Number 4 – Jake Long, OT
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Coming in at number four is another player whose career was hampered by injuries. Jake Long, an offensive tackle out of the University of Michigan, was selected in the 2008 draft.
Long was the prototype left tackle for the Miami Dolphins; 6-foot-7 and 322 pounds, with elite physical skills and big school pedigree, Long was a good pick for several years before having his career derailed.
Long is at number four because he did not have the longevity we would expect from a top pick. However, he made the Pro Bowl four times in his first four years. Not only that, he still continued to play through his multiple ACL injuries and forged a nine-year career, playing for four teams.
Had he not had the injury problems, his potential was as great as any tackle ever drafted. Again, four Pro Bowl appearances in four years surpasses the way that any previously ranked player started their career.
Number 3 – Andrew Luck, QB
The next player on the list is a good example of why you cannot assume that a young guy will surpass everyone based off of a couple outstanding years. Andrew Luck, was the Indianapolis Colts 2012 selection. The Colts have indeed had luck, even prior to Andrew’s arrival in Indiana. The Colts previous quarterback, Peyton Manning, is probably the top #1 pick over the last 20 years.
The three-time Pro Bowler from 2012-2014, Luck was considered a can’t-miss prospect, the best since John Elway, when he left Stanford. Luck had immediate playoff success picking up where Manning had left off a couple of years previous.
Unfortunately, Luck has missed part or all of the last three seasons. In 2016, he played all but one game. He missed 9 games in 2015, and all of 2017. Looking at his four full years, less that one game, his statistics are elite for a young quarterback. Not only can he throw the ball well, but Luck is also an underrated runner, having made 14 trips to pay dirt using his legs.
Luck is just back to throwing a football after injuring his right shoulder in 2015, and playing through pain in 2016. Luck opted for surgery and after setbacks, was deactivated in 2017.