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07 Apr 2006

2000 NFL Draft, Six Years Later

by Michael David Smith

If NFL teams could do the 2000 draft all over again, several first-round picks would switch places with their sixth-round counterparts. Among the sixth-round picks who have far exceeded expectations are Tom Brady, Marc Bulger, and Mike Anderson, and among the high first-round picks who now look more like sixth-rounders are Courtney Brown, Peter Warrick and Ron Dayne.

Players selected in the 2000 draft have now completed their rookie contracts, so it seems like a good time to analyze that year's draft at each position, examining who the conventional wisdom before the draft held as the best player, the first player selected, who turned out to be the best player, the biggest bust, and the best value. (Note: For fans who enjoy revisiting past drafts, the best site on the Web is drafthistory.com.)

Quarterback

Conventional wisdom: Scouts agreed that it was a weak year for quarterbacks, with Marshall's Chad Pennington considered the best of the bunch, Hofstra's Giovanni Carmazzi considered the unheralded player with the big upside, and Louisville's Chris Redman or Tennessee's Tee Martin considered the players most likely to be able to start immediately. Scouts thought there might also be a couple of practice squad scrubs like Michigan's Tom Brady and West Virginia's Marc Bulger worth picking up toward the end of the second day.

Highest pick: Pennington, 18th overall to the Jets.

Best player: Brady, the sixth-round afterthought the Patriots picked up with pick No. 199 (16 spots after the Browns selected Southwest Texas State quarterback Spergon Wynn). The late Joel Buchsbaum, previewing the draft for Pro Football Weekly, wrote, "Brady really came on as a senior and threw the ball extremely well. ... Brady is tall, smart, dedicated, coachable and a good decision-maker." Still, neither Buchsbaum nor anyone else expected Brady to become a dependable starter, let alone a superstar.

Biggest bust: Carmazzi, whom the 49ers made the second quarterback taken (No. 65 overall). He never played in a regular-season NFL game.

Best value: Other than Brady, it was Marc Bulger, picked in the sixth round by the Saints. He became a Pro Bowler after leaving New Orleans and heading to St. Louis.

Other noteworthy picks: Tim Rattay, the seventh-round pick the 49ers grabbed on a lark to join Carmazzi in training camp. Rattay gave the 49ers a couple of decent years as an occasional starter before they decided Alex Smith was their future. Martin went in the fifth round to the Steelers and completed exactly six passes in his NFL career.

Running back

Conventional wisdom: Commentators were evenly split on who would emerge as the best player in what was seen as an excellent draft for running backs. Tennessee's Jamal Lewis had a great combination of speed and power, Virginia's Thomas Jones was known as a complete and durable back, and Wisconsin's Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne had great college production.

Highest pick: Lewis, No. 5 overall to the Ravens.

Best player: Alabama's Shaun Alexander, No. 19 overall to the Seahawks. Some questioned why Seattle would take a running back when Ricky Watters was already on the roster. But after backing up Watters as a rookie, Alexander has rushed for more than 1,000 yards every year since.

Biggest bust: Dayne, who carried 585 times for 2,067 yards (a 3.5-yard average) in five seasons with the Giants. About the only thing Dayne accomplished was taking away enough carries from Tiki Barber that it took Barber a few years longer than it should have to demonstrate that he can be an every-down back. (In fairness to Dayne, he looked good in limited action in Denver last year. Then again, who doesn't?)

Best value: Utah's Mike Anderson, No. 189 overall to Denver, became the league's rookie of the year. Little did anyone know at the time that he wasn't even the best sixth-rounder of his class.

Other noteworthy picks: Reuben Droughns was a smart pickup for the Lions in the third round, but, being the Lions, they only gave him the ball 30 times in two seasons before releasing him. He's since gone on to have back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons, first in Denver and then in Cleveland. Commentators said the same thing about Trung Canidate that they said about Alexander: He was an odd selection for a team that already had a veteran running back. Unlike Alexander, Canidate didn't become the veteran's permanent replacement, although he did have a couple of decent years as a role player, both in 2001 in St. Louis and in 2003 in Washington.

Wide receiver

Conventional wisdom: Florida State's Peter Warrick was seen as head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the pack. Vying for second-best receiver were Michigan State's Plaxico Burress, Florida's Travis Taylor, Jackson State's Sylvester Morris and USC's R. Jay Soward.

Highest pick: Warrick, No. 4 overall to the Bengals.

Best player: A close call. Burress, who went No. 8 overall to the Steelers, has 5,378 career yards and has been the No. 1 threat in both the Steelers' and the Giants' passing attacks, would probably be the choice of most analysts. But Warrick's college teammate, Laveranues Coles, who went No. 78 overall to the Jets, has slightly more career yards (5,501) and is a better route-runner.

Biggest bust: Warrick, who never emerged as a No. 1 receiver in Cincinnati, certainly qualifies. But the biggest disappointment has to be Soward, who was suspended several times for violations of the league's substance-abuse rules, and who finished his career in Jacksonville with 14 catches despite going No. 29 overall.

Best value: Texas A&M's Dante Hall, No. 153 overall to the Chiefs. Hall was a running back in college but projected to receiver in the NFL. He's become a mediocre offensive threat but a very good kick returner.

Other noteworthy picks: Taylor went No. 10 overall to the Ravens and never produced the way they thought he would. Morris went No. 21 overall to the Chiefs and looked promising but suffered several serious knee injuries.

Tight end

Conventional wisdom: Bubba Franks of Miami had good size, good hands and good speed and was a clear No. 1 at the position.

Highest pick: Franks, No. 14 overall to the Packers.

Best player: Probably Franks, although with only 1,936 receiving yards in six years, he hasn't lit it up quite the way the Packers thought he would.

Biggest bust: With only Franks and West Virginia's Anthony Becht (picked by the Jets with their fourth and final first-round pick, No. 27 overall) going in the first round, there aren't a lot of busts to choose from. It was a mediocre crop of tight ends, but no individual player earned the bust label.

Best value: Erron Kinney, selected by the Titans out of Florida with the 68th pick overall, has been nearly as good a player as Franks.

Other noteworthy picks: After Kinney, the list of tight ends selected reads like a who's who of mediocre players that fans will only vaguely remember: Dave Stachelski to the Patriots from Boise State, James Whalen to the Buccaneers from Kentucky, Austin Wheatley to the Saints from Iowa, Jay Tant to the Cardinals from Northwestern, etc.

Offensive line

Conventional wisdom: Chris Samuels of Alabama was widely regarded as the best of the bunch and about as much of a sure thing as this draft had.

Highest pick: Samuels, No. 3 overall to the Redskins.

Best player: It's hard not to pick Samuels, who became an immediate starter. Both Chad Clifton of Tennessee, selected No. 44 overall by Green Bay, and Marvel Smith of Arizona State, selected No. 38 overall by Pittsburgh, have also become solid starters.

Biggest bust: Chris McIntosh of Wisconsin, selected No. 22 overall by Seattle, never panned out.

Best value: Mark Tauscher of Wisconsin, a college guard selected at No. 224 overall by the Packers, has moved to tackle and started 80 games for Green Bay. If you ever wonder how much of a crapshoot the draft is, remember that NFL scouts watched film of Wisconsin and came away thinking McIntosh was a first-rounder and Tauscher was a seventh-rounder.

Other noteworthy picks: Stockar McDougle of Oklahoma, selected No. 20 overall by the Lions, was the second offensive lineman drafted. He started 54 games in Detroit but never turned into anything more than a competent NFL lineman. He's currently fighting for a spot on the Jaguars' roster.

Defensive end

Conventional wisdom: Everyone loved the rare strength and athleticism of Penn State's Courtney Brown.

Highest pick: Brown, No. 1 overall, to the Cleveland Browns.

Best player: John Abraham, who played outside linebacker at South Carolina but moved to defensive end after the Jets selected him No. 13 overall. Now in Atlanta, Abraham, who was seen as a reach by many observers, has 53.5 career sacks. Brown, who was seen as a legitimate No. 1 overall selection, has 19.

Biggest bust: Erik Flowers of Arizona State, taken at No. 26 overall by the Bills. It's hard to imagine what the Bills were thinking when they took Flowers that high, as he didn't appear in any first-round projections. He had four sacks with the Bills, who released him after two years.

Best value: Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, taken in the fifth round by the Packers out of San Diego State, has turned into a Pro Bowl defensive end after playing linebacker in college. Also note that Indiana's Adewale Ogunleye went undrafted after a serious knee injury during his senior season. Miami coach Dave Wannstedt, who kept a close eye on Indiana because his daughters went there, picked him up and stashed him on the roster for a year while his knee healed. He has since produced 40 career sacks.

Other noteworthy picks: Shaun Ellis, taken No. 12 overall by the Jets, has been overshadowed by Abraham but is a solid player, and significantly better than Brown. Darren Howard, taken No. 33 overall by the Saints out of Kansas State, has 44.5 career sacks with New Orleans and recently signed as a free agent with Philadelphia.

Defensive tackle

Conventional wisdom: No one disputed that Florida State's Corey Simon was the best prospect at the position, but many disputed whether he could stay healthy. In college Simon had multiple surgeries on both shoulders, plus knee and neck injuries. Some teams put him near the top of their draft boards; other teams dropped him completely.

Highest pick: Simon, No. 6 overall to the Eagles.

Best player: Simon, who proved the wisdom of the Philadelphia team doctors who cleared the team to take him: He missed only two games in five years with the Eagles before signing as a free agent with the Colts last year.

Biggest bust: It was a good crop of tackles with no major busts. Steve Warren of the Packers was the only defensive tackle taken on the first day of the 2000 draft who isn't still on an NFL roster.

