Thursday, April 28, 2011

Retro NFL Draft: 2006 1-15

With the NFL draft tonight let's take a look at the draft five years ago of first 15 players taken along with notable mentions. Like many 2006 draft was heralded with Heisman winners, championship-leading QBs, and speedy playmaking offensive and defensive players such as Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Vince Young, A.J. Hawk, and Mario Williams to name a few on the board. Just when media and NFL fans immediately chose a player as the no. 1 pick the team stunned the league with their pick. Along came the critics and how it turned 180 degrees five years later. Starting with Houston Texans who possess the no. 1 pick of the draft.

1. Mario Williams (Texans) - the sports media had Reggie Bush projected going to Texans. The team pulled a surprised on the day before the draft when it was announced they selected Williams instead of Bush with their first overall pick. The critics widely criticizing the pick, in some cases immediately called Williams a draft bust. Williams proved his critics wrong. He became anchor of now much improved Texans defense becoming All-Pro player. Meanwhile for the player that "should have been" no. 1 pick...

2. Reggie Bush (Saints) - landed no. 2 with the Saints. Expected immediately produced and become a star it became the opposite. Still explosive but fought injures and has NOT rushed over 1000 yards in a season like all predicted. What thought to be a league star turned into a bust. Looking back its funny how the critics got it all wrong.

3. Vince Young (Titans) - shined in his rookie season many expected to rise even higher. Then came a series of bizarre moments throughout his five seasons with the team questioning his leadership, work ethic, and maturity. While a winner as a starter and leading Titans to the playoffs and played in the Pro Bowl his career been scrutinized for running away to quitting on then-coach Jeff Fisher, whom I believe ran him out of town. He hasn't been a fit with the team playing in a dysfunctional environment despite being a favorite of owner Bud Adams. On his way out hope a change of scenery will do him good. Is he a bust? Honestly I say no because he did win games are a starter and lead the team to the playoffs despite the drama. I have him barely above the borderline of bust.

4. D'Brickashaw Ferguson (Jets) - the pick that helped the Jets build their offensive line. One first of two OL Jets took in the first round, he started all 16 games in his rookie season and still has to this day not missing a single game in his five years in the league. He made two trips to the Pro Bowl since.

5. A.J. Hawk (Packers) - decent defensive player for the team that has yet made it to the Pro Bowl. Despite being one of many players that help the Packers to their Super Bowl victory he was released but re-signed with the team. Packers won with this pick.

6. Vernon Davis (49ers) - struggle in his first three seasons mainly due to injury before breaking out in his fourth season becoming a second/third option receiver throw to. On his way upward and 49ers likely got a winner.

7. Michael Huff (Raiders) - chosen for Al Davis love of speed he was above average player making a swap from defensive back to safety in his third season. While a starter he got picked way too high making him unfairly bust (like Aundrey Bruce).

8. Donte Whitner (Bills) - stellar rookie season which he was named All-Rookie. His production declined along missing games due to injury. Step it back up leading the team in tackles. Above the bust line.

9. Ernie Sims (Lions) - despite playing for a very poor Lions team he lead the team in tackles in his first two years then his production tailed off. He got shipped to Eagles after lackluster forth season where he had average production with the team. Above borderline bust line.

10. Matt Leinart (Cardinals) - Cardinals laid a rotten egg on this one. Heisman winner and led USC to a championship you expected him to be a future star. Started 11 games showing promise. Then came his second year where he got injured. Kurt Warner took over and never let go his starting position. Once Warner retired he became the no. 1 QB on the depth chart but struggled in preseason that Cardinals cut him. Signed with Texans being 3rd in the depth chart without playing a game. A big time bust.

11. Jay Cutler (Broncos) - polarizing figure for his strong arm but, like Vince Young, his leadership, work ethic and maturity questioned. Show he can throw the ball in air in Denver, but cried foul on his way out when he found he was getting shopped around. Went to Chicago Bears where he threw balls to the other team more than touchdowns to the teammates in his first season with them. Then came NFC Championship the following year where players outside the team criticized him for not returning to the game after suffering an injury questioning his toughness. Make or break time as will Bears fans forgive him after believing he wimped out on the team at NFC Championship. He's barely above borderline of NFL draft bust status. Strange how two of out first three QBs taken of the draft been surrounded by drama.

12. Haloti Ngata (Ravens) - as usual Ravens know defense with another winning defensive pick in the first round. Like rest of Ravens defense, he became a defensive force with two All-Pro selections when it should have three or four. Ravens, again, a big time winner.

13. Kamerion Wimbley (Browns) - shined in his rookie season with the Browns but went downhill the following next three seasons. Sent to Raiders where he moved a new position and performed well like his rookie season. See if he keeps it up as he's currently on the borderline.

14. Brodrick Bunkley (Eagles) - became starter in 2nd season and continued til he missed the 2010 season with elbow injury. Barely above the bust line.

15. Tye Hill (Rams) - after his rookie season it was all over for him as he battled injuries throughout his career. Now on his third team, Detroit Lions. Bust.

Other notables:

18. Bobby Carpenter (Cowboys) - a big mistake for the Cowboys as he never panned out. Bust.

19. Antonio Cromartie (Chargers) - dangerous speedy corner capable defending and intercepting passes in spectacular ways despite playing through injuries. Played with the Jets last season. A winning pick.

25. Santonio Holmes (Steelers) - despite very spotty off field record, on the field he's much need 2nd receiver target of Ben Roethlisberger. He became Super Bowl MVP but his off field antics became a big distraction that Steelers cut him after his fourth season. Played for Jets in his fifth season to decent numbers despite sitting out four games. Borderline above bust.

28. Mercedes Lewis (Jaguars) - Despite not being a tight end receiver like he was in college he became a good blocker playing well in his first four seasons. He found his catching touch in his fifth season with 10 touchdowns in a season. Winning pick and don't believe his early season stats as it lies.

29. Nick Mangold (Jets) - the other pick Jets 1st round pick that built their offensive line. The last four of his last name tells the story: he's gold in the trenches opening holes and protecting the QB becoming All-Pro player.

30. Joseph Addai (Colts) - after rushing over 1000 yards without starting a single game in his rookie season he earned high expectations. It didn't last as he struggled the following four seasons.

While teams have seen success with their picks some are no longer with the team they been picked. Few of those have performed decent to well with their current team. Strange how whatever been said 2006 been a 180 from draft winners to bust. Bush and Leinart who were part of 2005 USC championship team didn't pan out. Young who lead Texas to a championship in 2006 might have panned out and likely a star player if he didn't had drama in two of his five seasons. Jets solidify their offensive line with their picks of Ferguson and Mangold. Vernon Davis and Mercedes Lewis took their time to develop. Ravens continue their best of knowing how to choose defense than offense in the first round. Most importantly, Mario Williams and Houston Texans, left for dead by the media calling their pick a mistake and a bust, proved them all wrong working hard becoming All-Pro defensive player.

Teams will scouting around for hundred of hours and have 50/50 chance their pick will pan out. Media personnel will have their picks on who will go where based on need on improvement. Yet all it matters how will the player will do. Then along the contracts hoping to sign the player in time for camp. NFL draft will always have its drama and that what makes it worthwhile especially looking back who's on the right and who's on wrong.

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