Big Lead Sports Bar



by Zane Bloom


Then, it was April 2003.

  • THE Ohio State had just upset THE U in the Fiesta Bowl where Willis McGahee blew out his knee.
  • The Steelers were coming off the first ever AFC North Championship and they beat the Browns in dramatic playoff fashion before losing to Tennessee and Joe Nedney’s best soccer foul impression.
  • Jon Gruden would throttle his old players with Tony Dungy’s players in Super Bowl XXXVII.
  • This hotdog muncher won the Heisman Award and was about to be drafted #1 overall.
Now it’s April 2008 and it’s time to expose the joke that is instant NFL draft grades. I’ll go back five years and look at what the so-called experts said at the time and grade the teams on how their drafts actually panned out. In my estimation, a very good draft means a getting a perennial Pro Bowler and another two or three solid starters. If you got a Pro Bowler or a couple starters, it was an average draft. If the best that you can do is one starter out of your draft, I’m sorry, but you failed for that year.

Couple things on the draft graders:

  • I like Len Pasquarelli. He’s a Pittsburgh Central Catholic boy. He’s a Pitt grad. He’s can be volatile and controversial. But he sucks at grading the draft.
  • Richard Harris is Managing Editor/Senior Writer of the Fantasy Football Experts website and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. He one of the foremost fantasy football experts in the country and his weekly columns have appeared on places including, and And I could find his ’03 draft grades on-line.
  • I found out that Mel Kiper doesn’t go out on many limbs for his draft grades. Definitely less limbs then how many times he’ll say “Heckofa” on ESPN Saturday. I signed up to be an ESPN insider, which I have been so ardently against, to see what the hair had to say about the 2003 draft. 5 A-grades, 15 B-grades, 12 C-grades. I signed up for that! I always feel like I’m missing out on good stuff with that orange insider button on, but I’m not sure I really am.
Onto the grades! First, the NFC.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

1 – Terence Newman, cornerback

2 – Al Johnson, center

3 – Jason Witten, tight end

4 – Bradie James, linebacker

6 – B.J. Tucker, defensive back

6 – Zuriel Smith, wide receiver

7 – Justin Bates, guard

Len Pasquarelli – C+

Richard Harris – C+

Mel Kiper – A

Newman started every game for his first four years and played well. This year, he was rewarded with his first ever Pro-Bowl appearance. Johnson missed two full seasons, but was a starter when healthy and started last year with Arizona. Witten has made four consecutive Pro-Bowls and was an All-Pro for the first time last year. James has started every game the last three years.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – Two Pro Bowlers, two other starters, a very good draft, A.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said:

"This was one of the top two places that I wanted to go. Cincinnati was the other, because I would've been the No. 1 pick, and I would've been playing for Marvin Lewis, who's a defensive genius." – Terence Newman.

Lewis has largely followed in the footsteps of his mentor, Brian Billick, coordinator genius turned head coaching scrub.

New York Giants

1 – William Joseph, defensive tackle

2 – Osi Umenyiora, defensive end

3 – Visanthe Shiancoe, tight end

4 – Roderick Babers, defensive back

5 – David Diehl, tackle

6 – Willie Ponder, wide receiver

6 – Frank Walker, cornerback

6 – David Tyree, wide receiver

7 – Charles Drake, defensive back

7 – Wayne Lucier, center

7 – Kevin Walter, wide receiver

Len Pasquarelli – C-

Richard Harris – C-

Mel Kiper – C

Joseph was a complete first round bust. Surprise, surprise, he just signed a deal with the Oakland Raiders, where all first round busts eventually go. Umenyiora has made two Pro Bowls and made All-Pro in 2005. Diehl has started every game for five years. Tyree made a Pro Bowl as a special teamer and made one hell of a catch in something called Super Bowl XLII.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – Two Pro Bowlers if you count Tyree, one other starter, a first round bust and practically nothing with seven other picks, C.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “Center Wayne Lucier is a very solid player and he will help fortify a Giants line that lost some veterans in free agency. Give crack offensive line coach Jim McNally a few years with Lucier and then plug him into the starting lineup.” – Len Pasquarelli.

