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Article:A look back at the 2002 NFL Draft

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After writing my recent article about grading NFL team’s first few draft picks my thoughts were triggered by a statement by our very own, Afraid of Ed Hochuli:

This is why I don't think grades should happen until a few years down the road.

He was referring to how we give grades out on draft picks, but have absolutely no idea how they’ll turn out. Sure, we can predict what they’ll do. We can watch as much game tape and read as much stats as we want, but all we’re really doing is making an educated guess. We’re Nostradamusing the NFL Draft. Sometimes we’re right (See: Peyton Manning) and sometimes we are terribly, terribly wrong (See: Ryan Leaf).

So, I figured why not go back a couple of years and grade the drafts? I mean, I have a kid -- so my social life is effectively over, why not put my free time to good use?! I didn’t want to go back too long... about 5 years or so ago so that we have a better handle on where those picks are right now, in what should be the prime of their careers. More importantly, we can get a handle on how teams did selecting players and what those players contributed to the teams future.

Please note that although I will take into account how a player contributed to the team that drafted him, I will also take into account how that player did on other teams as well. The draft is all about scouting after all and the grades that follow are essentially a scouting mark based on the team's total number of picks and their overall performance.

First off, let’s get into some explanations of some statistics you‘ll be seeing (as if you couldn‘t figure it out on your own…):

Number of Pro Bowlers selected: Self-explanatory

Number of quality players selected: While I’m not going to completely define a ‘quality player’ or give term qualifying stats, let’s just say a quality player is someone who has had a fairly successful career since 2002 and is generally regarded as a good draft choice.

Number of busts (a.k.a. disappointments… let’s be nice): Selections within the first two rounds that a team wasted because they did not pan out at all for one reason or another.

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: The number of players selected that are still in the NFL and played in at least four games during the 2007 season.

Number of those choices still with the team that drafted them: Number of active draft choices who are still with the team that drafted them.

Number of quality late round picks: The number of players who are still doing or have made significant contributions and were selected in Round 4 or later.
Aaaadraft02

Grades will take into account the preceding statistics as well as the intangibles, a la if the draft class had players who were key in a playoff or title run and the like. Since there was so much info I decided to break this up into three parts. Part one is the breakdown of the first ten teams’ drafts who selected in Round 1. Part two will be the next ten and part three will be, you guessed it, the final twelve teams. I wanted to do it all in one shot but it would have been way too big and I’m only human. As always, enjoy and feel free to discuss at length in the comments. Oh, and a special thanks to AOEH for giving me the idea for this in the first place.

First up, April 27th, 2002. The date of the 2002 NFL Draft and more importantly, the Houston Texans birthday!


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Houston Texans: David Carr (QB), Jabar Gaffney (WR), Chester Pitts (OG), Fred Weary (OG), Charles Hill (DT), Jonathan Wells (RB), Jarrod Baxter (FB), Ramon Walker (S), Demarcus Faggins (CB), Howard Green (DT), Greg White (DE), Ahmad Miller (DT)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 0

Number of quality players selected: 5 (David Carr, Jabar Gaffney, Chester Pitts, Fred Weary, Demarcus Faggins)

Number of disappointments: 0

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 5

Number of those players still with Houston: 3 (Chester Pitts, Fred Weary, Demarcus Faggins)

Number of quality late round picks: 1 (Sixth rounder: Demarcus Faggins)


Breakdown: 2002 was the Houston Texans inaugural year in the NFL and because of this they got the first pick in each of the first six rounds (not to mention some other picks thrown in for good measure). While 5 of their 12 selections went on to have successful careers, David Carr was not the QB they thought he would be when they drafted him. While he wasn’t a bust by any means, the Texans would go on and neglect to get him any offensive line help and he would be sacked 249 times in his 5 year stint with the Texans. But for 2002, their draft went quite well and three of the five quality selections they took are still with the team.


Carrwtexans

David 'I've been sacked more times than I've thrown a completion' Carr is labeled as a bust by some, but if he'd had a decent O-Line, who knows what he could have done.


Grade: C +

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Carolina Panthers: Julius Peppers (DE), Deshaun Foster (RB), Will Witherspoon (LB), Dante Wesley (CB), Randy Fasani (QB), Kyle Johnson (FB), Keith Heinrich (TE), Pete Campion (OG), Brad Franklin (CB)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 1 (Julius Peppers)

Number of quality players selected: 3 (Julius Peppers, Deshaun Foster, Will Witherspoon)

Number of disappointments: 0

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 3

Number of those players still with Carolina: 1 (Julius Peppers)

Number of quality late round picks: 0

Breakdown: The Panthers hit a home run with their first round selection of Julius Peppers. Generally regarded as a “freak” because of his combination of strength, speed and his incredibly long arms, Peppers would go on to have a Pro Bowl career for the Panthers. Carolina’s next two selections, Deshaun Foster and Will Witherspoon would both play key roles in the Panthers 2003 championship push. Unfortunately, the Panthers lost the Super Bowl that year to the New England Patriots, but that doesn’t make their first three picks in the 2002 Draft any less impressive.