Best value: Alfonso Boone was the Lions' choice with the 253rd selection of the draft, one before Mr. Irrelevant. But, being the Lions, they cut him in training camp, Chicago picked him up, and he has become an important part of a very good defensive line rotation in the Windy City.

Other noteworthy picks: Chris Hovan, taken by the Vikings out of Boston College with the 25th overall pick, developed into a good pass rusher but a liability against the run. Cornelius Griffin, taken by the Giants out of Alabama with the 42nd overall pick, has become a very good all-around lineman and rivals Simon as the best tackle to come out in 2000.

Linebacker

Conventional wisdom: LaVar Arrington of Penn State was seen as a uniquely talented linebacker with great strength, speed and leaping ability.

Highest pick: Arrington, No. 2 overall to the Redskins.

Best player: Brian Urlacher, the ninth overall pick by the Bears. Urlacher played strong safety in college at New Mexico, and his detractors say that shows in his inability to take on blocks, but there's no disputing that he has been that rare Top-10 pick who exceeds expectations.

Biggest bust: It's probably unfair to call a third-round pick a bust, but Virginia Tech's Corey Moore received a huge amount of media hype, with just about every football commentator alive singing the Bills' praises for drafting him at No. 89 overall. He played 10 games in his NFL career.

Best value: Some very good value picks, including the Giants grabbing Michigan's Dhani "Dancin' in the Street" Jones in the sixth round, Pittsburgh taking Colorado State's Clark Haggans in the fifth round, and Green Bay taking Ohio State's Na'il Diggs in the fourth round.

Other noteworthy picks: Julian Peterson of Michigan State, taken 16th overall by the 49ers, was an excellent linebacker before he was slowed by an Achilles injury. Keith Bulluck of Syracuse, taken 30th overall by the Titans, has had every bit as good a career as the more heralded Arrington. Marcus Washington, a defensive end at Auburn, was taken in the second round by Indianapolis and has become a very good pass-rushing linebacker, first with the Colts and now with the Redskins.

Defensive backs

Conventional wisdom: Scouts saw 2000 as a down year for defensive backs, with no clear consensus No. 1 pick. Some liked the big-play ability of Cal's Deltha O'Neal, who doubled as a return man, while others liked the size of Jackson State's Rashard Anderson, and still others liked the intelligence and work ethic of Ohio State's Ahmed Plummer.

Highest pick: O'Neal, No. 15 overall to the Broncos.

Best player: Mike Brown, whom the Bears selected out of Nebraska at No. 39 overall, has had a good career as an important part of Chicago's division-winning defenses in both 2001 and 2005.

Biggest bust: Anderson, whose career was derailed by repeated positive drug tests. He started nine games for Carolina before a two-year drug suspension.

Best value: Mario Edwards was a very good cover corner at Florida State, and one of the biggest surprises of the 2000 draft was that he slipped all the way down to the sixth round, where the Cowboys selected him. Although he's now out of football, Edwards had four good years in Dallas.

Other noteworthy picks: Kenoy Kennedy, selected by the Broncos out of Arkansas with the 45th pick, has become one of the best coverage safeties in the league, shutting down tight ends both in Denver and in Detroit.

Kicker

There weren't enough of them to give the position a full analysis, but we'll close by pointing out that in a year when the quality of the sixth round rivaled the quality of the first, even kickers got in on the act: Oakland's first-round pick, Sebastian Janikowski of Florida State, isn't nearly as good a kicker as Cincinnati's sixth-round pick, Neil Rackers of Illinois.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 07 Apr 2006

128 comments, Last at 26 Apr 2007, 7:46pm by John P

Comments

1
by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 12:36pm

Two noteable omissions:

Jerry Porter taken 16th in rd 2. 3215 yds & 24 TDs to date.

Jeno James taken in the 6th, @ No. 182. He's played 85 games, starting 58, including 46 of the last 48 regular season games. (Stats are from NFL.com, I don't think they include post-season games). A definite candidate for 'best value' O-lineman

2
by Smeghead (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 12:38pm

These are fantastic articles. Thanks, FO.

I've got to say a word in defense of Chris McIntosh (much as it pains me to defend a Mike Holmgren draft) -- he suffered a devastating neck injury that ended his career when it had barely started. He's more of a

3
by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 12:38pm

OK, Tauscher wins 'best value'. By any strech though, Jeno James is a 'noteworthy' pick.

4
by Smeghead (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 12:39pm

nuts.

That was, He's more of a ''what might have been'' than a bust.

5
by SoulardX (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:02pm

How could Trung Candidate NOT be a bigger bust than Dayne. At least Dayne is still around.

6
by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:11pm

James, good points on Jerry Porter and Jeno James.

Smeghead, you're certainly right that we don't know what would have happened to McIntosh if he had stayed healthy, but I guess I feel like even if an injury is the reason, a first-round pick who contributes next to nothing has to be considered a bust. I agree with you that he's a different circumstance than a guy like Rashard Anderson, though.

SoulardX, the reason I list Dayne as a bigger bust than Canidate is that the Giants took Dayne at No. 11 thinking he'd be the featured back, while the Rams took Canidate at No. 31 thinking he'd be a role player. Neither one worked out, but the Giants spent a higher pick and had higher expectations than the Rams.

7
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:20pm

RE 4

are the

8
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:21pm

Damn I guess not.

Hey Smeghead how the hell did you get the Double quotes to show up?

9
by BknGen (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:32pm

Canidate also did a passable job filling in for Marshall Faulk a few times when Faulk was injured; Dayne was never the featured back for the Giants, which is what they drafted him to be.

10
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:32pm

Re: 6

Michael, I'm not buying your defense of calling McIntosh a bust. You wrote,

If you ever wonder how much of a crapshoot the draft is, remember that NFL scouts watched film of Wisconsin and came away thinking McIntosh was a first-rounder and Tauscher was a seventh-rounder.

This statement strongly implies that you believe that the scouts were wrong. The scouts may well have been right that McIntosh was the better of the two linemen, but his injury simply never gave him the chance to prove it.

but I guess I feel like even if an injury is the reason, a first-round pick who contributes next to nothing has to be considered a bust.

I think it's fair in such a situation to call the pick a bust, but it is completely unfair to call the player a bust. In the article, you did the latter.

11
by passerby (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:38pm

Good job, guys. People can disagree with some of your assessments, but theres no denying that a lot of research and good analysis went into your article.

12
by Justanothersteve (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:40pm

Type two consecutive single quotes. The spacing issue is negligible. '''''''''

13
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:46pm

RE 10

But think about it all this hype surrounding first round picks (especially this year) and how many of those back in 2000 became what you would consider a value for the money that they got paid. I have to agree with him injury or not if a 1st round pick cannot meet the expectaions of the team drafting him the he should be classified as a bust.

But of course this is coming from a person that belives that a minor league system should be set up for NFL football so these picks get some workouts and experience in the NFL before they are required to play in the Pro's.

14
by yep (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:51pm

Reuben Droughns was a smart pickup for the Lions in the third round, but, being the Lions, they only gave him the ball 30 times in two seasons before releasing him.

Other than the fact that he missed his entire first season on IR with a shoulder problem and tweaked his knee in his second and third training camps, you're right. The Lions were fools to not give more playing time to a guy who was never healthy and had an attitude problem.

15
by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 1:59pm

shaun ellis is a much better player than john abraham. he gets about as many sacks, plays the run better, doesn't get forced upfield every other passing down, and stays healthy. most importantly, he plays playoff games instead of sitting out with mysterious strained hamstring injuries.

16
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 2:01pm

This statement strongly implies that you believe that the scouts were wrong. The scouts may well have been right that McIntosh was the better of the two linemen, but his injury simply never gave him the chance to prove it.

But the scouts gauge injury potential, too. If nothing else, this just shows that the biggest problem that scouts have is predicting that.

Which makes me wonder if there's some indicator that might be a proxy for injury potential. Interestingly enough, games started is probably a pretty good guess.

17
by WesM (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 2:03pm

Re: 8

Could it be a double single quote? Like ''quote''.

18
by dman (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 2:11pm

I like these articles, well done, but I'd like to put my 2 cents in regarding formatting, I really liked the way you guys did the 1998 draft better. I liked having all of the picks listed by order and commented in that way. Regardless though, good job.

19
by Smeghead (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 2:14pm

MDS, I can dig it -- from the standpoint of the team getting value from the pick it's a bust whether it's a coke habit, a balky knee or the inability to ball that causes it. I was taking issue more with ''If you ever wonder how much of a crapshoot the draft is, remember that NFL scouts watched film of Wisconsin and came away thinking McIntosh was a first-rounder and Tauscher was a seventh-rounder.''

(yep, it's single quotes)

20
by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 2:15pm

Re 14, yep, I've noticed that every time I post something critical of a decision made by Matt Millen, you instantly rush to Millen's defense. I'm curious, what is it about Millen you like so much?

21
by Smeghead (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 2:16pm

I see CA already made the point. Must read more carefully in the future.

22
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 3:19pm

Of all the crappy Browns drafts since the reboot, I think this one was the worst. A baker's dozen of picks and only three of them are still in the league at all (Brown, Northcutt and Shea). Yikes!

23
by Luz (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 3:26pm

just out of curiousity, when was plax the steelers #1 WR? did hines go to south korea a couple of years ago and both the AP and i missed it?

24
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 3:49pm

Re: 23 and Best player: A close call. Burress, who went No. 8 overall to the Steelers, has 5,378 career yards and has been the No. 1 threat in both the Steelers’ and the Giants’ passing attacks, would probably be the choice of most analysts.

