It gets closer. The NFL Draft. A holiday for nerd fans, such as myself. And so in all my nerdom, I’ve worked tirelessly on TheBaker’s Draft Anthology, our seven-part series breaking down each and every round of the NFL Draft since 1995.
We give you the good, the bad and the downright quizzical.
Here’s what you’ve missed so far:
Round Seven brought us an offensive lineman that reminded us of a Presidential oral presentation.
Round Six taught us former San Diego State running backs don’t mind making off with your Sony Vaio.
Round Five belonged to Cecil Collins.
And in Round Four, we wished the Unabomber would have sent some mail to The Bachelor.
That takes us to Round Three. And if you’re new to this, get a few cups of coffee.
1. RB Curtis Martin – New England, No. 74 (Pittsburgh)
2. WR Antonio Freeman – Green Bay, No. 90 (Virginia Tech)
3. FB William Henderson – Green Bay, No. 66 (North Carolina)
Summary: Fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 14,101 yards, Martin was the model of consistency, rushing for at least 1,000 yards in the first 10 years of his 11-year career. He defied logic by continuing to rack up big numbers even late in his career when he notched a career-high and league leading 1,697 yards in 2004, his second to last year in the NFL. He made five Pro Bowls between his time with the Patriots and the Jets and proved a dependable workhorse, amassing 4,002 touches, third most in league history. As Robert Brooks began to age, Freeman soon became Brett Favre’s favorite target. He never caught 100 balls in a season, but he was a yards machine from 1996-2000 (racking up 5,586 yards during that span). He finished his career with 477 catches (perhaps none better than this) for 7,251 yards and 61 touchdowns. Freeman’s teammate in Green Bay, Henderson was one of the finer fullbacks in the league during his 12-year career (all spent with the Packers). He opened holes for Edgar Bennett, Dorsey Levens and Ahman Green and was named to the 2004 Pro Bowl. And in case you cared to know, he’s proficient on a bicycle.
Honorable Mention: TE David Sloan – Detroit, No. 70 (New Mexico); FB Zack Crockett – Indianapolis, No. 79 (Florida State); G Brenden Stai – Pittsburgh, No. 91 (Nebraska);
The Original Pacman Jones?: WR Tamarick Vanover – Florida State, No. 81 (Kansas City). That’s what Gregg Doyel thinks. A first-team All-American as a freshman, Vanover enjoyed two explosive seasons with the Seminoles as a return man and big play wideout. He left Florida State early because of some off-the-field problems and landed with the Las Vegas Posse in the CFL, during the league’s short-lived American go. After one season in Sin City, he was eligible for the Draft and the Chiefs took him with the 81st pick. Used primarily as a return man in five seasons with Kansas City, Vanover caught just 39 passes. He played a season with the Chargers, but only after serving jail time for being a money man in former Steeler and Chief Bam Morris’ marijuana trafficking operation. Now, he’s coaching football at the Lake City Christian Academy. Sounds about right.
I Remembered You Kicked Ass In College But Blew In The Pros: QB Eric Zeier – Georgia, No. 84 (Cleveland). This is hard for me because I grew up in Atlanta and Zeier could do know wrong by me. When he left Georgia, he had 67 school and 18 SEC records and was the conference’s all-time leader in passing yards (which was broken by Peyton Manning and then another Bulldog David Greene). But in the NFL, he sucked. There’s no sugarcoating it. He was primarily a backup and when he did start, it usually wasn’t pretty. The evidence: 4-8 in 12 career starts. He retired after the 2000 season, which he spent with Tampa Bay. Now, he does radio for his alma mater and provides motivational speeches to realtors.
Win In The End: LB Lorenzo Styles – Ohio State, No. 77 (Atlanta). Before my new favorite player, the former Greg White, changed his name to Stylez G. White in homage to Stiles in “Teen Wolf” (one of my favorite flicks ever), there was the Lorenzo Styles, the NFL’s Stylez OG. The former Ohio State stud split 70 games with Atlanta and St, Louis, mostly as a special teams player, though he started five games for the Rams in his 2000, his final year in the league.
1. WR Terrell Owens – San Francisco, No. 89 (Tennessee-Chattanooga)
2. LB Tedy Bruschi – New England, No. 86 (Arizona)
3. OL Roman Oben – New York Giants, No. 66 (Louisville)
Summary: Say what you will about Owens, you can’t argue with his production. His 139 receiving touchdowns rank him second in league history and his 951 career catches put him at fourth on the all-time receptions list. Did I mention his 14,122 yards are fifth best? So despite the all the headaches, T.O. has proved he’s one of the best ever. Period. Sure he can be a cancer and has been known to drop a few, but this five-time Pro Bowler has nine 1,000-yard seasons. He’s headed to Canton (but, Buffalo first). And you can blame his mother for T.O. thinking he’s God’s gift. She gave him the middle name Eldorado (Spanish for “golden one”). Thanks for that. We go from one hated guy to another, for no other reason that he’s considered the heart of the Patriots. There’s no denying he is a warrior. The dude came back from a stroke – in his mid-30s when most linebackers are already broken down. A two-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion, Bruschi has 1,110 tackles, 30.5 sacks and 12 interceptions in his career. With 130 starts to his credit split between the Giants, Browns, Buccaneers and Chargers, Oben played a premium position (left tackle) and did it admirably. He won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay before being traded to San Diego, where he finished his career after appearing in four games in 2007. Now, he’s helping athletes get jobs.