Lucier started 20 games in the two years after the draft and was released in year three, never to play another NFL snap. Jim McNally must suck.

Philadelphia Eagles

1 – Jerome McDougle, defensive end

2 – L.J. Smith, tight end

3 – Billy McMullen, wide receiver

4 – Jamaal Green, defensive end

6 – Jeremy Bridges, tackle

7 – Norman LeJeune

Len Pasquarelli – C+

Richard Harris – C+

Mel Kiper – B

Philly traded up to get McDougle, who was shot during a 2005 robbery in Miami. Smith has been a pretty good tight end when healthy, but he’s battled injury problems. Zero production from later rounds.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – One injury prone starter and a big time first round bust, F.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “By the way, the Eagles did a nice job of replacing departed free agent Hugh Douglas by trading up to get Jerome McDougle and taking Jamaal Green of Miami as a backup.” – John Clayton.

Green had two career Eagle tackles, McDougle had 29.

Washington Redskins

Traded their 1 for wide receiver Laveranues Coles

2 – Taylor Jacobs, wide receiver

3 – Derrick Dockery, guard

7 – Gibran Hamdan, quarterback

Len Pasquarelli – C-

Richard Harris – F

Mel Kiper – A

The Redskins had just three picks, a league low, largely because they acquired four restricted free agents (guys you probably never heard of) and traded for tailback Trung Canidate. Coles made a Pro Bowl his first year with Washington, but was traded back to NYJ two years later. Jacobs was a bust. Dockery quickly became a starter, but is now with Buffalo.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – One Pro Bowl for two years worth of Coles, one starter no longer with the team and nothing else from the draft picks they gave away, F.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “Quarterback Gibran Hamdan is big and strong-armed but still a developmental project.” - Len Pasquarelli.

You don’t say. Gibran, we hardly knew ye. One completion for 7 yards in two career attempts.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

1 – Michael Haynes, defensive end

1 – Rex Grossman, quarterback

2 – Charles Tillman, cornerback

3 – Lance Briggs, linebacker

4 – Todd Johnson, safety

4 – Ian Scott, defensive tackle

5 – Bobby Wade, wide receiver

5 – Justin Gage, wide receiver

5 – Tron LaFavor, defensive tackle

6 – Joe Odom, linebacker

6 – Brock Forsey, running back

7 – Bryan Anderson, guard

Len Pasquarelli – C

Richard Harris – A

Mel Kiper – B

Former Nittany Lion Haynes crapped out, and most Bears fans will say the same of Grossman. Tillman is a good starter at corner. Briggs has made three consecutive Pro Bowls and was All-Pro in 2005 and you could convince me he’s better than Brian Urlacher. Nothing else really out of eight picks rounds four and up.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – two first round misses, one excellent pick in round three, one other starter, and a lot of wasted picks, D+.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “I like the addition of Michael Haynes at defensive end, and I have always been high on Rex Grossman at quarterback.” – Mel Kiper.

Haynes started four total games. Grossman has more career interceptions than touchdowns.

Detroit Lions

1 – Charles Rogers, wide receiver

2 – Boss Bailey, linebacker

3 – Cory Redding, defensive tackle

4 – Artose Pinner, running back

5 – Terrence Holt, safety

5 – James Davis, linebacker

6 – David Kircus, wide receiver

7 – Ben Johnson, tackle

7 – Blue Adams, cornerback

7 – Brandon Drumm, running back

7 – Travis Anglin, wide receiver

Len Pasquarelli – B-

Richard Harris – A

Mel Kiper – B

The Lions were debating between Terrence Newman and Rogers, and in the words of the old Crusader at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, they chose poorly. Bailey had an OK run of starts, but missed an entire season and is now in Denver. Redding is starting for the Lions, which happens to be the statistically worst defense in football. Holt and Davis saw some starting action, but nothing special and neither is with the team. Most of the other guys were so bad, they failed to even register in the pro football reference database.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – the Lions are a good example of why you should ignore draft grades this weekend. One decent starter, a first-round bust at pick #2, and pretty much nothing else, F.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “Charles Rogers appears to be a lock star in this league.” – Richard Harris.

36 career catches from the #2 overall pick of the draft. Ugh.

Green Bay Packers

1 – Nick Barnett, linebacker

3 – Kenny Peterson, defensive tackle

5 – James Lee, tackle

5 – Hunter Hillenmeyer, linebacker

6 – Brennan Curtin, tackle

7 – Chris Johnson, cornerback

7 – DeAndrew Rubin, wide receiver

7 – Carl Ford, wide receiver

7 – Steve Josue, linebacker

Len Pasquarelli – C-

Richard Harris – C-

Mel Kiper – B

Barnett is a solid starter. Hillenmeyer was cut after his first pre-season in GB and has become part of the Bears impressive linebacking core.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – one starter, cut a draft pick in pre-season who is now a starter for your biggest rival and nothing else, F.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “Everyone assumed this would be the draft in which the Packers addressed the specter of an eventual life without Brett Favre, but the club never really considered a quarterback in the first round.” – Len Pasquarelli.

A-Rod would come in a draft two years later and he’ll get his first chance to start this year with Favre finally retiring.

Minnesota Vikings

1 – Kevin Williams, defensive tackle

2 – E. J. Henderson, linebacker

3 – Nate Burleson, wide receiver

4 – Onterrio Smith, running back

6 – Eddie Johnson, punter

6 – Michael Nattiel, linebacker

7 – Keenan Howry, wide receiver

Len Pasquarelli – C+

Richard Harris – B

Mel Kiper – B+

This is the draft where Minnesota failed to get their draft card in time, only to see Jacksonville and Carolina quickly draft Byron Leftwich and Jordan Gross ahead of them. Williams was the guy they were targeting and has become a very nice player with two consecutive All-Pro nods and three Pro Bowls in all. Henderson is a good starting player. Burleson had one good season with the Vikes filling in for an injured Randy Moss and is now in Seattle. And if you’re going to draft a kicker in any round, it better work. Johnson, a punter from Idaho State, was apparently last seen living in an RV in the ChicagoLand area.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – One Pro Bowler, one starter, fair to midland, C.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “Smith is as smooth as Walt Frazier in his heyday and I look forward to having him on the team.” – Corey Chavous.

Corey must have heard that Onterrio had one of them there Original Whizzinators.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Traded their #1 for wide receiver, Peerless Price

2 – Bryan Scott, safety

4 – Justin Griffith, fullback

5 – Jon Olinger, wide receiver

6 – LaTarence Dunbar, wide receiver

6 – Waine Bacon, defensive back

7 – Demetrin Veal, tackle

Len Pasquarelli – C

Richard Harris – D

Mel Kiper – C+

If you’re going to trade your first rounder for a disgruntled current player, you’d better hope it turns out to be Jerome Bettis and not Peerless Price. Scott had a couple decent years before being traded for Wayne Gandy, who worked out for a year. Griffith was adequate at fullback for four years and is now in Oakland. Somebody in the Falcons’ war room was seriously hungry toward the end of that draft. How else do you explain drafting Bacon and Veal with your final two picks?

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – Zero Pro Bowls and Scott, Griffith and Price, D.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “Fourth-rounder Justin Griffith has a thick build.” – Len Pasquarelli.

Make your own conclusions.

Carolina Panthers

1 – Jordan Gross, offensive tackle

2 – Bruce Nelson, center

3 – Mike Seidman, tight end

3 – Ricky Manning, Jr., cornerback

4 – Colin Branch, safety

5 – Kindal Moorehead, defensive tackle

7 – Walter Young, wide receiver

7 – Casey Moore, running back

Len Pasquarelli – B-

Richard Harris – C+

Mel Kiper – B-

Gross has started every game on the Panthers’ O-Line since coming into the league. Manning had some spectacular flashes for Carolina in the playoffs, but is now with the Bears.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – Granted, one very good starter in Gross, but everything else was pretty much, well, Gross, F+.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “The Panthers selected a few other prospects who have a good chance to contribute, including C Bruce Nelson, S Colin Branch and WR Walter Young.” – Richard Harris.

Yes, Steeler fans, that Walter Young.

New Orleans Saints

1 – Johnathan Sullivan, defensive tackle

2 – Jon Stinchcomb, offensive tackle

3 – Cie Grant, linebacker

4 – Montrae Holland, guard

5 – Melvin Williams, defensive end

6 – Kareem Kelly, wide receiver

7 – Talman Gardner, wide receiver

Len Pasquarelli – B-

Richard Harris – B

Mel Kiper – C+

Here's another warning against looking too much into draft grades. If the best thing you can say about your draft is that Jon Stinchcomb has started the last two years for your ball club, err, ah, ugh. Sullivan at #1 was one of the picks they got for unloading Ricky Williams onto Miami the year previous. Three years, 1.5 sacks.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – One starter, a first round bust and five nobodies, F.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “The choice of big, physical and quick wideout Talman Gardner in the seventh round might pay off big-time. But only if Gardner gets beyond his current legal problems, stemming from a handgun incident. Gardner is a terrific threat up the seams, has good reach, will make the acrobatic catch. But he has to clean up his act first.” – Len Pasquarelli.

Four career catches. Those talented guys with legal problems leading up to the draft just never seem to work and I can’t figure out why.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Traded their #1 for Jon Gruden, coach.

2 – Dewayne White, defensive end

3 – Chris Simms, quarterback

4 – Lance Nimmo, tackle

4 – Austin King, center

5 – Sean Mahan, guard

6 – Torrie Cox, cornerback

Len Pasquarelli – D+

Richard Harris – D

Mel Kiper – B-

White didn’t pan out. Neither did Simms, though I suppose there’s still a chance for him. Mahan started for most of two seasons before signing with Pittsburgh last year and ’07 performance leads me to believe the Bucs aren’t really missing him.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – Zero Pro Bowls, no current starters, and Chuckie, F.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “Cornerback Torrie Cox was one of the players who tested positive for diluted urine at the combine, so he's already carrying one demerit. Plus he isn't very big and doesn't run especially well.” – Len Pasquarelli.

All right, the diluted urine thing isn’t a good thing, but Len made his fellow Pitt grad sound like wounded midget. And who uses the word demerit besides the old, torqued off Dean in college fraternity comedies?

NFC South

Arizona Cardinals

1 – Bryant Johnson, wide receiver

1 – Calvin Pace, defensive end

2 – Anquan Boldin, wide receiver (Offensive Rookie of the Year)

3 – Gerald Hayes, linebacker

5 – Kenny King, defensive end

6 – Reggie Wells, guard

6 – Tony Gilbert, linebacker

Len Pasquarelli – C+

Richard Harris – C+

Mel Kiper – C

Johnson was a very good third receiver before moving onto San Fran this year. Pace had his first year starting full-time in 2007. Boldin has been great at times and has made two Pro Bowls. Hayes has started the better part of two years. King has started 16 games in three of the last four years.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – One Pro Bowler, three more starters still on the team and five years worth of a very good third wide receiver. Folks, that’s an A-.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “But an even better value selection was Tony Gilbert, another linebacker, in the seventh round. Gilbert isn't pretty and is a limited athlete, but he's all football player.” – Len Pasquarelli.

He was a sixth rounder! Do you think he really appreciated being called ugly and limited athletically?

