Draft Flashback: Chargers’ trade down a blessing in ’01

A look back at the best and worst picks of the draft nine years ago:

Steals

Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
Chargers: Round 2, Pick 32
This pick would have never happened if San Diego had sat at No. 1 and drafted Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick. Instead, the trade down with Atlanta that set up the Chargers to draft running back LaDainian Tomlinson at No. 5 overall left them with a big quarterback need. Credit the Chargers for ignoring scouts who doubted Brees’ 6-0, 209-pound frame and whether Brees could shine outside of Purdue’s shotgun spread offense.

Steve Smith, WR, Utah
Panthers: Round 3, Pick 74
His former junior college teammate, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, was a pretty good value at No. 36, but Smith, like Brees, slipped because a lack of height. Inch-for-inch, pound-by-pound, Smith’s smaller frame has turned out to be his greatest asset because of his uncanny quickness and elusiveness.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh WR, Oregon State
Bengals: Round 7, Pick 204
Johnson also went 168 picks ahead of his teammate in both Corvallis and Cincinnati. Houshmandzadeh came in a possession- type project, but he had to shake off early injuries and trim down to show the speed and agility to take advantage of his amazingly soft hands. He went from tough to pronounce to difficult to cover in a hurry.

Antonio Pierce, MLB, Arizona
Redskins: Undrafted
Over the course of draft history, teams consistently have undervalued undersized inside linebackers, and Pierce was part of the trend. Soon, he was known for his toughness and leadership qualities, something that stood out when he was a big part of the Giants’ run through Super Bowl 42.

Stephen Neal, G, Cal State-Bakersfield
Patriots: Undrafted
It’s a testament to the ability of Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick to find strong starters anywhere. In Neal’s case, it was on the college wrestling mat, where he once was the best amateur in that sport. Neal, with some bulking up, has excelled because of strength, power and hand technique.

Stinkers

Gerard Warren, DT, Florida
Browns: Round 1, Pick 3
Cleveland whiffed on a defensive lineman again after taking end Courtney Brown first overall in 2000. Warren wasn’t terrible but didn’t have near the impact he should have for his draft status. He also was the first of six defensive selected in the ’01 first round. Richard Seymour, Marcus Stroud and Casey Hampton all became Pro Bowlers, but Damione Lewis and Ryan Pickett were both cast aside by St. Louis before becoming solid pros.

David Terrell, WR, Michigan
Bears: Round 1, Pick 8
The Bears did much better with Michigan RB Anthony Thomas in Round 2, but Terrell (6-3, 215) never showed the speed or separation ability to make plays. Terrell, Koren Robinson, Rod Gardner and Freddie Mitchell all were drafted before the best receiver of the class, the Colts’ Reggie Wayne at No. 30.

Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State
Packers: Round 1, Pick 10
It wasn’t a particular good class of defensive ends, and Reynolds was a bust, tallying just three sacks in three NFL seasons. Adding insult to the mix is that Green Bay had to trade away backup QB Matt Hasselbeck to move up seven spots for Reynolds.

Kenyatta Walker, OT, Florida
Buccaneers: Round 1, Pick 14
From Warren and Reynolds, you should already get a sense this was a bad draft for Gators and Seminoles. Walker was supposed to be the next great left tackle but quickly proved he couldn’t handle that role. Moving to the right side, he continued to struggle in pass protection. His shaky career managed to last six seasons.

Willie Middlebrooks, CB, Minnesota
Broncos: Round 1, Pick 24
Cornerback misses like this eventually caused Denver to trade for Champ Bailey in ’04. Middlebrooks got more attention for his off-field issues than his on-field play, where he made only two career starts for Denver. After being out of the NFL of two years, Middlebrooks turned his life around in ’08 and continues to play for Toronto in the CFL.

2001 draft, First Round

1. Atlanta Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech
2. Arizona Leonard Davis, G, Texas
3. Cleveland Gerard Warren, DT, Florida
4. Cincinnati Justin Smith, DE, Missouri
5. San Diego LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Texas Christian
6. New England Richard Seymour, DT, Georgia
7. San Francisco Andre Carter, DE, Cal
8. Chicago David Terrell, WR, Michigan
9. Seattle Koren Robinson, WR, N.C. State
10. Green Bay Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State
11. Carolina Dan Morgan, OLB, Miami (Fla.)
12. St. Louis Damione Lewis, DT, Miami (Fla.)
13. Jacksonville Marcus Stroud, DT, Georgia
14. Tampa Bay Kenyatta Walker, OT, Florida
15. Washington Rod Gardner, WR, Clemson
16. N.Y. Jets Santana Moss, WR, Miami (Fla.)
17. Seattle Steve Hutchinson, G, Michigan
18. Detroit Jeff Backus, OT, Michigan
19. Pittsburgh Casey Hampton, NT, Texas
20. St. Louis Adam Archuleta, S, Arizona State
21. Buffalo Nate Clements, CB, Ohio State
22. N.Y. Giants Will Allen, CB, Syracuse
23. New Orleans Deuce McAllister, RB, Ole Miss
24. Denver Willie Middlebrooks, CB, Minnesota
25. Philadelphia Freddie Mitchell, WR, UCLA
26. Miami Jamar Fletcher, CB, Wisconsin
27. Minnesota Michael Bennett, RB, Wisconsin
28. Oakland Derrick Gibson, S, Florida State
29. St. Louis Ryan Pickett, DT, Ohio State
30. Indianapolis Reggie Wayne, WR, Miami (Fla.)
31. Baltimore Todd Heap, TE, Arizona State

