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How much are draft busts affected by where they go teamwise?


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I have this weird and crazy idea that if some of the Draft Busts in sports had gone elsewhere, they wouldn't have been as disastrous as we saw.

Would JaMarcus Russell have been the epic disaster he was if he fell in the draft and went to, say, Cleveland/Miami/Arizona instead of the Raiders?

Or Tim Couch- let's say if he been drafted by the Bears instead of the Browns and Cleveland screws up with someone slse. 1999- McCown/Miller/Matthews had good moments with Marcus Robinson/Marty Booker/Engram/Conway in Crowton's pass-heavy offense.

Or other sports- if Oden's picked between 6-10 in the draft, is he still viewed the same way?

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Wasn't the knock on JaMarcus Russell was that he was lazy? I suppose there is a chance that some other organization could have motivated him, but Russell already had his money.

Greg Oden was derailed by injury, which would have happened no matter where he played. If he were taken anywhere in the first round, he would still be saddled with the "what if" tag line.

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Wasn't the knock on JaMarcus Russell was that he was lazy? I suppose there is a chance that some other organization could have motivated him, but Russell already had his money.

Greg Oden was derailed by injury, which would have happened no matter where he played. If he were taken anywhere in the first round, he would still be saddled with the "what if" tag line.

What made Russell this must have commodity? Granted I only saw the game between LSU and Bama, but I was never impressed with him when I saw him.

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Wasn't the knock on JaMarcus Russell was that he was lazy? I suppose there is a chance that some other organization could have motivated him, but Russell already had his money.

Greg Oden was derailed by injury, which would have happened no matter where he played. If he were taken anywhere in the first round, he would still be saddled with the "what if" tag line.

What made Russell this must have commodity? Granted I only saw the game between LSU and Bama, but I was never impressed with him when I saw him.
He threw a ball 60+ yards from his knees at the combine
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Yeah, the teams have a huge impact on how well the player does. Particularly at the QB position. Russell was lazy and got fat, so he likely wouldn't have succeeded anywhere. But other top draft pick QBs might have done much better in other cities.

We remember Aaron Rodgers was at one point supposed to go first overall, but ended up falling to the 20's because teams saw supposed flaws in his game. Well, what if he did go to San Francisco that year? Would he have succeeded growing on crappy teams with poor coaching? With Alex Smith still being there at that point, he likely would have still been around for Harbaugh, but he might have been "ruined" by his bad play and coaching from the previous regimes. He got to sit for two years behind Favre and learn what to do (and what not to do), and he also had a solid offensive coach and talented position players in Green Bay. Put him on the Browns or the Bills, he's likely out of the league at this point.

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I don't think it's limited to just the teams they play for. Scouts vastly overrate some talent (i.e. almost every USC QB taken in the 21st century) while underrating others. Players buy into their own hype. (Charles Rogers, anyone?)

And with respect to Brett Favre's playing ability, I think you're overplaying his role in Rodgers' success.

It's an interesting theory, though.

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I have zero doubt that anyone drafted by Matt Millen would've played better elsewhere -- mostly because he reached for everyone, raising expectations to unsustainable levels -- "Roy Williams/Charles Rogers/Mike Williams will be the receiver that Joey needs to succeed..." etc. Actually, if you want to feel really good about your team's drafts, check this out (from 2001-2007): http://www.detroitlions.com/team/history/draft-history/draft-history-2000-2009.html

The only three guys that Millen drafted in his 7 year reign of terror that are starting right now are Calvin Johnson (duh), Dominic Raiola (hasn't exactly been a model of consistency), and Manny Ramirez (C for the Broncos).

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It's a huge part of the equation and it works both ways. If Terry Bradshaw isn't drafted by the Steelers then he isn't in the hall of fame.

Some guys though, like Ryan Leaf and Jamarcus Russell, wouldn't have succeeded anywhere.

