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.
From the mailbag:
(In reference to my examination of QB’s selected outside of the top 50 picks in the draft)
that is an apparently telling statistic regarding the 90% “failure” rate of non-top-50-pick quarterbacks. However, what is the failure rate of top-50-pick quarterbacks (didn’t start for 5 years or throw 1,000 passes)?
That answer would provide a context for the failure rate among non-top-50 picks
It’s a good question. Let’s take a quick look at these QB’s :
Between 1995-2010, there were 49 QB’s selected in the top 50.
18 have started for 5+ years
29 have thrown 1000+ passes (with Bradford and Stafford likely to get there by the end of the year, health providing)
Of the 35 QB’s drafted from 2000-2010, only 5 are out of the league (Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey, Joey Harrington, Jamarcus Russell, Pat White).
Here are 40 years of QB’s
As you can see, a majority of Top 50 QB’s hit 1000 pass attempts in their career, whereas only 16% of QB’s taken after pick #50 do. In that 40 year time period, 51 Top 50 QB’s were 5+ year starters compared to an aggregate 31 from the later portions of the draft.
Ben also writes:
Per your stats, a full 30% of the top 20 NFL quarterbacks [in 2011 passer rating] were not among the top-50 picks. As I see it, that’s a success story, not a failure story.
Here’s the thing though, those 5 QB’s (Brady, Romo, Schaub, Fitzpatrick, Hasselbeck) came from 4 different draft classes (1998, 2000, 2004, 2005) over a 14 year span (1998-2011). In that time period, there were 127 QB’s drafted after pick #50 and probably 300+ undrafted guys. Most years will produce one “decent” QB (short term starter, journeyman starter or long-term decent backup) and every so often a very good (or better) long-term starter emerges. That 25% of the “best” (by passer rating) QB’s were later selections/undrafted shouldn’t really be a surprise. Good QB’s tend to start for a long time, so there only needs to be a “good” QB to come out every 2-3 years to consistently have a few such players in the top 20 QB’s.
For reference, here the best of the drafted “2nd Tier+” QB’s since 1995:
2010: Colt McCoy, John Skelton
2009: Curtis Painter
2008: Chad Henne, Josh Johnson
2007: Trent Edwards, Tyler Thigpen
2006: Tarvaris Jackson, Bruce Gradkowski
2005: Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel, Derek Anderson, Ryan Fitzpatrick
2004: Matt Schaub
2003: Chris Simms
2002: David Garrard, Josh McNown, Shaun Hill
2001: Quincy Carter, Sage Rosenfels, A.J. Feeley
2000: Marc Bulger, Tom Brady
1999: Aaron Brooks
1998: Charlie Batch, Brian Griese, Matt Hasselbeck
1997: Koy Detmer, Jake Delhomme
1996: Danny Kanell, Jon Kitna, Damon Huard
1995: Kordell Stewart, Rob Johnson, Kelly Holcomb
Not many top QB’s. Even many of the “successes” were guys who had 1-2 really good years in otherwise average (or worse) careers (Delhomme, Brooks, Orton, Garrard).
Individually, Brady, Romo et al. are success stories. But the chances of finding a top QB outside of the top tier of prospects are very, very slim. It’s a good strategy to take a QB every year or 2 in the hopes of hitting on one, but a QB-needy team that passes on the elite prospect in hopes of finding a guy later on is probably going to fail to find their quarterback of the future.