I ripped Michael a bit for his statement regarding the 1998 draft that Ward was a close second to Moss among WRs, and others proceeded to rip me. The fact is that, between Ward and Burress, Burress generally was the more dominant, even if less consistent, of the two players when they played side-by-side and to this day. Ward is a distant second to Moss among WRs taken in the 1998 NFL draft. He was a close second to Burress among WRs on his own team between 2001 and 2004. Saying that Ward has been close to as good as Moss is at least as absurd as saying that Burress has been close to as good as Moss.

25
by Darth Goofy (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 3:50pm

Being a Colt's fan, I gotta ask...

Why isn't Rob Morris considered a big bust? He was drafted in the first round and never became the middle linebacker the Colt's needed. I seem to recall that he was well hyped also.

26
by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 3:58pm

'Oakland’s first-round pick, Sebastian Janikowski of Florida State, isn’t nearly as good a kicker as Cincinnati’s sixth-round pick, Neil Rackers of Illinois.'

Sure Rackers had one of the greatest NFL seasons (40 of 42 FGs), last year while Janikowski struggled (20 of 30); but career Rackers is 76% while Seabass is 78%. Before 2005 Rackers started off below 70%, Seabass over 80%. That's a big difference - narrowed by their respective seasons.

Over 2003 / 2004 Seabass was possibly the best kicker in the league over the course of those two seasons, making 47 of 53 FGs - 3 misses each year. Only Vanderjagt with his perfect 2003 and 5 misses in 2004 was better. Didn't he just get cut?

Add to that on kickoffs, Seabass averages 64.2 yds / Rackers 62.4 over their careers.

All in all, over the course of 6-years I'd say Janikowski has had the better career. Racker does represent better value as a 6th round pick against Seabass as a first rounder; but that's not the point.

BBS :)

27
by andy (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:07pm

I don't think I've ever heard Burress called

28
by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:09pm

Re 23, in 2001 Burress was the No. 1 threat in the Steelers' passing attack with a higher DPAR and higher DVOA.

Re 26, Janikowski's career percentage is higher because he attempts fewer long field goals. Rackers is much better at making long field goals than Janikowski. Rackers has touchbacks on 20% of his kickoffs; Janikowski has touchbacks on 16.6% of his kickoffs. I stand by my claim that Rackers is the superior kicker.

29
by andy (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:12pm

...''dominant'' before. It doesn't suit him.

30
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:31pm

Wow, MDS, your confidence in Matt Millen and the Lions personnell folk is truly awe inspiring.

;-)

31
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:32pm

Great article. Thanks, FO. You guys rock.

Now keep writing! :-)

32
by JRM (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:35pm

Re: Tom Brady- as a Patriots fan, I was happy about the pick. I thought he was big enough, had a strong enough arm, and was accurate enough to merit a second day pick as a *prospect* that could eventually turn into something- that being a solid #2, possibly someone that could be used as A.J. Feeley-type trade bait...or someone that could take over if Bledsoe grew old quickly.

I'm not right often, so I need to make a big deal about it when I am. I won't get carried away, since I said the same thing about Marques Tuisosopo, Jared Lorenzen, Kendrick Nord....:)

33
by Jon Fuge everybody (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:40pm

Plax played the typical number 2 side of the field, but he also typically drew double coverage while Hines took on the opponent's best cornerback. Deciding which of them was really number one is arguable. I think it was always Hines, but Plax is a solid #1 WR.

34
by Jon Fuge everybody (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:42pm

RE 32: You were right about Tom Brady being a good backup quarterback?

35
by JRM (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:47pm

Re: #34- I was right about him being one of the three possibilities I listed :)

36
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 4:55pm

MDS:

Actually, it depends which version of Rackers you believe is real: the pre-2004 version, or the 2004-2005 version. It's really night and day between those two versions of Rackers. The 2004-2005 version is superhuman. The pre-2004 version of Rackers is average at best.

What the hell happened to Rackers in 2003? Was it really just 'hey, crap, I got fired by the Bengals, I better get in shape'? Or were there (twisty mustache) nefarious things going on? Who knows.

37
by Keith Cockrell (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 5:09pm

Re 34. Doesn't every fan of the other 31 teams REALLY wish that Brady was still a backup QB? And who knows, under some coach who was more impressed with reputation or draft order, he might still be. '' some mute Milton'' and all that.

38
by andy (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 5:11pm

36: I'm fairly sure that kickers are subject to the same testing as everyone else in the league. I wouldn't assume Rackers is any more nefarious than anyone else, unless you think some form of deal with Satan is in effect. (Hey, it could happen. Being fired by the Bengals is enough to shake a guy up pretty bad.)

39
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 5:31pm

As someone who follows the Cards, I read that Rackers made a big deal last season about how much better the turf in AZ was than it was in Cincy. He claimed to have had lots of footing problems, etc in Cincy that didn't exist in the desert. Now, Shayne Graham did a pretty good job as kicker for the Bengals this past season, so there's probably more to it than just turf. It could have a lot to do with kickers' general reputation as headcases.

40
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 5:37pm

andy: Oh, sure, I'm not suggesting that. Though it has only been 2 years as Super Ultra Mega Rackers, so who knows.

Seriously, though, look at the guy's stats. It's an utterly ridiculous shift from Cincinnati to Arizona.

Touchback ratio by year:
2000: 8.7%
2001: 14%
2002: 4.7%
2003: 18%
2004: 33%
2005: 36%

Something happened around 2003.

41
by GaryS (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 5:43pm

I always wondered whether John Butler puposely screwed the Bills in 2000 with those picks. He and Wilson were no longer speaking, but Wilson wouldn't let him out of his contract. So on the way out the door, Butler drafts Flowers, Tavaris Tillman and Corey Moore as a going away present. The Bills haven't won since.

42
by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 6:02pm

Re #22

Maybrew, if you think the Browns stank in 2000, try Miami. They had 6 picks, (No #1 and 1 pick in rounds 2-7).

Their 2nd rounder, Todd Wade, starts at RT for the Texans. Every other player they drafted in 2000 IS OUT OF THE LEAGUE. In fact, the player from those remaining 5 picks I've even heard of is Arturo Freeman, who was last seen failing to secure a roster spot in such legendary secondaries as St Louis and Green Bay.

For the record:

Rd 2 Todd Wade T Mississippi
Rd 3 Ben Kelly DB Colorado
Rd 4 Deon Dyer RB North Carolina
Rd 5 Arturo Freeman DB South Carolina
Rd 6 Ernest Grant DT Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Rd 7 Jeff Harris DB Georgia.

Wade and Freeman aside, did any of the others even make it through training camp?

Players drafted in 2000o should be in the prime of their careers, the backbone of a franchise.

Miami had 6 picks, only one remains in the league, and even he plays for someone else.

Does this set a one year record for draft ineptitude?

43
by J (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 6:11pm

Nice article.

I am trying to rate the Steelers draft using a rating system based on expectations of the draft position vs. actual production.

It is still in the beginning stages, but would love to hear comments as to better my system.

I am thinking about adding a positional draft expectation...seeing how a QB taken in round 5 would have different expectations than a K taken in round 5.

Anyways, heres the link...
http://www.geocities.com/steelersalarycap/draft.htm

The explanation is poor, the example should be clearer.

44
by Moses (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 6:13pm

Carmazzi damaged his shoulder and that ended his career before it began. Hard to proclaim

45
by Moses (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 6:14pm

Carmazzi damaged his shoulder and that ended his career before it began. Hard to proclaim 'bust' when there wasn't a chance. You're too kind to Canidate, if it weren't for Dayne he'd be the biggest bust. As it was, he was definately the biggest reach.

Warrick ran a very pedestrian 4.55 or so on a basketball court. I put my money on bust - lack of character, lack of talent, lack of size. I think you're way over-rating Burress to the detriment of Coles. For a guy his size, Burress has a tremendous difficulty in actually coming down with the ball with regularity.

I think Bubba Franks was a bust, and that the whole TE crop failed. However, the Packers at least made up for it with Chad Clifton who I think is the best lineman in that draft.

I like Howard the best because he's a complete DE. Unlike the predominantly one-dimensional sack artists preferred in the article, Howard can play the run very well, too. Sadly Corey Simon has been the best part-time, over-rated, single-gap DT of his draft due to the paucity of talent in his draft. In a good draft, like 2001, he'd be lucky to come in 4th, and that'd be over-rating him due to his pass-rush.

At linebacker, how could you leave Rob Morris (BYU) off the list? Talk about a non-difference maker. Without doing a detailed analysis, I suspect virtually every Day 1 pick was a better linebacker than Morris.

Can't quibble with the DBs. Looks spot on.

(Ah, that's what 'double quotes' meant. I thought it meant back-to-back...)

46
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 6:27pm

I think Bubba Franks was a bust, and that the whole TE crop failed.

Good point. Franks is both the best TE from the 2000 draft and the biggest bust among TEs from the 2000 draft.

47
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 6:33pm

RE 39

Yea, now with that retractable turf you guys have all it will take is one pissed off fan to turn his chip shot into a 90 yd FG attempt.

48
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 6:39pm

RE 45&46

I wouldn't classify him as a true 'bust' but more along the lines of a ''disapointment''. He blocks well enough, and is a moderate threat insdie the 20 so...

have to agree with you aboput Clifton though, thought that was our best pick up that year.

49
by FantasyStooge (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 7:54pm

Re 43: J that is an awesome feat! Take a bow, you've earned it.

50
by SlantNGo (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 7:57pm

Rackers had all sorts of problems in Cincy because of the playing surface and his mentality. He had some big misses early on, and the Cincy fans had enough of him. Meanwhile, Graham isn't struggling because he is playing on FieldTurf, which got installed at Paul Brown Stadium two seasons ago, and he is also more accurate than Rackers IMO.

And Rackers was actually cut from the Bengals due to injury. He tweaked something in a preseason game but was still able to kick. I don't think the Bengals felt he was 100% though, so they cut him and brought in Graham right before the season opener.

