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Back to the Future: A look back at NFL drafts

In today’s disposable society, we rarely look back and take stock of where we were in yesteryear and how we got to today. Well, with a little help from my old friend, the internet, I’ve decided to go back and look at previous NFL drafts. I’m looking at picks 1,25,50,75 and 100 from each year starting in 2014. When the exact pick isn’t an offensive player, I’ve taken the next closest and indicated their draft position. I’ve chosen to start my retrospective in 2014 mostly because woof, what a crop.

By Duncan Smith

In today’s disposable society, we rarely look back and take stock of where we were in yesteryear and how we got to today. Well, with a little help from my old friend, the internet, I’ve decided to go back and look at previous NFL drafts. I’m looking at picks 1, 25, 50, 75, and 100  from each year starting in 2014. When the exact pick isn’t an offensive player,  I’ve taken the next closest and indicated their draft position. I’ve chosen to start my retrospective in 2014 mostly because woof, what a crop.

Do I expect to get much useful Fantasy information from this? Probably not, but we’re going to be catching up with some old friends, acquaintances, and Johnny Football. We’re going to spend a significant amount of time in New York with the Jets, and we’re going to stare slack-jawed at the 2016 picks. So with no more preamble, let’s fire up the Delorean, put the pedal to the metal, and blast into 2014 at 88 mph.


PlayerPositionActual PickTeamCollege
Pick 1Blake BortlesQuarterback3JacksonvilleUCF
Pick 25Johnny ManzielQuarterback23ClevelandTexas A&M
Pick 50Jace AmaroTight End49JetsTexas Tech
Pick 75Tre MasonRunning Back75RamsAuburn
Pick 100Crockett GilmoreTight End99BaltimoreColorado State

We’ve made it!

The price of oil collapsed, The Guardians of the Galaxy is playing in cinemas, Ebola is giving everyone a soft run through for 2020, and Johnny Manziel is drafted by the Cleveland Browns but not before Blake Bortles is drafted 3rd overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Johnny (pick 23) and Blake are the two highest drafted quarterbacks in a class that leaves a lot to be desired. Male model and current QB in San Fransisco Jimmy Garoppolo, is likely to be the most successful of the bunch.

In our 2014 retrospective, we get two tight ends, a running back, and our first trip to New York: Jace Amaro (pick 49, Jets), Tre Mason (pick 75, Rams), Crockett Gilmore (pick 99, Baltimore). The best thing said about these three is that Tre Mason’s Dad was in De La Soul. Amaro played in 2014 for the Jets, 2016 for the Titans, and in 2020 signed to the Seattle Dragons of the XFL. Like Johnny Manziel, Tre Mason tried his hand in Canada. After three unsuccessful years at tight end and a missed 2017, Crockett Gilmore piled on 40 pounds in an attempt to transfer to the offensive line. As of this moment, he is a free agent.

I told you, What. A. Crop. Woof.


PlayerPositionActual PickTeamCollege
Pick 1Jameis WinstonQuarterback1Tampa BayFlorida State
Pick 25Breshad PerrimanWide Receiver26BaltimoreUCF
Pick 50Ameer AbdullahRunning back54DetroitNebraska
Pick 75Garrett GraysonQuarterback75New OrleansColorado State
Pick 100Bryce PettyQuarterback103JetsBaylor

We slide into 2015, and that can only mean one thing: Jameis Winston’s time to shine. Famous Jameis is selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s been a rollercoaster for Winston in the pros. He’s been benched, started, injured, short-sighted, and playing for New Orleans. Now officially in the Big Easy, he’s hoping to prove the Bucs wrong and prove he was worthy of first overall selection if he gets a chance behind Drew Brees.

Picks 26 and 54 are Breshad Perriman (Baltimore) and Ameer Abdullah (Detroit), respectively. With the possible exception of 2019 at Tampa Bay, Perriman has had the distinct misfortune of being on teams that either can’t or don’t throw the ball that much. Coupled with injury, his career has yet to hit the heights associated with first-round draft capital. Luckily for him, he’s now on the Jets roster. Oh, right.

Abdullah was the fourth running back selected and was a much-hyped prospect heading into 2015 fantasy drafts. Unfortunately, he did not live up to that hype. The overriding memory of Abdullah, perhaps a touch unfairly, is that he has hands cast of stone and an inability to move the ball on the ground. He currently plays in Minnesota, mostly on special teams.

With picks 75 and 103, we get another two quarterbacks selected and our second trip to New York. At pick 75, The Saints selected Garrett Grayson. Not THE Garrett Grayson, I hear you ask. Yes, THE Garrett Grayson. He managed one year on the Saints roster before going to their practice squad then bouncing around various practice squads before deciding to step away from football in 2019.

