Missing a Superstar is Worse Than Picking a Bust
Posted April 28, 2011 10:19 pm
By: Sef Gold
Around this time every year, a few names get thrown around like a football at a pro day. Bobby Beathard will forever live in infamy for selecting Ryan Leaf and Al Davis did nothing to help his reputation by taking JaMarcus Russell. While these quarterbacks may be two of the biggest draft busts in history, picking one of these colossal failures is not as damaging to an organization as missing on a superstar.
When a team selects a bust with their first pick, it will set the franchise back a few years. Both Leaf and Russell lasted three years with their respective teams before being released and both the Chargers and Raiders finished 8-8 the season after releasing their failed young quarterbacks. The Chargers drafted Drew Brees, began dominating the AFC West and the rest is history. The end result was only a short-term set back from the Ryan Leaf debacle. Oakland fans are hoping their team can do the same.
On the other side, when a team misses on a superstar, especially one that gets drafted by a division rival, the effects can haunt the franchise for years to come. When the Pittsburgh Steelers took Troy Polamalu with the 16th pick of the 2003 draft, both Baltimore and Cincinnati had earlier draft picks. While Carson Palmer (selected first by the Bengals) and Terrell Suggs (selected tenth by the Ravens) turned out to be quality starters, each team has tried multiple strong safeties over the past eight years while watching Number 43 make numerous big plays to help the Steelers dominate the AFC North.
This point can be further exemplified by the quarterback who has achieved the most out of the 2004 draft class. Ten teams passed on Ben Roethlisberger, half of them in the AFC. Since that time, the Steelers have made and won more Super Bowls than any other team in the NFL. Two of those teams, Jacksonville and Cleveland, still have quarterback issues. Even worse, Browns fans are forced to watch Big Ben shred their defense, while their own 2004 first-rounder, Kellen Winslow Jr., is no longer with the team.
In the NFL draft, especially the first round, it is essential to pick the right player. Although drafting a top talent prospect who ends up being a bust is never a good thing, the first ten teams should use their top pick on a player who they see changing the game. The ultimate goal is to prevent the, “would-a, could-a, should-a,” speculation when a player who was passed up becomes an elite NFL superstar who will one day stand on the stage in Canton and give a Hall of Fame acceptance speech.