.NET Draft 2007: Draft Memories and Tidbits

In less than 24 hours, the 2007 NFL Draft will kickoff from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Seahawks.NET's Ryan Rigmaiden took the time to look back on some recent drafts and came up with some interesting memories -- both good and bad -- and he came to the conclusion that the 2002 Draft was one of the worst in Seattle's recent history.

I was at lunch the other day when a colleague asked me about some of my most favorite NFL Draft memories. Though much of my earlier Draft-day memories are clogged by cheap beer, Little Smokies and cell phone radiation, some did come to mind. Trades, busts, reaches and so-called "behind the scenes action" is the real story of the NFL Draft, and I naturally thought of those. Because of this, I wanted to share some of my favorites with you and also give my opinions on some happenings around the NFL landscape.

Each year we're force-fed a false document that former Dallas head coach Jimmy Johnson concocted while in Valley Ranch. Apparently, Johnson and a team of NASA researchers did a massive amount of research and came up the legendary Draft Pick Value Chart. Essentially, the chart assigns a value number to each pick in the form of points. For example, the first pick in Round 1 is worth 3000 points. The second pick is 2600, and so on. It's supposed to give front offices a quick reference so that when trading for players or picks, everyone gets equal value. And the more I see this stupid thing, the more I know it's fundamentally wrong. Here's why…

-- The chart isn't accurate because the crop of talent changes every year. This year's Draft, for example, is said to be one that has five stars at the top and great depth in Rounds 3 and 4. According to the "experts", many first round picks this year are undeserving, and will be reaches. Or let's look at the flip side of this coin and say that next year's Round 1 will be the best in years, but depth in later rounds is horrible. Does that mean that the point system works for both years? No. It doesn't. It's a stupid chart that has somehow caught momentum through the years and unfortunately appears to be stuck with us.

-- Put yourself in the driver's seat of the franchise of your choice. You hold the #1 pick in the Draft and another team is calling you about a trade. They're offering the 7th, 8th and 100th overall picks for your #1 pick. What do you do? If it were me, I'd take the deal in a heartbeat, and for a number of reasons.

First, you can get quality players with the 7th and 8th overall picks, and even with the 100th overall selection. Heck, looking at last year's Draft, you could've gotten Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler as your QB and had your pick of the litter when it comes to some very solid defensive players. Heck, maybe the most feared defender in the league, LB Shawne Merriman, was the 12th overall pick in 2005.

Second, the cost of paying a #1 overall pick is exponentially higher than what the other team would be offering. Chances are good that the guaranteed money you'd pay the three picks that the other team is offering are comparable to what the single #1 overall pick.

Third, I, along with many GM's in the league, value each and every Draft pick. Granted, some are more important than others, but each pick is an opportunity to select a player that can be a contributor to your team.

Someone was asking me about what my running backs rankings were this year and if I think some teams will trade up to get "so-and so". I immediately thought of the story of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1998. That year three running backs were widely regarded as Round 1 picks - Penn State's Curtis Enis, Florida's Fred Taylor and Georgia's Robert Edwards. Looking back, it's easy to see that the Jaguars made the right decision with Taylor. Enis was a complete bust and Edwards suffered a career-ending injury at the Pro Bowl playing in a flag football game on the beach. What's ironic is that Jacksonville attempted to move up several times to select Curtis Enis, and not Fred Taylor. One wonders what the Jags would look like if they'd busted on Enis like the Chicago Bears did.

Speaking of the "I wonder what would've happened" category, does anyone remember Mike Holmgren saying they thought about taking a third round pick and moving up in 2004 to get DT Vince Wilfork? Holmgren and Seattle's front office decided not to do it and settled for DT Marcus Tubbs instead. In three years, Tubbs has logged 29 games and has missed significant time due to injury over that span. Wilfork has only missed three games and is a mainstay on New England's defense. I regretted not moving up to get Wilfork then, but I do even more now.

Every year I'm constantly amazed at how much the NFL Draft has grown. When I started scouting ten years ago, Mel Kiper Jr. was the only face of the Draft on TV and ESPN was the only major media outlet covering it. Now every former high school football player has their own site, ESPN and The NFL Network are competing for air time on a level that rivals Cold War superpowers in the 1980's and even the most casual of fans have 40 times for the kid from Appalachian State. The Draft has definitely become the second biggest weekend for the NFL and fans love it.

It's easy to make fun of poor Draft or roster decisions, but let's go back to 2002 so I can applaud a team. The Carolina Panthers held the #2 pick and had a very tough decision to make. Lacking a proven QB, many experts had the Panthers pegged for whatever "franchise" QB was left for them, Fresno State's David Carr or Oregon's Joey Harrington. But new coach John Fox had a defensive background and wisely took DE Julius Peppers instead of Harrington, who was gobbled up by Detroit. Peppers has become a Pro Bowler and is one of the most dynamic defenders in the league, while Harrington is on his third team in five years. The Panthers didn't force a selection simply because they needed a QB. It'll be interesting to see if Oakland has the guts to do the same this year.

Speaking of 2002, I have to mention one of my worst Draft moments of all time. But first, do yourself a favor and review that entire Draft. Man, was it a bad one. I count 13 complete busts in Round 1, and that's being nice. What's even worse is the lack of depth it provided (I also count 14 busts in the second frame).

Anyway, the Seahawks lacked talent at a few positions, but TE was rumored to be itching Mike Holmgren's trigger finger. He had coached Colorado TE Daniel Graham at the Senior Bowl and reportedly had decided that he would be the pick at #20. When Seattle actually got on the clock, I was on cloud nine. I had certified man-crushes on two players still on the board, Miami S Ed Reed and Georgia DE Charles Grant. I figured that the Seahawks could take either of them or go with Graham, who wouldn't be a bad third choice. My friends and I were literally screaming at the TV to take Reed when tragedy struck.

