Fairly ranking Matthew Stafford and a decade of No. 1 picks
Number 10 – Eric Fisher, OT
The number one pick always has a ton of pressure placed on them to be the savior of the franchise. This player is always going to be brought up in the discussion about who the biggest draft busts have been. JaMarcus Russell, the top pick in 2007, is synonymous with the word. My job is to be fair to these gentlemen, the situation that they came in to, and what they have done since.
At number ten, I’m going to put Eric Fisher. I have nothing specifically bad to say, but it will suffice to say that he has drifted in between poor and good for his five-year career. Drafted number one in 2013, Fisher, an offensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs, has the size and athleticism but has never garnered Pro Bowl consideration and the Chiefs have taken heat for his selection.
On the other hand, he has played. Albeit not to Pro-Bowl levels, but he still is holding down the left tackle position in KC. I found this evaluation of his talents and production, which I thought was well done. The Arrowhead Pride article is thorough, and ultimately ranks him as an above average starter.
Of course, general managers aren’t looking for just above average when they spend a #1 on a guy.
Number 9 – Sam Bradford, QB
Moving along, these bottom options are mostly filled with players who were well thought of, and found success for periods of time where it looked like they may live up to the hype of being a numero uno.
Number 9 is Sam Bradford, in my opinion. This is an example of people wanting to see what they wanted to see. Bradford, originally drafted by the Saint Louis Rams, is a quarterback that showed signs of durability problems while at Oklahoma. Bradford couldn’t stay healthy, had a major shoulder injury, and got healthy in time to be cleared and perform very well at his Sooners pro day.
However, the injury past combined with available future Pro Bowl talent, Ndamukong Suh & Gerald McCoy, for example, made the Rams selection seem like a bit of a reach. Fast forward, Bradford’s inability to stay in games has tarnished his talents.
When healthy, he is a very good quarterback. Bradford never seemed to fit the part of a #1, and has only proven his doubters correct in regards to his durability. “The greatest ability is availability”, scouts always say. The NFL is a violent sport and unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to walk away healthy.
Most of the rest of this list is littered with “potential versus production” judgements. What I will say is that I am not going to favor a player based on what he might do, when others have actually accomplished something. So, how do you rank a player that is still very young? You give him credit for what he has done, and say how you think they could project later on.
However, potential should not be seen as in the same light as real production, or Gale Sayers might be seen as the greatest running back ever. Or Bo Jackson. Of course, they are not spoken of that way. JIm Brown, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, and Walter Payton are the usual candidates for goat (greatest of all time) at the running back position.