The 2000 draft, like most years, was a bit of a mixed bag but overall a fairly weak class. The two best players, by far, were separated by 100 picks: 9th overall Brian Urlacher and 199th overall Tom Brady. There were a number of high quality players taken in between, including 3 Jets: Shaun Ellis (12th), John Abraham (13th), Julian Peterson (16th), Shaun Alexander (19th), Chad Clifton (44th), Laveraneus Coles (78th) and former All-Pros Adalius Thomas (186th) and Mike Brown (39th). There were also a number of notable (and high profile) flops, especially in the “no-man’s land” of the late 1st round: Sylvester Morris (21st), Chris McIntosh (22nd), Rashard Anderson (23rd) and R.Jay Soward (29th) were all out of the league by the end by the end of 2001 due to injuries or legal problems.
And, like all years, there were a handful of guys taken in the 1st round that you have either forgotten about, never known about or would be otherwise surprised to think of as 1st rounders. Here are a few:
Travis Taylor – WR – 10th overall – Baltimore Ravens
Even those of us who remember Taylor beyond just being vaguely familiar with the name would probably be surprised to learn that he played in 101 career games with 90 starts before washing out of the league in 2007. In no way was he worth a top 10 pick, but as far as 1st round picks go he is probably middle of the road in terms of production. His career best year was 2002 when he had 61 catches for 869 yards and 6 TD’s.
Ron Dayne – RB – 11th overall – New York Giants
Anyone who followed college football or the NFL draft in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s knows how hyped Dayne was. 5’10 and 250+ lbs, he was thought to be a real-life version of Tecmo Bowl’s Christian Okoye and ended up more like a poor man’s real life version of Christian Okoye. In Dayne’s 4 years with the Giants, he averaged a pitiful 3.5 yards per carry, despite getting ample opportunities to establish himself as the #1 guy in New York. He enjoyed a brief late-career resurgence in Houston in 2006-07 and has been mostly forgotten ever since. Despite going 11th overall, the 2000 running back class didn’t offer much after Dayne came off the board. Only Shaun Alexander and Mike Anderson were high quality players. Sammy Morris and Reuben Droughns stuck around awhile as HB/FB hybrids and carved out nice niches for themselves.
Erik Flowers – DE/LB – 26th overall – Buffalo Bills
I didn’t understand it at the time and I still don’t. Flowers had no business going in the top 50, let alone late 1st round. He played just 2 years with the Bills as a failed pass-rusher, bounced around for a few years and was out of the league after 2004.
Trung Canidate – RB – 31st overall – St. Louis Rams
The Rams have had a whole lot of forgettable 1st rounders and Canidate might be the worst of them all, In 3 highly forgettable years with the Rams, he rushed for 495 yards (441 of which came in his 2nd season). He was an Al Davis special – blazing fast but with no real football ability. Reportedly, the Rams had timed him running the 40 yard dash in the 4.2 – 4.3 range pre-draft and thought his speed would be impossible to contain on the (then) Astroturf of the Rams’ dome. Somehow, they swindled the Redskins into giving up a 4th round pick for Canidate. He looked like he might be on the path to realizing his potential, starting 10 games with the Redskins and racking up 600 yards with a respectable 4.2 YPC, However, a fairly severe foot injury and the 2004 acquisition of Clinton Portis ended Canidate’s time in Washington and he never got a chance elsewhere.
It’s been over a decade since the 2001 draft – a pretty decent crop of players. Outside of controversial (both in terms of off-field activity and on-field value) QB and 1st overall pick Michael Vick, the 2001 first round also netted some soon-to-be Hall of Famers and some guys who have an outside chance of making the HOF: LaDanian Tomlinson, Justin Smith, Richard Seymour, Steve Hutchinson and Reggie Wayne. Other notable 2001 first rounders include Andre Carter, Casey Hampton, Jeff Backus, Leonard Davis, Todd Heap, Deuce McAllister, Marcus Stroud and Santana Moss. In 2011, an impressive 16 of the 31 1st rounders were still active 11 seasons after being drafted (Vick, Tomlinson, Smith, Seymour, Hutchinson, Wayne, Hampton, Carter, Backus, Davis, Moss, Heap, Gerard Warren, Nate Clements, Ryan Pickett and Will Allen). The last 4 might not have lived up to their 1st round hype (and might have been considered busts by their original drafting team’s fans) but all 4 have survived and played well at times (and struggled at others).