Honorable Mention: C Mike Flanagan – Green Bay, No. 90 (UCLA); DE Brady Smith – New Orleans, No. 70 (Colorado State); CB Donnie Abraham – Tampa Bay, No. 71 (East Tennessee State); DT John Browning – Kansas City, No. 68 (West Virginia); CB Ray Mickens – New York Jets, No. 62 (Texas A&M);
2 Live Stews: DB Ryan Stewart – Georgia Tech, No. 76 (Detroit). Before he was tag-teaming Skip Bayless on ESPN’s “Cold Pizza,” er, “First Take,” he was toiling away on Detroit’s bench. He started just two games in his five-year career. After the NFL, he returned to Atlanta and began hosting a radio talk show (2 Live Stews) with his brother, Doug Stewart (not the former Oakland A’s pitcher, that’s DAVE Stewart). As far as his work on ESPN, anybody talking besides Dana Jacobson is a win.
From The Department Of Dyslexic Famous Names: RB Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar – UCLA, No. 80 (Miami). What, was Jean King Billie taken? He was born Sharmon Shah. OK, so it would be natural to not want a name that meant Iranian king. But come on? I can tell you exactly, how this happened:
He was puffing on some Cali greenery with his roommate (a Manhattan Beach surfer he was randomly paired with), lamenting over how shitty his name was. On a TV in the background, ESPN Classic is re-airing the Game Six of the 1985 NBA Finals.
“Man, my name fucking blows.”
“I know, dude. Sharmon Shah…chah.”
“What can I do?
“Change it, brah.”
“I don’t know man. Chef Boyardee?”
“Nah. Nothing food related, dumb ass.”
Parrish goes up agaisnt Kareem and hits. It’s down to seven, but another minute has ticked off…The Lakers will use as much time as possible before getting it to Kareem…
“Go with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!
“You’re an idiot.”
“Nah, man. He changed his name to it.”
“Exactly, dumb ass. It’s already been done.”
“Then jumble it up to like Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar.”
“Dude, I’m not going to lie – that’s tight.”
“I can’t get away with that though.”
“Yes you can. You go to UCLA. They’d love it.”
He would later rename himself Karim Abdul-Jabbar (notice the “I” instead of “E” in Karim? Product of another session we’re sure). And for all his name flap, the dude actually played pretty damn well his first three years in the NFL. He set a Dolphins rookie record with 1,116 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 1997, he tied with Terrell Davis for the league lead in touchdowns with 15. A year later, he put up 960 yards, but was traded to Cleveland for a…THIRD ROUNDER. It all comes full circle. He played a year for the Browns and Colts and then was gone.
Wow, I Remember This Name, Why?: WR Stepfret Williams – Louisiana-Monroe, No. 94 (Dallas). During this tedious task known as TheBaker’s Draft Anthology, I’ve scanned a lot of names. When I came across this one, I laughed and read it out loud to myself and laughed again. I can just hear Pat Summeral saying it. But who the fuck was Stepfret Williams? He played two years with the Dallas Cowboys and caught 30 passes in 1997 as the No. 3 receiver behind Michael Irvin and Anthony Miller (wow, again). A year later, he was in Cincy. A year after that, he was done in the NFL. Ladies and gentlemen, Stepfret Williams.
1. DE Jason Taylor – Miami, No. 73 (Akron)
2. CB Ronde Barber – Tampa Bay, No. 66 (Virginia)
3. LB Mike Vrabel – Pittsburgh, No. 91 (Ohio State)
Summary: Currently tops among active players with 120.5 career sacks (he’s 14th in league history), Taylor was a different breed of pass rusher when he entered the league. He was tall, lean and athletic. He recorded double-digit sack totals in half of his 12 seasons, including a league-leading 18.5 in 2002. After finishing runner-up on “Dancing With the Stars,” Taylor ended up in Washington last year for a forgettable 3.5-sack season. They cut him loose and now, he’s looking for work. A five-time Pro Bowler, Barber isn’t really known for being an interception hawk, despite leading the league with 10 in 2001, his only season with more than five picks. Instead, Tiki’s brother is among the best tackling corners in the league having recorded 932 stops in his career. He’s also been an adept blitzer with 23 career sacks and his 11 defensive touchdowns leaves him two shy of tying Rod Woodson’s all-time record. After four seasons as a reserve for Pittsburgh, Vrabel landed with New England in 2001 and became a fixture in the Patriots’ 3-4 scheme, starting 110 games for the Pats before being traded to Kansas City this offseason. In his career, he’s amassed 662 tackles, 55 sacks and 11 interceptions and started on three Super Bowl champions.
