Is Jammal Brown The Latest In a Long-Line Of Saints First-Round Busts?

Randy SavoieAnalyst IIJune 20, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 24:  Pierre Thomas #23 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates with Jammal Brown #70  after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers on November 24, 2009 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

First-round NFL draft picks are supposed to last more than six years.

First-round left tackles are supposed to be protecting your QB's Blind Side for at least a good, solid decade.

It is one of the elite positions in the National Football League and very few people on this planet possess the skill to play it well and those who do command a lot of money.

Hell, they even made a movie about it! Starring America's sweetheart and New Orleans resident Sandra Bullock, no less.

So, by that standard, is Jammal Brown just another in a long-line of New Orleans Saints' first-rounds busts?

Although there are extenuating circumstances, it's not exactly risky to answer in the affirmative. Given the hefty price the Saints paid, theoretically Browns should still be the Saints starting left tackle for years to come.

As first first-round busts go, George Rogers, Lindsay Scott, Larry Burton, and Shawn Knight come to mind for those of us fortunate enough to have lived in the pre-ESPN era.

Despite his two Pro Bowl appearances, Brown had the misfortune of following a legend- Willie Roaf. Saints partisans never felt as though he measured up to Roaf- one of the game's all-time greats.

Brown came to the Saints during the Jim Haslett era sporting an impressive resume. He was an All-American at Oklahoma, winning the 2004 Outland trophy as the nation's top college offensive lineman.

In 2006, Sporting News wrote of Brown, "...he is very athletic for his size and has plenty of power, which makes him equally capable as a run blocker and a pass blocker. He rarely got beat last season (his rookie year.)"

He had a standout rookie season at right tackle and his future looked bright in New Orleans. After the Saints traded Wayne Gandy to Atlanta, Brown became Drew Brees' chief protector at left tackle during Sean's Payton's first-year as head coach.

Pretty heady stuff for a young kid with only 13 starts at right tackle leading into the 2006 season.

Brown responded like you would expect a first-round talent to respond, anchoring the New Orleans offensive line with skill and brute force as the Saints made the franchise's first-appearance in the NFC Championship Game. As a result, he was awarded with a 2006 Pro Bowl appearance.

In spite of Brown's success, the Saints used a 2007 fourth-round draft pick on the unheralded Jermon Bushrod from Towson.

In 2007, Brown never quite duplicated his high-level of play one year prior but still managed to play an integral role on an offensive line that allowed a league-low 16 sacks. The cynics said it had less to do with Brown and more to do with Brees' rapid-fire release as the Saints slumped to 7-9 in year two under Payton.

In Brown's first two seasons as starting left tackle (2006-07), the Saints allowed only 39 sacks in 1,271 pass plays (source: Lindy's Pro Football.)

Yeah, pretty heady stuff alright.

No reason to expect anything other than Jammal Brown would be the Saints' superstar left tackle for years to come.

As the 2009 season approached, Athlon Sports wrote of the Saints veteran pro-bowler, "Jammal Brown is the enforcer of the group (the offensive line.) He's rough and plays with a nasty streak that can sometimes get the best of him," referring to Brown's league-high seven holding calls in 2008, indicating a lack of discipline that didn't sit well with Sean Payton.

Saints' fans had no way of knowing it then, but they had seen the last of this once promising All-American Left Tackle from Oklahoma.

By that time, Brown had battled knee problems that restricted his lateral movement and limited his effectiveness against the game's elite speed rushers. Brown would never play a down during the Saints' Super Bowl season after going under the knife for hip and hernia surgery during training camp.

Jermon Bushrod, that unheralded kid from Towson, replaced Brown and caused Drew Brees some sleepless nights early on as he struggled in the pre-season of 2009. Then, he emerged as one of the unlikeliest of heroes, starting 17 games as the Saints went on to defeat the Indianapolis Colts. 31-17, in Super Bowl XLIV.

When the Saints drafted USC Tackle Charles Brown with their second-pick in this year's draft, it was no secret Jammal Brown's days in the black-n-gold were over.

Pro Football Weekly said of Charles Brown, "Looks the part with a big frame, long arms and large hands. Locks out and keeps rushers at bay. Plays with too much finesse and needs to get stronger. Questionable toughness."

Jammal Brown never showed for any of the team's offseason activities or OTA's as he awaited a long-term agreement that was never to come and on Saturday the Saints dealt him to the Washington Redskins where he says the 'Skins have asked hm to play right tackle and not protect Donovan McNabb's blind slide. 

Brown says he still sees himself as a left tackle and has not resigned himself to playing on the right side just yet.

Brown had this exchange with the Washington Post:

Question: How are you going to look back on your time in New Orleans?
Brown: "Of course I wanted to play, be a part of the Super Bowl. They're a great team. I got a lot of friends down there. But it's business, baby, it's time to move on and get a Super Bowl here in Washington, D.C."

And he tells the Post that he's not even close to being through as a premier player.

Question: In your season off, the Saints found someone else to play left tackle. Do you feel like people have forgotten about you a little bit?
Brown: "If they have, I can easily remind them this upcoming year. They won't forget about me for long."

Is Brown another in a long-line of New Orleans Saints first-round draft picks. A college star who never quite pans out in the black-n-gold.

Will Reggie Bush or Malcolm Jenkins be the next first-rounders who never quite live up to the first-round hype?

Caught up in the euphoria of a Super Bowl victory, most Saints fans will only admit in guarded company their displeasure with Bush and many think in their most private of moments that Malcolm Jenkins will never be the next Darren Sharper.

And yet given the emergence of Bushrod and the potential of Charles Brown, it is unlikely any of the Saints' brass over on Airline Drive is losing a wink of sleep over another former first-round draft pick who never quite lived up to his potential in New Orleans.


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