Still, as with any 1st round, there were big time busts – David Terrell and Jamal Reynolds atop that list. 9th overall pick Koren Robinson never lived up to his (inexplicable) pre-draft hype though he contributed enough (barely) to escape true bust status. But between the long-lasting stars and journeymen and the epic flops, there are always the forgotten. Here are a few of the guys who – like this year’s crop of 1st rounders – fans were anxious to see suit up in their first training camps in the summer of 2001 but failed to make much of an impression:
Damione Lewis – DT- 12th Overall – St. Louis Rams:
Somehow, Lewis stuck around for a decade (last active in 2010 for Houston) as a backup and rotational DT. He didn’t make it past his rookie contract in St. Louis, starting just 29 of 69 games with the Rams. Only 3 times in his career did he start more than 8 games (2004,2008,2009). The Rams took 2 DT’s in the first (Lewis and Pickett) and missed the mark both times. Between their 2 picks, the Jaguars took Stroud. The next 2 DT’s after Pickett (29th overall): Kris Jenkins and Shaun Rogers. One has to wonder if the Greatest Show On Turf could have pulled off another Super Bowl win with one of those other DT’s anchoring their interior DL
Rod Gardner – WR – 15th Overall – Washington Redskins
Gardner is a great example of a guy who looked better on paper than he did on the field. His first season with Washington, he racked up 741 yards on 46 catches – an impressive 16.1 YPC. His 2nd season, he hauled in 71 receptions for 1006 yards. After that though, things went downhill. He caught 59 passes in his 3rd year and 51 in his 4th. If this were 2004 and we only had his stats to go by, we’d probably think he was a fairly useful NFL WR with a solid career ahead of him. However, after his 4 years in Washington (61 games started, 227 catches, 2997 yards, 22 TD’s), Gardner went on to play in just 26 more games and caught only 15 more passes. Watching Gardner in his first (best) two seasons, it was apparent he wasn’t the player that his somewhat impressive stats made him out to be. He just happened to be the best WR on two teams with terrible receiving corps (former 1st round mediocrity Michael Westrbook started opposite Gardner in 2001 and undrafted Derrius Thompson in 2002).
Adam Arcuhleta – S – 20th Overall – St. Louis Rams
Speaking of what could have been with the Greatest Show on Turf – Rams fans are probably apathetic over their recollection of Archuleta. The once promising DB was taken by St. Louis between their two underwhelming DT’s. As with Pickett and Lewis, Archuleta didn’t stick past his rookie contract and, while he outperformed the pair of DT’s, he didn’t last long enough with the team to be a true cornerstone player. He had a good start to his career, including piling up 102 tackles in 2002. However, after signing what was at the time the largest free agent contract ever for a safety with the (who else) Washington Redskins, Archuleta’s career tanked and he was out of the league 2 years later. A fairly traditional strong safety, and former college linebacker, Archuleta couldn’t adapt to the new pass-friendly NFL and back injuries didn’t help his coverage abilities.
Willie Middlebrooks – DB – 24th overall – Denver Broncos
Middlebrooks belongs in the “total bust” category, but he’s a guy who was taken low enough in the 1st round to not be a truly memorable flop. He didn’t have a ton of hype coming out of college. He wasn’t a huge reach or interesting story. He was just a pretty good college prospect who never panned out. 56 games played in 5 seasons and only 2 games started. His first 3 years in Denver, he played in 39 games with 6 tackles, 1 pass defensed and 0 INT’s.
Freddie Mitchell – WR – 25th overall – Philadelphia Eagles
“Fred-Ex” is only remembered for his brash personality and pre-Super Bowl antics. On-field, he was useless. He ended his brief 4 year career with 90 catches for 1263 yards in 63 games. 5 picks later, the Colts drafted Reggie Wayne. Chad Ochocinco went 11 picks later.
