Benson is latest NFC North bust

Division teams generally have done woefully when owning top-10 picks in the draft.'s Steve Lawrence reviews the drafts from 1997 to 2007.

Steve Lawrence

Why would any team want to have an early first-round draft choice?

For every Adrian Peterson, there's a Cedric Benson, who the Chicago Bears selected No. 4 overall in the 2005 draft but was released on Monday after another run-in with the law.

There's a reason why the Green Bay Packers have the only Super Bowl championship in the last 21 years by teams from the NFC North. Too often, division teams have blown their first-round picks — especially early first-rounders.

Here is how NFC North teams fared with top-10 picks since the Packers won the Super Bowl following the 1996 season.


Detroit — WR Calvin Johnson, No. 2, C: Has the tools to be a star and turn this grade into an A.

Minnesota — RB Adrian Peterson, No. 7, A: One of the biggest-impact rookies in memory.


Green Bay — LB A.J. Hawk, No. 5, C: Solid, but is solid good enough for a No. 5 pick? Whether it's Hawk or it's the scheme, he simply hasn't been the stud he was at Ohio State.

Detroit — LB Ernie Sims, No. 9. B-minus: Some experts think Sims has been the better draft pick between him and Hawk. He's drawing some comparisons to fellow Florida State product Derrick Brooks.


Chicago — RB Cedric Benson, No. 4. F: Disappointing on the field, but a bigger disappointment off of it. A drunken-driving arrest was the last straw for Bears general manager Jerry Angelo. "Cedric displayed a pattern of behavior we will not tolerate," he said.

Detroit — WR Mike Williams, No. 10: F: Top-10 picks shouldn't be on their third team in three seasons. He caught a combined 15 passes in 2006 and 2007.


Detroit — WR Roy Williams, No. 7: B. He's averaging 60 catches for 913 yards and seven touchdowns per seasons. But he's too brash for his own good, with only one 1,000-yard season and playing on a miserable team.


Detroit — WR Charles Rogers, No. 2: F. Lasted just three seasons with 36 career receptions.

Minnesota — DT Kevin Williams, No. 9: A. The two-time Pro Bowler is one of the best in the business.


Detroit — QB Joey Harrington, No. 3: F. He's thrown more touchdown passes than interceptions just once in six seasons spread over three teams.

Minnesota — OT Bryant McKinnie, No. 7: B. The mountainous tackle used to get beat day and night by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on passing downs.


Chicago — WR David Terrell, No. 8: D-minus. Caught five touchdown passes in five seasons.

Green Bay — DE Jamal Reynolds, No. 10: F. Three sacks in three NFL seasons and never started a game.


Chicago — LB Brian Urlacher, No. 9: A. A six-time Pro Bowler. Enough said.


Detroit — LB Chris Claiborne, No. 9: D. He bounced around with four teams during an eight-year career. Never was closer to being a Pro Bowl-caliber player.


Chicago — RB Curtis Enis, No. 5: F. Career was derailed by a torn ACL that took away the power that made him a star at Penn State. Played just three seasons.


Detroit — CB Bryant Westbrook, No. 5: C-plus. A member of the all-rookie team, his promising career was thwarted when he ruptured an Achilles in 2000. Landed in Green Bay in 2002 and had his career on track when he ruptured another Achilles.

In case you were counting, that's 17 top-10 picks from 1997 to 2007. Two players got A's and six got F's. The Lions had eight top-10 picks in those 11 drafts, and wound up with four busts and one Pro Bowl appearance (Roy Williams) to show for all of those losses.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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