Honorable Mention: DL Bertrand Berry – Indianapolis, No. 86 (Notre Dame); RB Duce Staley – Philadelphia, No. 71 (South Carolina); P Brad Maynard – New York Giants, No. 95 (Ball State); G Dan Neil – Denver, No. 67 (Texas); LB Derek Smith – Washington, No. 80 (Arizona State); G Frank Middleton – Tampa Bay (Arizona); LB Derrick Rodgers – Miami, No. 92 (Arizona State); CB Denard Walker – Tennessee, No. 75 (Kent State).
Move Over Godzilla, Here Comes The Beast: OL Bob Sapp – Washington, No. 69 (Chicago). A waste of a draft pick, Sapp played in just one NFL game. But the 6-foot-5, 375-pound land mass turned into an international pro wrestling/mixed martial arts star after football. Known as “The Beast,” Sapp was a champion in K-1 and named Japan’s Best Box Office Draw in 2002 and 2003. His career record in MMA is 10-3-1. The big fella has even crossed over into film. He was Switowski in “The Longest Yard,” and if you’ve seen commercials for that awful looking Rob Schneider prison movie, he’s in that too.
I Came Up With That Annoying ‘Dirty Bird’ Touchdown Dance: TE O.J. Santiago – Kent State, No. 70 (Atlanta). Jamal Anderson gets most of the credit for biggest touchdown celebration since the Ickey Shuffle. And it’s easy to see why. In 1998, Anderson scored 16 times compared to Santiago’s five. So, we got to see Anderson do “The DIrty Bird” more. But in actuality, it was our boy O.J that came up with it. That 1998 Super Bowl season was by far Santiago’s best (27 catches for 428 yards) as he played just one more season with the Falcons before bouncing around with Dallas, Cleveland and Oakland. He scored twice in 2001 for the Browns, but decided against using his initial TD celebration idea of taking a big brown dump in the end zone, thus avoiding an expected league fine.
1. C Olin Kreutz – Chicago, No. 64 (Washington)
2. WR Hines Ward – Pittsburgh, No. 92 (Georgia)
3. LB Jeremiah Trotter – Philadelphia, No. 72 (Stephen F. Austin)
Summary: One of the premier centers in the game, Kreutz went to six consecutive Pro Bowls from 2001-2006. He has 151 starts to his credit, including 96 in a row. Known as a ferocious and sometimes nasty competitor, Kreutz has no problem mixing it up, even if it means taking a swipe at a teammate, which he did in 2005 when he broke Fred Miller’s jaw. A team captain, Kreutz is currently the longest tenured Bears player and will finally have someone worthwhile tickling his ass with the arrival of J.C. Known maybe more for his propensity to block than actually catch passes, Ward does have 800 catches, 9,780 receiving yards and 72 touchdowns in his career. A four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XL MVP, Ward was a quarterback at Georgia before transforming into one of the NFL’s toughest receivers. And despite little niggles, he’s still performing at a high level. Last season, he recorded his fifth 1,000-yard season, finishing with 81 catches for 1,043 yards and seven scores. An absolute tackling machine, Trotter prolifically roamed the middle of the Eagles defense from 1999-2001 recording 355 tackles during that three-year span, including a team-high 174 in 1999. He then signed with NFC East rival Washington and played two seasons there before returning to Philly. Selected to the Pro Bowl four times, Trotter finished his career with 642 total tackles, 12.5 sacks and nine interceptions.
Honorable Mention: RB Ahman Green – Seattle, No. 76 (Nebraska); DE Leonard Little – St. Louis, No. 65 (Tennessee); QB Brian Griese – Denver, No. 91 (Michigan); LB Steve Foley – Cincinnati, No. 75 (Northeast Louisiana); DE Greg Spires – New England, No. 83 (Florida State); FB Jon Ritchie – Oakland, No. 63 (Stanford); CB/KR Allen Rossum – Philadelphia, No. 85 (Notre Dame).
I Remember You Kicked Ass In College But Blew In The Pros: DB Scott Frost – Nebraska, No. 67 (New York Jets). The starting quarterback for the Cornhuskers’ 1997 national championship team, Frost had an easier time keeping Lawrence Phillips from beating up women than he did throwing passes. His most famous pass was actually kicked. He spent six uneventful seasons in the NFL and is now the wide receivers coach at Oregon.