Jamar Fletcher – DB – 26th overall – Miami Dolphins
Fletcher is one of those guys who was useful at times, but never really a good player outside of special teams. He bounced around as a kick coverage guy and backup DB – playing for 5 teams in 8 years. He did managed to play in 105 games, though only started 12.
Michael Bennett – 27th overall – Minnesota Vikings
Bennett is a guy who I thought of a few times in the run-up to the 2012 draft. Like some of this year’s fringe 1st round RB’s (or guys who were being graded as late 1st-2nd round prospects), he was a guy with explosiveness and elusiveness but questions about his durability and overall skill set. Foot and knee injuries derailed his career in his 3rd season, but his first 2 years were impressive as a speed back in Minnesota’s Randy Moss/Daunte Culpepper era offense. His 2002 campaign saw him put up 255 carries for 1296 yards – an impressive 5.1 YPC. He stuck around for parts of 10 seasons but only played in 16 games twice (2002 and 2005) and never came close to replicating his early success after his 3rd season.
Derrick Gibson – 28th overall – Oakland Raiders
Just one of many Raiders 1st round picks in the 2000’s who failed to pan out. Gibson was a forgettable safety who started less than half of the games he played in Oakland and was out of the league after 5 marginal seasons.
Just over a month since the 2012 draft and football fans everywhere are chomping at the bit to see their new 1st (or 2nd) round prospects in camp. It’s at this time of year when every 1st round rookie is a future All Pro player and every second-year 1st round pick is on the verge of a huge break out year. Of course, history tells us that more than half of the guys taken in the 1st round of last month’s draft will fail to live up to their (lofty and unrealistic) expectations. Despite the years of hype in college, the hundreds of blog posts and articles, the thousands of hours of discussion both in the paid media and on the internet, many of the 2012 1st round picks will be forgotten just 5-7 years from now – unless your team is unlucky enough to have taken such a player.
While there are a few busts who will end up being remembered for a long time (Ryan Leaf for example), most 1st round flops – even top 10 picks- tend to be forgotten within a decade. Leaf is one of the few rare exceptions, due to his forever being linked to Peyton Manning. Even JaMarcus Russell is probably a guy who will be forgotten in time, outside of Oakland and the yearly pre-draft “Top-10 Bust” type articles.
The 2005 draft wasn’t even a decade ago, and already a number of its first round selections have been either forgotten entirely or, if they’re still around, provoke a “that guy was a 1st rounder?” type reaction. This particular draft class has a number of memorable (for now) 1st round busts and mediocrities: Alex Smith, Cedric Benson, Pacman Jones, Troy Williamson and Mike Williams were all top 10 picks and will probably all be forgotten by the end of the decade (other than Smith, the others might be forgotten much sooner). However, there was a stretch of 8 picks which produced a nearly unparalleled list of forgettable players:
Travis Johnson – DT – 16th overall – Houston Texans
He never really asserted himself as an interior lineman in Houston, and spent just 4 uneventful years in Houston before heading to San Diego for parts of 2 seasons and washing out of the league after 2010. Surprisingly, he was more productive than most of the 2005 DT class which was one of the worst in the last 20 years.
David Pollack – DE – 17th overall – Cincinnati Bengals
An injury bust, Pollack looked like he was headed for a nice career as a pass-rusher before a neck injury ended his career just 2 weeks into his second season.
Alex Barron – OT – 19th overall – St. Louis Rams
Barron wasn’t an especially bad player, being a near full time starter for 5 of his 6 seasons in the league. However, being a mediocre starter who took too many penalties on a mediocre (at best) line isn’t good enough for a top 20 pick. One has to wonder how long Barron would have survived on a deeper roster or one which had fewer qualms about dumping marginally productive and overpaid players regardless of draft status.
Marcus Spears – DL – 20th overall – Dallas Cowboys
Spears isn’t a bad player by any means, but being a productive run plugging 5-technique isn’t particularly flashy. He’s definitely a successful pick and has been a quality player but once his career is over, he will fade quickly from memory. Still, he will probably end up being in the top third of the 2005 1st rounders when everything is said and done.