Second Round

32. San Diego Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
33. Cleveland Quincy Morgan, WR, Kansas State
34. Arizona Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE, Nebraska
35. Atlanta Alge Crumpler, TE, North Carolina
36. Cincinnati Chad Johnson, WR, Oregon State
37. Indianapolis Idrees Bashir, S, Memphis
38. Chicago Anthony Thomas, RB, Michigan
39. Pittsburgh Kendrell Bell, ILB, Georgia
40. Seattle Ken Lucas, CB, Ole Miss
41. Green Bay Robert Ferguson, WR, Texas A&M
42. St. Louis Tommy Polley, OLB, Florida State
43. Jacksonville Maurice Williams, OT, Michigan
44. Carolina Kris Jenkins, DT, Maryland
45. Washington Fred Smoot, CB, Mississippi State
46. Buffalo Aaron Schobel, DE, Texas Christian
47. San Francisco Jamie Winborn, OLB, Vanderbilt
48. New England Matt Light, OT, Purdue
49. N.Y. Jets LaMont Jordan, RB, Maryland
50. Detroit Dominic Raiola, C, Nebraska
51. Denver Paul Toviessi, DE, Marshall
52. Miami Chris Chambers, WR, Wisconsin
53. Dallas Quincy Carter, QB, Georgia
54. Arizona Michael Stone, S, Memphis
55. Philadelphia Quinton Caver, LB, Arkansas
56. Dallas Tony Dixon, S, Alabama
57. Minnesota Willie Howard, DT, Stanford
58. Buffalo Travis Henry, RB, Tennessee
59. Oakland Marques Tuiasosopo, QB, Washington
60. Tennessee Andre Dyson, CB, Utah
61. Detroit Shaun Rogers, DT, Texas
62. Baltimore Gary Baxter, CB, Baylor

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

A look back at the best and worst picks of the draft nine years ago:

Steals

Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
Chargers: Round 2, Pick 32
This pick would have never happened if San Diego had sat at No. 1 and drafted Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick. Instead, the trade down with Atlanta that set up the Chargers to draft running back LaDainian Tomlinson at No. 5 overall left them with a big quarterback need. Credit the Chargers for ignoring scouts who doubted Brees’ 6-0, 209-pound frame and whether Brees could shine outside of Purdue’s shotgun spread offense.

Steve Smith, WR, Utah
Panthers: Round 3, Pick 74
His former junior college teammate, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, was a pretty good value at No. 36, but Smith, like Brees, slipped because a lack of height. Inch-for-inch, pound-by-pound, Smith’s smaller frame has turned out to be his greatest asset because of his uncanny quickness and elusiveness.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh WR, Oregon State
Bengals: Round 7, Pick 204
Johnson also went 168 picks ahead of his teammate in both Corvallis and Cincinnati. Houshmandzadeh came in a possession- type project, but he had to shake off early injuries and trim down to show the speed and agility to take advantage of his amazingly soft hands. He went from tough to pronounce to difficult to cover in a hurry.

Antonio Pierce, MLB, Arizona
Redskins: Undrafted
Over the course of draft history, teams consistently have undervalued undersized inside linebackers, and Pierce was part of the trend. Soon, he was known for his toughness and leadership qualities, something that stood out when he was a big part of the Giants’ run through Super Bowl 42.

Stephen Neal, G, Cal State-Bakersfield
Patriots: Undrafted
It’s a testament to the ability of Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick to find strong starters anywhere. In Neal’s case, it was on the college wrestling mat, where he once was the best amateur in that sport. Neal, with some bulking up, has excelled because of strength, power and hand technique.

Stinkers

Gerard Warren, DT, Florida
Browns: Round 1, Pick 3
Cleveland whiffed on a defensive lineman again after taking end Courtney Brown first overall in 2000. Warren wasn’t terrible but didn’t have near the impact he should have for his draft status. He also was the first of six defensive selected in the ’01 first round. Richard Seymour, Marcus Stroud and Casey Hampton all became Pro Bowlers, but Damione Lewis and Ryan Pickett were both cast aside by St. Louis before becoming solid pros.