1. LB Joey Porter – Pittsburgh, No. 73 (Colorado State)
2. DE Chike Okeafor – San Francisco, No. 89 (Purdue)
3. CB Mike McKenzie – Green Bay, No. 87 (Memphis)
Summary: So much for being washed. After being written off as a product of the Pittsburgh 3-4 system, Porter responded with a 17.5-sack season last year for the Dolphins and was named to his fourth Pro Bowl. Never shy to bark at opponents, Porter has plenty of dissenters, but few can argue with his pass rushing skills thanks to his 83 career sacks (seventh most among active players). Not as dynamic as Porter, Okeafor certainly has been a model of consistency during his NFL career. After struggling for playing time his first three seasons with the 49ers, he finally earned the starting job in 2002, recorded six sacks and showed enough for Seattle to sign him up. From 2003-2006, Okeafor managed at least 7.5 sacks each season, also spending time with the Cardinals. Last year, he played outside linebacker for the NFC Champion Cardinals, notching 4.5 sacks and 60 tackles. For his career, he has 48.5 sacks and 383 tackles. This one is hard for me because I know this guy sucks. But McKenzie has started 129 of his 133 career games, so someone must think he’s doing something right. His best season was his rookie year when he intercepted six passes and made 65 tackles. McKenzie last five years with the Packers before he was jettisoned to New Orleans, where’s been nothing but burnt toast since arriving. But hey, the rest of the guys below aren’t worthy of dislodging McKenzie.
Honorable Mention: WR Marty Booker – Chicago, No. 78 (Louisiana-Monroe); DE Jared DeVries – Detroit, No. 70 (Iowa); OL Rex Tucker – Chicago, No. 66 (Texas A&M); TE Dan Campbell – New York Giants, No. 79 (Texas A&M); LB Dat Nguyen – Dallas, No. 85 (Texas A&M).
I’ll Bust In The Incredible Bulk’s Face: DT Cletidus Hunt – Kentucky State, No. 94 (Green Bay). A fan poll conducted by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has Hunt as the team’s biggest bust (15 points higher than epic bust Tony Mandarich). After 5.5 sacks in three seasons, Green Bay gave Hunt $20 million. That will explain the bust status. He started the next three seasons and recorded 104 total tackles and 11.5 sacks, but was out of football after 2004. And apparently despite his big payday, he still owes Korean jewelers quite a bit of money. Korean jewelers? What, did he get his nails tricked out?
1. WR Laveranues Coles – New York Jets, No. 78 (Florida State)
2. WR Darrell Jackson – Seattle, No. 80 (Florida)
3. S Greg Wesley – Kansas City, No. 85 (Arkansas-Pine Bluff)
Summary: Top 20 in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns among active players, Coles has certainly gotten his money’s worth. He recorded back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons (2002-03) and was named to the ’03 Pro Bowl as a Redskin. He went back to New York for four more seasons (and another 3,439 yards) before signing with Cincinnati this offseason. If I gave Coles love, statistically speaking I have to do the same for Jackson. Slow and steady wins the race, I guess. The former Gator went over 1,000 yards three times in his first five seasons, but slowed his pace because of injuries and deciding to sign with San Francisco. In Denver last season, he had 12 catches. But in his career he’s got 487 receptions for 6,942 yards and 50 touchdowns. A starter from day one in Kansas City, Wesley played eight seasons with the Chiefs, notching 103 starts. His best season came in 2003 when he recorded 104 tackles and had six interceptions. For his career, he had 587 tackles and 29 picks. He was beaten out by Bernard Pollard for the starter’s job in 2007. Pollard would later go on to make Matt Cassel a multi-millionaire a year later.
Honorable Mention: OL Damion McIntosh – San Diego, No. 83 (Kansas State); LB Mark Simoneau – Atlanta, No. 67 (Kansas State); DT Darwin Walker – Arizona, No. 71 (Tennessee); LB Nate Webster – Tampa Bay, No. 90 (Miami); T John St. Clair – St. Louis, No. 94 (Virginia).
I Remember You Kicked Ass In College But Blew In The Pros: DE/LB Corey Moore – Virginia Tech, No. 89 (Buffalo). Only the second Hokie in school history to earn unanimous All-America honors, Moore won the Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award in 1999 after collecting 31 sacks in his final two seasons in Blacksburg. He had one NFL sack in 10 career games.
You’ve Been Replaced By Orlando Pace. Thanks For Leaving: T John St. Clair – Virginia, No. 94 (St. Louis). After Chicago’s starting right tackle John Tait unexpectedly retired in the offseason, St. Clair, the Bears’ starter at left tackle, decided to stiff Chicago, who he thought dragged their feet in negotiations, and signed with Cleveland. Well, desperate for help at tackle, the Bears kicked the tires on 33-year old Orlando Pace. I know he’s not the Pace that was the best at his position for nearly a decade, but him at 70 percent is better than a John St. Clair. Peace douche bag.