Bryce Petty was selected by the Jets at pick 103 after NYJ traded up with the Jags from pick 104. That’s how confident the Jets felt that Mr. Petty was the arm of the franchise.

Bryce Petty failed to live up to those high hopes and in 3 seasons in New York, made various here and there appearances that amounted to a big lot of nothing before signing to Miami and being released in 2018, current whereabouts unknown.


PlayerPositionActual PickTeamCollege
Pick 1Jared GoffQuarterback1RamsCalifornia
Pick 25Paxton LynchQuarterback26DenverMemphis
Pick 50Christian HackenbergQuarterback51JetsPenn State
Pick 75Kenyan DrakeRunning Back73MiamiAlabama
Pick 100Connor CookQuarterback100RaidersMichigan State
Pick 135Dak PrescottQuarterback135CowboysMississippi State

Now on to 2016, we’re going to see a pretty spectacular blunder here by several teams in this draft. Obviously, the Jets are one of those teams. The number 1 pick was the Rams selection of Jared Goff. Goff is still the undisputed starter in Los Angeles despite a disappointing 2019. He and Sean McVay will be hoping for a bounce-back this season and that the only thing that whiffs with the Rams this year is that new logo. Man, it sucks in all kinds of Microsoft-Paint-ways. It is undetermined if he will be the best quarterback from this class.

Next up is a man that certainly is not the best quarterback of the class, selected 26th overall by Denver, Paxton Lynch. The third signal-caller off the board, after Goff and Carson Wentz. He spent two years in Denver, slowly sliding down the depth chart before ending up behind the one man who was perhaps too much of a nutter even for the NFL, Swag Kelly. After spending 2018 kicking up his heels, Lynch hung around the Seahawks camp for an offseason before signing to the Steelers practice squad. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh cut him yesterday. 

At pick 51, it’s another year and another blind stab at QB by the Jets. This time it is Penn State product, Christian Hackenberg. The Hack has the dubious honour of being only the third quarterback selected in the first or second round since the beginning of the common draft era (1967) not to play a game in his first two seasons. In 2020 Hack has transitioned to baseball in the hopes of becoming a pitcher.

With pick 73, Miami selected running back Kenyon Drake and promptly failed to utilise him properly under Adam Gase. When given the opportunity, Drake flashed but would then be limited in snaps the following week for whatever aging back Gase preferred over him. Traded to Arizona, he quickly showed up and usurped David Johnson as the backfield’s top dog. Away from Miami and Gase, he is looking at a 2020 season as an actual lead back.

At pick 100, The Raiders selected quarterback Connor Cook. Cook holds the record for most wins at Michigan State and is the first quarterback to make his first start in the NFL in the playoffs. Last spotted, he was playing in the XFL.

On their own, each of these quarterbacks whiffs were terrible, but in 2016 they were worse than usual. You see, in 2016, the Dallas Cowboys selected Dak Prescott with pick 135! They failed to trade up for either Lynch or Cook and had to settle for Prescott. There’s a world out there where Connor Cook is currently leading the Cowboys offence, and Dak is back in his hometown running a car dealership after having his career ruined in Oakland. Think about that.


PlayerPositionActual PickTeamCollege
Pick 1Mitch TrubiskyQuarterback2ChicagoNorth Carolina
Pick 25Evan EngramTight End23GiantsOle Miss
Pick 50DeShone KizerQuarterback52ClevelandNotre Dame
Pick 75Taywan TaylorWide Receiver72TitansWestern Kentucky
Pick 100Jonnu SmithTight End100TitansFlorida International

In 2017 we only saw two quarterbacks in our crop, Mr. Mitchell Trubisky, at two overall and DeShone Kizer at pick 52. Trubisky is currently just edging out perennial back up, Super Bowl winner and generally extremely mediocre QB Nick Foles for the starting role in Chicago. Kizer got drafted by Cleveland, and after leading them to a memorable 0-16 season as a rookie, he promptly disappeared into the black hole where former Browns signal-callers live.

For pick 23, we are back in New York, and given the relative success of the pick, it can mean only one thing, we’re with the Giants and tight end Evan Engram. Many consider the big man as a top 5 TE, although injuries have dogged his professional career.

There’s another tight end who is a breakout candidate this year but first pick 72 from the Titans, wide receiver Taywan Taylor. Taylor has failed to deliver in his career, and they traded him to the Browns before last season. 

The tight end in question is Jonnu Smith, also selected by the Titans at exactly pick 100. Many fantasy talking heads are hoping for big things this season, and Jonnu is available at the end of most drafts.


