published Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Greeson: Draft day a risky proposition

The draft is about so many things. Value. Risk. Luck. Hidden gems and high-pick busts.

The definition of success, more times than not, can swing on who was taken after your team's first round pick.

Case in point: There's a real argument to be made that JaMarcus Russell going No. 1 overall in 2007 was the worst pick ever because the game's best wide receiver (Calvin Johnson), tackle (Joe Thomas), running back (Adrian Peterson), middle linebacker (Patrick Willis) and cornerback (Darrelle Revis) for the better part of a decade were taken after the Oakland Raiders missed with Russell.

That's of huge import today since there are a couple of quarterbacks rumored to be in the mix among the top 10 picks in a draft that features an elite pass rusher in Jadeveon Clowney, an elite tackle in Greg Robinson, an elite wide out in Sammy Watkins and an elite linebacker in Khalil Mack.

The draft starts with all the caution signs and a simple warning: Caveat Emptor -- buyer beware.

Draft highs and lows since 1994

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta

Best: Moving up to get receiver Julio Jones No. 6 in 2011

Worst: Arkansas DE Jamaal Anderson No. 8 overall in 2007

Carolina

Best: Stud middle linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 9 in 2012

Worst: Michigan running back Tim Biakabutuka at No. 8 in 1996

New Orleans

Best: Cam Jordan, a former Cal defensive end, at No. 24 in 2011 looks to be a defensive linchpin

Worst: Saints have a bad history with first-round running backs with Reggie Bush No. 2 overall in 2006, Mark Ingram No. 28 in 2011, and had to sacrifice a ton to get Ricky Williams No. 5 in 1999

Tampa Bay

Best: The Bucs had a historic first round in 1995 with Hall of Famers Warren Sapp at No. 12 and Derrick Brooks at No. 28

Worst: Defensive end Gaines Adams from Clemson at No. 4 in 2007


NFC EAST

Dallas

Best: Dez Bryant at No. 24 in 2010

Worst: Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter at No. 18 in 2006

New York Giants

Best: Hakeem Nicks at No. 29 in 2009

Worst: Ron Dayne went at No. 11 in 2007

Philadelphia

Best: Donovan McNabb, No. 2 in 1999

Worst: While former Boston College linebaacker Mike Mamula was the No. 7 in 1995 and has become the face of a guy who shines at the combine and fails in the league, the Eagles took guard Danny Watkins No. 21 out of Baylor in 2011 and he's already out of the league

Washington

Best: Future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey at No. 7 in 1999

Worst: A lot of them in 20 years: Desmond Howard No. 4 in 1992; Heath Shuler No. 3 in 1994; Michael Westbrook No. 4 in 95; Carlos Rogers No. 9 in 2005


NFC WEST

Arizona

Best: Larry Fitzgerald No. 3 in 2004

Worst: Matt Leinart went 10th in 2006

St. Louis

Best: All-Pro pass rusher Robert Quinn was No. 14 in 2011

Worst: Baylor tackle Jason Smith at No. 2 in 2009

San Francisco

Best: Patrick Willis 11 in 2007 and Joe Staley 28 CMU tackle same year

Worst: Andre Carter No. 7 Cal DE 2001; Alex Smith No. 1 Utah QB 2005

Seattle

Best: FSU tackle and future Hall of Famer Walter Jones at 1997

Worst: Aaron Curry, the former Wake Forest LB, was No. 4 in 2009 and is out of football

NFC NORTH

Detroit

Best: Star wide out Calvin Johnson No. 2 in 2007

Worst: Bust wide out Charles Rogers No. 2 overall in 2003

Chicago

Best: Brian Urlacher was an undersized linebacker big safety out of New Mexico at No. 9 in 2000

Worst: Cedric Benson, at No. 4, was one of three bust-tastic running backs in the 2005 draft