San Francisco 49ers

1 – Kwame Harris, offensive tackle

2 – Anthony Adams, defensive tackle

3 – Andrew Williams, defensive end

4 – Brandon Lloyd, wide receiver

5 – Aaron Walker, tight end

6 – Arnaz Battle, wide receiver

7 – Ken Dorsey, quarterback

Len Pasquarelli – C-

Richard Harris – B

Mel Kiper – C+

Harris, largely a first round bust, is now in (you guessed it) Oakland. Lloyd had a decent year or two, but is now in Chicago. Battle is starting at receiver. Everyone else pretty much flamed out.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – Zero Pro Bowls and Battle is your only remaining starter, F.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “Teams are shying away from Ken Dorsey because of his perceived lack of arm strength and the fear that he will turn into another Gino Torreta. I look at Dorsey and see that he has increased his weight to 220 pounds from his college weight of about 200. That shows that he’s showing a desire to perform at a high level in the NFL.” – Corey Chavous.

No word if JaMarcus Russell will be able to eat his way to the top as well as Ken has.

Seattle Seahawks

1 – Marcus Trufant, cornerback

2 – Ken Hamlin, safety

3 – Wayne Hunter, defensive tackle

4 – Seneca Wallace, quarterback

4 – Solomon Bates, linebacker

5 – Chris Davis, fullback

6 – Rashad Moore, defensive tackle

7 – Josh Brown, kicker

7 – Taco Wallace, wide receiver

Len Pasquarelli – B

Richard Harris – B

Mel Kiper – B

Trufant has played all but two games since being drafted and made his first Pro Bowl last year. Hamlin was a pretty nice player on the field, but perhaps not worth the trouble because of some off field issues. He would sign a one-year deal with Dallas in ’07 and ultimately make his first Pro Bowl with the Cowboys. Wallace plays the “slash” role. Brown was a successful 7th round kicker pick before bolting to the Rams this year. And listen, you can do what you want, but I strongly suggest not drafting anyone named Taco ever, even if it is in the 7th round.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – Trufant is very good, but despite some decent players out of this draft class, Wallace is the only other player that still remains, C+.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “I’m tired of hearing about height. Michael Vick and Drew Brees are only six feet and no one is complaining about their inability to see over offensive lineman. Wallace is a poor man’s Vick.” – Corey Chavous.

Gosh, Corey came up with some real good zingers from the player’s round table.

St. Louis Rams

1 – Jimmy Kennedy, defensive tackle

2 – Pisa Tinoisamoa, linebacker

3 – Kevin Curtis, wide receiver

4 – Shaun McDonald, wide receiver

4 – DeJuan Groce, cornerback

5 – Dan Curley, tight end

5 – Shane Walton, safety

5 – Kevin Garrett, cornerback

6 – Scott Tercero, guard

7 – Scott Shanle, linebacker

7 – Richard Angulo, tight end

Len Pasquarelli – B-

Richard Harris – B

Mel Kiper – B-

Kennedy was another first round bust of the ’03 draft. Tinoisamoa started earlier in his career, but he’s been injured a lot lately and could be described as exceptionally average. Curtis had a couple good years with STL before cashing in as an Eagles’ starter last year. Besides that, nothing much else to get excited about.

Lee Tunnel, 5 years later – Anything get you excited about that draft? Me neither, F.

Most ridiculous thing an expert said: “Walton is a headhunter but does not run well.” – Len Pasquarelli.

Safeties that don’t run well, even ones from Notre Dame, won’t play in this league. And Shane didn’t. You could have warned the Rams a little earlier about that nugget, eh Len?

What can you say? The NFC bit the big one drafting in 2003. Only two A-grades, three C-grades and 9 out of 16 got an F from my perspective. We’ll see how the AFC did tomorrow.

Check or hold? Lee Tunnel, out.

1 comment:

Brian said...

So in conclusion, NFL careers are short.