Grade: A -

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Detroit Lions: Joey Harrington (QB), Kalimba Edwards (DE), Andre Goodman (CB), John Taylor (DE), John Owens (TE), Chris Cash (CB), Luke Staley (RB), Matt Murphy (TE), Victor Rogers (OT)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 0

Number of quality players selected: 3 (Joey Harrington, Kalimba Edwards, Andre Goodman)

Number of disappointments: 0

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 4

Number of those players still with Detroit: 0

Number of quality late round picks: 1 (Fifth rounder: John Owens)

Breakdown: Joey Harrington’s four years in Detroit were marred by mediocrity. At times, he looked he may be the man to save Lions football, yet at other times he looked like he belonged in Arena football. However he at least showed he had potential and is still in the league, albeit with a career high 77.2 QB rating (2007 with the Falcons). Second round selection Kalimba Edwards, while not a blue chip or anything, did make contributions on defense. The rest of their selections, save for Andre Goodman, didn’t quite pan out in the long run.

Grade: D +

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Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams (OT), Josh Reed (WR), Ryan Denney (DE), Coy Wire (SS), Justin Bannan (DT), Kevin Thomas (CB), Mike Pullico ( C ), Rodney Wright (WR), Jarrett Ferguson (RB), Dominique Stevenson (LB)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 0

Number of quality players selected: 1 (Josh Reed)

Number of disappointments : 1 (Mike Williams)

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 5

Number of those players still with Buffalo: 3 (Josh Reed, Ryan Denney, Coy Wire)

Number of quality late round picks: 3 (Third rounder: Coy Wire, Fifth rounder: Justin Bannan, Seventh rounder: Mike Pullico)

Breakdown: First round selection Mike Williams just did not work out at all. While generally a good run blocker, he was not as skilled at pass blocking and was cut by the team three years after he was drafted. Any time a first round pick (not to mention a Top 5 one) doesn’t work out, it sets the team back immensely. Unfortunately for the Bills, the rest of their draft didn’t go as well, with Josh Reed being the only real contributor to the team.

Grade: D -

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San Diego Chargers: Quentin Jammer (CB), Toniu Fonoti (OG), Reche Caldwell (WR), Ben Leber (LB), Justin Peele (TE), Terry Charles (WR), Matt Anderle (OT), Seth Buford (QB)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 0

Number of quality players: 4 (Quentin Jammer, Reche Caldwell, Ben Leber, Justin Peele)

Number of disappointments: 1 (Toniu Fonoti)

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 4

Number of those players still with San Diego: 1 (Quentin Jammer)

Number of quality late round picks: 2 (Third rounder: Ben Leber, Fourth rounder: Justin Peele)

Breakdown: The Chargers had a very productive 2002 draft, with Quentin Jammer panning out to be the anchor of the secondary for the defense, Reche Caldwell proving to be a skilled receiver (but never a number one), Ben Leber starting many games at linebacker, and Justin Peele proving to be a competent pass catching number two TE. Second round pick Toniu Fonoti, while a skilled player had injury problems and off the field issues that limited his stay in San Diego to a mere two years. You can’t really penalize San Diego for not foreseeing these problems at the time of the draft, though.

Grade: B +

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Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Sims (DT), Eddie Freeman (DE), Omar Easy (FB), Scott Fujita (LB), Maurice Rodriguez (LB)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 0

Number of quality players: 1 (Scott Fujita)

Number of disappointments: 2 (Ryan Sims, Eddie Freeman)

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 2

Number of those players still with Kansas City: 0

Number of quality late round picks: 1 (Fifth rounder: Scott Fujita)

Breakdown: While Ryan Sims was not necessarily a bust, he certainly didn’t put up the numbers that a defensive lineman taken in the Top 10 should. In five seasons with the Chiefs he only had 75 tackles, 5 sacks and 1 interception. I’m even being nice and counting assisted tackles. The remainder of the Chiefs picks didn’t bode quite well, either. With the exception of Scott Fujita all of Kansas City’s picks did nothing to improve the team in any way. To add insult to injury, Fujita left after his third season with the team, leaving them with nothing at all to show for the 2002 draft at this point in time.