Green Bay

Best: Aaron Rodgers at No. 24 in 2005

Worst: Former Tennessee defensive lineman Justin Harrell at No. 16 in 2007

Minnesota

Best: Future Hall of Famer Randy Moss at No. 21 in 1998

Worst: Receiver Troy Williamson at No. 7 in 2005


AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh

Best: Former defensive player of the year and future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu at No. 16 in 2003

Worst: Receiver Troy Edwards out of La. Tech at No. 13 in 1999

Cincinnati

Best: Linebacker Takeo Spikes at No. 13 in 1998

Worst: Quarterback Akili Smith at No. 3 in 1999

Cleveland

Best: Joe Thomas, who went No. 3 in 2007, may be the best tackle in the NFL

Worst: Cleveland gets a pass on Trent Richardson, who went No. 3 in 2012, because it dealt him for a first-rounder, so we'll go with Tim Couch at No. 1 in 1999.

Baltimore

Best: The Ravens will eventually match the Bucs with two Hall of Famers in one first round when Ray Lewis, who went No. 26 in 1996, and Jonathan Ogden, who went No. 4 that year, get inducted

Worst: Former Florida wide out Travis Taylor at No. 10 in 2000


AFC SOUTH

Houston

Best: Andre Johnson at No. 3 in 2003

Worst: Former FSU defensive tackle Travis Johnson at No. 16 in 2005

Indianapolis

Best: Peyton Manning at No. 1 in 1998

Worst: Trev Alberts at No. 5 in 1994

Jacksonville

Best: Fred Taylor, the former Florida great running back, at No. 9 in 1998

Worst: Former Akransas quarterback-turned-receiver Matt Jones at No. 21 in 2005

Tennessee

Best: While Steve McNair at No. 3 in 1995 and Eddie Georgie at No. 14 in 1996 were good, for the return on the spot, linebacker Keith Bullock was a decade-long fixture at No. 30 in 2000

Worst: While Vince Young flamed out after going No. 3 in 2006, the Adam "Pacman" Jones experiment from No. 6 in 2005 was a disaster


AFC WEST

Denver

Best: Former Tennessee linebacker Al Wilson, who made five Pro Bowls after going No. 31 in 1999

Worst: Tim Tebow, who went No. 25 in round one in 2010 and the Broncos likely could have landed him with the 25th pick of the fourth round that year

Kansas City

Best: Tight end Tony Gonzalez became the best ever at his position after being picked No. 13 in 1997

Worst: Tyson Jackson had a huge contract and huge disappointments after going No. 3 in 2009

Oakland

Best: Charles Woodson started his Hall of Fame career in Oakland after being the No. 4 pick in 1998

Worst: JaMarcus Russell, the top pick in 2007, is the single worst pick in draft history

San Diego

Best: Trading down with the Falcons and still getting Hall of Fame running back LaDainain Tomlinson at No. 5 in 2001

Worst: Ryan Leaf, who was neck-and-neck with some guy named Peyton before the draft, at No. 2 in 1998


AFC WEST

Buffalo

Best: Antoine Winfield made three Pro Bowls in a 13-year career after being the No. 23 pick in 1999

Worst: Texas tackle Mike Williams, who went No. 4 in 2002

Miami

Best: Let's go with Pro Bowl tackel Jake Long, who went No. 1 in 2008 -- been a rough couple of decades for the Fins

Worst: Ted Ginn Jr., who was primarily a kick returner in the NFL, went No. 9 in 2007

New England

Best: A bunch to choose from, let's go with Vince Wilfork, the future Hall of Fame nose guard who went No. 21 in 2004

Worst: Laurence Maroney never delieverd like a top-round running back after going No. 21 in 2006

New York Jets

Best: Last year's pick of defensive rookie of the year Sheldon Williams was a good one, but center Nick Mangold went No. 29 in 2006 and has made five Pro Bowls and been a three-time All-Pro in eight years

Worst: Vernon Gholston went No. 6 in 2008 and lasted two years with the team

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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