51
by JasonK (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 8:03pm

re: DTs

I, for one, would argue that Griffin pretty clearly surpasses Simon as the best DT of his draft class.

52
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 8:16pm

Hovan provides a perfect example of the difference coaching makes. When George O'Leary was on the Vikings defensive staff, Hovan had some value, and one year, in fact, he played at a pro-bowl level (go read Paul Zimmerman's all-pro selections from 2002). Once Cottrell arrived as defensive coordinator, however, Hovan's performance disintergrated, to the point where he didn't even dress for about the last six games of 2004. Hovan then went to Tampa, and under Monte Kiffin, Hovan once again became a useful contributor.

As somebody who follows the Vikings, the best thing about the ownership change is to have a budget for a coaching staff that doesn't resemble what is allotted to manage the typical Chuck E. Cheese.

53
by Nathan (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 8:42pm

J:

Now do every other team, we're all waiting :)

54
by Kal (not verified) :: Fri, 04/07/2006 - 9:42pm

I just like seeing the phrase 'but the Lions, being the Lions' in multiple articles. Poor, poor MDS.

You realize, of course, that Harrington is now absolutely due to kick massive butt somewhere else, right?

55
by RCH (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 12:08am

This is an excellent discussion of the draft. Draft reviews such as this and my own analysis have convinced me that regularly trading down for additional picks is the best strategy to employ on draft day.

Most of us are probably familiar with the draft value chart employed by NFL teams. (It assigns a point value to each pick. Teams use it as a frame of reference when swapping picks.) An interesting excercise is to find some pick combinations that are theoretically equivalent and then figure out for a given year which side of the deal you would rather have. For example, in one version of the chart floating around the Internet, the 3rd pick (2200 points) is roughly equivalent to the 13th and 15th picks (1150 and 1050 points).

In 2000 Chris Samuels was the 3rd pick. John Abraham was 13th and Delta O'Neal was 15th. In 2001 Gerard Warren was 3rd, while Marcus Stroud and Rod Gardner were 13 and 15. Whenever I do this I find that the multiple picks seem to work out better.

56
by Mike (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 12:08am

Re: 42

If I remember right, Dyer made a few rosters as a (cruddy) fullback and succeeded as one of the lowest rated players in Madden 2001-2003.

57
by Bobman (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 2:31am

Darth G and Moses, you are ignoring the fact that Rob Morris provided the crucial role of media punching bag. Yes, I am kidding, but I'd say that if he was a 3rd rounder, he was a good pick. Whereas a bunch of these guys are no longer wearing helmets on Sundays.

His first year was injuries, and the next 3 or so were pretty good, but not quite good enough. When Dungy came to town (or more to the point, when Vic Fangio left), Rob actually seemed to bloom from somebody who produced like a 5th rounder to a 2nd/3rd rounder. A LOT of tackles all of a sudden. Maybe he was just overshadowed by the stellar Mike Pete and Marcus W, both drafted later, and both moving on to greener pastures.

Maybe it was the media's constant picking at him like a scab. I don't think he was that bad. Not what anybody wanted, true, but no Ron Dayne!

I was surprised and relieved when nobody picked him up last offseason. He's shown he's a solid, team-first guy playing well on special teams and backing up when called on to do so. That vet leadership people claim to want. They got it at a bargain price last year, which maybe makes up for the big rookie contract 5 years before. IMHO.

Certainly a better first day Colts pick than, Trev Alberts, more productive that collegiate DT/God Steve Emtman. Sort of on par with Larry Triplett (whom I watched lots in college and was SURE he was a 1st rounder--I was thrilled he stayed in Seattle for his senior year and even more so when he fell to Indy in round 2. He was always pretty good there, but not quite what was hoped for. If their draft positions were reversed, how would you feel about Triplett and Morris?)

58
by Sean (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 4:51am

Re 55:

Here is how the #4 pick versus the #15/22 has panned out through the years, beginning in 1993 (I use those particular picks because of the assorted rumblings that the Broncos are looking to move up to #4, as their picks match up almost perfectly for such a jump):

'93: Marvin Jones vs. Wayne Simmons/Darrien Gordon
'94: Willie McGinest vs. Wayne Gandy/Rob Frederickson
'95: Michael Westbrook vs. Ellis Johnson/Tyrone Poole
'96: Jonathan Ogden vs. John Mobley/Marcus Jones
'97: Peter Boulware vs. Yatil Green/David LaFleur
'98: Charles Woodson vs. Anthony Simmons/Tebucky Jones
'99: Edgerrin James vs. Anthony McFarland/Lamar King
'00: Peter Warrick vs. Deltha O'Neal/Chris McIntosh
'01: Justin Smith vs. Rod Gardner/Will Allen
'02: Mike Williams vs. Albert Haynesworth/Bryan Thomas
'03: Dewayne Robertson vs. Jerome McDougle/Rex Grossman
'04 Philip Rivers vs. Michael Clayton/JP Losman
'05: Cedric Benson vs. Derrick Johnson/Mark Clayton

By my unofficial count, that would be a combined 20 Pro Bowl appearances by the #4 overall draft picks and 2 Pro Bowl appearances by any member of the 15/22 combo, both of those appearances being by Deltha O' Neal, who isn't the first player who comes to mind when discussing elite corners.

Stop the trade down madness.

59
by RCH (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 9:53am

Sean,

No doubt that if you win big on the 4th pick you've hit a major homerun. But most of those pro bowls that you cite are concentrated in a few guys, and I don't hear much pro bowl talk for any of the guys taken after '99. For the money that you pay the 4th pick I'd say that you should expect a pro bowl type player and (top of head) only 5 of the 13 have delivered (38%).

I would argue that you'd rather have had the 4th player chosen in 5 cases (McGinest, Ogden, Boulware, Woodson, James) and not the 4th player in 5 cases (Westbrook, Warrick, Mike Williams, Robertson, Benson), with Marvin Jones, Justin Smith and Rivers being debatable.

So I may have overstated the case in my original post but I think that there is a case.

60
by CA (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 10:56am

By my unofficial count, that would be a combined 20 Pro Bowl appearances by the #4 overall draft picks and 2 Pro Bowl appearances by any member of the 15/22 combo, both of those appearances being by Deltha O’ Neal, who isn’t the first player who comes to mind when discussing elite corners.

Charles Woodson isn't the first player who comes to mind when discussing elite corners either (unless you receive all of your football knowledge from SportsCenter and stopped watching even that 5 years ago), yet he's been to 4 Pro Bowls, largely on the strength of his Heisman hype. I understand the point you are trying to make, but number of Pro Bowl appearance is such a poor way of evaluating performance that I think it's a totally irrelevant comparison.

61
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 11:06am

Keith Cockrell (#37 )--
Doesn’t every fan of the other 31 teams REALLY wish that Brady was still a backup QB?
To an extent. Many people like the story of the backup QB who comes in when the starter is injured, and leads his team to a championship. If nothing else, it gives hope for their team.

Of course, by now I suspect those fans-of-other-teams who liked the story, have tired of Brady by now.
And who knows, under some coach who was more impressed with reputation or draft order, he might still be. ‘’ some mute Milton'’ and all that.
Maybe not. But I don't think Brady could have had the same success as he has enjoyed, had things gone differently.

Based on the plethora of books on the subject, we know that Bill Belichick and Charlie Weiss had begun to sour on Bledsoe as the starter by 2001, and that Dick Rehbein had convinced them that Brady had the potential to be good. We also know that a younger Belichick had run local legend Bernie Kosar out of Cleveland, to make way for Belichick's handpicked successor (Todd Philcox, who was no Brady).

So what would have happened, had Mo Lewis not simplified the quarterback question for the Patriots in week 3 of the 2001 season? It's easy to forget that Bledsoe was the franchise quarterback, possessed of great physical talent, and who had led the team to the Superbowl. And the Brady of 2001 was not the polished veteran of today.

A quick glance at the 2001 schedule, shows that the Patriots had two overtime wins under Brady (San Diego, at Buffalo), and one horrible four-pick performance leading to a loss (at Denver). So, if we reverse those outcomes as the hypothetical ''Bledsoe effect,'' then the Patriots go 10-6, get no bye week, and have to travel to Oakland for the divisional playoff (maybe; the Jets also went 10-6 that year, and I have no idea how the tiebreakers would have shaken out). Considering the series of fortunate events it took for them to win three postseason games that year, I doubt that they'd get four.

That leaves the Patriots in 2002, with a playoff appearance but no title, and Belichick not entirely thrilled with his starting QB. It's reasonable to assume that Belichick would have run Beldsoe out of town in the offseason (like he was inclined to do), even without Brady entrenched as the Superbowl-winning golden boy. But in that scenario, Brady would have missed having started most of a season, with all the first-team practice and coaching that comes with it. Brady was a better passer in 2002 than in 2001 for having had that experience, and it's had a bootstrapping effect on his career since.

The Patriots had a tough year in 2002; without the shining halo of the 2001 title, Belichick would have been much more vulnerable to the criticisms of people like Ron Borges (who can be dismissed as a crank on the subject now).

Since 2003 started off poorly as well, after another vintage Belichick personnel decision (cutting Lawyer Milloy), and with Brady developmentally a year behind what he was in actual events, Belichick's New England run might have ended as did his Cleveland run, the current Patriot dynasty ended before it began, with Brady dismissed as an instant has-been, and Belichick crowned as the NFL's highest example of the Peter Principle.

Ain't alternative history fun?

62
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 11:15am

The thing I can't help wondering is: what are all you guys gonna say if Dayne runs for 1500 yards for Denver this year? :->

#59: You are neglecting upside. Greater risk, of course, but that's the price for greater potential benefit. Really, the difference between this Broncos team and the one that won those Super Bowls is about a half-Elway. And mostly, that kind of talent is in the top ten of the draft. Usually.