Matt Jones – WR – 21st overall – Jacksonville Jaguars
Jones should serve as a cautionary tale and reminder that very raw guys with freaky size/speed and guys with position changes shouldn’t be overdrafted. While it was drugs that doomed his career, Jones’ on-field contributions wouldn’t have kept him around even had he stayed clean.
Mark Clayton – WR – 22nd overall – Baltimore Ravens
Like Spears, Clayton has enjoyed a decent but forgettable career. Other than a decent 2006 season (67 catches, 939 yards, 5 TD’s) he was underwhelming in Baltimore before moving onto St. Louis and tearing up his knee. Clayton is a good example of the “average” successful 1st rounder, especially outside of the top 10. Ravens fans probably consider him a disappointment, but given the very weak overall draft class, Clayton might actually end up in the top third of the 1st round in terms of success.
Fabian Washington – DB – 23rd overall – Oakland Raiders
A classic Al Davis pick, Washington was taken well before many draft prognosticators had him going and his 1st round selection seemed based solely on his 40 yard time. He played just 3 years in Oakland before heading to Baltimore for 3 years and ending up out of football last year after a brief stint on the Saints’ injured reserve.
Johnson, Pollack, Barron, Spears, Jones, Clayton, Washington – more than a fifth of the 1st round and all taken consecutively. Barring something very unexpected from Spears, this string of picks is already on their way to being long forgotten.
Of course, the next player selected, 24th overall, will be remembered for quite awhile – QB Aaron Rodgers.
(Originally posted by me at Mocking The Draft)
The 2011 NFL season is just about in the books. There are a few loose ends to be tied up – the Giants parade, a few coaching/assistant vacancies, retirements, etc, – but for all intents and purposes we are ready to kick off the 2012 offseason. For many of us (especially those of us reading an NFL-draft themed website) the offseason is nearly (equally?) as exciting as the regular season. The first stop is the NFL Scouting Combine in just over two weeks. While some of us will be watching each and every drill and keeping our eyes and ears open for draft-related rumblings, others will just pay attention to the big daily headlines. Here are some things to watch:
1. The top of the DL class. Unlike in some recent years, there is no consensus Top 5 pick DL on the board. There are two guys – LSU’s Michael Brockers and North Carolina’s Quinton Coples – who have very high upside but question marks. Brockers, a redshirt sophomore, is thought to have elite upside but is very raw. Coples is a bit of an enigma, flashing top-end skills at times and disappearing at other times. In a draft class short on 5-techniques, and a league shifting more and more to 3-4 base schemes, both Coples and Brockers could draw a lot of interest early. It’s possible 4-3 teams take an interest in both guys, Brockers is probably atop the list of 3-techniques in the draft and Coples could play DE in some 4-3 schemes. After those guys, Devon Still, Dontari Poe, and others are looking to jump into the top half of the 1st round.
2. The WR class in general. If there’s a position which has a lot of moving and shaking in terms of draft stock at the combine, it’s the receivers. Can Alshon Jeffery run well and prove some of his naysayers wrong about his athleticism and speed? Can Michael Floyd interview well and show better-than-expected fluidity in drills? Is Kendall Wright really as impressive athletically as a lot of people are starting to think? Moving beyond the top tier of receivers, the Combine could help shape the 2nd tier of WR’s. This draft is loaded with speedy, dynamic playmakers: Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, T.Y. Hilton to name a few. Not to mention some bigger guys who could boost their stock with good 40 times: Juron Criner, Rueben Randle, Mohamed Sanu. This is a class which will be very deep in WR prospects and a superlative Combine showing can theoretically make a WR a lot of money. Conversely, with so many good prospects, a bad combine could cause a WR to slip a lot.
3. The “other” QB’s: Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles, Brandon Weeden. Like with the WR’s, there is a bit of a muddle after the first tier of WR’s. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are obviously the #1 and #2 guys. After that, there isn’t much of a consensus on anyone. Seeing how some of these guys do in drills and how they interview will probably cause one or two to shoot up the board and possibly one or two to slide into Day 3 territory.
