. Not to take away from the honor of being the first man off the board, but I think that one could make a strong case that the first pick is.. well... overrated. Take this into consideration: here are the number 1 overall selections dating back to 2000; Courtney Brown, Michael Vick, David Carr, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Mario Williams, and JaMarcus Russel.
Thus far, of those players, only Vick, Manning, and Palmer have been in the playoffs. Brown has never developed into the force the Browns thought he could be, Carr is riding the bench, Alex Smith will be batting for a starting job next year, and Russell is too early on with his holdout that lagged into his rookie year to judge. And Vick recieves the special recognition of being the only one to be riding the pine....in prison. Not that Vick didnt have success, but the damage that Atlanta suffered from that will set them back for a few years as they attempt to replace the man their franchise (and ticket sales) were based around.
Quarterbacks coming into the NFL face a large adjustment, and the pressure that the number 1 overall selections at that position face cant be ignored in assessing their development. In this decade, more Franchise Quarterbacks havent panned out (Vick, Carr, Smith) than have (Manning, Palmer) so far. Not to say that Smith couldnt turn it around, but youd have a hard time finding anyone outside of the 49ers organization who would still tell you Smith was a good call at number 1. Ironically, however, NFL teams cant pass up a shot at their Franchise guy who will anchor the team for 10 seasons, no matter how many busts there may be. Theyll wager that Peyton Manning was a first overall pick. Next time someone tells you that, give them two words: "David. Carr."
The Number 1 bust, however, doesnt always have to be the main man in the huddle. Many players of all positions fail to live up to the fat deals and expectations that accompany the honor of being a top 5, or especially, number 1 pick. Even "safe, solid" selections at positions like OT can backfire. Mike Williams or Robert Gallery, anyone?
That said, the Big Tuna and the Dolphins have reeled in their first prize catch, Jake Long. Most people would argue that its a safe and dependable selection, and pretty near cant-miss. Hes an excellent player and Id even say its a good choice, but before we get too excited, remember these words: "David. Carr." You never know.