Draft season is upon us. We watch youtube highlight videos, watch mock drafts and pretend that we have all of the information about which players will succeed at the next level. We tweet our astonishment as certain picks are made and celebrate when our teams draft someone we desperately want to cheer for. The truth is however, the NFL draft is nothing more than guesswork disguised as a spectacle. Sure, you can have Kings of Leon play all of their hits from 2008 but the reality none of us really know ANYTHING. This is particularly true of defensive players (as we don’t truly understand the role they’ll play in specific schemes) and offensive line (stop pretending like any of us understand how difficult that job REALLY is).
Still, the draft is a fun experience for fans. We can call out seasoned professionals who actually have their earnings and careers on the line from our couches with no risk to ourselves. Additionally, here’s the secret few are willing to say out loud. No one actually knows anything. All of this is a gamble and while some of it is more educated than others. The truth is that predicting professional success in major league sports is really difficult.
Still many seem keen on reminding others about when they were right and seem to forget all the calls they’ve gotten wrong. This is generally true of people when it comes to predictions and sports, still, the draft is most intriguing because the true value of an asset can only be determined several years after the initial take has been made. In spirit of this I wanted to put together a blog that catalogued some of my worst draft takes.
Here are 8 of the worst draft takes I’ve ever had:
- Ryan Leaf (Drafted second overall by the San Diego Chargers in 1998): Boy was I wrong about this one. I loudly proclaimed, you’ve got to “Be-Leaf” as I thought he was the best quarterback in that draft. I thought Peyton Manning’s forehead was unreasonable and that the Vols uniform was too creamsicle-like to lead to NFL success. Peyton Manning proved to be one of the greatest to ever play the game and Ryan Leaf became more famous for berating teammates and then post-NFL criminal activity than he was for throwing the ball.
- Troy Williamson (Drafted 7th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in 2005): The former Gamecock wide receiver was one I expected to light the field on fire. I thought he would replace Prince as the first thing you thought of when you thought of Minnesota Purple and I was way off. Troy Williamson’s purple reign ended after three seasons and he never recorded more than a pair of touchdowns in a Vikings uniform.
- Dion Jordan (Drafted 3rd overall by the Miami Dolphins in 2013): Man was I excited when the Miami Dolphins traded up to 3 to pick Dion Jordan, a player who I thought was a game changing edge rusher. At this point I thought the offense that featured Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller and Mike Wallace was on the rise and I loved the Dolphins trading up for what I thought would be a generational talent. Jordan has started only 5 games in the NFL and in a far less tolerant time he seemed to smoke more of the green than even those roaming the halls of the Hot Sauce Sports media room
- Maurice Clarett (Drafted 101st overall by the Denver Broncos in 2005): On the surface, this wasn’t a huge miss. Given that the player in question was dismissed from the Ohio St. Buckeyes for several reasons (academic and legal) there were some question marks. However, I was on Clarett’s side when he tried to declare for the NFL draft a year early. I’ve often been an opponent of the rules put in place by the salary free minor leagues that college football operates as. However, Calrett’s anti-trust claim failed and the player fell to the third round in 2005. Still, I really wanted him to prove the establishment wrong and instead, Clarett’s case against the NFL just led to more debt than the once promising star could handle and crimes and arrests would ensue.
- Cade McNown (Drafted 12th overall by the Chicago Bears in 1999): McNown is part of a long lasting legacy of Chicago Bears quarterbacks who just weren’t great. The UCLA alum surprised many by going in the first half of the 1999 draft as he was just a shade over 6 feet tall and didn’t have a strong arm. However, I loved his athleticism but it never panned out in the NFL. It was also later revealed that he was a jerk and was arrested for being in possession of an illegal parking pass.
- Akili Smith (Drafted 3rd overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999): There were some questions about Smith in 1999; I just saw him as an exciting talent and was impressed that the Bengals were willing to take the heat and put their conviction forward. Smith went on to win only three games (out of 17 starts in 4 years). Perhaps what hurt more is among the players to be drafted after Smith were Ricky Williams and Edgerrin James.
- Aaron Curry (Drafted 4th overall by the Seattle Seahawks in 2009): At a time where it was believed that Pete Carroll had some sort of secret recipe to having a defense that would suffocate opponents drafting a tremendous prospect like Aaron Curry seemed like a slam dunk. However, not even mid way through his third season Curry was traded and Seattle was only able to earn a 5th round pick in exchange for the former top 5 pick from Wake Forrest.
- Vernon Gholston (Drafted 6th overall by the New York Jets in 2008): Man I LOVED watching Vernon Gholston in college. The dude seemed to be all over the place and at a time that hybrid LB/DE were all the rage Vernon Gholston was a slam dunk. As a Dolphins fan I stared at my TV mouth agape in seeing the hated J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets draft Gholston early in the 2008 draft. The idea of having to face menace twice a season was too much for me to bear. I’m not sure what I did next but I’m sure it involved eating too many wings and drinking way too many beers. Luckily for me Gholston, a pick praised by all the draft experts failed to translate in the NFL. Once he left the Jets, NFL teams all by Gholsted his calls.
For those who want to laugh at HOW wrong the Hot Sauce Sports analysts were about the draft here is the mock draft we recorded a day before round one kicked off: