John Butlers' Gems

Well here we are into the 3rd season of what I like to call the Butler age, sort of like the Ice age only more chilling. For the last 2 seasons before the draft I sit and go over the picks in my head, who I think would be drafted, in the top 32, everyone does it, were all draft gurus somehow. Well I take it one step further, your first rounders are mostly no brainers (Unless your Bobby Bethard then watch out).

It is the second, third and beyond where all the fun begins, the gems, the little known college players start to show up and be heard, the kids who have a bad combine and slid down the ladder start to hear their names called, this is where I think you have the right man by who he picks in the later rounds.

John Butler has been known for his drafts, as you know from Draft Time Brings Uncertainty, By Rob Curtis. John Butler has picked some very good players in the first rounds that have panned out, but what about his 2nd through 7th round picks, how have they panned out?

Well let's start with Butler's last 2 drafts with the Chargers, in 2001 he drafted Drew Brees, lets ask ourselves did that pick pan out, well he was the starting QB for the Chargers last year, he led them to an 8-8 record, He was only the 3rd QB since 1995 to throw for over 3000 yards, and the first QB since Stan Humphries to throw for more TD's then interceptions 17 TD's to 16 INT's. He did this with a make shift front line and Receiving corps. I can not wait to see what this kid can do with a second year under his belt and a Quality line and receivers to throw to.

In the 3rd round they picked up Trevor Gaylor who turned out to be a Quality receiver for Atlanta. We traded him for a conditional 7th round pick next year. He also picked Tay Cody who was the Chargers starting nickel back before a toe injury kept him out for the season this year. If the Chargers continue with the Cover-2 defense he could pan out and be a good starter at DB. In the 4th round they picked up Carlos Polk who has yet to pan out as a Linebacker but is great on special teams, but once given the opportunity I am sure that he will shine. In the 5th rounds they picked up Elliot Silvers and Zeke Moreno. Zeke is the heir apparent to Junior Seau and started 3 games for the Chargers in 2002. They picked up Brandon Gorin and Robert Carswell in the 7th round, and neither was with the team in 2002.

In the second round of 2002 they picked up Toniu Fonoti who took over the starting Guard OG spot as a rookie, and started all but 3 games. He was one of the pick reasons that LaDainian Tomlinson had over 1,600 yards rushing this season and his second straight 1,000 yard season. They also picked up Reche Caldwell in the second who was the Chargers 3rd receiver and picked up several games as a starter when Curtis Conway was injured. In the 3rd round they picked up Ben Leber who took over starting inside backer and played in all 16 games and had 5 sacks. His production wore off as the year progressed but some had to do with the Rookie jinx and the fact the defense the Chargers were running called for him to cover more then use his skills as a blitzing back.

In the 4th round the Chargers got Justin Peelle who played in every game as a rookie as the Blocking Tight End and started several games when Stephen Alexander went down. His blocking was so solid he was almost called upon to take over the guard position earlier in the season when the line was decimated with injuries. Terry Charles was picked up in the 5th round but was injured early in camp and was out for the season, we have yet to see what he can do in a game time situation but he was impressive during his time in camp. In the 6th and 7th we got Matt Anderle and Seth Burford. Burford is now playing in NFL Europe. Not to mention the free agents in Jason Ball, Josh Norman and Eric Parker who all saw time as a starter, Ball taking over the Starting Center position when Cory Raymer went down to injury.

Lets start with what we do know, we know that Butler Drafted John Parrella (who is now with the Oakland Raiders) and Marcellus Wiley, both whom Play or played for the Chargers. Let's start with Butlers first year as a GM in 1993 and look at his draft picks form the 2nd round on and see how they panned out in the NFL.

In 1993 his Second round pick was John Parrella, see above for where he ended up.
4th round was Russell Copeland who is no longer in the NFL
5th round Mike Devlin No longer in the NFL
5th round Sebastian Savage No longer in the NFL
6th round Corbin Lacina played in all 16 games for the Minnesota Vikings this year
7th round Willie Harris No longer in the NFL
8th round Chris Leuneberg no longer in the league

In 1993 only 2 of his later round picks panned out, but this was only his first year as a GM, and we all know what his Buffalo teams did in the league all those years.

The 1994 draft was Butler's second draft as GM; let's see if his great mind as a NFL jeweler picked up some Gems in this draft.

2nd round Bucky Brooks no longer in the NFL
2nd round Lonnie Johnson no longer in the NFL
2nd round Sam Rogers played with the chargers in 2001 and the Atlanta Falcons in 2002
3rd round Marlo Perry No longer in the NFL
3rd round Corey Louchiey No longer in the NFL
4th round Sean Crocker no longer in the NFL
5th round A.J Ofodile no longer in the NFL
6th round Anthony Abrams no longer in the NFL
6th round Kevin Knox No longer in the NFL
7th round Filmel Johnson no longer in the NFL

Butler did not do to well in his second draft in finding gems either, the only one who is still in the NFL is Sam Rogers and he is still going strong.

