Friday, April 27, 2007

Pick-Six: Greatest Hits of the Millennium

In recent years, there has always been one or two major storylines after the 1st-round of the draft is completed. It’s not always who the first pick or the last pick of the round was. Often it has nothing to do with a popular team (per say the Dallas Cowboys) or a quieter team (such as the Jacksonville Jaguars). Major trades even seem quiet once proper perspective sets into place. Yet, some stories have the ability to do more than just linger.

Here are a pick-six of majorly important (often bizarre and/or crazy) stories, one each from this millennium’s worth of drafts, that did just a little more than linger in our collective memories…

2006: The Houston Texans bypass selecting hometown QB Vince Young or stud-RB Reggie Bush
-Houston seemed a lock before the season to target a guy like UVA tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. If a QB or USC guy was to be taken in his play…it had to be Matt Leinart. That was the case, at least until Reggie Bush & Vince Young dueled for the Heisman (Bush winning) and an unforgettable Rose Bowl (Young winning). Still sticking with David Carr at that point (who is now a backup in Carolina), Houston let everyone know early on that Vince wouldn’t be returning to Houston. As for Reggie Bush, the team seemed hot/cold over the can’t-miss-kid for weeks leading up to the draft. Combine initial trepidations with a trio of other factors, including: Bush’s potential $-scandal at USC, contract problems, and Mario Williams just dying to sign a friendly-contract…and the defensive end from NC State signed his rather stunning rookie contract the night before the Draft.

End Result
: Houston may never live down passing up on Young or Bush, no matter how special “Super” Mario may become.

Not so Super was it?

2005: California QB Aaron Rodgers freefalls from a potential #1-overall pick all the way to Green Bay at #24
-Aaron Rodgers seemed the next Jeff Tedford QB ready to be picked in the top-half, if not the first with the top-pick, in the NFL Draft. Many pundits had San Fran targeting the junior during the earliest weeks of draft speculation. However, potential contract issues and Utah’s Alex Smith pushed Rodgers out of the #1-slot come draft time. Yet, nobody could’ve guessed just how fall Rodgers fell. Passing up team after team, without any real fervor from any NFL teams to move up or back into the 1st-round to select him, the Packers (with Chris Berman annoyingly pleading for them to do so) seemingly selected the heir-apparent to a guy named Favre. Just don’t tell Brett that. In his first two seasons, Rodgers has barely seen the field and broke his leg last year. The jury is still out on this kid to say the least.

End Result
: Rodgers lost millions of dollars and may, in fact, never get a real shot at the Green Bay job or a real-starting gig. It’s perplexing when you actually consider it.

The number of quarters Rodgers has played equals that number.
Source: Orlando Sentinel

2004: Ole Miss QB Eli Manning refuses to be a Charger; forcing a trade to the New York Giants
-They drafted him anyways. Yet, you just had to know, the Giants would find a way. So they parted with multiple picks (including Phillip Rivers at #4) and got their man. He made the playoffs his first full-year as a starter…and got blasted by the Panthers. These days he’s getting killed by the New York media and many are wondering if he’s just sublimely average as a QB. As for Rivers and the Chargers, while they haven’t won a playoff game either, they enjoyed an NFL-best 14-2 record and used extra picks on guys named Merriman and Kaeding (so overrated, by the way) and seem perfectly happy with how things transpired.

End Result
: I still believe nobody involved, maybe save Ernie Acorsi, would change their mind about this move. Eli is still plenty talented and San Diego got more than enough in return for their 1st-pick.

Fond memories in the Manning-household.
Source: Orlando Sentinel

2003: Minnesota fails to turn their pick in on-time, prompting Jacksonville & Carolina to jump in front of them with their first-round selections.
-Pandemonium that actually sped up the usually slower-than-possible 1st round of 2003. With the clock actually ticking off the final seconds and no card in the hand of the commissioner, the rule-book was wide open as Jacksonville quickly nabbed Byron Leftwich (remember, Minnesota had Daunte Culpepper already) and Carolina targeted Jordan Gross (remember, Minnesota took Bryant McKinnie the previous draft). Baltimore was soon behind with Terrell Suugs; yet, Minnesota got the man they initially intended to select…Oklahoma State defensive tackle Kevin Williams.

End Result
: Jacksonville’s QB is still up in the air. Gross is talented, but not a Pro-Bowler. Williams may be the best DT in the NFL. Suggs was a sensational steal at #10. In the end, nobody loss; especially the Vikings.

No doubt that Ziggi won't except a moment's lapse.
Credit: Glorious Nation

2002: The Houston Texans, the NFL’s newest expansion team, select Fresno State QB David Carr with the first selection.
-It seemed one of the easier #1 picks to target. I, for one, went blue in the face demanding the franchise select the best-player-available and freakish-talent Julius Peppers out of UNC. While you need a franchise QB, Tim Couch alone proved expansion teams and rookie-starting QBs doesn’t work very well.

End Result
: Houston seemed thrilled, yet somehow in perspective this draft cost them Peppers (they ended up taking Mario Williams) and perhaps Vince Young (they kept Carr). Hindsight my friends. Hindsight.

Carr spent more time in this position than any other in Houston.
Credit: Texans Rock

2001: Atlanta stockpiles picks to trade up to the #1-slot to select Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick
-San Diego seemed to balk a bit on the idea that whomever had the #1-pick “had to select the Hokie QB”. Instead, they wheeled down four picks, to #5 of course, and selected freakishly talented (yet, still somewhat unknown) TCU RB LaDanian Tomlinson. Atlanta opened their arms to Vick and didn’t feel it lost too much having to land their future franchise-QB and marketing-machine.

End Result
: I’d love to sit down and actually put numbers together and scenarios to see if Atlanta would still make the move for Vick again. After the win at Lambeau, it seemed amazing. Now that LT is considered one of the G.O.A.T. already, there is a lot more debate. Yet, you can count the playoff wins up. Vickà 2 & LTà0-2. For now, it’s not the wash some consider it to be. Not yet, at least.

...before the days of the pitbull-ring...
Credit: CNNSI

2000: The New York Jets set an NFL-record with 4 1st-round selections.
-Mainly through the Keyshawn-deal, the Jets (in need of a roster makeover) were adamant at not compiling any picks to move up. Instead, they were looking for depth, playmakers, and key ingredients for a team on the rise. Or so they thought. First up was Tennessee DE Shaun Ellis (#12), freakish DE John Abraham (#13) of South Carolina, followed by Marshall QB Chad Pennington (#18), and finally West Virginia TE Anthony Becht (#27). Busy first-day for the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS.

End Result
: Interestingly enough, Lav Coles was their 3rd-round selection this draft. ¾ isn’t bad in the crapshoot of the NFL Draft. Ellis has been a stalwart and an massive rush/run combo (always just off the Pro-Bowl radar), Abraham was sometimes more flash than talent (yet ended up netting future Pro Bowl C Nick Mangold in a 2006 NFL Draft Trade), and Pennington (2-playoff victories) has seemed to overcome a ton of injuries and been a good QB for the Jets during his tenure (when healthy). As for Becht, he wasn’t much at all…yet outside of Keith Bullock (at LB), there isn’t too much to realistically pine over.

Things are a lot better in NYC when Chad isn't in this uniform.

What will be the story this year? A massive trade for someone to move up to Calvin Johnson at #2 [Atlanta, Denver, Washington, or Tampa Bay maybe?], what Oakland does with that 1st-pick, a potential free-fall for a big-name talent [Okoye, Peterson, or Adams maybe?], or something we may have never expected???

Until next time…

Note: Expect the Mock either very late tonight or bright and early tomorrow.

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