by Mario "Game" Granata
With the NFL Draft approaching, and the players that are in the mix for the top 10, they all bare striking similarities to some players that were taken in the 2000 draft. Check out how they stack up.
No matter how many things change in the game of football, they always seem to say the same. In looking over the prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft that is to take place in May, I couldn’t help but realize that there was something eerily familiar with the prospects that are projected to go in the top of the draft, and the draft of years passed, and I came across a startling comparison, and it just so happens that the draft that I am referring to is the 2000 NFL Draft. In the Top 10 of the 2000 Draft, there were some prospects that were taken, with very high hopes for turning their organizations around, and when you look at the tale of the tape, and how many of these players play the game, you can maybe see where this discussion is going.
First on the list is the #1 overall pick of the 2000 Draft, Courtney Brown, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns. Brown was an impressive specimen, standing at 6’5” and weighing 271 pounds, he wowed many scouts with his 4.52 speed, and looked to be a pass rusher coming off the edge that would give many offensive coordinators headaches. Although Brown’s professional career didn’t meet expectation (only playing 6 seasons) his measurables coming out of Penn State are very much like Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina, who many also think will be taken first overall. Will Clowney meet the same fate as Brown? With the NFL being much different than it was in 2000 (and with the Texans having more pieces in place than the 2000 Browns who were one year removed from expansion) it would seem that Clowney’s future is brighter, if he were to be selected by Houston. And playing on a line with JJ Watt doesn’t hurt either.
With the second overall pick in the draft, the Washington Redskins selected dynamic outside linebacker LaVar Arrington, who’s athleticism was second to none in the 2000 Draft. A true playmaker for the Nittany Lions, Arrington was an impressive prospect as well standing at 6’3” and 253 pounds. His speed and game changing ability is comparable to University of Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, who is 6’3” 248, and who ran a 4.65 at the combine and was timed even faster at his pro day. Although Arrington only played 7 seasons, he was selected to the Pro Bowl 3 times, and donned #56 while on the Redskins. It is unclear if Buffalo’s #46 will be playing in a 3-4 or a 4-3, but wherever he plays, we hope his transition to the NFL will be one that has an immediate impact on whichever team selects him.
Chris Samuels (6’5”, 325) was one of the first big men to impress scouts with a sub-5 40 time clocking in at 4.93. Coming out of Alabama, Samuels spent 10 seasons in the NFL, while being selected to the Pro Bowl 6 of those years, and starting 141 games. Samuels retired from the NFL taking the advice from his doctors, due to a neck injury that stemmed from spinal stenosis, otherwise he would have projected to be a possible Hall of Fame candidate down the road (and still might be). Sticking with the SEC, he draws many comparisons to Auburn’s Greg Robinson who also stands at 6’5” and weighs 332, and during the combine, scouts were wowed by his impressive 4.92 speed. There are no serious lingering injuries reported on Robinson, so whomever takes him will rest assured that he will be covering their quarterback’s blindside for the next decade and a half.
As we move onto the skill positions, an explosive receiver, coming out of Florida State, and was the 4th overall selection was Peter Warrick. Warrick went to the Bengals, and if there wasn’t a revolving door at quarterback and head coach, his career might have been a little more impressive. Playing for 6 seasons, Warrick’s most productive season was in 2003 when he caught 79 passes for 819 yards and 7 touchdowns. His threat to be explosive likens him to Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. There are a lot of question marks about Watkins due to the fact that most of his production came from screen passes, but in the new NFL, a player that has playmaking ability is always a bonus to have on your team…unless he is selected by the Raiders, then we will probably compare him to Warrick after his career is finished.
Rounding out the final comparison will be the 8th selection in the 2000 draft, Plaxico Burress. A Michigan State product, Burress (6’6” 232) came into the NFL with length and range to go up and get any ball that was thrown in his direction and with his 4.59 speed, he could run more than those intermediate routes if asked to. Not the most physical receiver on the field, he had some issues off the field that are well documented, but was able to capture a Super Bowl ring and scored the game winning touchdown against the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He speed and size are much like Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. Evans stands at 6’5” and weighs 231, and has shown during his college career that when the ball goes up, he has the tenacity to go and get it. Running slightly faster than Burress (4.53) and having a little more strength, he will have more luck than Burress at getting off the line, and with the new rules in the NFL tailored for the receivers; Evans should have a lot of friends on 3rd down in the upcoming years.
Now, if anyone looks hard enough (as I did) they can probably see comparisons to drafts of years past, but looking at the Top 10 picks of the 2000 NFL Draft, and the candidates who will be putting on suits in New York City in the beginning of May, there are some similarities that stand out. Will these draft prospects meet the same fate as their predecessors? Only time will tell.