The NFL draft has provided its fair share of memorable moments in recent years. These are the most memorable of this century.
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2003: Buffalo takes leap of faith with Willis McGahee
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McGahee’s promising draft status was clouded by a catastrophic knee injury in his final college game at the Fiesta Bowl. Despite the injury, the Bills selected McGahee at No. 23 overall. While McGahee sat out his first season, he eventually rewarded the Bills with three strong seasons before going to Baltimore. McGahee had a strong NFL career, making two Pro Bowls in 10 seasons while gaining over 1,000 yards from scrimmage five times.
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2003: Vikings fail to mind the clock
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The Vikings made an infamous blunder in the first round of the 2003, failing to submit a pick the time the clock struck zero. As a result, Jacksonville and Carolina rushed to submit their picks before the Vikings selected Kevin Williams ninth overall.
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2004: Eli Manning drafted by the Chargers and traded
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The Chargers had the first overall pick in the 2004 draft, but the Manning family stated that they wouldn’t play for the franchise. After San Diego selected Manning first overall, he was promptly traded to the Giants.
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2005: Aaron Rodgers falls to the Packers
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Rodgers was ranked by some evaluators as the top player in the 2005 draft, but that didn’t stop his freefall. The Cal star slipped one pick after another until the Packers finally took him 24th overall. Green Bay didn’t need a quarterback at the time with Brett Favre their long-time signal caller, but Rodgers eventually replaced him in 2008. The rest is history, as Rodgers won four MVPs and one Super Bowl as one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history.
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2005: Jaguars take Matt Jones, the wide receiver
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Jones had a terrific career as a mobile quarterback at Arkansas, but his throwing talent wasn’t seen as adequate for the next level. Jacksonville saw the huge upside from the 6-foot-6 speedster, taking him 21st overall. He failed to gain much steam in a four-year career, and was also briefly suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy in 2008.
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2005: Broncos select Maurice Clarett
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Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan had a reputation for running backs into stars, but the selection of Clarett in the third round still came as a major surprise after the former Ohio State star was dismissed from his college team in 2003. Clarett was released before Week 1 of his rookie season and never appeared in an NFL game.
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2006: Texas select Mario Williams over Reggie Bush
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USC star running back Reggie Bush was hyped as the top player available in the 2006 draft, but the Texans made the controversial decision to draft NC State pass rusher Mario Williams instead. Houston’s decision was arguably the correct one, as Williams went on to make four Pro Bowls over 11 seasons while Bush had a somewhat disappointing career.
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2005: Lions take another wide receiver
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Matt Millen’s days as GM of the Lions aren’t remembered fondly by fans, and his repeated drafting of wide receivers in the first round was the biggest example. He selected a wideout with a top 10 pick three straight years, culminating with the selection of Mike Williams No. 10 overall in 2005. Williams was a relative bust, playing only two seasons in Detroit.
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2007: Brady Quinn slides down the draft
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Quinn’s fall in the 2007 draft wasn’t quite as dramatic as that of Aaron Rodgers two years earlier, but it still sent shockwaves through the league on draft day. The Notre Dame star fell to Cleveland with the No. 22 overall pick. His struggles in the NFL showed why Quinn fell, struggling in three seasons with the Browns and going 4-16 a a starter during his career.
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2009: Al Davis’ Raiders select Darrius Heyward-Bey
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Raiders owner Al Davis had a reputation for making shocking draft decisions and valuing speed. Heyward-Bey was a clear example, as the Raiders selected the Maryland wideout well ahead of where he was projected after running a sub-4.3 second 40-yard dash. Heyward-Bey did have a productive NFL career over 10 seasons, though he never reached 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
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2010: Broncos draft Tim Tebow
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While Tebow was one of the greatest college football players ever, there were questions about his arm entering the 2010 draft. The talent was still too enticing for Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, trading up to No. 25 overall to select the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner. While Tebow went 8-6 as a starter and won a playoff game, his arm talent simply wasn’t good enough to stick at the position as a long-term starter. Denver jumped at the opportunity to replace Tebow with Peyton Manning in 2012.
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2011: Falcons trade up for Julio Jones
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Atlanta was all-in on Jones, trading multiple picks to land Jones sixth overall. Despite the draft value the Falcons gave up, the move paid off with Jones turning into one of the league’s top wideouts. He made seven Pro Bowls in 10 seasons with Atlanta.
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2014: Browns draft Johnny Manziel
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A controversial star and Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M, Manziel dropped in the first round of the 2014 draft due to size, arm strength, and off-field concerns. Cleveland added to their history of quarterback futility by selecting Manziel with the No. 22 overall pick, as the quarterback started only eight games in two seasons and was cut after repeated blunders on and off the field.
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2016: Rams trade up for Jared Goff
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The Rams started their move back to L.A. in a big way, trading up to the first overall pick to select Goff. Goff was maligned in his rookie season, going 0-7 as a starter before head coach Sean McVay was hired the following year. With McVay’s help, Goff had a winning record the next four seasons and led the team to a Super Bowl.
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2016: Laremy Tunsil plunges due to viral video
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Tunsil was arguably the top offensive lineman available in the 2016 draft after a great career at Ole Miss. However, Tunsil’s Twitter account was hacked just before the draft began, and a video was posted of him smoking from a bong while wearing a gas mask. Tunsil fell to the Dolphins with the No. 13 pick, but the left tackle has has become one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL with three Pro Bowls over his first seven seasons.
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2017: Bears select Mitchell Trubisky
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Bears fans would still like to forget their 2017 draft, selecting North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick instead of Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. Trubisky did make one Pro Bowl in four seasons with Chicago, but he eventually moved on while Mahomes and Watson became superstars.
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2017: Chiefs trade up for Patrick Mahomes
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Kansas City’s history of developing their own drafted quarterbacks was non-existent before trading up with Buffalo for the No. 10 overall pick to select Mahomes. After mostly sitting in his first season, Mahomes has become the best player in the league with two MVPs and two Super Bowl wins in his first five seasons as a starter.
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2017: Texans trade up for Deshaun Watson
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Houston desperately needed a quarterback in 2017, acquiring the No. 11 overall pick from Cleveland to select Watson, a superstar from Clemson. Watson made the Pro Bowl in three of his first four seasons before the Texans traded him to Cleveland due to off-field issues.
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2018: Ravens draft Lamar Jackson
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Jackson won a Heisman Trophy at Louisville, but many teams questioned whether the mobile quarterback had the arm to stick at the position. Baltimore acquired the No. 32 overall draft choice in 2018 to select Jackson, despite having Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco on the roster. Jackson has gone on to win an NFL MVP and post a winning record as a starter in his first five seasons.
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2019: Seahawks draft DK Metcalf
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Metcalf showed incredible talent and physical ability while at Ole Miss, but injury concerns pushed him to the second round of the draft. Seattle was the beneficiary, taking Metcalf with the No. 64 overall pick. Metcalf memorably cried while accepting his draft call from Seahawks brass, and has gone on to become one of the league’s top wideouts with over 4,000 yards receiving in his first four seasons.
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2020: COVID virtual draft
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The NFL made the best of a bad situation in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The annual live draft event was canceled in favor of a virtual draft, with commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the early picks from his home and cameras setup in the living quarters of teams and players. The league was able to pull off the draft without a hitch, creating a TV show fans will never forget.
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Publish Date:2023-04-05 02:25:42