1. WR Steve Smith – Carolina, No. 74 (Utah)
2. S Adrian Wilson – Arizona, No. 64 (N.C. State)
3. C Casey Rabach – Baltimore, No. 92 (Wisconsin)
Summary: After making the Pro Bowl as a kick returner in his rookie year, Smith earned himself a greater role in the Panthers’ offense. He would go onto surpass 1,000 yards in five of the next seven seasons, including 2005 when he led the NFL in receptions (103), receiving yards (1,563) and touchdowns (12). When he’s not beating up his teammates (here and here), he’s one of the best there is. Last season – in just 14 games – he had 1,421 receiving yards and led the league with 101.5 yards per game average. One of the best strong safeties in the league, if not the best, Wilson can do it all – tackle, blitz, ball hawk. At 6-foot-3, 222 pounds, he’s a physical specimen. He gained a lot of attention last year during the Cardinals’ Super Bowl run, but he was worth attention look before. Wilson had back-to-back 100-tackle seasons (2004-05) and then made the Pro Bowl in 2006. For his career, he has 609 total tackles, 18.5 sacks and 18 interceptions. And he can jump 66 inches off the ground. It’s not sexy, but after one season as a starter in Baltimore, Rabach signed with Washington in 2005 and has been the Redskins’ starting center ever since, starting all 63 of the games he’s played. That works for me.
Honorable Mention: DE Derrick Burgess – Philadelphia, No. 63 (Mississippi); LB Morlon Greenwood – Miami, No. 88 (Syracuse); RB Kevan Barlow – San Francisco, No. 80 (Pittsburgh);
The Next Larry Brown: DB Dwight Smith – Akron, No. 84 (Tampa Bay). What Neil O’Donnell did for Larry Brown’s career, Rich Gannon did for Smith’s. In Super Bowl XXX, Brown intercepted O’Donnell twice on his way to earning Super Bowl MVP honors. He turned that into a lucrative deal with Oakland. Smith one upped Brown by returning both of his Super Bowl XXXVII for touchdowns. Smith didn’t win the MVP, but he did make himself some money. After a few more seasons in Tampa, he spent one in New Orleans before cashing in with Minnesota. The Vikings have since released him.
1. RB Brian Westbrook – Philadelphia, No. 91 (Villanova)
2. S Chris Hope – Pittsburgh, No. 94 (Florida State)
3. LB Will Witherspoon – Carolina, No. 73 (Georgia)
Summary: One of the best dual-threat backs in the league, Westbrook certainly proved those who doubted a small school, small guy could be an every down back wrong. With Duce Staley gone and Correll Buckhalter injured, Westbrook got his chance to be the starter and he ran for 812 yards and led all NFL backs with 73 receptions and 703 receiving yards. It was a taste of what was to come. In his career, he has 5,721 rushing yards and 36 rushing touchdowns. Couple that with 3,609 receiving yards and 28 receiving touchdowns, and you have an effing stud. It’s a pretty sharp drop off from there though. Hope has been a solid NFL starter with 485 career tackles and 15 interceptions in his time split between Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Last season in Tennessee, he made 16 starts and was actually voted to the Pro Bowl. A starter on the Panthers’ Super Bowl XXXVIII team, Witherspoon had a career-high 16 tackles in the Big Game. But after four seasons as Carolina’s starting middle linebacker, he landed in St. Louis in 2006. Witherspoon led the Rams in tackles in each of his first two seasons there with 116 and 110 stops, respectively. During last year’s awful Rams’ season, Witherspoon has replaced as the starter in favor of a seventh round pick. Not good.
Honorable Mention: LB Ben Leber – San Diego, No. 71 (Kansas State); LB Akin Ayodele – Jacksonville, No. 89 (Purdue); TE Chris Baker – New York Jets, No. 88 (Michigan State); QB Josh McCown – Arizona, No. 81 (Sam Houston State);
I Remember You Kicked Ass In College But Blew In The Pros: WR Eric Crouch – Nebraska, No. 95 (St. Louis). It wasn’t a real shock that the 2001 Heisman Trophy winner was no good as a pro. It was obvious he wasn’t going to be a pro quarterback – as impressive as his seven passing touchdowns were. But running the option to the tune of 1,115 yards and 18 touchdowns led the Rams to believe Crouch could make the switch to wide receiver. He couldn’t and the Rams released him. Green Bay signed him with a promise that he could try quarterback. Then they drafted Aaron Rodgers and he requested his release. It was promptly granted. He then became a fourth-string quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts behind the likes of Michael Bishop and Mike McMahon.