4. Smaller school guys. Guys like Appalachian State WR Brian Quick, Midwestern State OT Amini Silatolu, Louisiana-Lafayette TE Ladarius Green, Cal Poly DB Asa Jackson and Montana DB Trumaine Johnson are among the lesser known prospects (to many) who the casual draft follower or college football fan might not know about. There are usually one or two such players who see a boost in their stock by performing well in the drills or interview process.
5. Character or injury guys. How does Ryan Broyles’ knee check out? Is Alshon Jeffery’s work ethic bad or just a myth? This portion of the process goes largely unseen until the draft itself when you hear cryptic comments from a so-called expert about how “from what I understand, Player X didn’t do well in the interviews” or “Player Y apparently has some drug issues in his past” or “Player Z’s injury is more worrisome than many thought”. However, as we have seen in the case of Aaron Hernandez (drugs) or Rob Gronkowski (spinal injury), sometimes these red flags can be too highly considered on draft day. We all remember the hoopla about Cam Newton’s comments (“I’m an entertainer and an icon”). Many labeled him a diva or character risk based on those comments and his issues at Auburn. Luckily, Carolina was smart enough to trust their own interview process and make him their franchise QB.
6. Position conversion projects. With the increase of 3-4 teams in the NFL, but no real increase in college, there are more and more teams looking to convert college DT’s to 5-techniques and college DE’s to OLBs. In many cases, teams project these conversions with very little tape to go on. The drills at the combine (and pro days) can go a long way. Guys like Whitney Mercilus, Melvin Ingram, Vinny Curry, Cam Johnson, Andre Branch and the like will need to show well in LB drills to be considered by 3-4 clubs. Some DB drills could also help scouts identify CB’s who could flip to safety (especially important in this weak safety class).
All in all, it should be an interesting kickoff to a 6 month offseason.
Aldon Smith, Von Miller, Jabaal Sheard, Adrian Clayborn, Ryan Kerrigan, Sam Acho – the 2011 draft class produced an impressive number of guys who proved to be effective in getting to the quarterback. In fact, the 2011 class had more sacks in their rookie year than any draft class since sacks became an official stat in 1982. While the 2012 class doesn’t appear to be as strong, there are still a few guys who could make an impact as pass rushers in their rookie year.
Before we take a look at the 2012 prospects, let’s take a closer look at the historic class of 2011. Rookie draftees piled up 117 sacks in 521 cumulative games played. That’s the most sacks all time for a rookie draft class and 4th best sacks per game. 36 different players tallied at least half a sack in 2011, with an average of 3.25 sacks per draftee – 2nd best next to the 1990 class (which included Renaldo Turnbull, Aaron Wallace, James Francis and Jimmie Jones). Here are how all the draft classes since 1982 stack up:
It’s extremely unlikely that the 2012 crop will come close to 2011’s results, but there are a few guys who could make an impact early. Here are 7 prospects who could could have immediate success as pass rushers in 2012:
Nick Perry (USC) – He’s coming off a 9.5 sack junior season with the Trojans and could end up being the premier pass rush prospect on many draft boards by the time the draft rolls around in April. He has an explosive first step, perhaps the best of any prospect in this class and can close on the QB as well as any of the top NFL pass rushers. There are some questions about his strength and ability to take on the bigger, more powerful NFL linemen, however he did perform well against some of the best OT’s in college football (including likely 2012 first rounder Jonathan Martin). Perry best fits in a 3-4 scheme as an OLB, although he probably could succeed at RE in a 4-3 scheme as well.
