2005 Starters: 8
2005 Backups: 7
Other teams: 2
Out of NFL: 4
Injured Reserve/PUP: 5
As yet, general manager Jerry Angelo's first-round picks haven't paid expected dividends, partially because of quarterback Rex Grossman's (No. 22 overall in 2003) history of injuries, but also because defensive end Michael Haynes (No. 14 overall in 2003) has so far been a huge bust. However, DT Tommie Harris (No. 14 in 2004) made the Pro Bowl in just his second season.
Still, 11 of the 26 picks ended the season out of the league, on another team or injured, although 2005 second-round wide receiver Mark Bradley had cracked the starting lineup before he was hurt. Bradley is one of three second-rounders who could be key players in '06, along with cornerback Charles Tillman (2003) and defensive tackle Tank Johnson ('04).
BEST PICK: CB Nathan Vasher, 2004 (fourth round, 110th overall): Not particularly big, strong or fast, Vasher has nevertheless continued to show the same incredible knack for making plays on the ball that he demonstrated at Texas. In two seasons, he has 13 interceptions and 322 return yards with three touchdowns and appears to be the ideal Cover-2 corner. Although just 5-feet-10 and 180 pounds, Vasher has not shied away from contact and his tackling has been better than anticipated.
WORST PICK: DE Michael Haynes, 2003 (first round, 14th overall): Haynes has gotten progressively worse, reaching a low point last season when he was inactive for five games and barely noticeable in the other 11. An easy excuse is that he doesn't fit the current scheme that places an emphasis on speed and quickness, but he didn't do much to impress under the old scheme as a rookie. Haynes doesn't seem to have much of a sense of urgency and wound up playing behind street free agent Israel Idonije last season.
2005 TOP DRAFT PICKS
1 (4) Cedric Benson, RB: A lengthy holdout left Benson miles behind incumbent Thomas Jones in the competition for playing time, and Jones' career year kept the rookie on the sidelines through the first half of the season. But, when Jones suffered a minor toe injury, Benson responded with 129 yards on 26 carries in two weeks. However, a sprained knee forced him to miss six games in the second half.
2 (39) Mark Bradley, WR: In his breakout game in Week Eight, Bradley caught five passes for 88 yards in the first half but suffered a torn ACL just before halftime, ending his season. He has size, speed and big-play ability and so should be a key weapon as soon as he gets back to 100 percent, which might not be until the second month of the season.
4 (106) Kyle Orton, QB: Came to camp as No. 4 on the depth chart and wasn't expected to play at all, but injuries to and ineffectiveness of others forced him onto the field for 15 starts. Orton's stats were barely mediocre, but he managed the offense in eight straight victories and was 10-5 as a starter.
5 (140) Airese Currie, WR: Speed receiver started the season on the non-football injury list because of off-season foot surgery, came back to practice for about a week and suffered a hamstring injury that landed him on I.R. He was on the active roster for one week but never played.
6 (181) Chris Harris, FS: Thrust into the starting lineup in Week Two and wound up starting 13 games. Made some big hits but also committed rookie mistakes and was often late to the ball.
7 (222) Rod Wilson, LB: Spent the season on I.R. with a knee injury.