Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Number One Pick, A Gift, or a Recipe for Disaster?

With the Raiders poised to release former number one overall NFL draft pick, JaMarcus Russell in a few days, I cant help but think back on how many of these first picks have turned out to be a disaster. This trend is not just in football either, the NBA has had it's fair share of duds chosen with the top pick in the draft. So let's take a look, and I will start with the NFL:

(In no particular order)

1. Jeff George, 1990 - Colts
Success can be measured in many different ways, but the stat synonymous with success is victories, something this former number one overall had trouble accomplishing. Although George had respectable passing statistics, his 14-35 record in four years with the Colts was not the record you expect to have from the prized possession of the 1990 NFL Draft. George went on to play starting roles for four more teams, Atlanta, Oakland, Minnesota and Washington. George led his team to the postseason just three times in his 12 year career, winning just one of those three games. His overall record as a quarterback in the NFL was a disappointing 46-78.

2. Ki-Jana Carter, 1995 - Bengals
It might be unfair to have Carter on this list because some of his lack of production can be attributed to injury, but a lot of NFL people questioned whether he would pan out as a feature pro back anyway. In his rookie campaign, Carter played in all 16 games and started four of them. He carried the ball 91 times for 264 yards and reached pay dirt 8 times. In his second year, Carter played in 15 games starting in ten of them. He carried the ball 128 times for 464 yards and scored 7 TD's. Carter's second season was his last "productive" one, as he suffered a major knee injury in his third year and was never the same again. He lost any and all explosion he might have had left and ended his career as a backup journeyman. Carter played in 59 career games, starting in only 14 of them. He compiled a grand total of 319 carries, 1,144 yards and 20 touchdowns, those are definitely not the career numbers one would desire for a tailback taken number one overall in the Draft.

3. Tim Couch, 1999 - Browns
When one thinks back to the best quarterbacks taken with the first pick within the last three decades, John Elway, Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning come to mind. Tim Couch on the other hand, does not. The first sign that deterred me from taking Couch, even in the first round, was the fact that he played his college ball at Kentucky. Only five QB's in that schools long history have played in the NFL and only one, George Blanda, had any type of success. However, I do see why the Browns took Couch with their pick, he had great size at 6'4" 220 lbs, he had a great arm and he was a very accurate college thrower. Unfortunately for the Browns, Tim Couch's college capabilities didn't translate to the NFL, but the Browns organization can also shoulder some of the blame for not fielding a decent team around Couch. In five seasons at the helm of Cleveland's offense, Couch threw 64 TD's and 67 interceptions and had a 59% completion percentage, his record was 22-37 with only one winning season.

4. David Carr, 2002 - Texans
When starting a new franchise, the last thing you want to happen is blowing you first number one overall pick, and that is exacty what the Texans did with theirs. David Carr was a great college QB, at Fresno State that is. The lack of competition he faced in college definitely showed at the pro level. Carr's career is very similar to Couch's, they both had great size, accuracy, arm strength and fundamentals, but both of them got pushed into very bad situations with their teams. David Carr ended his career with a record of 23-56, compiling 65 TD's while throwing 70 picks.

5. Alex Smith, 2005 - 49ers
Although Smith still has a very good chance of working himself off of this list, he still belongs here. The 49ers drafted Smith because they liked his intelligence, charisma, and overall intangibles, but everyone knows that none those are reasons to risk your future on. Smith's difficulty with understanding how to run an NFL offense has greatly diminished his chance to live up to the hype that surrounded him coming out of college. In his career so far, Smith's record is 16-24, he has thrown 37 TD's to 43 interceptions and has a dismal 56% completion percentage.

6. JaMarcus Russell, 2007 - Raiders
Russell wasn't a huge name in his first few seasons in college, but a fantastic showing at the Sugar Bowl at the end of his junior year shot him to the top of everyones draft boards. Russell picked apart Notre Dame's defense in that Sugar Bowl game to the tune of 332 yards on 21-34 passing with 2 TD's and one rushing TD; but what all NFL front office personnel didn't realize was that was one of the worst Notre Dame defenses the school had ever trotted onto the field. The Raiders held the first overall pick in 2007, and everyone knew they were going to pick Russell. Al Davis loved the long ball and Russell had a cannon of an arm, perfect fit, right? Wrong. JaMarcus came into his first training camp out of shape, and his work ethic showed that he wasn't looking to change that any time soon. Through Russell's first three seasons, he has started 31 games, thrown only 18 TD's to 23 interceptions and has a horrendous completion percentage of 52%.

7. Matthew Stafford, 2009 - Detroit Lions/ Sam Bradford, 2010 - St. Louis Rams

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