1. LB Lance Briggs – Chicago, No. 68 (Arizona)
2. TE Jason Witten – Dallas, No. 69 (Tennessee)
3. G Vince Manuwai – Jacksonville, No. 72 (Hawaii)
Summary: Over the last six seasons, only Minnesota defensive tackle Pat Williams has made more tackles behind the line of scrimmage than Briggs (the Bears’ outside linebacker has 44.5; Williams has 49). Selected to four straight Pro Bowls, Briggs has recorded more than 100 tackles in each of the last five seasons, including last year in which he led the Bears with 110 stops. Tony Romo’s boyfriend, according to Terrell Owens, Witten certainly has been one of Romo’s favorite targets. In his second season, the former Volunteer caught 87 balls for 980 yards and made the Pro Bowl. His best season came in 2007 when he caught 96 passes for 1,145 yards and seven touchdown. Jacksonville’s starting left guard since his rookie year, Manuwai helped clear the way for one of the best rushing attacks in the league. But an injury during the season opener last year shelved him for the entire season and not surprisingly, the Jaguars struggled. A starter in 78 of his 79 career games played, Manuwai figures to reclaim his left guard spot this season.
Honorable Mention: DT Cory Redding – Detroit, No. 66 (Texas); WR Nate Burleson – Minnesota, No. 71 (Nevada); WR Kevin Curtis – St. Louis, No. 74 (Utah State); G Derrick Dockery – Washington, No. 81 (Texas); TE Visanthe Shiancoe – New York Giants, No. 91 (Morgan State); QB Chris Simms – Tampa Bay, No. 97 (Texas); RB Chris Brown – Tennessee, No. 93 (Colorado); RB Justin Fargas – Oakland, No. 96 (USC).
Talk About A Grand Slam: CB Ricky Manning Jr. – UCLA, No. 82 (Carolina). A nickelback for the Panthers, Bears and Rams, Manning Jr. and former UCLA teammates Tyler Ebell and Maurice Jones-Drew bullied another student who was working on a laptop at Denny’s. According to the police report, Manning asked the student, “Are you a faggot? You fucking Jew.” The players then beat him unconscious. Two days later, the Bears signed him to a $21-million deal. Manning plead no contest in exchange for probation. He played two seasons for Chicago, starting 11 games.
Just Flash Eight Fingers - T Courtney Van Buren – Arkansas-Pine Bluff, No. 80 (San Diego). Surprisingly, this dude played in eight games – seven starts – his rookie season. No word on whether he’s a Van Buren Boy.
Jerry: “There’s a street gang named after President Martin Van Buren.”
Kramer: “Oh yeah. And they’re just as mean as he was.”
Van Buren played just one more game for the Chargers, signed with Detroit, never seeing the field for the Lions. (How bad do you have to be?) According to Wikipedia, Van Buren is involved in various social and political causes. Go figure. His namesake, our eighth President, is the only American President to have English as his second language (Van Buren grew up speaking Dutch).
1. DT Darnell Dockett – Arizona, No. 64 (Florida State)
2. TE Chris Cooley – Washington, No. 81 (Utah State)
3. WR Bernard Berrian – Chicago, No. 78 (Fresno State)
Summary: Named to the Pro Bowl in 2007 after registering nine sacks from his tackle position, Dockett was vital in the Cardinals’ run to the Super Bowl last season. He’s started all but one game for Arizona since he joined them in 2004 and has 225 tackles and 19 sacks in his career. He tied Reggie White’s record with three sacks in the Super Bowl, though in a losing effort. When he’s not taking pictures of his wang, Cooley is one of the best pass catching tight ends in the league. He’s surpassed the 700-yard mark in each of the last four seasons and has been voted to two consecutive Pro Bowls. Last season, he had career-highs in receptions (83) and yards (849), but he only managed to score once. He gets votes for marrying a Redskins cheerleader, though she was fired for dating him. And he’s one of the most Web savvy athletes around. Again, that is when he’s not taking pictures of his pubes. Known as a big play threat in college, Berrian had a quiet first two seasons in Chicago, but struck a rapport with Rex Grossman in 2006 and caught 51 passes for 775 yards. He followed that up with a 71-catch, 951-yard campaign in 2007 and cashed in with NFC North Division rival Minnesota. With the Vikings, he proved his big play reputation averaging 20.1 yards a catch, including a 99-yard touchdown on Nov. 30 against…the Bears. He finished the season with 964 yards and seven touchdowns.