PlayerPositionActual PickTeamCollege
Pick 1Baker MayfieldQuarterback1ClevelandOklahoma
Pick 25Hayden HurstTight End25BaltimoreSouth Carolina
Pick 50Anthony MillerWide Receiver51ChicagoMemphis
Pick 75Mason RudolphQuarterback76PittsburghOklahoma State
Pick 100Ian ThomasTight End101CarolinaIndiana

We’re almost to the present day, and our selected 2018 players haven’t flamed out of the league. In fact, all of our players here are still in the league. We have Baker Mayfield (1), Hayden Hurst (25), Anthony Miller (51), Mason Rudolph (76), and Ian Thomas (101). Of these players, Rudolph is the closest to obscurity. If he never got into ‘that altercation’ chances are he’s already a footnote. Mayfield is proving a tough player on which to reach consensus. Everyone expected big things last year from Cleveland, but hampering Baker’s play was a poor offensive line and perhaps too many starters playing together for the first time. You have to suspect that another disappointing season will see Mayfield inducted into Cleveland’s “Black Hole of Former QBs” before long.

Of our remaining three players, all are as lovely stashes for your dynasty roster. Thomas and Hurst are both regarded as upside tight ends, and Miller has good value at the end of drafts. However, good luck trusting Matt Nagy and Trubisky/Foles to feed Miller enough for relevance.


PlayerPositionActual PickTeamCollege
Pick 1Kyler MurrayQuarterback1ArizonaOklahoma
Pick 25Marquise BrownWide Receiver25BaltimoreOklahoma
Pick 50Irv Smith JrTight End50VikingsAlabama
Pick 75Jace SternbergerTight End75PackersTexas A&M
Pick 100Will GrierQuarterback100CarolinaWest Virginia

We’re in 2019. Those last days when societal norms required us to shower, use deodorant, and brush our teeth. Unlike now where the correct response to anyone questioning my personal hygiene is to yell ‘BACK OFF YOU SPOOKY BITCH, you’re in my bubble!’

Our 2019 selections are Kyler Murray (1), Marquise Brown (25), Irv Smith Jr (50), Jace Sternberger (75), and Will Grier (100). 

It’s fair to say Will Grier and Jace Sternberger are not making waves in the fantasy world. In 5 quarters of football as a starter, Grier threw for four interceptions. Sternberger is a tight end for Aaron Rodgers. Good luck with that, pal.

Marquise Brown and Irv Smith Jr are again both seen as nice stashes this year with potential for a breakout. Murray is touted as this year’s Lamar Jackson, and everyone will be very disappointed when he’s not.


PlayerPositionActual PickTeamCollege
Pick 1Joe BurrowQuarterback1BengalsLSU
Pick 25Brandon AiyukWide Receiver2549ersArizona State
Pick 50Chase ClaypoolWide Receiver49PittsburghNotre Dame
Pick 75Ke’Shawn VaughnRunning back76Tampa BayVanderbilt
Pick 100Dalton KeeneTight End101New EnglandVirginia Tech

We’ve just enough power left in the flux capacitor to get us back to the year of the virus and the 2020 draft. Our picks here are Joe Burrow (1), Brandon Aiyuk (25), Chase Claypool (49), Ke’ Shawn Vaughn (76), and Dalton Keene (101).

Can our retrospective tell us anything about the future success of these players? Well, every one of our first picks is a quarterback, and none of them are the best in their class. So I guess relying on a quarterback on a bad enough team to have the first overall pick isn’t a good idea. Clearly coaching and the organisation itself plays a more extensive than appreciated factor in a professional quarterback’s game. 

Does this mean that Burrow will fail? Not necessarily, but he’s got an uphill struggle in a poor organisation that rarely bothers doing any scouting. I mean, does anyone think Dak Prescott would be the player he is if the Jets took him over The Hack? Perhaps in fantasy, the smart manager chooses rookie signal-callers on good teams behind older quarterbacks rather than high draft capital players on piss poor teams.

Further down the draft board, except for Tennessee and the Steelers, every pick around 75 is a team’s first skill player off the board. All of them except for Drake have failed to make a mark. Sorry, Ke’Shawn, but we know that Fournette just scuppered your relevance. One can argue that the 75th pick is generally made by teams with a pressing need to fill early and are now taking the player they perceive as the best available in a position of need rather than the best available overall.

Other than the above, what else can we say? Football is an unkind, brutal, opportunistic sport. You can have all the skills in the world and get drafted by a boneheaded GM that ruins your career forever, or you can be an average player in an extraordinary situation and go on to do very little.

Now back off, you spooky bitches! 

You’re in my bubble.

Duncan Smith – Dynasty/IDP
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