We are now just a little under two hours away from the 75th draft in NFL history.
Every major news network, mainly ESPN and NFL Network of course, is making their last-minute predictions, projections and reporting more news with each passing minute. This time of the year is always hectic with the beginning of the NBA and NHL playoffs, plus baseball is just getting in to the swing of things. But, because it is America’s Game, the National Football League always attracts the most attention on sports sites and in magazines. Not to mention television.
Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay of ESPN and Peter King of Sports Illustrated are making last-minutes amends to their mock drafts as well.
But, like we have seen in the past, it is very tough to correctly predict, and do the actual drafting. The media tends to over-analyze things. One minute, you’re at the top of the mountain (AKA draft boards), the next, you’re pushed out of the way to make room for three to four more guys who happened to hit all fifty of their pass attempts in a rather laid back work-out. Almost as if the guy is playing catch with his brother in the backyard.
Yes, that’s right, I am looking at you, Sam Bradford. All the scouts and analysts have fallen in love with the former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback despite his recent shoulder surgery. Bradford had a solid workout in front of scouts and all of a sudden he’s the next big thing.
His shoulder appeared to be just fine, but he has yet to test it in game-day gear, much less a fast-paced NFL game. Despite this fact, Bradford will most likely go No. 1 to the Rams, unless they decided to trade out of that spot.
When you consider past drafts, it is very tough to correctly predict which defensive prospects will make an impact at the next level as well. Exhibit A: Courtney Brown.
Brown, after setting numerous records and winning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in ’99 with Penn State, became the 11th defensive lineman to be taken No. 1 overall in 2000. Brown had a solid rookie season (70 tackles, 4.5 sacks), but his production and health took a major beating for the next six seasons. Brown is now 32 years old and has been out of the game for nearly three years.
Need more proof? Here’s a short list of other first round underachievers since the 2000 draft:
*Corey Simon (sixth overall in ’00), DT with three different teams: Played just seven seasons averaging 27 tackles, 4.5 sacks per season.
*Rashard Anderson (23rd overall in ’00), CB with Panthers: Played two NFL season in Carolina, recorded total of 54 tackles with just one interception. Anderson was suspended by the NFL for a year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. It was extended to the 2003 season. Once reinstated, Carolina released him and he hasn’t made a return since.
*Jamal Reynolds (10th overall in ’01), DE with Packers: Played only three NFL seasons and never started a game. In his 18 games played, Reynolds recorded just 12 tackles and three sacks. The former Seminole was a huge disappointment in Lambeau.
*Ryan Sims (6th overall in ’02), DT with Chiefs and Buccaneers: Unlike the previous guys on this list, Sims is still active and, in fact, started all 16 games with the Bucs last season. But, considering he went sixth overall, I was expecting much more out of the former Tar Heel. Sims is a role player when he should be an impact player. Kansas City gave risked a lot to get him and he ended up underachieving big time.
*Wendall Bryant (12th overall in ’02), DT with Cardinals: Oh hey, look at that, another defensive tackle bust. Bryant started just nine NFL games, all in Arizona, and recorded 29 tackles with 1.5 sacks. His last season was 2004. Oh my, I don’t think Kiper saw that one coming.
*Dewayne Robertson (fourth overall in ’03), DT with Jets and Broncos: New York had big things planned with Robertson and, although he played well early on, he dropped off rather quickly to New York’s dismay. The result: Robertson didn’t have a place to play last season.
*Marcus Tubbs (23rd overall in ’04), DT with Seahawks: I am not gonna lie, I’m kinda getting tired of listing all these defensive tackles. Let’s just face it, it’s too hard to pick out the best of a deep defensive tackle draft class. They are always projected to go early, but more often then not they end up like Tubbs and are out of the league after three sub-par seasons.
*Adam “Pacman” Jones (sixth overall in ’05), CB with Titans and Cowboys: Often times this is what happens when you draft a troublesome player. Tennessee took a risk on him which did not pay off in the end. After two seasons with the Titans and a one-season return (from suspension) with the Cowboys, Jones found himself on the outside looking in.
*David Pollack (17th overall in ’05), LB with Bengals: Pollack’s shortened career wasn’t necessarily his fault. After recording 4.5 sacks in his rookie campaign, Pollack hit several bumps in his road to NFL glory. Ultimately these injuries caught up to him and he was forced to retire in 2006 after suffering a broken vertebrae.
*John McCargo (26th overall in ’06), DT with Bills: Just one start in four seasons with the Bills? Ouch. McCargo has played a total of 39 games in the league, recording just 32 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He’s only 26 years of age, but he needs to get his career on track pretty soon here.
*Adam Carriker (13th overall in ’07), DE with Rams: Carriker was just traded to the Redskins two days ago after sitting out the entire 2009 season due to injury. With St. Louis, Carriker made 43 tackles and two sacks in 25 starts (’07 and ’08). At age 25, Carriker has plenty of time to turn his career around and I think he’ll do just that in D.C. But until then, he will have to deal with being on the disappointment list (no bust yet, though).
It’s tough to pick guys out from the 2008 and ’09 drafts considering they’ve only been in the league for two seasons at the most. But if I was to create a list, these are the few guys that may be on it: Vernon Gholston (sixth overall by NYJ in ’08), Kenny Phillips (31ss overall by NYG in ’08), Tyson Jackson (3rd overall by KC in ’09), B.J. Raji (9th overall by GB in ’09).
What do you think, did I leave any out? And who from this year’s draft will be joining them?
Enjoy the draft!