The 2014 NFL Draft: Mistakes will be made

Rick Cleveland 2007.jpg

One pretty sure thing about this week’s NFL Draft where Mississippians are concerned:

Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson, the 2013 C Spire Conerly Trophy winner, will be the first player taken from the Magnolia State.

And here’s one sure thing about this draft and any draft:

Mistakes will be made. Future stars will go undrafted or in the late rounds. Some early first rounders will be busts.

It happens every year.

Take the 1985 draft for example. That was the draft that produced the NFL’s all-time leading pass receiver and touchdown scorer, the man many experts consider the best player ever at his respective position. I am typing, of course, about Jerry Rice. You knew that.

But did you know 15 players, including two wide receivers, were chosen ahead of Rice?

It’s true. The Jets took wide receiver Al Toon out of Wisconsin and the Bengals took wide receiver Eddie Brown out of Miami before the 49ers gratefully had the opportunity to draft Rice out of Mississippi Valley State and tiny Crawford.

How did the 15 teams picking ahead of the Niners miss on one of the greatest talents in football history? The fact he played at a small, then Division I-AA school was surely part of it. But the fact that he ran a 4.68 40-yard dash for pro scouts probably had more to do with it.

And I’ll never forget what outspoken Valley coach Archie Cooley said when Rice’s slow 40 time was reported in the national press.

Said The Gunslinger: “That’s because nobody was chasing him.”

The leading passer in NFL history is Mississippian Brett Favre of Kiln and USM. The man who went on to win three NFL MVPs did not even get taken in the first round. The Atlanta Falcons chose Favre with the 33rd pick of the draft, six picks into the second round.

When you read the names of the two quarterbacks who were selected in the first round of that 1991 draft you just might laugh. One was Dan McGwire out of San Diego State. The other was Todd Marinovich out of USC.

Get this: McGwire and Marinovich combined for a grand total of two NFL touchdown passes. Favre threw 508, not counting the post-season.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Scouting supposedly becomes more sophisticated every year, but you still can’t take the human element out of it.

The current Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl champs at least in part because they drafted linebacker supreme K.J. Wright out of Mississippi State and Olive Branch in the fourth round. That’s right. Wright, who has made 243 tackles over three seasons and is the only linebacker I know who has stopped Saints tight end Jimmy Graham cold, was the 99th player selected in the draft.

He was a bargain and then some.

And the Saints know all about bargains. They got wide receiver Marques Colston with the 252nd pick of the 2006 draft. Colston was long, lean and reasonably fast, could jump and catch anything thrown in his direction. The problem was, in college, he did it for Hofstra. All he has done playing against the best players in the world is become the Saints’ all-time leader in receiving yards, yards from scrimmage, receiving touchdowns, total touchdowns, and total receptions.

And the guy throwing to him? He would be Drew Brees, the 32nd player taken in the 2001 draft by the San Diego Chargers. You remember that draft. The first player taken was a quarterback, Michael Vick. Thirty players were drafted between Vick and Brees.

Take your pick: Drew Brees (363 career TD passes) or Michael Vick (128 TD passes)?

You don’t have to answer.

•••

Click here to support your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

 

One thought on “The 2014 NFL Draft: Mistakes will be made”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *