Friday, May 4, 2007

Worst Pick Ever

Who's the worst draft pick of all time? If you polled football fans I suspect Ryan Leaf would get the most votes. Probably for these reasons:

1) Picking Leaf didn't just waste the second overall pick in the 1998 draft, but his team gave up a bunch of other picks to move into that spot, not to mention all the money tied up in Leaf's huge signing bonus and the cap hit they took by releasing him just two years later.
2) Leaf's horrible play and off-the-field meltdowns completely embarrassed the Chargers organization (while providing much-needed amusment for the rest of the country).
3) Leaf's failure at the critical QB position, along with the loss of draft picks and money tied up in Leaf, set his team back for years.

As Linus said to Lucy in A Charlie Brown Christmas: "Those are very good reasons".

The big problem with saying Leaf's the worst pick ever is that nobody thought it was a bad pick at the time. Yeah, it's obvious now he stunk but at the time Mel Kiper and everybody else applauded the move, Charger fans were thrilled, and a lot of experts thought Leaf was going to be better than Peyton Manning. The results of the pick were disastrous but the Chargers didn't necessarily do anything stupid. It just didn't work out.

Now the worst Miami Dolphins' draft pick of all time is a different story. The guy wasn't a QB, he didn't really embarrass anybody (except possibly himself) and at the time he didn't cost Miami anything more than a mid-first rounder. But everybody ripped the pick when it was made and ultimately it may have been even more costly to the Dolphins than the Leaf pick was to the Chargers. Of course I'm talking about...ERIC KUMEROW!

I still remember watching the 1988 draft on ESPN and hearing how shocked everybody was. I still remember the surprised Chris Berman informing us how this was the first "reach" of the draft (something you never want to hear said about your favorite team's pick), and I still remember Mel Kiper ripping the Phins for passing up much higher-ranked players in favor of Kumerow, a guy considered too small for a defensive lineman and too slow for a linebacker. In fact, before the draft Kiper described Kumerow as an "outstanding collegiate player who could have a tough time finding his niche in the NFL. He's not strong enough yet to make the grade at defensive end and lacks the quickness necessary to cover the pass. He would be a decent middle-round pick, but would qualify as a reach if selected any higher." Were truer words ever spoken? Yet, somehow Kumerow's "potential" stirred a schoolgirl crush within the swooning Don Shula and the winningest coach of all time threw caution to the winds to take his man.

Now Miami had two major needs that year: a pass rusher and, as usual, a running back. Like Brady Quinn this year, in 1988 the story of the first round was a guy pencilled in as a top 10 pick but who kept getting unexpectedly passed up by team after team instead. Miami was one of those teams, letting Thurman Thomas slip past them and into the arms of a grateful division rival, the Buffalo Bills. (I've always thought that one of the big reasons Thomas dropped all the way to 40 was because the Dolphins passed on him at 16. Everybody else must have thought: "Wow, the pathetic Dolphins are desperate for a back yet they still didn't take him. Something must really be wrong with the dude").

The Bills snapped Thomas up early in the 2d round and he made Miami pay for it for the next decade as Buffalo became the AFC's dominant team. Between 1990 and 1995, Buffalo eliminated Miami from the playoffs three times. In those three games Thomas rushed for 371 yards, added 150 more yards receiving, and scored 4 TD's. And that's not counting all of the regular season games where Buffalo dominated Miami twice every freaking year. Meanwhile, Miami got no pass rush or anything else from Kumerow. He had all of 5 sacks and started a big fat 0 games in his 3 seasons. Pure suckitude.

So not only did Kumerow suck, not only did Miami reach for him, blowing a first round pick on him when they could have gotten him much later in the draft, but they let a Hall of Famer slip through their hands, a Hall of Famer who killed them over and over again for years. That my friends, is the worst draft pick in Miami Dolphins history.


Mike said...

Brings tears to my eyes. We passed on Thurman Thomas??? Next you'll tell me that we gave up a bunch of draft picks for JAy Fiedler.

JB said...

We passed on him as well to take another defensive bust from that year, Ted Gregory. Elway and Thermal would have been a great combination.