I wonder if the Broncos might be interested in Vernon Davis...

63
by Bjorn (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 11:52am

They'd better be.

64
by Kal (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 12:42pm

#62: the same thing we say whenever any okay RB runs well in Denver: it's the Denver system that makes random RBs run well. I'm not saying that they're bad RBs - Droughns isn't a bad guy, and neither is Portis - but they are not the mighty backs that their stats in Denver would indicate.

What was the line? Aaron's Grandmother could run for a thousand yards behind the Denver line?

65
by Yellowknifer (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 1:45pm

MDS

While Urlacher is a great linebacker, I personally feel Bulluck is the better player. Heck, I think he's been the best in the league for the past 3 years or so. The guy is simply all over the field, generally racks up a lot more tackles than most MLB's and makes tonnes of big plays as well. I don't really even think it's debatable although I'm sure a number of people would disagree. Mostly I attribute the disagreement to media hype and homerism though. :)

66
by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 4:22pm

Re: 40 ... touchbacks for Rackers ... quite simply a ball travels further on a hot, humid day than on a cold one.

When you break it down he's had 30 of his 43 TBs in Arizona over the last 3-years, plus another 7 in Mexico City last year. Dec 24th it was still 75degrees, while Cincinnati was 51degs.

That also accounts for why Rackers attempts more long field goals than Janikowski. 16 attempts in Arizona, only 5 in Cincinnati.

All in all I'm not convinced he's had a better career than Seabass (but perhaps there's more factors like wind, cold to take into account into Cinci). However if Seabass kicks like last year, I doubt he'll last through 2006.

BBS :)

67
by pawnking (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 4:59pm

I recall that, as a fan of Alexander's in college, I was a little surprised that people were hyping Ron Dayne over him. True, Dayne had just won the Heisman, but since when did that predict pro football success? Alexander absolutely tore up a much better conference, showing himself a man amongst boys against the tough, tough SEC defenses.

However, as much as it pains me, I cannot consider Alexander a better pro to date than Jamal Lewis, who had a fantastic career until his legal issues brought him down a bit, and even then he ran for almost 1,000 yards last year, and over 1,000 the year before.

I just find it impossible to believe that a player who ran for over 2,000 yards in one year might not be considered the best RB in his draft. Looking at his stats, we see to date he's had 6,669 yds, another 1,250 receiving, and 38 TDs, and pretty much carried the Ravens

68
by pawnking (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 5:02pm

recall that, as a fan of Alexander's in college, I was a little surprised that people were hyping Ron Dayne over him. True, Dayne had just won the Heisman, but since when did that predict pro football success? Alexander absolutely tore up a much better conference, showing himself a man amongst boys against the tough, tough SEC defenses.

However, as much as it pains me, I cannot consider Alexander a better pro to date than Jamal Lewis, who had a fantastic career until his legal issues brought him down a bit, and even then he ran for almost 1,000 yards last year, and over 1,000 the year before.

I just find it impossible to believe that a player who ran for over 2,000 yards in one year might not be considered the best RB in his draft. Looking at his stats, we see to date he's had 6,669 yds, another 1,250 receiving, and 38 TDs, and pretty much carried the Ravens 'offense' most of his career.

Alexander (like I said I'm a huge SA fan) does have better stats, with 7,817 yards and of course his 100 TDs, but then again he's had more help around him. While you can argue he's the best player in the draft at RB, I still think Lewis deserves at least a 1A mention, if not an arguement that he's the better overall back. If you consider 2005 and 2006 down years due to his *ahem* off the field problems, well, he might very well come back and pass SA in all categories but TDs before their respective careers are done.

69
by CA (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 5:59pm

Re: 67

Alexander absolutely tore up a much better conference

What a stupid and false thing to write. In 1999, the Big Ten produced four 10 win teams (the SEC had two), all of which were ranked in the top 11 in the final polls (again, the SEC had two top 11 teams). Big Ten teams went 5-2 in bowl games after that season (the SEC went 3-4), including 2-1 against the SEC (Michigan beat Alabama, Michigan State beat Florida, and Purdue lost to Georgia in overtime). The Big Ten was a far better conference then the SEC that year. I agree that Dayne never looked like a strong NFL prospect and Alexander always did, but Dayne is the one who tore it up in a much better conference.

70
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 9:00pm

Re: 40 … touchbacks for Rackers … quite simply a ball travels further on a hot, humid day than on a cold one.

You mean on a hot dry day. Humidity makes balls travel shorter, not farther.

But that's not entirely the answer, either. He was kicking for Arizona in 2003, and his touchback percentage was only 18% then. That's a little higher than it ever had been his entire career, but still almost a factor of two below his last two years.

I don't buy the 'Arizona is just different' explanation.

71
by JRM (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 10:44pm

What a stupid and false thing to write.

Boo.

Can't we be more civil than that?

72
by Dan (not verified) :: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 11:40pm

#39

Cincinnati just changed from natural grass to one of the rubber based FieldTurfs before the 2004 season. Before that, when Rackers kicked for the Bengals, they had natural grass which I can recall being quite chewed up. That is why Shayne Graham didn't have many problems and Rackers did.

73
by CA (not verified) :: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 12:03am

Re: 71

You're right. That was a little harsh on my part. I wasn't going to let someone get away with making such a strongly worded statement that couldn't be further from the truth, especially since it went to the heart of his argument, but I should have been nicer in correcting the record. In my defense, Big Ten fans like myself are a little sensitive to the undeserved superiority complexes of SEC fans. Sometimes the SEC is better, and sometimes the Big Ten is better. 1999 happened to be a year in which the Big Ten was way better, as it was a down year for the SEC and an up year for the Big Ten.

74
by Tom (not verified) :: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 3:06am

MDS:
I think you flubbed the 'Best Value DT' rating; Boone was a 7th round pick of the Lions, and was released during training camp, so he provided the team that drafted him with almost no value. Granted, he's since become a good player, but I would instead nominate Robaire Smith, taken by the Titans with the pick after Brady, as a better choice. Granted, he moved to the Texans via free agency, but he provided the team that drafted him with substantially greater value than one would expect from a 6th round pick. Note, though, that this is more a methodological point than a substantive one, and I heartily commend you for undertaking this analysis.

75
by Derek (not verified) :: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 10:12am

#73,
As a Big Ten fan, I certainly understand. You can only hear about the superior team speed/athletic ability/running backs/fill in the blank of the SEC so many times before it does something to you.

76
by JRM (not verified) :: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 12:58pm

The SEC is usually a better top-to-bottom conference than the Pac-10.

I was going to write something comparing Wisconsin's non-conference schedule (which is usually on the weak side) to Alabama's...but Bama had a weak non-conference schedule in 1999 as well.

77
by DD (not verified) :: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 4:53pm

#61:
Starshatter, I could not disagree more with your assessment that Bledsoe would have gone 10-6 for the Patriots. He was 5-11 the year before and stunk up the first two games of the year before Mo Lewis saved our franchise. No offense to you or to Bledsoe, but 5-11 seems more likely than 10-6. No playoffs, nothing!
Brady had team leaders like Milloy on defense and Woody on offense believing in him over Bledsoe almost before he even took over for Bledsoe. Brady has that type of effect on people around him, they trust him as one of them. Bledsoe, on the other hand, was the untouchable golden boy.
I love what Bledsoe did to bring life to the franchise early on, but the NFL has caught up with him and he is just not a superbowl Q.B.

78
by Matt (not verified) :: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 7:44pm

Re: #43

I wish there was more explaining why, for example, Kris Farris is a 1 and Jeremy Staat is a 0.

It also seems (to me) like it would be easier to read if you measured expectations and actual output along the same numbering system. I.e. instead of starting everyone at a 5, give everyone a rank based on whether they're out of football (a 0), an all pro (10), an every day starter (5), or somewhere in between.

Then write a translation between those 11 ranks and the various draft choices: e.g. a top five pick is supposed to be an all pro (10); a third rounder is supposed to be an every day starter (5); a 7th rounder is not expected to make the team (0, or maybe a 1 would be better with 0 for undrafteds?).

I think that would be easier to follow and could give you the same effect. For example, by giving a Plaxico Burress a 3, you're saying that he performed two places below where expected. I.e. he was expected to be a regular pro bowler and was actually only an impact starter. Under my suggestion, he would have been expected to be a 9 but has actually been a 7. The same 2 off, but I think easier to understand.

It also seems like this method consistently under rates. I.e. the Steelers' best draft was a 4.71 (below the expected 5). Yet they won the super bowl last year -- one would think that they had above average drafts rather than below average drafts.

Anyway, thanks for posting that. It's interesting.

79
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 8:13pm

DD (#77 )--

You're right that 10-6 was a stretch on my part -- 9-7 was more likely. The second Jets game showcased a vintage Brady late-game comeback. But most of the rest of the wins, were large enough that the difference between Brady and Bledsoe wouldn't have affected the final outcome.

Don't forget that there were many new-and-improved players on the 2001 Patriots, not only Brady. To name a few: Matt Light, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, David Patten, Antowain Smith. No, these aren't all Hall of Fame candidates, but they are clear improvements over what the 5-11 Patriots of the 2000 season had.

However, even if the 2001 Patriots would have gone 5-11 under Bledsoe, that does not change the reat of my analysis: without all that time starting, Brady would not have been as polished in subsequent years, and without the 2001 championship, Belichick would have been vulnerable (to either loss of his personnel-management authority, or outright dismissal) for his unorthodox personnel decisions.

80
by bengt (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 9:29am

#55:

A big advantage of having a top draft pick is not recognized here: the chance to almost certainly be able to draft to your needs. At the lower positions you would probably be forced to draft the BPA, irrespective of whether he closes the gap you would most urgently like to close with your top pick.