David Terrell, WR, Michigan
Bears: Round 1, Pick 8
The Bears did much better with Michigan RB Anthony Thomas in Round 2, but Terrell (6-3, 215) never showed the speed or separation ability to make plays. Terrell, Koren Robinson, Rod Gardner and Freddie Mitchell all were drafted before the best receiver of the class, the Colts’ Reggie Wayne at No. 30.

Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State
Packers: Round 1, Pick 10
It wasn’t a particular good class of defensive ends, and Reynolds was a bust, tallying just three sacks in three NFL seasons. Adding insult to the mix is that Green Bay had to trade away backup QB Matt Hasselbeck to move up seven spots for Reynolds.

Kenyatta Walker, OT, Florida
Buccaneers: Round 1, Pick 14
From Warren and Reynolds, you should already get a sense this was a bad draft for Gators and Seminoles. Walker was supposed to be the next great left tackle but quickly proved he couldn’t handle that role. Moving to the right side, he continued to struggle in pass protection. His shaky career managed to last six seasons.

Willie Middlebrooks, CB, Minnesota
Broncos: Round 1, Pick 24
Cornerback misses like this eventually caused Denver to trade for Champ Bailey in ’04. Middlebrooks got more attention for his off-field issues than his on-field play, where he made only two career starts for Denver. After being out of the NFL of two years, Middlebrooks turned his life around in ’08 and continues to play for Toronto in the CFL.

2001 draft, First Round

1. Atlanta Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech
2. Arizona Leonard Davis, G, Texas
3. Cleveland Gerard Warren, DT, Florida
4. Cincinnati Justin Smith, DE, Missouri
5. San Diego LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Texas Christian
6. New England Richard Seymour, DT, Georgia
7. San Francisco Andre Carter, DE, Cal
8. Chicago David Terrell, WR, Michigan
9. Seattle Koren Robinson, WR, N.C. State
10. Green Bay Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State
11. Carolina Dan Morgan, OLB, Miami (Fla.)
12. St. Louis Damione Lewis, DT, Miami (Fla.)
13. Jacksonville Marcus Stroud, DT, Georgia
14. Tampa Bay Kenyatta Walker, OT, Florida
15. Washington Rod Gardner, WR, Clemson
16. N.Y. Jets Santana Moss, WR, Miami (Fla.)
17. Seattle Steve Hutchinson, G, Michigan
18. Detroit Jeff Backus, OT, Michigan
19. Pittsburgh Casey Hampton, NT, Texas
20. St. Louis Adam Archuleta, S, Arizona State
21. Buffalo Nate Clements, CB, Ohio State
22. N.Y. Giants Will Allen, CB, Syracuse
23. New Orleans Deuce McAllister, RB, Ole Miss
24. Denver Willie Middlebrooks, CB, Minnesota
25. Philadelphia Freddie Mitchell, WR, UCLA
26. Miami Jamar Fletcher, CB, Wisconsin
27. Minnesota Michael Bennett, RB, Wisconsin
28. Oakland Derrick Gibson, S, Florida State
29. St. Louis Ryan Pickett, DT, Ohio State
30. Indianapolis Reggie Wayne, WR, Miami (Fla.)
31. Baltimore Todd Heap, TE, Arizona State

Second Round

32. San Diego Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
33. Cleveland Quincy Morgan, WR, Kansas State
34. Arizona Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE, Nebraska
35. Atlanta Alge Crumpler, TE, North Carolina
36. Cincinnati Chad Johnson, WR, Oregon State
37. Indianapolis Idrees Bashir, S, Memphis
38. Chicago Anthony Thomas, RB, Michigan
39. Pittsburgh Kendrell Bell, ILB, Georgia
40. Seattle Ken Lucas, CB, Ole Miss
41. Green Bay Robert Ferguson, WR, Texas A&M
42. St. Louis Tommy Polley, OLB, Florida State
43. Jacksonville Maurice Williams, OT, Michigan
44. Carolina Kris Jenkins, DT, Maryland
45. Washington Fred Smoot, CB, Mississippi State
46. Buffalo Aaron Schobel, DE, Texas Christian
47. San Francisco Jamie Winborn, OLB, Vanderbilt
48. New England Matt Light, OT, Purdue
49. N.Y. Jets LaMont Jordan, RB, Maryland
50. Detroit Dominic Raiola, C, Nebraska
51. Denver Paul Toviessi, DE, Marshall
52. Miami Chris Chambers, WR, Wisconsin
53. Dallas Quincy Carter, QB, Georgia
54. Arizona Michael Stone, S, Memphis
55. Philadelphia Quinton Caver, LB, Arkansas
56. Dallas Tony Dixon, S, Alabama
57. Minnesota Willie Howard, DT, Stanford
58. Buffalo Travis Henry, RB, Tennessee
59. Oakland Marques Tuiasosopo, QB, Washington
60. Tennessee Andre Dyson, CB, Utah
61. Detroit Shaun Rogers, DT, Texas
62. Baltimore Gary Baxter, CB, Baylor

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

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