Vinny Curry (Marshall)– Perhaps the most accomplished pass rusher in the 2012 draft, Curry leaves school with 26.5 sacks under his belt. He’s not as quick off the ball as Perry, although possesses a stronger repertoire of pass rush moves. It looks as if Curry has bulked up a bit in the last year, which should bode well for him in the NFL. He has a terrific motor and could succeed in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme. The biggest question about Curry is the level of competition he faced in school. Racking up sacks in Conference USA isn’t as impressive as doing it against elite college OL. In the Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl, Curry was handled pretty well by the mediocre (at best) FIU offensive line. Had Curry played against better competition, he’d probably be a top 20 consideration. As it stands now, he is probably a 2nd rounder who could sneak into the very late 1st to a team like the Patriots.
Courtney Upshaw (Alabama) – The versatile Upshaw has been steadily rising up the 2012 draft board, partly due to the lack of premium pass rushing talent available. While some might project Upshaw to 3-4 ILB or 4-3 DE, his best role is probably at 3-4 OLB. He’s not a dynamic athlete like some rush linebackers, but makes up for it with excellent strength and an impressive bull-rush. He doesn’t project to a double-digit sack guy, but could be a steady 6-8 sack per year kind of guy in the right situation.
Whitney Mercilus (Illinois) – He led the country in sacks in 2011 with an impressive 16. However, it remains to be seen whether Mercilus can translate his success to the NFL. While he is pretty good at getting leverage off the snap, he tends to break down a bit through contact and can get driven out of plays by stronger offensive linemen. A lot of his sacks came when he was able to pin his ears back and get after the QB without having to worry about playing the run. That could be partly due to his inexperience, but he looks like a guy who will start his career as a situational pass rusher while he develops his run-stopping. There are also some questions about his best position, as he seems to look lost and stiff when he is playing in space. Teams who run a 3-4 would probably best look elsewhere, unless he shows well in linebacker drills at the Combine.
Brandon Jenkins (Florida State)– A good athlete with an excellent motor, Jenkins is perhaps the most natural 3-4 OLB pass rusher in this class (as far as DE conversion projects go). The big question about Jenkins is his strength, as he probably won’t be able to rely solely on his athleticism in the pros. He might not be strong enough initially to succeed against quality LT’s. He has a decent array of pass rush moves and despite having a somewhat disappointing 2011 season, should still end up in the top 40 picks in 2012 (if he declares).
Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) – The toughest part about projecting Ingram’s pass-rush ability is figuring out where he’ll play in the pros. At approximately 6’1 275, he doesn’t really fit the prototypical size of NFL position. He might end up as an OLB in a 3-4, although he might lack the length that a lot of teams prefer. He could potentially move inside (a la Karl Klug who had success as a “tweener” rookie with the Titans) although he’d probably would need to bulk up a bit. His ability to play DE in a 4-3 is questionable, as he’s a bit short and might lack the athleticism to play RE. Despite these concerns, he has a great motor and a knack for making big plays at big moments. He should come off the board somewhere between picks 25-50 although the lack of a true position might cause him to slide.
Quinton Coples (UNC) – He definitely has the power and first step to be a successful pass rusher in the NFL. The big questions surrounding Coples are: where does he best fit and can he be consistently motivated? He could potentially fit inside in a 4-3 or at LE. He probably doesn’t have the athleticism and explosiveness to have great success at RE in the pros – although he might be able to do it in the right scheme. He could also potentially fit as a 3-4 5-technique (DE). In that sense, he has the versatility of guys like Calais Campbell or Richard Seymour – especially if Coples can bulk up a little.
In a previous post, I nominated 1997 as perhaps the worst ever draft class of wide receivers. However, there are a few other really poor classes. Today we look at the 1989 group, a class of 40 receivers over 12 rounds.
Some quick tidbits:
23 of 28 teams selected a WR
26 of 40 WR’s appeared in an NFL game
3 colleges had 2 WR’s selected (Auburn, NC State and Northern Arizona)
Only 2 WR’s had > 5,000 yards receiving
7 WR’s had more than 100 catches
30 of 40 WR’s had less than 50 career receptions
Dykes showed promise early, hauling in 49 catches for 795 yards his rookie year. He was on pace to top those numbers in 1990 when he shattered his kneecap (ending his season) and then injured his eye in a barfight with teammate Irving Fryar (ending his career). Drafted by the Colts, he was traded to the Falcons after his rookie season. Rison had a great 5 year run with the Falcons- averaging 83 catches and 1127 yards per season. Once he got out of the Run-And-Shoot and headed to the Browns, his career faded quickly. He put up only 268 catches for 3752 yards, spread over 5 different teams, in the 6 ensuing seasons. Shawn Collins was a bust, catching 92 passes over his first 2 years (in that very same Run-And-Shoot in which Rison found success) and had only 6 catches the next 2 years before falling out of the league.