Without looking I would guess that the draft in which the Steelers took Ben Roethlisberger at 13 proves your point - but only because Ben was a BPA that far exceeded expectations. However, had the Steelers been in dire need of a new franchise QB, they most certainly would have tried to move further up in the draft order, because at 13 they could have been forced to 'reach'.

But maybe this is just an unsubstantiated opinion.

#78:

With your method, Matt, the best drafts of all time would have been entirely achieved by expansion teams with four first round picks. If you want to compare different drafts, you need to normalize the different rounds; exactly what J is doing by starting with a value of 5 (corresponding to 'meets expectations wrt round drafted in').

81
by yep (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 10:07am

re: #20

The decision to draft Droughns (who had an injury history coming out of college) wasn't made by Matt Millen, it was made by Bobby Ross. But cutting him after two injury and attitude filled, unproductive seasons is all Millen's fault. Ok, sure.

Don't bust the balls of the Dolphins, who had him on their practice roster and let him go, bust Millen's balls for not recognizing that the guy could walk in to Denver and run for 1000 yards.

McDougle was also a Bobby Ross pick, and also a reach. When he came into free agency, his agent's first offer with the Lions was $5 million per year. Laughably bad, so Millen made the good decision (since he's now fighting for a roster spot with the Jaguars) to let him go. But his failure is Millen's fault, according to you.

Boone wasn't cut flat out by the Lions, he spent most of the 2000 season on the Practice Squad before being claimed by the Bears. He didn't crack their starting lineup until 2003, and to date hasn't proved to be anything special. The Bears as a staff thought they could develop him into a servicable starter, the Lions did not. It was a seventh round pick. You're busting MM's balls over a seventh round pick. Seriously.

You vastly underestimate how bad this team was when Millen took it over. From a personnel standpoint, it is better than it was in 2001, even if the attitude of most of the team is still terrible. Everything is Millen's fault according to you, which is crap, quite frankly. Players have to play. Coaches have to coach. Millen makes bad decisions, but he isn't the anti-Christ.

82
by yep (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 10:24am

One more thing.

Are articles of this type a review of the player's performance within the context of how and where they are drafted, or a review of how the player has performed subsequent to the draft?

Who then is responsible for the Bears picks because there was a regime change between then and now? The Lions? The Browns? The Cowboys? The Bills? If a player being drafted fits one scheme, but doesn't fit the scheme of the next regime, and then leaves and thrives in another scheme, why then is the original team downgraded for taking, or cutting, that player in the first place when it was the best decision at the time?

83
by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 12:08pm

Well, I don't really know quite how to respond to your assertion that I criticized Millen for anything related to Stockar McDougle, since anyone reading this can clearly see that I didn't. Ultimately, you're on the record as saying Millen has done a good job running the Lions, and I'm on the record as saying he's done a bad job. I'll let others judge who's right.

84
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 12:33pm

Re #80- isn't that a handicap of having a top pick? You're often forced to take a player that fits into a hole, rather than the best available talent. Concievably you would end up with an inferior value taking the best available DT, say, at #5 vs. the best available player at #15. That's why I like the Texans this year taking Bush. RB is def not a need area (like line is), but they've got the first pick and they'll be damned if they're not going to come away with the best player in that spot.

85
by HLF (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 1:32pm

Yep, Millen took over a 9-7 team, and has yet to approach that record. It's easy and common to say it was a 9-7 team on the decline, but it's based on wishful thinking more than anything. I'm sure everytime you predict a team's decline in advance they meet your expectations, hence all the money you win in Vegas. Regardless, if they were on the decline, were they naturally going to decline to 2-14? Followed by 3-13? Then 4-12? No one in the modern history of the NFL (to my knowledge) has a thoroughly destroyed a franchise (even a laughable one) -- and this in an era designed and rigged to try to keep one team from being consistently horrible.

I say Millen's incompetence is not merely complete, but historical. (And, for the Lions, that's a high bar to meet.)

Hopeless Lions' Fan,
Seattle

86
by HLF (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 1:34pm

#81, Millen took over a 9-7 team that was one ridiculous Eddinger 54 yard field goal into the wind (he made it) from the playoffs.

Maybe MDS isn't the one ''vastly underestimating'' the calibur of the team Millen was given to manage.

87
by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 2:41pm

Have to ask that if Matt Millen isn't responsible for the Lions who is?

Doesn't the GM get to employ the coach? And the coach is the person who sorts out the players. Isn't the GM the person who does the drafting, trading, negotiating with agents? If not it must be the coach ... who was employed by ... hmmm

Who on earth told him it was a good idea to draft 3 WRs with #1 picks over the past 3 years. Perhaps he thinks FordField hosts Arena football.

Ok so there is the next level up, as to who employs the GM. But essentially MM has had 4 or 5-years to get the team heading towards respectability. It's not really happening is it?

BBS :)

88
by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 3:02pm

HLF, you're conflating the two Eddinger heartbreak field goals. The one into the wind was the one when Mornhinweg took the wind in overtime (yep, do you think that was a wise move?). The one that cost the Lions a spot in the playoffs was in the dome.

But your point is good and touches on the other thing I don't understand about yep and his fellow Millen apologists. What Lions team are they talking about when they say he took over such a talentless and declining team? The one that had guys like Reuben Droughns and Jeff Hartings and Johnnie Morton? The guys Millen shipped out so he could throw much larger sums of money at inferior players like Olandis Gary and Damien Woody and Az Hakim?

BBS, yep isn't disputing that Millen is responsible for the Lions. He's claiming here, and has claimed in other threads at other times, that Millen has done a great job running the Lions.

89
by HLF (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 3:29pm

MDS, Thanks for reminding me - I did have those two kicks conflated. Nonetheless, it was a borderline playoff team (and had been for some time), not a terrible team or an embarrassment as the teams Millen has molded have been.

I was frustrated forever watching my Lions, and occasionally disgusted (and often amazed, both good and bad), but I've never been as completely disinterested in a bunch of losers as Millen's made me.

I suppose Millen's tenure over the Lions, though, has been the exception which mars his otherwise excellent career as a GM, right? I mean, it's not like someone continues to employ someone so historically inept without at least his previous GM successes to draw hope from, is it??

90
by witless chum (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 4:02pm

The name which damns Millen wasn't even brought up. Bill Schroeder. As a starting wide reciever. Seriously. Possibly after watching some tape.

I'll always be most uncomprhending of why Charlie Batch was sent packing when two unproven youngsters (Mike McMahon and Joey) were the options at quarterback. Plus he hired the man who started Ty Detmer in the 6 interception special against Cleveland.

91
by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 4:29pm

Hey, it was seven interceptions thrown by Detmer. But you do raise a good point, witless chum. Charlie Batch is no superstar, but he was probably a better fit for the Lions than anyone they've had since. Yet another argument that the Lions should have just tried to beef up the roster that went 9-7, not radically overhaul everything.

92
by Mark (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 6:47pm

HLF: Another point about the Edinger 54 yard field goal in the dome - technically, it's not accurate to say that the Lions were ''one ridiculous Eddinger 54 yard field goal . . . from the playoffs.'' The Bears won that game 23-20. Had Edinger missed, the game would have gone to overtime, where the Lions obviously still could have lost.

And I wholeheartedly approve of the job Millen has done with the Lions. Of course, I'm a rabid Bears fan, so my interests don't exactly align with those of Lions fans. Seriously, how can any Lions fan be happy with the job Millen has done? Maybe members of the Flat Earth Society or Darren Daulton might think Millen has been successful, but it seems to me that no reasonable person could really believe that Millen has done a good job.

93
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 7:06pm

Wait, wait, where does Darren Daulton come into play here? There's some inside joke I'm not getting, and it's regarding a player I liked back when baseball didn't suck for me.

94
by Mark (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 7:27pm

Darren Daulton has been getting a lot of publicity lately for his extremely unconventional (to put it mildly) beliefs. There was a lengthy feature on him last night on SportsCenter about his beliefs, which concern something he calls metaphysics. He mentioned skipping through time and something called astral travel, both of which he claims to have done. He also believes that the world will end on December 21, 2012, but that those who are ready will be able to go to some other plane of existence. Or something like that. I could be wrong about the date, but then again, so could he.

95
by Luz (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 7:48pm

RE #28 (MDS)

i'm confused by your justification for burress as the steelers #1 wr.

ward has had a higher dvoa and dpar most years:

2005
burress: 7.4 -8.1%
ward: 30.4 25.4%

2004
burress: 20.5 36.8%
ward: 32.9 30.4%

2003
burress: 5.0 -9.1%
ward: 26.8 10.6%

2002
burress: 29.1 15.1%
ward: 36.1 19.4%

2001
burress: 19.7 9.3%
ward: 16.6 2.5%

2000
burress: -7.3 -31.7%
ward: 16.5 18.2%

as you cite burress had a higher dpar and dvoa in 2001. he also had a higher dvoa in 2004. however, ward has never had a negative dvoa which, even discounting burress' rookie year, burress has had two. in every other year ward has had the higher dvoa and dpar.

so, i'm left back at my original question, how do you justify burress as the steelers #1 WR?

96
by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 8:44pm

Luz, you asked, 'when was plax the steelers #1 WR?' and I answered, 2001. I didn't say Burress was always the Steelers' No. 1, I said he had been in the past. Overall, no question, Ward has been the better player.

97
by andy (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 10:01pm

I suppose this raises the question, does the

98
by andy (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 10:09pm

Somehow, after seeing it a hundred times and doing it once myself, I still forget the quotes.

Anyway, what determines '#1' status? Is it just the stats for that year? When FO does a team's DVOA against #X receivers (like we say in the playoff previews), does it use the current year's numbers only? Would Burress have been the #1 Steelers WR in 2001 for such calculations, even though Ward was '#1' in every other year they were together?