Coach Holmgren traded down with his old friends, the Green Bay Packers, to pick #28. He thought that Graham would still be on the board at twenty-eight; he'd take him and get an extra valuable pick in the trade. Unfortunately, Seattle wasn't the only team high on Graham, though. The New England Patriots traded up to pick #21 and plucked Graham out from under Holmgren's nose. Seattle ultimately selected TE Jerramy Stevens (please make your DWI, DUI, rape or baseball bat one-liner here ____________), but followed that up with RB Maurice Morris, a player we didn't need, DE Anton Palepoi (seriously, I dare any fan to step forward and say you'd heard of him before we selected him), and CB Kris Richard.

So let's re-cap Seattle's 2002 Draft. Holmgren passed up on Ed Reed and Charles Grant to trade down, not select the guy he originally targeted, took at troubled player instead and then had one of the worst first day drafts in recent Seahawks history. I'd rather get kicked in the junk than go through that again.

Now that I'm on the subject of Seahawks failures, I have to mention something else that is common knowledge to my close football friends. I call it "Seattle's third round jinx".

Go back and look at the success, or largely lack thereof, in Round 3 from 1999 on. I count only three players that are solid: WR Darrell Jackson, LB Leroy Hill and OT Sean Locklear. Busts include QB Brock Huard, WR Karsten Bailey, FB Heath Evans, CB Kris Richard, OT Wayne Hunter and QB David Greene. Huard was always hurt, Evans couldn't catch, Richard was only average in his last season with the team and Hunter and Bailey never saw the field. And please don't kid yourselves, Greene is a huge bust.

You might also throw in the trade for veteran WR Nate Burleson. I know it's way too early to grade him because he's only been in Seattle for one season, but fact is that the front office expected him to be a starter and his biggest contribution was as the 4th receiver and return man. With no Round 1 pick this year, I hope the jinx takes a year or two off.

Speaking of jinxes, the Heisman jinx seems to have already started for Ohio State QB Troy Smith. My best guess is that he's a fourth round pick right now, a far cry from some early projections this year of him being a first round lock. That doesn't mean Smith can't rebound and become a solid NFL quarterback, but it doesn't look good. It looks like his chances of becoming the next Chris Weinke, Jason White or Danny Wuerffel are much greater than the next Carson Palmer.

Leading my list of probable busts this year are two receivers that had enormous potential heading into this season. USC's Dwayne Jarrett and Ohio State's Ted Ginn are different, yet strikingly similar. Both played for huge programs that run pro-style offenses. They both had solid production and they both were among the best at their craft on the college level. However, both also have huge holes in their game.

Ginn's the speed receiver and return specialist that brings people to their feet, but his routes are sloppy, he doesn't go over the middle and most of his production was on simple fly patterns. Ginn was almost always the fastest man on the field at the college level, but that won't be the case in the NFL. Unless he really focuses on his route development, I see him more as an Az Hakim than a Steve Smith (like I once thought).

At 6'5" 220, Jarrett looks the part. Every fifth catch was a touchdown and he dominated for the past two years. But his speed (4.65) and lack of explosion are huge concerns to me. Moreover, his inability to get off press coverage will kill him at the next level. People are now comparing him to Keyshawn Johnson instead of Detroit bust Mike Williams, but that isn't correct, either. We all know Johnson hasn't had speed for quite some time, but he's very physical, can push around almost any cornerback at the line of scrimmage and is still a factor on short and intermediate routes. Jarrett doesn't have his toughness or ability and is ranked 9th on my board. You can bet the team that selects him will try to camouflage this by motion and pick plays, but this isn't Arena Football.

Need any more proof that Quarterback is the most important position in all of team sports? If so, check out the current state of affairs the Miami Dolphins are in, and have been in, since Dan Marino left. "Team Dolphin Safe" has scoured the earth in hopes of finding Marino's successor, but to no avail. Damon Huard wasn't the option and Jay Fiedler, maybe Miami's best QB of the bunch, was average at best.

In 2004, and apparently fed up with their lack of success at the position, the ‘Phins traded for a young, promising Philadelphia Eagles backup, A.J. Feeley. They gave up a second round pick to get him, but in eight starts he threw more interceptions than touchdowns and racked up a dismal quarterback rating of 61.7. Fast forward a mere two years later and what do you know – the Dolphins are still looking for a QB. The franchise had its choice of two quarterbacks after the 2005 season: San Diego's Drew Brees and Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper. In what seemed like a terrific move at the time, Miami traded another second round pick, for the rights to Culpepper. Despite Culpepper's major knee reconstruction and recent poor play in Minnesota, the Dolphins chose him because he was athletic, had a cannon arm and fit the mold of a franchise quarterback. Brees was also coming off an injury, but one to his throwing shoulder in which the front office deemed more serious than Culpepper's. But Miami also wanted a backup plan, and signed former Harrington to the team. They figured that if Culpepper couldn't shake the injury bug, they could then fall back to Harrington and be ok.

But it didn't work.

Culpepper was benched after four games and Harrington proved to be nothing more than an average starter. Harrington was released earlier this year and Culpepper will likely get traded or released when the Dolphins complete another trade for a quarterback, this time for Kansas City's Trent Green, who only has one or two years left, leaving Miami in the same position they've been in for the past decade.

This story is bad enough, but it gets horrific when you consider that Drew Brees, you remember, the guy with the bum throwing shoulder, led New Orleans to the playoffs, was named to the Pro Bowl and is now considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFC.

As usual, any questions or comments can be sent to rlrigmaiden@hotmail.com. Thanks for taking the time to write in.

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