Grade: F

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Minnesota Vikings: Bryant McKinnie (OT), Raonall Smith (LB), Willie Offord (SS), Brian Williams (DB), Ed Ta’amu (OG), Nick Rogers (LB), Chad Beasley (OT)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 0

Number of quality players: 2 (Bryant McKinnie, Brian Williams)

Number of disappointments: 0

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 3

Number of those players still with Minnesota: 1 (Bryant McKinnie)

Number of quality late round picks: 1 (Fourth rounder: Brian Williams)

Breakdown: The Vikings first round selection of Bryant McKinnie is perhaps my favorite selection in the entire 2002 draft. In addition to being a fantastic blocker, he’s also been an absolute workhorse. He’s started every single Minnesota Vikings game since 2003. Every single one. The Vikings appeared to like him too, giving him a 7 year, $48.5 million dollar deal. Hopefully, nothing will come of his recent legal troubles. While most of the other picks paled in comparison to the McKinnie selection, the Vikings did find another gem in the fourth round: Brian Williams. Although he is currently on the Jacksonville Jaguars, he’s started every game he’s been able to when he’s not been injured (save for his rookie year). Although he’s not there, the Vikings still got a solid 4 years out of him.


Mckinniedraftday1

You could make a strong argument that Bryant McKinnie was the finest choice in the entire 2002 NFL Draft.


Grade: B +

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Dallas Cowboys: Roy Williams (FS), Andre Gurode ( C ), Antonio Bryant (WR), Derek Ross (CB), Jamar Martin (FB), Pete Hunter (CB), Tyson Walter ( C ), Deveren Johnson (WR), Bob Slowikowski (TE)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 2 (Roy Williams, Andre Gurode)

Number of quality players: 3 (Roy Williams, Andre Gurode, Antonio Bryant)

Number of disappointments: 0

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 2

Number of those players still with Dallas: 2 (Roy Williams, Andre Gurode)

Number of quality late round picks: 1 (Sixth rounder: Tyson Walter)

Breakdown: The Cowboys struck gold with their first two selections in the 2002 draft, selecting two eventual Pro-Bowlers. Roy Williams wouldn’t waste any time, being sent to the Pro Bowl in just his second year. It took Andre Gurode a bit longer but he is currently on back to back Pro Bowl nominations for 2006 and 2007. Antonio Bryant was looking like a solid selection as well until he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy in 2006. They also found a gem (but not a starter, apparently) in Tyson Walter in the sixth round.

Grade: A

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Jacksonville Jaguars: John Henderson (DT), Mike Pearson (OT), Akin Ayodele (LB), David Garrard (QB), Chris Luzar (TE), Clenton Ballard (DT), Kendall Newson (WR), Steve Smith (DB), Hayden Epstein (K)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 1 (John Henderson)

Number of quality players: 3 (John Henderson, Akin Ayodele, David Garrard)

Number of disappointments: 0

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 3

Number of those players still with Jacksonville: 2 (John Henderson, David Garrard)

Number of quality late round picks: 2 (Third rounder: Akin Ayodele, Fourth rounder: David Garrard)

Breakdown: The Jaguars selection of John Henderson in Round 1 proved to be a great one, with Henderson becoming a 2 time Pro Bowlers in 2004 and 2006. He along with Marcus Stroud would ensure the Jaguars had one of the most feared defensive lines up until 2007. Third rounder Akin Ayodele would prove to be a workhorse linebacker and improved the Jaguars defense greatly while he was there. David Garrard wouldn’t get his time to shine until 2005 and would eventually be named the starting quarterback over Byron Leftwich. Garrard led the Jaguars to an 11-5 record and a wild card playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.


P1 garrard2

David Garrard is making the Jacksonville Jaguars scouting team look like geniuses.


Grade: A -

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Cincinnati Bengals: Levi Jones (OT), Lamont Thompson (FS), Matt Schobel (TE), Travis Dorsch (K), Marquand Manuel (S), Joey Evans (DE)

Number of Pro Bowlers: 0

Number of quality players: 3 (Levi Jones, Matt Schobel, Marquand Manuel)

Number of disappointments: 0

Number of draft choices still actively playing in the NFL: 4

Number of those players still with Cincinnati: 1 (Levi Jones)

Number of quality late round picks: 2 (Third rounder: Matt Schobel, Sixth rounder: Marquand Manuel)

Breakdown: The tenth overall selection of Levi Jones in the 2002 Draft has proved to be a smart one. Save for an injury plagued 2006 season, Jones has started 74 out of 80 possible games. He was also a large part of Rudi Johnson’s 4,000+ yards from 2004-2006 and it could even be said he was key in Rudi’s Pro Bowl bid in 2004 as well. While Lamont Thompson contributed, he was released after one year with the team. Matt Schobel put in some work from 2002-2005, racking up 938 yards and 9 touchdowns. Marquand Manuel has also played sporadically with both the Bengals and several other teams who needed secondary help.

Grade: C +

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