99
by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 11:04pm

Biggest bust: With only Franks and West Virginia’s Anthony Becht (picked by the Jets with their fourth and final first-round pick, No. 27 overall) going in the first round, there aren’t a lot of busts to choose from. It was a mediocre crop of tight ends, but no individual player earned the bust label.

Becht was the biggest bust.

Biggest bust: Erik Flowers of Arizona State, taken at No. 26 overall by the Bills. It’s hard to imagine what the Bills were thinking when they took Flowers that high, as he didn’t appear in any first-round projections. He had four sacks with the Bills, who released him after two years.

Courtney Brown was a bigger bust. He was drafted #1 overall and given a huge contract, and he did very little for the Browns. He spent a lot of time on IR. That was his chief accomplishment.

100
by warnpeace14 (not verified) :: Tue, 04/11/2006 - 9:55am

Mike Brown has been a stud for Chicago, as he was for Nebraska. The puzzling thing to me is that he went 39th (lower than I expected) and even when he came off the board, Mel had him listed as the 3rd-best safery among those remaining. After the pick Mel thought it was a decent pick and didn't rag on them for reaching or anything but I was curious... Can anybody tell me what the knock on him was at the time? I'm guessing concerns about his coverage ability?

101
by bengt (not verified) :: Tue, 04/11/2006 - 10:10am

#84:

Yes, this is were my theory fails the reality check: At one of the top draft spots, you can always pick the best player in a position of need. But only in theory can you then say ''Listen, you are one hell of a placekicker, and we wanted to make absolutely sure we got you and therefore picked you #3 overall. But quite likely we could as well have gotten you in round three, and may we please ask you to sign this contract which pays you the rookie minimum for a round three draftee''. Because this will never happen, teams are basically forced to draft players whose expected value fits with the salary they will have to pay them anyway.

102
by Mark (not verified) :: Tue, 04/11/2006 - 11:24am

#100:

My recollection is that Mike Brown was viewed as slightly undersized and was not an outstanding athlete based on 40 time, vertical jump and other combine workouts. While he is not an athletic freak, he is very smart and has great instincts.

It always amuses me when a player whose measurables are not quite ideal, but who is tough and makes plays all over the field because he is smart and instinctive, gets drafted after a workout warrior at the same position who is clueless and often out of position. A good example of someone who was undersized and therefore wasn't a first round pick (but obviously should have been) is Mike Singletary. Before the draft in 1981, I remember reading about how in college he was such a ferocious tackling machine that he broke the helmets of 31 opposing players. After reading that, I didn't care that he was slightly undersized, and I was ecstatic when the Bears drafted him in the second round.

103
by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 04/11/2006 - 11:52am

RE: # 99

Brown, though, has done okay with the Broncos. Flowers is out of the league entirely.

104
by Larry (not verified) :: Tue, 04/11/2006 - 3:49pm

Seems that there is an oversite (RESPECT US!! j/k) in not mentioning Seattle's Darrell Jackson among the best WRs from the 2000 draft. His career yardage is 5,489 with 37 TDs (12 more than Coles and 8 more than Burress), plus was taken after Coles.

105
by David Lynch (not verified) :: Tue, 04/11/2006 - 3:52pm

I was under the impression katzenmoyer had neck surgery first year and reinjured his neck the next. You don't think you were a little hard on him? From what I saw down here in GA he looked pretty good.

106
by DR U (not verified) :: Tue, 04/11/2006 - 10:11pm

It was interesting to see the 2000 NFL Draft reviewed. It just goes to show that how high one gets drafted does not determine how good of a player they are or will be. Nice Post!

DR U

107
by J.foster (not verified) :: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 7:49am

Oaklands first-round pick, Sebastian Janikowski of Florida State, isn’t nearly as good a kicker as Cincinnati’s sixth-round pick, Neil Rackers of Illinois.

Yup, that sure is true, except for the fact that it isn't. Let us look at some simple career stats shall we?

Janikowski:78.4% career Field goals made//
Rackers:76.7% career Field goals made

WOW! Rackers sure is better then Janikowski! It's obvious. After all, even though he kicked 2% less accurately, he kicked alot more field goals. Right?

Janikowski:138/176 Field Goals//
Rackers:115/150 Field Goals

Okay, well, I bet Rackers must of scored a whole bunch more points. After all, Janikowski isn't nearly as good as him.

Janikowski:641 Carrer points scored//
Rackers:475 Carreer Points scored

yeah...Well, Maybe Janikowski has scored more points, But Rackers has scored more from the crucial 30-39 Money zone:

Janikowski:40/45(.889)//
Rackers:32/44(.727)

Yup. Rackers. The better kicker by far.No contest.

108
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 10:57am

Yup, that sure is true, except for the fact that it isn’t. Let us look at some simple career stats shall we?

1) If all kickers did was kick field goals, your post would make sense.

2) Or if all field goals were created equally. I wonder why you didn't use 40-49 yard field goals. Oh yeah, because they don't support your point.

3) Or if you ignore the fact that Rackers became Ultra-Neo Mega Rackers when he moved to Arizona (better footing, apparently), and on his pace, will demolish Janikowski's numbers in one more year. Janikowski, however, has been with the same team the entire time, and if anything, is trending downward.

('Money Zone'? When did 30-39 yard field goals become more important than 40-49 yard field goals? The only teams that rely on 30-39 yard field goals are those who already have strong offenses. Who don't need a good kicker anyway.)

109
by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 2:17pm

MDS - I'd just like to

110
by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 5:56pm

It's interesting to look at the 2000 and 2001 drafts to see how two teams with 3+ first round picks went about using those picks. Every year around draft time, I go ahead and post how an idealized BPA draft would go for any given team, using various draft boards and simply picking the best player available at the time that the particular team was up to bat. The Jets essentially took that very approach, and unsurprisingly, they hit on most of their picks. The Jets took Shaun Ellis at 12, John Abraham at 13, Chad Pennington at 18, Anthony Becht at 27, and then in the third round they capped off their first day by taking Laverneus Coles at pick 78. Looking at Joel Buschbaum's player rankings for that year, the picks match up very closely with where those players were projected to go. Shaun Ellis was the 11th best prospect, and the top player on the board when the Jets were picking. According to the board, Julian Peterson should have been taken over John Abraham (and that would have worked out just as well), as Peterson was the 12th best prospect, while Abraham was the 19th best. Chad Pennington was the 16th rated prospect. Anthony Becht was the 25th rated prospect. Laverneus Coles was considered the 60th best prospect and the Jets took him at 78. Yes, the Jets had certain needs that matched up, but if you look at the players that the Jets were associated with in mock drafts, you see a lot of Bubba Franks, Chris Hovan, Sylvester Morris, Stockar McDougle, so on and so forth.

The next year the Rams had 3 first round picks and they went into the draft with a clear agenda- they were going to fix their defense. So they took Damione Lewis at 12, Adam Archuleta at 20, and Ryan Pickett at 29. Here's how the Huddle Report's board ranked those prospects- Damione Lewis at 24, Adam Archuleta at 38, Ryan Pickett at 95. In the process, the Rams passed over available players who were much higher rated- Deuce McAllister, Santana Moss, Steve Hutchinson and Fred Smoot, just to mention a few. If the Rams had drafted offensive personnel in 2001, everyone would have gone nuts, because their offense was already loaded and the defense was terrible. So they reached and threw a lot of bodies at a problem (remember they also went defense in the second and third rounds with Tommy Polley and Brian Allen) and hoped it would all work out. And it did work out in the short term, as the defense improved enough to help the team get to the Super Bowl in 2001. But in the long run, the draft was a disaster, as every single player underperformed. Ultimately the defense was still bad, and the offense got old. The Rams would be in much better shape right now if they had Deuce McAllister and Santana Moss stepping into the voids left by Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce, but they were fixated on need, and the result was a complete waste of a draft.

111
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 6:35pm

The Rams ... were fixated on need, and the result was a complete waste of a draft.
Really?

Since the 2001 draft, the Rams have won 47 regular-season games, 3 post-season games, and appeared in the Superbowl. Since the 2000 draft, the Jets have won 48 regular-season games, two post-season games, and not even appeared in a conference title game.

I'm not sure how we can say the Rams have wasted those 2001 picks, since the team has won exactly the same number of games, in one less season than the Jets' mighty 2000 draft.

I know that the BPA strategy is highly regarded around here, but the goal of football is not to collect talent, it's to win games, win playoff games, and win Superbowls. The Rams did better at the first two goals, and got closer to the third, than did the Jets over the periods in question. (I realize the teams have many more players than these particular picks, but shouldn't the difference between

112
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 6:36pm

...''[hitting] on most of their picks,'' and ''a complete waste of a draft,'' be, um positive for the team that we said, hit? Or was every other thing about the Jets, that much worse?)

Is there no better case for a BPA strategy?

113
by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 04/13/2006 - 9:40pm

Yes, the goal of football is to win games, and the goal of a draft is to position the team to win as many games as possible over as long a period as possible. Draft classes are supposed to kick in and form a nucleus for the team roughly 3-4 years after they enter the league. That's the ideal. The Rams top five picks from that draft are all off the roster, which means that far from acting as a nucleus, they will play no part at all in how the team goes from here. The Jets draft, despite taking place a year earlier, will still result in their fielding their starting quarterback (at least for the moment), their #1 defensive end and their #1 receiver. They also turned John Abraham into a #1 pick, meaning that they will continue to receive value for the 2000 pick in the form of the player they select at 29. Pennington's shoulder injuries cast a cloud over things, but even if he doesn't fully recover (and especially if he does), the Jets picks are at this point providing much more of a return than the Rams picks, who are providing no return whatsoever. And the Jets players have done more individually to contribute to team success- they've notched a collective five Pro Bowl appearances over that time, while none of the Rams selections have sniffed the Pro Bowl.

