Each and every year we watch the draft take place and most of the time we come off of it thinking that most of the guys taken in the top-5 are the best of the best in the draft. Sure there are sleepers but for the most part we leave believing that the three of the best players were taken in the top three of the draft. Unfortunately though not every one of the top three picks becomes an elite player, and in fact not all of them are even good players.

What is actually peculiar is that if you look at recent draft history you would see that most drafts have one elite player from the top three, one good player and one bust. I have cranked twelve drafts from 2008-1997 and have found that 1/2 of the time this pattern is present. Three years we saw drafts with multiple busts (ironically five of the six total guys were QB's), two years we saw multiple good players, and only once did we have multiple elite players.

Before you look at the data below come to the conclusion that taking a top-3 pick statistically isn't smart, then you should understand that the bust rate is much higher as the draft goes on. Also, many of these guys bust (or don't become elite) because they are taken on bad teams, with bad organizations, bad coaches and a bad supporting cast to help them.


2008

1) Jake Long: Arguably best in the league: Elite
2) Chris Long: Good, but really only one good year
3) Matt Ryan: He's good but not a top-8 QB: Good

2007

1) JaMarcus Russell: Bust
2) Calvin Johnson: Elite
3) Joe Thomas: Elite... mostly

2006

1) Mario Williams: Elite
2) Reggie Bush: Good (but not what he was supposed to be)
3) Vince Young: Bust

2005

1) Alex Smith: Bust
2) Ronnie Brown: Good but can't stay healthy: Good
3) Braylon Edwards: Ok but can't catch: Good

2004

1) Eli Manning: Won a ring but not elite: Good
2) Robert Gallery: Injury plagued and now a guard: Bust
3) Larry Fitzgerald: Elite

2003

1) Carson Palmer: Not good but not a complete bust: Good
2) Charles Rogers: Matt Millen: Bust
3) Andre Johnson: Elite

2002

1) David Carr: Is a bust but deserves another shot: Bust
2) Julius Peppers: Elite
3) Joey Harrington: Awful: Bust

2001

1) Mike Vick: Debatable but still revolutionizing the game: Elite
2) Leonard Davis: Found a niche at Guard but never an elite tackle: Bust
3) Gerard Warren: Still playing and not too terrible: Good

2000

1) Courtney Brown: Bust
2) LaVar Arrington: Good
3) Chris Samuels: Not really elite but very, very close some years: Elite

1999

1) Tim Couch: Rhymes with ouch: Bust
2) Donovan McNabb: Still starting and decent player still: Good
3) Akili Smith: Bengals were offered 9 picks to trade down and still took the awful Akili Smith: Bust

1998

1) Peyton Manning: Do I really need to explain? : Elite
2) Ryan Leaf: Arguably the biggest bust ever: Bust
3) Andre: Wadsworth: Knee injuries killed his career early: Bust

1997

1) Orlando Pace: Top LT in the league for many years: Elite
2) Darrell Russell: Good on the field but multiple drug related suspensions ended his career: Bust
3) Shawn Springs: Good player but injuries cost him quite a few years: Good