You often hear the stories from NFL GMs and coaches about the player they really wanted to select but weren't able to pick during the NFL Draft because another team snatched them away just a pick or two earlier. But you don't hear them talk much about their one-pick misfires involving a player at the same position who was picked right after they made their choice — and who turned out to be a colossal oversight.
Ten teams have made the most noteworthy one-pick misfires over the past decade involving wide receivers. Take a look at the receivers they chose — and the receivers they allowed to slip just one pick away in that year's draft.
Miami: Remember Larry Shannon? Well, you have a better memory than mine if you did. He was the Dolphins' third-round pick out of East Carolina back in 1998. And although he made two game appearances, he never caught a pass in a regular season game. By contrast, the next receiver selected in that draft just ten picks later was a Hines Ward out of the University of Georgia, who has caught 719 passes for 8,737 yards and 65 touchdowns during his pro career. You've most likely heard of him.
New England: With the 13th pick in the second round of the 2003 draft, the Patriots chose Texas A&M wide receiver Bethel Johnson, who provided more spark as a kickoff return specialist than he ever did as a receiver during his three seasons in New England. After making just 30 catches for the Patriots, he spent a year as a reserve receiver for Minnesota and was cut at the end of training camp by the Texans last year. If the Patriots would have chosen the next receiver selected in that draft instead, it's likely that they wouldn't have bothered to acquire Randy Moss last year. Quarterback Tom Brady would have already had his deep-threat receiver on board — Anquan Boldin — who was picked nine slots after Bethel Johnson when the Cardinals made their second-round pick. Boldin has 413 career catches for 5,438 yards and 29 touchdowns after five NFL seasons in Arizona.
Reggie Wayne could have been paired with Donovan McNabb instead of Peyton Manning.
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Philadelphia: In 2001 the Eagles used the 25th overall pick on UCLA wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, who finished his four-year career in Philadelphia with 90 catches for 1,263 yards and five scores. The receiver who was picked next at number 30 in that round, Reggie Wayne, has posted four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in Indianapolis, including a 104-catch season last year for 1,510 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's caught 47 touchdown passes in his seven seasons with the Colts
Detroit: The Lions have used four first-round picks on receivers over the past ten years, and two of those players are no longer with the team — Mike Williams and Charles Rogers. While they've had better luck with their other two first-rounders, Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson, Rogers' failure was particularly costly. The second overall pick in the 2003 draft, Rogers caught just 36 passes for 440 yards and four touchdowns during his three years in Detroit. The next receiver taken in that draft, with the very next selection, was Andre Johnson who was picked by the Houston Texans. Can you imagine the sleepless nights that Roy Williams, Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson would be causing defensive coordinators if Detroit hadn't made that mistake? Or would the Lions have even picked Calvin Johnson if they already had a Williams-Johnson tandem in place?
Cleveland: The Browns also had a pair of noteworthy one-pick misses. The first one involved Quincy Morgan, who spent his first four years in Cleveland after being chosen with the second pick of Round 2 in the 2001 draft. A steady, yet unspectacular performer, he caught 133 passes for the Browns for 2,056 yards and 15 touchdowns before bouncing around the league as a free agent. Despite some solid performances by Morgan, what made the pick so awful for Cleveland was that it turned out to be a double-whammy of sorts. A division rival was the next team to select a wide receiver with the fifth pick in that round. The Cincinnati Bengals chose Oregon State's Chad Johnson, who would become a major nuisance to the Browns' secondary for years to come. He's caught 559 passes for 8,365 yards and 49 touchdowns during his first seven years in Cincinnati.
The other one-pick mishap by the Browns occurred during the 2000 NFL Draft when they selected JaJuan Dawson with the 17th pick in the third round. They cut him loose after two seasons with just 31 catches under his belt. The receiver that the Seattle Seahawks picked with the next selection in that round, Darrell Jackson, turned in three 1000-yard seasons during his seven seasons in Seattle while scoring 47 touchdowns and amassing over 6,400 receiving yards before signing with the 49ers in 2007.
Baltimore: Oregon's Demetrius Williams was picked by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. The fourteenth selection in that round, Williams is still with the team and has been making nice progress, catching 42 balls in his first two seasons for 686 yards and two touchdowns. But the Ravens, who haven't had much luck with the ten receivers they've selected since the 2000 NFL draft other than Mark Clayton and Travis Taylor, could have had the next wide receiver selected — Brandon Marshall — who was picked by Denver with the 22nd selection in that round. Marshall caught 102 passes for 1,325 yards and scored seven touchdowns last year. None of the Ravens' twelve drafted wide receivers over the past ten years have posted a 1,000-yard season in Baltimore.
The Jaguars allowed Lee Evans to fall into the hands of the Buffalo Bills.
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Jacksonville: The Jaguars made the University of Washington's Reggie Williams the ninth overall pick in the 2004 draft. And while he hasn't been a washout by any means, he can't match the production of the player that Buffalo took when they selected the next wide receiver just four picks later. While Williams has made 152 catches for 1,958 yards and scored 15 touchdowns, those numbers pale by comparison to the Bills' Lee Evans who has 233 catches for 3,727 yards and 29 touchdowns during the same four-year span.
Prior to that one-pick misjudgment, the Jaguars had selected USC wide receiver R. Jay Soward with the 29th overall pick in the 2000 draft. He played for one stormy season and caught 14 passes during 13 game appearances and two starts. After being suspended several times by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy, he ended up playing a few seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Toronto Argonauts. Ironically, the receiver who was selected next with the first pick in Round 2 was Dennis Northcutt, who signed with the Jaguars in 2007 as a free agent after providing the Browns with seven solid years of work as a receiver and punt return specialist.
Kansas City: The Chiefs had to be fairly satisfied with the value they got from their fourth-round pick in 2004 when they added Oregon's Samie Parker to their roster with the ninth selection in the round. Parker made a noticeable contribution in three of his first four seasons with a total of 110 catches for 1,529 yards and seven touchdown catches. But Kansas City misfired by overlooking the next receiver that was snatched up by the New York Jets just three picks later — North Carolina State's Jerricho Cotchery — who has caught 82 passes in each of the last two seasons and accumulated 2,402 receiving yards and eight touchdowns during his first four years in the league.
New York Giants: The Jets were also the beneficiary of a misguided pick by their NFC neighbors in the 2000 NFL Draft. With the 11th pick in the third round, the Giants sent the name of Ron Dixon to the podium. He ended up catching 36 passes for them over a three-year period. The Jets then used the 16th pick in that same round to grab a Florida State wide receiver that the Giants bypassed — Laveranues Coles, who is in his second-stint with the Jets and is heading into his eighth NFL season. He's caught 561 passes for 7,245 yards and 37 touchdowns during his career.
Tennessee: In 1998 they were known as the Tennessee Oilers, not the Titans. And they were the first team to grab a wide receiver when they made their selection with the 16th overall pick. The relocated team opted for Utah's Kevin Dyson, who spent five years with the organization and caught 176 passes for 2,310 yards and 18 touchdowns before leaving for Carolina as a free agent. But one wide receiver pick later, the Minnesota Vikings chose Marshall's Randy Moss, who has rolled up over 12,000 receiving yards and has scored 124 times during his NFL career.