Ramble on the Roof

Torrin Thatcher

The NFL Draft is coming! Get prepared for hours of coverage and Mel Kiper’s hair. As always, the pre-draft topic is the first overall pack with all the required media noise leading up to the most important weekend in April. We all know that one of the most important positions in sports is quarterback. That’s why they make all the money and commercials! While some teams are perfectly content with their signal caller, others have searched more than Magellan. We all know about Brady, the elder Manning, Leaf, Couch and such, but what about a few guys that haven’t received nearly as much criticism or praise?
The 26the pick of the 49ers in ’97 was Jim Druckenmiller from Virginia Tech. Steve Young’s head was being knocked around excessively, and the Frisco brass was looking for a replacement. Druckenmiller’s rookie season produced results were typical of a newcomer; 21-52, 239 yards, 1 touchdown (TD) and 4 interceptions (Int) in only four appearances, one being a start. He should improve, right? Wrong.
He never threw another pass in the NFL; the only productive thing he did was lose four yards on three carries the next year. His claim to fame is having the longest name of a quarterback until Ben Roethlisberger arrived in ’04.
The 187th pick of the Packers in’98 was Matt Hasselbeck from Boston College. Ron Wolf thought it was a good idea to frequently take QBs in later rounds — see Aaron Brooks and Mark Brunell — and Matt was a good choice. He sat two years behind Favre until Mike Holmgren said “head west, young man”, specifically to Seattle. Since 2001, Matt has thrown for 140 TD and 22,188 yards with only 84 Int. He is a three-time Pro Bowler and made the All-Pro team in 2005. Looks like he doesn’t mind the west or the west coast offense.
The first pick of the Falcons in ’01 was Michael Vick from Virginia Tech. He now writes letters and plays football in prison. Nice!
The 12th pick in ’99 of the Bears was Cade McNown from UCLA. In six rookie starts, he threw for 8 TD, 10 Int and 1,465 yards. Not too bad for his first year. The next year he threw 8 TD, 10 Int and for 1,646 yards in nine starts. The following year? He never threw another NFL pass.
The 168th pick in ’00 of the Saints was Marc Bulger from West Virginia. He jumped from the Saints to the Falcons in 2000 and didn’t play his first year. Since joining the Rams in 2001, he has started all 72 games he’s appeared in and thrown for 106 TD, 74 Int and 18,625 yards. Not too bad for a guy who was cut during training camp and had to spend a year on the practice squad.
The 16th pick in ’91 of the Seahawks was Dan McGwire from San Diego State. The Seattle front office had to decide between McGwire and Favre, a choice they regret. Mark started three games in his Seattle career spanning four seasons and compiled 2 TD, 6 Int and 745 yards in 74 career completions — Drew Brees threw more passes in one game against Wisconsin while at Purdue than McGwire completed in his career. Do you wonder if he looks at Mark’s accomplishments and is jealous, or do you think Dan is happy about being an absolute bomb instead of being asked by Congress how he hit bombs?
The 222nd pick in ’93 of the Chargers was Trent Green from Indiana. Green did not play his first four years in the league, but made the most of his opportunity. In ’98 with the Redskins, he threw for 23 TD, 11 Int and 3,441 yards in 14 starts. He left for St. Louis, had a serious injury — you’re welcome Kurt Warner — then moved on to Kansas City for six productive seasons. Overall, Trent has tossed 162 TD, 108 Int and 27,960 yards in a lengthy career that has surprised all.
Let’s end on a sour note, shall we?
The first pick in ’63 of the L.A. Rams was Terry Baker from Oregon State. While playing for the Beavers, Baker won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, All-American honors, and was the Sportsman of the Year in’62 according to Sports Illustrated; a fair college career, I would say. How’d pro life go? In 18 career games spanning three years — no starts — he went 12-21 throwing with exactly zero touchdowns, 4 interceptions and 154 yards. He ran for 210 yards and one touchdown! Think of it this way, he was sacked seven times with 21 career pass attempts. He realized his football days were over and earned a J.D. from the University of Southern California Law School. He definitely passed a bar better than a football.
Franchises always hope for the best, but the reality is that teams can strike gold, iron pyrite, an oily mess or the Centenary Diamond. Let’s hope that Wisconsin’s A-Rod is awesome.