The 1995 draft was one of Butlers better mining expeditions he gathered a few gems in this draft.

2nd round Todd Collins he is the back up in KC and still going strong as a good steady reliever at the QB position
3rd round Marlon Kerner no longer in the NFL
3rd round Damien Covington no longer in the NFL
4th round Ken Irvin now plays for the New Orleans Saints
4th round Justin Armour no longer in the NFL
4th round Tony Cline no longer in the NFL
5th round John Holecek played for the Chargers in 2001 now plays for the Atlanta Falcons
6th round Shannon Clavelle no longer in the NFL
7th round Tom Nutten now plays for the St. Louis Rams

Well as you can see, Butler sharpened his pick ax and dug deep and pulled out a few gems in his 95 expedition, his reputation as a NFL Jeweler only gets better from here.

The 1996 draft was one of Butler's better drafts, he did what he could with what he had and got some productive players.

2nd round Gabe Northern no longer in the NFL
3rd round Matt Stevens Now plays with the Houston Texans
4th round Sean Moran now plays for the San Francisco 49ers
5th round Ray Jackson No longer in the NFL
6th round Leon Neal no longer in the NFL
6th round Dusty Ziegler no longer in the NFL
7th round Dan Brandenburg no longer in the NFL
7th round Jay Riemersma Starting tight end for the Bills this year
7th round Eric Smedley no longer in the NFL

1996 was one of the better drafts because he mined some good gems from deep in the draft.

1997 the Chargers can appreciate Butler for that was the Draft that he picked up Marcellus Wiley who is now the Starting DE for the San Diego Chargers. Let's see what other Gems that Butler Mined that year.

2nd round Marcellus Wiley see above
4th round Jamie Nails played in 14 games for the Miami Dolphins this year
5th round Sean Woodson No longer in the NFL
6th round Marcus Spriggs now plays for the Miami Dolphins
7th round Pat Fitzgerald no longer in the NFL

Once again Butler had a nice draft in 1997, Wiley was considered the heir to Bruce Smith and he picked up to big lineman in Nails and Spriggs.

In 1998 Butler did not have a Remarkable draft like some of his other drafts but he did pick up a few players that are still playing today in the NFL.

2nd round Sam Cowart now plays for the New York Jets
3rd round Robert Hicks no longer in the NFL
5th round Jonathan Linton No longer in the NFL
6th round Fred Coleman No longer in the NFL
7th round Victor Allotey now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs
7th round Kamil Loud no longer plays in the NFL

As you can he picked up some nice gems, Cowart is one of the Premier LB's in this league and was a huge loss to the Bills this year on defense.

1999 was one of Butlers best Drafts in my opinion; he got some Quality starters and a Superstar in the making in Peerless Price.

2nd round Peerless Price Starting 2nd receiver for the Bills and will be a highly coveted free agent if he is not tagged the Franchise Player.
3rd round Shawn Bryson Still a quality back up to Antowain Smith who some think should start
4th round Keith Newman Played in all 16 games for the Bills this year
4th round Bobby Collins No longer in the NFL
5th round Jay Foreman Started at inside linebacker for the Bills
6th round Rashard Cook Now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles
6th round Armon Hatcher no longer plays in the NFL
7th round Sheldon Jackson no longer plays in the NFL
7th round Bryce Fisher Now plays for the St. Louis Rams

As you can see just about every player that Butler drafted is still playing in the NFL, which is almost a full fledge gold mine.

The year 2000 was Butler's final year as the GM for the Buffalo Bills. It was not one of his finest but he did get a few gems out of this draft also.

2nd round Travarse Tillman no longer plays in the NFL
3rd round Corey Moore no longer plays in the NFL
4th round Avion Black played in 11 games for the Houston Texans last year
5th round Sammy Morris played in all 16 games with the Buffalo Bills last year
6th round Leif Larsen played in 9 games for the Buffalo Bills last year
7th round Drew Haddad Played for the Indianapolis Colts last year

Those are Butlers drafts as a GM with both the Bills and the Chargers, He found a few gems in each draft, some have gone on to shine with stellar careers in the NFL both with the Bills and other teams, and some never make it off the bench for more then the back up role, but even that is a lot more then 100's of potential Pro Football players get a chance to do, some don't even get drafted and most don't even make it on a team as a Free agent.

John Butler has an eye for talent; he has drafted some and picked up others either from Free agency or non-drafted free agents. The encouraging signs are he seems to get better every year. His last two Charger Drafts have been memorable as he seeks the trifecta.

Whatever he does, on draft day, one thing you can be sure of, John Butler will take out that trusty pick axe of his and dig for the Gems and he is sure to find a few that will shine.

Tom Criswell can be reached at tcriswell@sbcglobal.net or via the following link: Tom Criswell

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