Pre-draft offensive awards
A shot caller ... or a fast faller? Scout.com projects the offensive studs and duds in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Booms and Busts - A Look at the No. 1 Picks Over the Past 20 Years
The NFL Draft has earned a reputation for being little more than a crapshoot. Considering the number of hours NFL scouts spend poring over game tapes, watching athletes run sprints, and quizzing them to find a “Wonderlic” score, it’s a bit odd that there are no “sure things.” Even the players drafted first overall in the [...]
The NFL Draft has earned a reputation for being little more than a crapshoot. Considering the number of hours NFL scouts spend poring over game tapes, watching athletes run sprints, and quizzing them to find a “Wonderlic” score, it’s a bit odd that there are no “sure things.”
Even the players drafted first overall in the draft and guaranteed $30-40 million can go “bust” in an instant. Or they could live up to their expectations and go “boom,” retiring on their own terms after a solid career. That’s the excitement of the NFL Draft and why fans actually care enough to tune in for hours at a time to see who their team thought was the best available college player.
Below is a list of the number one overall picks of the past two decades and whether they went “boom” or “bust” after entering the NFL with high expectations. Enjoy:
2007 - JaMarcus Russell - Too Early to Tell - Russell was drafted number overall by the Oakland Raiders last season but , after an extensive hold out that lasted almost until the start of the regular season, found himself on the sideline for much of the year. Al Davis loves his rocket arm and has given him some solid receivers to throw the ball to in 2008, but still hasn’t surrounded him with an offensive line, which may hurt a promising career.
2006 - Mario Williams - Too Early to Tell - The Houston Texans were heavily criticized after drafting Williams over Reggie Bush, but after two seasons in the NFL, it’s not easy to say who actually came out on top. Bush had a phenomenal rookie season but saw his numbers drop off in 2007 after teammate Deuce McAllister became injured. Meanwhile, Williams has put together back-to-back solid seasons at defensive end, finishing last season with 14.0 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.
2005 - Alex Smith - Too Early to Tell - After a good looking sophomore season, Alex Smith slumped again in 2007, after the departure of coordinator Norv Turner. He completed just 48.7% of his passes last season and started just seven games, finishing with a 57.2 quarterback rating, the worst of his short career.
2004 - Eli Manning - BOOM - Eli Manning stunned his critics — and he had plenty, many of whom wanted him cut — last season when he led the Giants to a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. He was outstanding in his four postseason games and was able to snag a Super Bowl MVP trophy along the way. And the fact that he’s already tied brother Peyton in Super Bowl wins and MVP’s is justification enough.
2003 - Carson Palmer - BOOM - Palmer has had a little trouble with interceptions as of late, but his career 90.1 quarterback rating is amazing, as is the fact that he’s thrown at least 26 touchdown passes and 3800 yards each of the past three seasons. No doubt about it, Palmer is among the elites at his position.
2002 - David Carr - BUST - After five seasons of getting pummeled in Houston, Carr moved on to Carolina where fans thought he could put his career back together. Such was not the case. Carr was cut after just one season and, perhaps more embarrassing, was replaced by 40-odd year old Vinny Testaverde during the regular season. Ouch.
2001 - Michael Vick - BUST - The uber-athletic Vick wasn’t able to evade a guilty verdict that sentenced him to 23 months in prison. Otherwise he might well be considered a “boom” after his NFL career in which he scampered around defenders and kept the Atlanta Falcons franchise relevant.
2000 - Courtney Brown - BUST - The Browns spent a first round draft choice on Brown, only to get burned after five seasons of relatively inept play. He went to the Broncos in 2005, but was cut after the season. He hasn’t been in NFL since.
1999 - Tim Couch - BUST - Talk about bad luck for the Browns. The expansion team took highly touted Tim Couch first overall, a shame considering a few of the other names in the top ten of the ‘99 class: Donovan McNabb (2), Edgerrin James (4), Torry Holt (6), Champ Bailey (7), and Chris McAllister (10).
1998 - Peyton Manning - BOOM - Manning lived up to the hype that surrounded him and even surpassed it. A shoe-in for the Hall of Fame when he retires, Manning is on pace to blow through every passing record in the books. He hasn’t missed a start since entering the NFL and has been selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls, making him one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game.
1997 - Orlando Pace - BOOM - An elite offensive tackle before injuries began taking away his playing time, the Rams have gotten a lot out of Pace over his eleven seasons in the NFL. He remains one of the league’s top tackles when he’s healthy and has played a big role in the Rams’ successes on offense over the years.
1996 - Keyshawn Johnson - BOOM - Me-shawn (yeah, he’ll never get away from that) proved himself to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL — but one of the most aggravating personalities. He retired with 814 catches and over 10,000 receiving yards and is now one of the not-so-terrible ESPN analysts.
1995 - Ki-Jana Carter - BUST - Injuries spoiled his career, though, amazingly, he had 15 rushing touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons, despite averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. He retired in 2004 with 1144 rushing yards and 21 total scores and didn’t start a single game after those first two years.
1994 - Dan Wilkinson - BOOM - Wilkinson lasted 13 seasons in the NFL playing the interior of the defensive line for four different franchises. He closed his career with 54.5 sacks and just 6 forced fumbles. Still, though he might never be considered one of the greats, Wilkinson had a stretch of six seasons during the early half of his career during which he was one of the best tackles in the league.
1993 - Drew Bledsoe - BOOM - Bledsoe was one of those quarterbacks who was unfairly cut from his current team after years of being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He retired after the 2006 season with 44611 passing yards and 251 touchdowns and is a lock to have his bust in the Hall of Fame.
1992 - Steve Emtman - BUST - If you said to yourself Who the heck is Steve Emtman? when you read his name, you’re not unlike 99% of the population. The defensive tackle/end from Washington University retired at the age of 27 after 6 seasons in the NFL and a grand total of 8.0 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.
1991 - Russell Maryland - BOOM - Lasting ten seasons in the NFL, Maryland retired with 24.5 sacks and 9 forced fumbles. He had been a part of Dallas Cowboys defense that had dominated offenses and won 3 Super Bowls during the 1990s.
1990 - Jeff George - BUST - It’s tough to say how George lasted 12 NFL seasons. Not only was he one of the most disappointing first overall draft picks in recent history, he managed to be, at the same time, one of the most arrogant, cocky, and hate-able players in the league. His teammates despised him and, in the words of one Indianapolis fan, “he couldn’t see the forest for the me’s.”
1989 - Troy Aikman - BOOM - The Hall of Fame quarterback won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and retired as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. It’s only a shame that his career was cut short by concussions. At least fans can still enjoy his insight during FOX football games, as he and Joe Buck make up one of the best booth duos.
1988 - Aundray Bruce - BUST - The LB/DE/TE (at least for one pass) spent more than a decade in the NFL with three different franchises and retired with 32 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, and 4 interceptions. As a NFL player he was decent. As a first round draft choice, however, he was little more than a bust.