Scouts say that it takes about three years in the NFL before you can really see what direction a player's career will take in the league. Now that we are three years removed from the 2005 NFL Draft, let's look back to see who were the busts and who were the steals among the position players (quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers).
1. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
24. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
25. Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins
67. Charlie Frye, Cleveland Browns
69. Andrew Walter, Oakland Raiders
Other notables: Kyle Orton (4th round), Derek Anderson (6th round), Matt Cassell (7th round), Ryan Fitzpatrick (7th round)
Despite a quarterback becoming the No. 1 pick, this draft was a very weak quarterback draft.
Alex Smith is now the third-string quarterback for the Niners. Charlie Frye and Andrew Walter never turned out to be reliable quarterbacks in the league. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been forced into the starting role for the Bengals but has not played well and was benched this week. Derek Anderson had a great season last year, but poor play this year lost him his starting job and injuries will likely end his tenure with the Browns after this season.
Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in this bunch. He is having a good season as a first year full time starter in Green Bay replacing Brett Favre. Kyle Orton has done a great job in Chicago as the starter with little expectations, and has surpassed Rex Grossman on the depth chart. Jason Campbell is another quarterback who people had little expectations for this year but has turned into a very good NFL quarterback. He was the last gunslinger to throw an interception this season.
Matt Cassell never started a game in four years at USC. He never started a game in the NFL until week two of this year after Tom Brady went down with an injury in week one. He has been a great backup for Brady especially in recent weeks when they have used a less cautious gameplan for him as he becomes more comfortable in the pocket. He will most likely be looking to cash in on the free agent market after this season.
Running Backs Selected
2. Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins
4. Cedric Benson, Chicago Bears
5. Cadillac Williams, Tampa Bay Bucanneers
44. J.J. Arrington, Arizona Cardinals
54. Eric Shelton, Carolina Panthers
Other notables: Frank Gore (3rd round), Marion Barber (4th round), Brandon Jacobs (4th round), Darren Sproles (4th round),
It looks like teams got this one wrong. Three of the players selected after the second round have had better careers so far than anyone selected in the first two rounds. Frank Gore, Marion Barber, and Brandon Jacobs were are steals in this draft that are now some of the best running backs in the league.
Ronnie Brown has had success in Miami, but not as much for him to warrant a number two overall pick. He was injured for the majority of last season and has been inconsistent this season even though the Wildcat formation has helped boost his numbers.
Cedric Benson had behavorial problems and never had much success with the Bears. He was released this season and is now a running back with Cincinnati. He is one of the major busts of this draft.
Cadillac Williams looked great early in his career, but suffered injury after injury and has missed lots of time. He came back in the middle of this year and the Bucs are slowly working him back in the offense this season. He has not put up big numbers since his rookie year, but the jury is still out about whether he can stay healthy and be a solid back in the NFL.
J.J. Arrington handles kick return duties for the Arizona Cardinals and has gotten limited carries this season. Eric Shelton has done little to nothing in his tenure in the NFL. Gore, Barber, Jacobs, and Sproles are all miles ahead of both of them.
Wide Receivers Selected
3. Braylon Edwards, Cleveland Browns
7. Troy Williamson, Minnesota Vikings
10. Mike Williams, Detroit Lions
21. Matt Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars
22. Mark Clayton, Baltimore Ravens
Other notables: Roddy White (first round), Reggie Brown (second round), Mark Bradley (second round), Vincent Jackson (second round)
There were many wide receivers taken in the first two rounds, but not many have turned out to be as good as advertised. Last season, Braylon Edwards looked like one of the best receivers in the league. However, this year he has dropped too many balls and has not even come close to his level of performance from last season.
Troy Williamson is one of the biggest busts in the draft. After doing nothing in Minnesota for a few years, the Jaguars signed him this past offseason. This season with the Jaguars has been even worse than any of the years spent with the Vikings.
Mike Williams was one of the many wide receivers the Lions selected in consecutive first rounds and followed the pattern of none of them being any good (only exception - Calvin Johnson). At USC, he did not develop his route-running skills enough and the Trojans' gameplan was for Williams to run straight down the field and catch a jump ball because of his size. This strategy does not work in the NFL so therefore Williams had a tough time getting open.
Matt Jones broke out this season as David Garrard's go-to target in Jacksonville. Although he had a behavorial problem with cocaine this season that could result in a suspension, he is having his best season of his career.
Mark Clayton has been stuck with sub-par quarterbacks since he arrived in Baltimore; including Kyle Boller and a washed-up Steve McNair. This season, with rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, Clayton has finally shown up to play. Although not one of the league's elite receivers, he has been a solid performer for the Ravens.
Roddy White is the best receiver to emerge from this draft. He broke out in the middle of last season, but this season he is having an even better campaign. Once again a rookie quarterback, this time Matt Ryan, has helped a receiver perform. White is one of the best receivers in the league and a steal in this draft even though he was drafted in the late first round.
Reggie Brown has never been a good receiver in the NFL. He is currently the Eagles' fourth receiver on the depth chart and has had injury problems this season. Mark Bradley has been very injury prone, but has had a few good games this season playing with Tyler Thigpen in Kansas City. He had a streak of three straight games with a touchdown which ended with yet another injury in which he missed this week's game.
Vincent Jackson, out D1-AA Northern Colorado, has emerged as the number one receiver in San Diego. He is a big wide out who can get up and catch balls no matter where they are thrown. He has been Phillip Rivers' favorite target besides Antonio Gates and he plays well on the big stage (his best performances of the season have been on Monday and Thursday night games). Jackson appears to be well on his way to being a top receiver in the NFL.
1. Alex Smith
2. Cedric Benson
3. Troy Williamson
4. Mike Williams
5. Cadillac Williams
1. Marion Barber
2. Brandon Jacobs
3. Frank Gore
4. Matt Cassell
5. Roddy White