As the 2008 NFL Draft draws near we hearken to the days of old and drafts of the new millennium to determine who were the best and worst of first round picks in this the 21 st century.
We’ll begin with a pick by pick evaluation of the best first rounders of the decade.
1. Few quarterbacks have been as productive over the last five years as the number 1 overall from the 2003 draft Carson Palmer. He’s had loads of talent at his disposal but he’s also made his receivers better and has been one of the few Bengal players to not be a total pain in the ass.
2. The second overall picks of the millennium have not been kind to their masters but the #2 in 2002 Julius Peppers lived up to the hype but has faded over the last few seasons. A former basketball/football star at North Carolina, Peppers brought an almost unreal amount of athleticism to the DE position.
3. The third pick has been a gold mine of talent. Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Vince Young, Chris Samuels, and Braylon Edwards were all No.3 selections and have all lived up to their considerable hype. The best of the lot is Fitzgerald, who does nothing but move the chains for the Arizona Cardinals.
4. The forth pick has been a veritable mine field of underachieving, over hyped players that continue to disappoint or disappear. The glaring exception has been Philip Rivers, the steady hand guiding San Diego Chargers offense.
5. No fifth pick has had the impact LaDanian Tomlinson has had both to his team and to the league. This unassuming superstar may eventually go down as the best RB ever.
6. Those wily New England Patriots sure got their money’s worth when they drafted Richard Seymour #6 overall in the same 2001 draft that produced LT, Reggie Wayne, Steve Hutchinson, and Deuce McAllister.
7. It’s hard to label a guy who’s only played one season as the best #7 pick of the decade but that’s just how good Adrian Peterson was last season, one of the best rookie years any running back has had in NFL history.
8. He has established himself as one of the most feared hitters in the game and as such Roy Williams is the best #8 pick of the decade.
9. There was a question as to what position the number nine overall in 2000 would play, and I’m sure Chicago Bears fans are glad Brian Urlacher assumed MLB duties, and did so in a Mike Singletaryesque fashion.
10. The first round in 2003 was infamous for the Minnesota Vikings dropping two slots because they were either unprepared or clinically stupid. Either way, what transpired was a surreal scene where DE Kevin Williams was grabbed by the Vikings at #9 and Terrell Suggs dropped to Baltimore Ravens at 10, making this the best tenth pick of the 21 st century.
12. One reason why the Chargers are as good and talented as they are is consistently drafting well, and no pick was better than snatching up Shawne Merriman with the 12 th pick in 2005.
16. A candidate for best safety and best hair Troy Polamalu is the best 16 th pick of the decade.
17. An absolute bulldozer at guard, Steve Hutchinson may be the best OL in the game, just ask Shaun Alexander and Adrian Peterson.
18. Wracked with injuries lately Chad Pennington probably fell further in the 2000 draft than he should have but has been decent for the New York Jets.
19. Way back in 2000 Shaun Alexander was the 19 th overall by Seattle Seahawks and was the lynchpin of that offense for seven years.
20. Now with his third team in four years the erstwhile Javon Walker was a bit of a good buy at #20.
27. Everyone thought the Chiefs were nuts for drafting a RB with the 27 th pick in 2003, especially considering Priest Holmes was still tearing it up. But you can’t argue that Larry Johnson was a prophetically astute pick.
28. A Pro Bowl selection in 2006 Luis Castillo is only the second Dominican player to be drafted and start in the NFL, and is another in a long line of great Chargers draft choices.
29. Nick Barnett has been one of the most consistently great yet unheralded LB’s since he entered the league in 2002.
31. Todd Heap was thought by many to be a steal with the 31 st in 2001 and he’s been solid ever since.
And now the polar opposites, the worst first round picks of the 21 st century.
1. Few players cost their teams more money and bad PR as the now villainous Michael Vick. He showed flashes of tantalizing brilliance but his ultimate exit from the league was equally as flashy is his entrance. Courtney Brown was invisible during his career but Vick almost single handedly destroyed a franchise.
4. In college Peter Warrick was a brilliant play maker, in the pros he was a colossal disappointment, yet another in a long line of crappy Bengals’ draft picks.
5. Terence Newman hasn’t been a total bust but certainly hasn’t been what one would expect from a former #5.
6. Vernon Davis dazzled during pre-draft workouts, posting a stunning 4.3 40 time, but has been way too quiet on the field.
7. Even at the time most observers thought the Vikings reached too far by drafting Troy Williamson at #7.
8. David Terrell was dominant in college but downright bad as a pro.
9. Koren Robinson had one good year and has averaged two touchdown catches a season.
10. Funny how this portion of our 21 st century draft retrospective is dominated thus far by Matt Millen and his Detroit Lions; add Mike Williams to this ignominious list of 1 st round gaffes.
12. Damione Lewis, who the hell is he? Precisely.
13. Donte Stallworth was never a primary target and never lived up to his advanced billing. But now he can languish as a 3 rd or 4 th WR for the Patriots.
14. Few tackles got whistled for as many holding penalties as Kenyatta Walker.
16. It says something when the 16 th pick in 2002, William Green, is most famous for multiple marijuana suspensions and getting stabbed by his fiancé.
17. Bryant Johnson was supposed to help elevate the offensive fortune of the Cardinals but became an expensive slot receiver.
18. “Erasmus James, please answer the courtesy phone….please.”
19. Ashley Lelie was blessed with world class speed, athleticism, and hands of stone. He barely has 200 catches for his career.
20. In a rich get richer and poor get poorer angle, the Broncos put their second player in a row on this countdown, one George Foster.
21. Drafting WR’s in the first round is dicey, and one need look no further than Sylvester Morris to get an appreciation for this concept.
23. Rashard Anderson…um, I got nothing.
24. Boy do the Broncos have egg on their faces after placing three picks in six on this “Worst of…” list…thanks Willie Middlebrooks.
25. The #25 pick in the 2001 NFL Draft would like to thank his hands, because that infamous sound byte was the high point of Freddie Mitchell’s career.
26. What makes a John McCargo? Gasoline silly.
27. Roddy White may be better known for his role in “Planet of the Apes”…what, that was Roddy McDowell? Damn, a good joke shot to hell.
28. Derrick Gibson played which position? If you can answer this brain teaser you’re either a shut in residing in your parents’ basement or a football geek extraordinaire.
29. Michael Jenkins…another first round bust from the WR position.
30. What has Sammy Davis done other than bastardize the sir name of a great American entertainer?
31. Yet another WR…Rashaun Woods. (note to self: never draft a receiver in round 1, unless Reggie Wayne is available)
Bing on the 2008 NFL draft,, if for no other reason than to stop these insipid lists.