Unbelievable that we’re shaping up for the exact same thing again.
So last draft, many of us screamed from the rooftops that you don’t take a tight end in the top 7 of the draft. We implored those of you who simply would not understand to get it. That tight end taken that high has to be George Kittle, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, and soon, or else you got terrible value out of a pick where you HAVE to get a difference-maker. Name an elite tight end in modern NFL history and, with only a couple of exceptions, they weren’t drafted in the first round, let alone in the top ten or higher.
Having not learned these glaring lessons, despite the Pettigrew pick, despite the Ebron pick, Quinn went with Hockenson. And, well, let’s just hope for a massive rebound season next year, or this is looking like exactly what many of us feared.
But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about this year’s version – the Washington Redskins crushing our dreams at 2, taking Chase Young, and Bob Quinn eyeing CB Jeff Okudah at 3.
Going back 30 years of NFL drafts, all the way back to the 1989 Deion Sanders draft, the number of CBs taken in the Top 3 of the NFL draft is … two.
Bruce Pickens, 3rd overall by Atlanta, 1991
Shawn Springs, 3rd overall by Seattle, 1997.
Springs appeared in one Pro Bowl. Neither was ever a First-Team All Pro.
So let’s pan back to CBs taken in the Top 5 of the NFL draft. The total, over the past 30 years of drafts is … ten (including Pickens and Springs):
2018 Denzel Ward 4th Browns
2016 Jalen Ramsey 5th Jaguars
2011 Patrick Peterson 5th Cardinals
2003 Terance Newman 5th Cowboys
2002 Quentin Jammer 5th Chargers
1998 Charles Woodson 4th Raiders
1992 Terrell Buckley 5th Packers
1989 Deion 5th Falcons.
Three of those ten are not like the others. Deion was a 6-time first-team All-Pro and eight-time Pro-Bowler. Woodson was a three-time first-team All-Pro and an eight-time Pro-Bowler. Peterson is a three-time first-team All-Pro and has been a Pro-Bowler eight times.
Jalen Ramsey may be on a similar career trajectory. He’s been a first-team All-Pro once, and a three-time Pro-Bowler.
The rest were mostly good but not great. Guys like Newman and Jammer had long careers as starters, but never really got the elite accolades. (Newman was a Pro-Bowler twice.)
Pickens was obviously a bust, especially where he was picked.
What’s the point of all this?
Based on history, cornerbacks are almost never taken as high in the draft as the Lions will be picking. If they are, they need to be VERY special. Okudah to me looks like he’s athletic and polished. But your scouting team needs to be sure he’s going to be a GREAT, 10-year pro to invest that elite, high pick for that position.
This is where some of you say, “No, he just has to be good. Solve the fit across from Slay, or maybe replace him if he’s on his way out of Detroit.” The same way many of you said, “No, Hockenson just needs to be good.” You don’t get it.
As others have pointed out, it often takes a CB a year or even most of a second year before they are acclimated and playing their best at the NFL level. Which means by the time they are becoming a top CB, it’s nearly time for a new contract. They then go and star for somebody else, or you’re paying them at their upper echelon level.
That is NOT how teams build championship-winners. You need people outperforming their contracts.
Oh, how I wish the Bengals and Redskins would give the Lions an easier choice. Like taking Burrow.