The 2nd and 3rd round produced a whole lot of nothing:
Beebee was a solid complement to James Lofton and Andre Reed in the Bills’ Super Bowl (losing) teams of the early 90’s but he never had more than 40 catches in a season. The other 5 receivers accounted for a cumulative 118 catches for 1859 yards in 125 career games. Hill, Worthen and Ford were all out of football by 1991 and Peebles by 1992.
The 4th and 5th rounds were a bit better:
Timpson played for 8 years, totaling 300 receptions for 4047 yards. Tony Martin is the 2nd best WR to come out of the 1989 draft (behind Rison). Picked up off waivers by the Dolphins, he ended up stuck behind guys like Mark Duper, Mark Clayton and Irving Fyrar. He didn’t get a chance to shine until he went to San Diego in 1994, putting up an impressive 288 catches 4184 yards and 33 TD’s in 4 years with the Chargers. He finished his career with 593 receptions, 9065 yards and 56 TD’s – one of the better careers for a WR drafted so late. Query is the only other guy from that group who had more than 100 career catches (141 in 6 years).
The late rounds didn’t yield much at all:
Floyd Turner was a quality #2/#3 WR for a few years and Robb Thomas hung around for a long time as a #4 WR who excelled on special teams. None of the others had even 50 career catches.
Worse than 1997? To compare the two years, let’s take out the 1989 receivers drafted after the 9th round (the 1997 draft had 240 total draft picks in 7 rounds, the 1989 draft hit pick #240 in the 9th round). What we’re left with is:
Pretty similar groups. Looking at the two classes side by side:
Derrick Mason (1997) is better than Andre Rison (1989) as the top guy in each class. Each class had one quality first rounder (Rison and Ike Hilliard) and nothing else before the 4th round. Overall, 1989 is probably a bit worse if only because Martin and Rison had shorter periods of success than Hilliard and Mason.
Yesterday I discussed LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu’s size (or lack of) and how it could affect his draft stock. The conclusion was that there’s a good chance he could overcome his small stature and become a productive NFL player. However, size matters at some positions more than others. 2012 QB prospect Russell Wilson is a good example of a successful college player who is almost certainly too small to succeed in the NFL.
Wilson, who is currently sporting a 74.8 Cmp% and a gaudy 12.53 YPA, is listed at 5’11 191. Not exactly the prototype size for an NFL QB. But is he too small? Recent history tells us that he most likely is. Since 1980, only 4 different QB’s under 6’0 have attempted more than 10 passes in a season:
Not exactly a great track record. Seneca Wallace performed well for half a season in 2008 and Doug Flutie had a solid 1998 campaign. But otherwise, short QB’s have not fared well in the NFL. The most successful short QB is Drew Brees, who is often used to counter the “too small for the NFL” argument. Unfortunately, Brees is a rare exception. Were we to include 6’0 QB’s like Brees in the discussion we’d see that there haven’t been too many more success stories:
Michael Vick and Joe Theismann stand out as other success stories, but other than 2010 Vick has not had much success as a passer and Theismann might be one of the most overrated QB’s of all time (check out that TD to INT ratio). Take out Drew Brees and 2010 Michael Vick and 6’0 QB’s have thrown a combined 294 TD and 286 INT with a 56 Cmp%. Not too great. The one thing that Wilson has going for him is that his college numbers aren’t significantly worse than Brees’:
While Wilson’s performance has been pretty similar thus far, it should be noted that it’s rare for a top NFL QB to ever post a <60 Cmp% in college. That he hasn’t hit that benchmark until this season could spell trouble for him if he even gets a shot in the pros.