Honorable Mention: C Nick Hardwick – San Diego, No. 66 (Purdue); QB Matt Schaub – Atlanta, No. 90 (Virginia); K Nate Kaeding – San Diego, No. 65 (Iowa); T Max Starks – Pittsburgh, No. 75 (Florida); OL Sean Locklear – Seattle, No. 84 (N.C. State); T Travelle Wharton – Carolina, No. 94 (South Carolina);
R.I.P. - LB Marquis Cooper – Washington, No. 79 (Tampa Bay). A five-year NFL veteran, Cooper spent time with six different teams, including the Raiders, who he played eight games for last season. On March 1, 2009, Cooper went missing when a boat carrying him and three others, including Lions defensive lineman Corey Smith, capsized near Clearwater, Fla. Only Nick Schuyler was found clinging to the boat when the Coast Guard found it a day later. Cooper, Smith and the fourth passenger, William Bleakley are presumed dead.
1. RB Frank Gore – San Francisco, No. 65 (Miami)
2. DE Justin Tuck – New York Giants, No. 74 (Notre Dame)
3. LB Kirk Morrison – Oakland, No. 78 (San Diego State)
Summary: With 5,866 total yards from scrimmage in his first four seasons, Gore is certainly established himself as one of the premier backs in the NFL. The only thing holding Gore back, besides his awful San Francisco teammates, is his lack of touchdowns (26). His best campaign was in 2006 (his lone Pro Bowl year), when he ran for 1,695 yards and had 485 receiving yards and 9 total scores. Last season, he battled some little injuries, but still managed to start 14 games and rush for 1,036 yards. After collecting 10 sacks as Michael Strahan’s backup in 2007, Tuck became the starter last season with Strahan’s retirement. He responded in kind with a 12-sack Pro Bowl campaign. Oakland’s starting middle linebacker, Morrison has been a tackling machine for the Raiders, leading the team in tackles in each of his four seasons with the team. Since 2005, Morrison has recorded 499 tackles, including 135 last season (fifth best in the league).
Honorable Mention: LB Channing Crowder – Miami, No. 70 (Florida); OL Nick Kaczur – New England, No. 100 (Toledo); DB Oshimogho Atogwe – St. Louis, No. 66 (Stanford); WR Chris Henry – Cincinnati, No. 83 (West Virginia); CB Ellis Hobbs – New England, No. 84 (Iowa State); LB LeRoy Hill – Seattle, No. 98 (Clemson); C Richie Incognito – St. Louis, No. 81 (Nebraska); WR Brandon Jones – Tennessee, No. 96 (Oklahoma); CB Dominique Foxworth – Denver, No. 97 (Maryland).
I Remember You Kicked Ass In College But Blew In The Pros: QB David Greene – Georgia, No. 85 (Seattle). Quick, name the winningest quartberack in NCAA Division I history. Be honest, you had no idea it was David Greene. Heck, half of you probably barely remember this guy. His 42 wins are best all-time, helped by the fact he started as a redshirt freshman. But he also broke the SEC yards record previously held by Peyton Manning, finishing his career with 11,270 yards gained. He flopped in the preseason with Seattle and then had stints with New England, Kansas City and Indianapolis’ practice squads before retiring to start an insurance brokerage firm with fellow former Bulldog Matt Stinchcomb,
A Running Back-Led Police Chase Without The Double Homicide: RB Maurice Clarett – Ohio State, No. 101 (Denver). After helping the Buckeyes to the national championship as a freshman, Clarett tried to Curt Flood the NFL by challenging the league’s requirement on players be three years removed from high school before being eligible for the Draft. That didn’t work, and he never played another football game after the 2002 title game. At the 2005 Combine, he put up pedestrian-like 40 times of 4.82 and 4.72 seconds. Denver shocked everyone by taking Clarett in the third round. He showed up to camp overweight, didn’t see any preseason action and was cut. In debt, he resorted to crime and allegedly robbed two guys at gunpoint outside a night club, but only managed to steal a $150 cell phone. While out on bail, he was arrested after taking police on a joyride in a car loaded with guns, an open Grey Goose bottle, while wearing kevlar body armor. A police mounted spike strip popped Clarett’s tires, but while police tried to apprehend Clarett, he was maced and tasered before a cloth was put over his mouth. He plea bargained and is now serving time at the Toledo Correctional Facility, all the while earning a degree in Geriatrics and Gerontology from Ohio University and blogging about his life in prison.
Walking Tall: TE Kevin Everett – Miami, No. 86 (Buffalo). Before Sept. 9, 2007, Everett was just a backup tight end and special teams contributor. After being nearly paralyzed while covering a kick, Everett spent three days on a respirator and doctors put his chances of regaining full use of his arms and legs at less than 5-10 percent. A miraculous turnaround a day later had doctors beaming about marked improvements in Everett’s condition. On Dec. 23, 2007, he walked out onto the field for the Bills’ home finale.
