First Round Busts from the 2006 NFL Draft

With trade of Reggie Bush from New Orleans to Miami and the recent wedding of his ex-girlfriend Kim Kardashian, I thought this would be a good time to take a look back at some of the draft picks that went through in 2006. This was the year when Bush decided to declare for the draft and forego his senior season at USC. When you look back at the first round most specifically you see a ton of misses and very few hits. Many of these players are on different teams from which they were originally drafted and few have turned out to be franchise cornerstones or even all pro players. The 2006 NFL draft seems to be littered with flops to this point in most of the player’s careers.

The biggest name going into the 2006 NFL draft was indeed no other than Reggie Bush. He seemed to be a sure bet to be a star for whatever team would be lucky enough to draft him. He was a transcendent star in college and he had just come off of a Heisman Trophy winning junior season and a second consecutive appearance in the BCS national championship game. He lost the title and he would lose what many thought would be a no brainer as the number one overall selection. That year the Houston Texans had the number one overall pick and most thought that they would take the dynamic Bush to add a spark to their offense. After all, Bush looked like a man amongst boys during some of his games in college. He reminded me a bit of Marshall Faulk when he was in college but with more quickness. Both running backs seemed to have a gear in college that other players could not reach. Faulk still had this ability in the NFL and now is a hall of famer. Bush never was able to duplicate this ability after going pro and has been a disappointment as a number two overall pick. Houston elected to draft Mario Williams out of NC State as their number one overall pick instead of Reggie and many people scoffed at this pick. Through talks with his representatives it was discovered that Bush would be seeking a landmark deal as the top pick and this might have given the Texans cause for concern. Instead Reggie fell to a happy New Orleans Saints team that did put his skills to use but never quite got the player that everyone thought Reggie Bush would be. Instead of another Marshall Faulk, the Saints received an overpaid version of Darren Sproles. He was a guy who could be an X factor but could never quite carry the load of a feature back even when given the chance. New Orleans traded Bush to the Miami Dolphins and Miami is hoping Bush can give them what he could not give New Orleans. Although he has shown flashes of brilliance in his career he has never been to the Pro Bowl and he has never had more than 155 rushing attempts or 581 yards in a single season during his career. This is not what you expect out of a potential number one overall pick in the draft.

The New Orleans Saints were not the only team to miss early in the draft as the next player selected right after Bush was none other than Vince Young. Vince was coming off a national championship win over Reggie Bush and USC in the BCS title game which was played in the Rose Bowl. This was his second straight brilliant performance in the Rose Bowl venue as he had picked apart Michigan the year before. Although most admitted that he was not ready to be a star on day one, they did feel that this was a good time for him to leave school and join the NFL. Although he had an orthodox style of play and throwing motion, many people believed in Vince Young because he had displayed strong leadership skills and charisma in college. He had nothing left to prove at Texas and the Tennessee selected him third overall to be their new franchise quarterback. At the time, the Titans still had Steve McNair on their roster, but they would eventually jettison him to the Baltimore Ravens and turn the page on the former face of the franchise. The Titans also brought in Kerry Collins for that year as a veteran presence for the position so that they would not rush Young into playing before he was ready. Young began the season on the bench, but ended it rallying the team from an abysmal start to an 8-8 record and one game out of a playoff berth. His future seemed bright and made the Pro Bowl. He went into the 2007 season as a starter and the team made the playoffs that year. Unfortunately for Young his numbers were not top notch as he showed his youth and lack of pro experience by throwing 17 interceptions to go with only nine touchdowns. The following year the team went 13-3 and made the playoffs with Young as the backup. Kerry Collins was the quarterback to lead the team to the best record in the AFC. Young regained his starting job after an 0-6 start in 2009 and did well, but everything began to spiral downward during a losing spell last season. Young became involved in a public spat with coach Jeff Fisher as Fisher repeatedly went to the media with his frustrations with the quarterback. Young did not help himself by often seeming thin skinned and moody. Neither would come back to the Titans this year as it was first announced that the team had placed Young on the trading block and later on the team announced a mutual parting of ways with Jeff Fisher. Young is now the backup to Michael Vick in Philadelphia as the team could not even work a trade to bring back some sort of asset for him. He is hoping to have the same type of transformation that Vick experienced after he joined the Eagles two years ago.

Matt Leinart seemed to have it all going for him as the starting quarterback for the USC Trojans. As a junior he had won the Heisman Trophy and also a national championship. He was a marquee player for a program with great tradition and he had a shot at win back to back championships after already sharing one in 2003. He stunned many by deciding to return for his senior year and not enter the 2005 draft. His decision would not pay off for him as he went from a potential number one in 2005 and a lock for the top five to falling all the way down to number ten and the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately for Leinart, that is probably the highlight of his NFL career thus far. He went to an Arizona team that had a bright future upon their horizon. Unfortunately for Leinart the future successes of the team always happened with him on the sidelines. He twice had his season ended by injury and watched as Kurt Warner revived his career and led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Leinart received another chance in 2010 with Warner’s retirement, but he was unable to keep the confidence of his coaches and he was unceremoniously released during the preseason. He is now about to begin his second season as the backup to Matt Schaub in Houston where he is still a bit of a project.

Bill Parcells and the Dallas Cowboys selected Bobby Carpenter with the number 18 pick overall in the 2006 draft with the thought and hope that they had just selected a solid 10 year pro that could potentially be a difference maker in the NFL. Carpenter had just come off a successful college football career at Ohio State University where he had been battle tested and excelled. He was not overly flashy when it came to athleticism, but he was reliable and made plays. He had played in every game of his OSU career and the Cowboys felt that he could be developed into a three down linebacker in the NFL. This never materialized as Carpenter was never able to even earn a starting linebacker position for Dallas. Although the team tried to give him every chance, he could not capitalize on this and he was traded to the St. Louis Rams in 2010. He has since been cut by St. Louis and went on to Miami where he could not stick and is now on his fourth team in Detroit.

These are just some of the 2006 NFL draft picks that went wrong. My goal was to show more of the bigger misses in the first round of this draft rather than guys that did achieve some level of success or are at least still hanging with their original drafted team. These four men were expected to be starters and stars by this point in their careers. Instead they have been busts and may be running out of chances soon enough.

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