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A lot. The surrounding talent and coaching makes has the most influence in football. There will always be exceptions for the most extreme cases. Like McCarthy said, JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf probably would've been busts anywhere. Russell was lazy and Leaf was an idiot. Then there are the guys that are able to succeed anywhere. Peyton Manning would've been a great quarterback if he was put anywhere. But for most players, where they end up has an enormous influence on how successful they will be. If you land in a great system with good talent surrounding you, almost anyone can be successful. Look at Cassel stepping in for Brady then not doing much once he left. I think even better examples of this would be in the college game. You see teams all the time that put up big numbers each year while just plugging new guys into the system.

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It's clearly on a case-by-case and team-by-team basis, but the whole "butterfly effect" thing certainly applies - not only to where other players go, but whether certain things such as injuries happen. I'm not an expert on Greg Oden's injuries, but perhaps if he isn't drafted by the Blazers, a few of those injuries don't happen. Maybe Oden isn't the best example because he seems to have had chronic issues with his knees - but other players who've been labeled "busts" because of injuries (Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis, Robert Edwards, why are all the names popping into my head mid-90s RBs?) possibly wouldn't have suffered those injuries if they'd gone to different teams.

Same goes to JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf. Of course, they were confirmed both lazy and royal douchenozzles, respectively - but maybe if Russell goes somewhere other than Oakland, he gets a fire lit under his ass by somebody. Maybe if Leaf goes to Indianapolis or somewhere else, he's not put in the environment he had in San Diego and things turn out differently. (...or not?)

It's almost a "nature vs. nurture" debate. No way of knowing for sure, but it makes for fun hypothetical speculations.

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The answer to this also varies by sport.

While less publicized, there certainly are baseball draft busts and I tend to think that this stuff does not matter a ton in that sport. Maybe a little (the Twins currently have the worst manager and pitching coach in history; it's not great for the pitchers). Sure, your team could impact "old school" stats (like RBI or Wins) that nobody even cares about anymore, but good hitters and good pitchers will perform anywhere, for the most part. Brien Taylor, a #1 overall pick by the Yankees, so I doubt that the team mattered as to why he never played in the majors (though I think a bar brawl may have helped his undoing).

I tend to think hockey probably falls into a similar category with baseball, though maybe a goalie on a bad defensive team could fall victim. In basketball, I really want to believe that the Timberwolves have ruined a lot of careers by being the Timberwolves but I don't know that they (or any other team) could turn a guy into a bust. I don't think it's their fault that Ricky Rubio cannot shoot and is a below-average PG. I suppose a player not suited for, say, the triangle offense can be negatively impacted by the team but those guys tend to end up playing elsewhere with the opportunity to improve. I suppose basketball could be #2 to football though...a lot of coaches are accused of using players poorly, etc. Maybe a better team would have Rubio playing/shooting a bit better.

I think it's way different in football where there are so many different schemes and far less "individual performance" than the other sports. An NFL player is more reliant on his teammates (e.g., the impact of the O-Line on RBs and QBs). While I certainly agree about JaMarcus (lazy) and Leaf (could not control his emotions), I sometimes wonder whether David Carr would have been a better pro if he had not taken a career's worth of sacks every year.

And guys ending up in great systems, particularly QBs can really make a difference. Tom Brady and Joe Montana both deserve the credit they get but they were both very fortunate to be put into great situations. The Belichik Pats were a step ahead of everyone for a while. For Montana, he was fortunate to be surrounded by great personnel and he also played for an innovative coach (Bill Walsh) who was a bit ahead of his time. I wonder what would have happened if he'd ended up with the woeful 1980s Colts or even the average 1980s Vikings.

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It's clearly on a case-by-case and team-by-team basis, but the whole "butterfly effect" thing certainly applies - not only to where other players go, but whether certain things such as injuries happen. I'm not an expert on Greg Oden's injuries, but perhaps if he isn't drafted by the Blazers, a few of those injuries don't happen. Maybe Oden isn't the best example because he seems to have had chronic issues with his knees - but other players who've been labeled "busts" because of injuries (Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis, Robert Edwards, why are all the names popping into my head mid-90s RBs?) possibly wouldn't have suffered those injuries if they'd gone to different teams.

Same goes to JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf. Of course, they were confirmed both lazy and royal douchenozzles, respectively - but maybe if Russell goes somewhere other than Oakland, he gets a fire lit under his ass by somebody. Maybe if Leaf goes to Indianapolis or somewhere else, he's not put in the environment he had in San Diego and things turn out differently. (...or not?)