1. RB Jerious Norwood – Atlanta, No. 79 (Mississippi State)
2. LB Freddie Keiaho – Indianapolis, No. 94 (San Diego State)
3. LB Clint Ingram – Jacksonville, No. 80 (Oklahoma)
Summary: Atlanta’s home run threat, Norwood is capable of taking it to the house on every snap. In 2007, he led the league averaging 6.0 yards a carry (103 carries for 613 yards) and amassed 890 total yards from scrimmage. As Michael Turner’s backup last season, Norwood ran for 489 yards and caught 36 passes for 338 yards, giving the Falcons a versatile weapon out of the backfield. After appearing in 14 games as a rookie, Keiaho started 11 contests in 2007 and finished the year with 81 total tackles. He started 14 games last season and led the Colts in tackles with 105. On a sidenote, as a reporter venturing into a locker room you expect to see your fair share of wang. It’s unavoidable. Freddy Keiaho, I tip my hat to you. The thing has its own zip code. It’s highly doubtful Ingram is swinging a comparable stick, but he’s started 34 games the last three seasons for the Jaguars. Though, how a starting linebacker amasses just 38 tackles in a season, which Ingram accomplished last year, is baffling. However, a three-year starter is good enough for me.
Honorable Mention: OT Eric Winston – Houston, No. 66 (Miami); LB Chris Gocong – Philadelphia, No. 71 (Cal Poly); TE Leonard Pope – Arizona, No. 72 (Georgia); QB Brodie Croyle – Kansas City, No. 85 (Alabama);
This Guy Should Soft-Serve Some Hard Time: DT Frostee Rucker – USC, No. 91 (Cincinnati). Of course Cincinnati would draft this accused rapist. While at Colorado State, Rucker was charged with rape, but the victim was too scared to testify. He was then cited for indecent exposure in a different case before moving to USC. As a Trojan, he beat up his girlfriend, was charged with spousal abuse and vandalism, but was never suspended. After missing his rookie season due to injury he was suspended for a game for violating the personal conduct policy in 2007 for his involvement in another battery case. He started four games for the Bengals last season and finished the year with one sack and 16 tackles.
1. LB Stewart Bradley – Philadelphia, No. 87 (Nebraska)
2. QB Trent Edwards – Buffalo, No. 92 (Stanford)
3. OT Ryan Harris – Denver, No. 70 (Notre Dame)
Summary: Jeremiah Trotter’s replacement in the middle of the Eagles’ defense, Bradley played in all 16 games as a rookie before moving into the starting lineup last season. As the Eagles’ starter, he went onto lead the team in tackles with 108, including 86 solo stops. With Terrell Owens in tow, Edwards hopes he’s not the next in a long line of quarterbacks left in Owens’ wake. Last season, the former Stanford man threw for 2,699 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He had an impressive 65.5 percent completion percentage and workable 85.4 QB rating. But now, entering his third year, the real fun begins. Before he started 16 games at right tackle for the Broncos this past season, Harris was a small screen sensation on MTV’s “True Life: I Want The Perfect Body.” The 6-foot-5, 300-pound man child then went on to Notre Dame, where he started all four years. Considered one of the better young tackles in the league, Harris allowed just 1.5 sacks last season.
Honorable Mention: WR/KR Johnnie Lee Higgins – Oakland, No. 99 (UTEP).
1. RB Steve Slaton – Houston, No. 89 (West Virginia)
2. RB Kevin Smith – Detroit, No. 64 (Central Florida)
3. WR Harry Douglas – Atlanta, No. 84 (Louisville)
Summary: Considered too small to be an every down back, Slaton fell to the third round despite gaudy college performances. After a strong Week One, Slaton earned himself an increased role and responded with a stellar rookie campaign. He rushed for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns, while adding another 377 receiving yards. His 1,659 yards from scrimmage were fifth best in the league last season. And he was a fantasy football revelation for me when I slang Kurt Warner for him and Jeremy Shockey in Week Three. Another rookie runner, Smith has the unenviable distinction of playing for the woeful Lions. But along with Calvin Johnson, Smith proved a rare bright spot for Detroit. The former UCF man ran for 976 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 starts last season. Perhaps more dangerous on reverses, Douglas is another explosive playmaker for the young Falcons offense. His role increased as the season went on and he finished the year fourth on the team with 23 receptions for 320 yards.
Honorable Mention: DT Marcus Harrison – Chicago, No. 90 (Arkansas); RB Jamaal Charles – Kansas City, No. 73 (Texas); FB Jacob Hester – San Diego, No. 69 (LSU); S Tom Zbikowski – Baltimore, No. 86 (Notre Dame).
Now to the top five third round picks since 1995:
1. RB Curtis Martin – New England, No. 74 (Pittsburgh) 1995
2. WR Terrell Owens – San Francisco, No. 89 (Tennessee-Chattanooga) 1996
3. RB Brian Westbrook – Philadelphia, No. 91 (Villanova) 2002
4. DE Jason Taylor – Miami, No. 73 (Akron) 1997
5. WR Steve Smith – Carolina, No. 74 (Utah) 2001