114
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 6:01am

Draft classes are supposed to kick in and form a nucleus for the team roughly 3-4 years after they enter the league. That’s the ideal
Well, that's the ideal. But a perfectly valid alternative, is to draft to try to win *now* -- ''eating the seed corn.''

The Rams definitely ate their seed corn in 2001, and came within one improbable two-minute drive of forcing overtime in the Superbowl. That's not exactly abject failure.

Don't get me wrong-- I'm not saying that was the best draft class ever, or even a very good one -- I'd call Archuletta a pretty solid player, which is okay for the 20th overall pick, but (IIRC) Lewis and Pickett didn't give the Rams very much, even short-term. Getting one reasonable 4-year starter and no stars from three first-round picks is not very good (isn't the league average coser to 50% starters for first-round picks?), but the Rams didn't need a fabulous draft in 2001.

115
by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 11:10am

Uh, J.Foster, we rehashed the Rackers/Janikowski issue much earlier in the discussion thread, which you might want to read. But if you're serious about engaging in a discussion of the relative merits of kickers, I would genuinely appreciate any research you could provide to demonstrate your apparent belief that the ''30-39 Money zone'' is somehow more ''crucial'' than any other part of the field. For instance, why didn't you mention that Rackers is 14-21 from 50-plus while Janikowski is 7-16?

Note: One issue that I think is a legitimate criticism of Rackers, as I've written before, is that Arizona is at altitude and therefore an easier place to kick the ball than Oakland. Of course, Cincinnati's weather is worse than Oakland's, and Janikowski does get a game in Denver every year that Rackers doesn't, so over the course of their careers there probably isn't a whole lot of difference in terms of how the location of their games has affected the quality of their kicks.

116
by Charles (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 12:31pm

#110:
You state that the Rams would have been much better off in going after offensive players in that draft and then list examples. I won't argue against Smoot, but at the time, CB wasn't the concern it is now. As for Duece, why when they had Marshall and had spent the previous year's 1st rd pick on a RB. Moss is a nice player, but the last thing the Rams had to worry about then was another WR (Holt and Bruce were both top 10 WR caliber). Hutchinson is nice, but OL players tend to take a little longer to develop and usually don't impact in their rookie year, and the Rams' OL was fairly solid.
Now, the Rams had won the super bowl 2 yrs prior and still made the playoffs despite injurys the previous year. They knew that when they won it all, that they had a very good and underrated defense. So, why go after players that are not going to to significantly improve you're team the next season when you are trying for another super bowl run? Yes, Lewis was a bust. Pickett was adequate (although still not quite worth #29). But Archuleta was well worth a #20 and, before playing with a herniated disk all 2004 season, was definately playing at a pro bowl level. And I also remember both Archuleta and Polley starting during their rookie season, in turn helping the defense get better, and making it to the super bowl again that year.
In the long term, the draft doesn't look pretty with their first 4 players all gone now, but it did the job at the time, when the Rams still had a window of oppertunity (which, for most teams, only lasts a few years) and helped to add another banner. I will take moments of greatness over continued early playoff exits any day.

Side note, underpreforming or not, other teams still thought enough of those first 4 players to overpay in order to get them away from St Louis.

117
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:22pm

Cornerback wasn't a concern in part because the Rams traded away a second round pick for Aeneas Williams, which was a short range move but also the single most successful use of their first day pick. But that's almost besides the point. The whole concept behind BPA drafting is that your needs are going to change dramatically in a relatively short time due to the highly unstable nature of rosters in a salary cap environment. You may feel like you are in great shape at a position now, only to see it decimated by injuries or by other teams signing your RFAs to offer sheets in a year. Your players may start to age as their contracts are coming up, leaving you with the unpleasant option of overpaying for diminishing production because you don't have replacements on the roster who can step in. The Rams offensive personnel was the best in football in 2001, but many of the pieces that made it that way have moved on or gotten old, and their production was already on the wane by 2002-2003. Which is to say that drafting more firepower seemed like a ridiculous alternative at the time, but it doesn't look that way at all with the benefit of hindsight.

118
by Charles (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 1:52pm

But, here is my question; would you trade an immediate shot at a super bowl for a possibility of continued shots at a playoff berth? Most teams only have a limited window, if they are even lucky enough to get to that point, at a super bowl. Look at the Packers, Ravens, Titans, and, obviously, the Rams. In the last ten years they were all teams that did whatever they had to do at the time to get to the super bowl and are suffering for it now. But would any of their fans trade places with those of the Chiefs, who are, anymore, almost always in playoff situations, but haven't been to the super bowl since I was a toddler.As for the players that you had mentioned drafting, while they would help some, most, except Smoot, wouldn't help as much as it would appear. Do the Rams really, even now, need WR help? Bruce is aging, but Holt is a top 5 wideout and they have a good young corp with Curtis and McDonald. Duece is nice, but hasn't exactly stayed injury-free. And with consistent carries, Jackson could very well reach all-pro status. The OL is aging, and Hutch would have helped, but with Pace, Barron, and even an older Timmerman it is surely a long ways from Texans caliber. My point is simply that when teams are close, they seldom draft for 5 years down the road, and instead go for what they need to get over the hump next season. If you don't have to rebuild, then don't....just reload. The Rams learned that after a horrendous 90's.

119
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 3:36pm

Would I trade an immediate shot at the Super Bowl for continued shots at the playoffs? Absolutely. It's just a statistically higher percentage approach. The truth is that the best team in the league doesn't always win, and that there is a large element of randomness that is later calcified into some concept of preordination. If Nick Harper goes to the sideline instead of cutting back, the Colts are Super Bowl champs now. If Robert Smith didn't run out of bounds in the fourth quarter, Minnesota goes to the Super Bowl in 1998. (And of course it need not be pointed out that the 2001 Rams did not win the Super Bowl, despite clearly being the best team in the league.) At some point, you can't control what happens in playoff games, so all you can do is give yourself as many chances as possible. That's exactly what Bill Cowher has done up in Pittsburgh, fielded one competitive team after another, and finally, in a year that was supposed to belong to Indy, he broke through and won.

120
by Charles (not verified) :: Fri, 04/14/2006 - 4:02pm

I would agree to a certain extent. I think That Pittsburg is more of an anomoly. It seems to be one of the rare organizations anymore where where everyone is on the same page and having a long term coach who isn't ready to move on provides good consistency. You don't seem to have the massive inhouse fighting among the coach and front office that helped to tear apart the Rams and destroyed the once great 49'ers(dear god it pains me to say that).
As far as the teams that make it to the big game, it's very true that it isn't always the best ones. But it is, more often than not, the top tier teams simply because it's a much easier road when most, if not all, of your playoff games are at home (Indy always failing in Foxboro in January?). I know that injuries happen (the Rams were also dominating the league in 2000 until Warner, and then others, got hurt), but that is something beyond any team's control, unless you put together a team without a thought to health issues (LA Kings, or Chicago Cubs pitching staff).

121
by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 2:44pm

RE: 74

Agreed. Robaire Smith is a better player than Boone, and was better value as well.

RE: 103

He did nothing for the team that drafted him, though. The team that paid him all that money.

RE: 111

You can't deny that they botched those picks, however.

122
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 04/17/2006 - 3:06pm

Sid (#121 )--

They did okay with Archuleta. He started, what, four seasons? And losing him as a free agent doesn't make him a bust.

The others, sure.

123
by Steve (not verified) :: Tue, 04/18/2006 - 2:53am

The Rams could still have reloaded had they taken either Stroud, Rogers, Jenkins or Hampton and been better in both the short and long term. They just chose the wrong players but I can't really them. Lovie's defense preferred the DTs to be smaller and quicker and both Pickett and Lewis fit the physical criteria better than the massive DTs that were remaining after Seymour and Warren were taken. They were just unlucky that someone like McFarland or Tommie Harris weren't in the draft that year.

124
by johbur (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 2:49pm

Just a comment on Bubba Franks and TE in general. To look at number of catches as the sole determining factor of whether a TE is good, shows a lack of understanding of each team's use of the TE. Bubba Franks is one of the best, if not the best, blocking TEs in the NFL. He frequently gets assigned a DE by himself. Bubba has also been to three pro bowls. He had 28 TDs in the five years prior to being injured last year. The Packers obviously thought enough of him to give him a 7 year 28 million dollar contract last year.

125
by kjbad (not verified) :: Tue, 04/25/2006 - 6:36pm

The Cardinals deserve an honorable mention for "team that got absolutely nothing out of the 2000 draft"...not even worth a blip individually, but combined the worst team draft of the year.

126
by Lee Courtney (not verified) :: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 1:10pm

Really liked the look back at the draft. Could you expand on the story?
Compare the draft score then to now.
List all the draft picks in a chart showing their current status-starter, on team, out of football, traded etc. Maybe 7 rounds is too much--how about the first 3.
thanks,
Lee

127
by Greg (not verified) :: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 1:52pm

No one makes an argument that Deltha O’Neal was the best player and that Mike Brown was perhaps a better value?

#64 - Not sure if you follow Portis still but hes been pretty "mighty" in Washington. As a 'Skin fan, I was very uneasy about the trade because I think there are great backs everywhere but we unloaded a potentially cancerous player and got a proven, solid, above-average back.

128
by John P (not verified) :: Thu, 04/26/2007 - 7:46pm

You can certainly argue their relative merits, but you can not defend the assertion that Janikowski "isn't nearly as good a kicker" as Rackers. That is flat out wrong. And considering the team that drafted him, did not receive any of the good years, the Rackers pick was not some great move.