It's almost a "nature vs. nurture" debate. No way of knowing for sure, but it makes for fun hypothetical speculations.

I thought about that. I have a harder time calling, say, Mark Prior a "bust". His career was a disappointment but he showed brilliance before getting cut down by injury. Do the injuries still happen if he gets drafted by the Twins (who almost picked him but went with more signable Joe Mauer)? My gut tells me he is injury prone. But either way, this seems to be about luck and it's hard to suggest the Cubs are at fault, unlike maybe Tim Couch if someone believes he'd have thrived elsewhere.

Regarding Oden, I agree that he was probably going to be injury prone, but even if it is due to injuries that happened in a Blazers uniform that may not have happened elsewhere, that's still about luck and not about the Blazers (unless it's suggested that the Blazers have poor trainers or a messed up practice philosophy). Like with Bo Jackson, who had career-limiting injury while playing for the Raiders...may not have happened had he ended up with Tampa, but that's about bad luck more than team.

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Like with Bo Jackson, who had career-limiting injury while playing for the Raiders...may not have happened had he ended up with Tampa, but that's about bad luck more than team.

Yes. That's what I was getting at. Bo Jackson is a perfect example. That injury might not happen because, indirectly, he was in that situation because he was in a Raiders uniform at the time. Same with Joe Theismann. Freak injury, theoretically would've been avoided had he never been a Redskin. Did the Raiders or Redskins* contribute to those injuries? No. (At this point, I'm not sure if I'm supporting or undermining my own argument...)

*I guess you could argue that Theismann's injury wouldn't have happened had a flea flicker not been called, but it also wouldn't have happened if a million other things (being drafted by the Redskins included) had happened.

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Like with Bo Jackson, who had career-limiting injury while playing for the Raiders...may not have happened had he ended up with Tampa, but that's about bad luck more than team.

Yes. That's what I was getting at. Bo Jackson is a perfect example. That injury might not happen because, indirectly, he was in that situation because he was in a Raiders uniform at the time. Same with Joe Theismann. Freak injury, theoretically would've been avoided had he never been a Redskin. Did the Raiders or Redskins* contribute to those injuries? No. (At this point, I'm not sure if I'm supporting or undermining my own argument...)

*I guess you could argue that Theismann's injury wouldn't have happened had a flea flicker not been called, but it also wouldn't have happened if a million other things (being drafted by the Redskins included) had happened.

Yeah, neither player was really victim to his team. So you could say that "the team that drafted them" impacted it but not probably the way the question was intended. Also, neither was a bust...Theismann played for like 15 years (counting CFL) and Jackson's career was shorter than it should have been but he was obviously not of the "bust" category.

In any case, I'd argue that these are about luck, though maybe there are injury-prone players that would have done better with a different training staff. Maybe a player brought back from injury too early or something. It would be much harder to come up with a great example of this than it would for the "players, coaches, and schemes around him" discussion, though.

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The 2003 NBA Draft is a pretty interesting case study for this topic. Going off of memory, the top five were LeBron, Darko, Melo, Wade and Bosh. Of those five, four have championships and Darko was the first.

If Dumars drafts for talent instead of need, does Melo have a championship already? Or two? Those Pistons teams were stacked and Melo was good out of the gate.

LeBron is the transcendent talent of the group (and of the decade), but Wade has had more team success. If Melo goes to Detroit, does that change? Sure is an interesting question.

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The 2003 NBA Draft is a pretty interesting case study for this topic. Going off of memory, the top five were LeBron, Darko, Melo, Wade and Bosh. Of those five, four have championships and Darko was the first.

If Dumars drafts for talent instead of need, does Melo have a championship already? Or two? Those Pistons teams were stacked and Melo was good out of the gate.

LeBron is the transcendent talent of the group (and of the decade), but Wade has had more team success. If Melo goes to Detroit, does that change? Sure is an interesting question.

None of these guys, except for Darko, is a bust. And I tend to think that would have been the case regardless of who drafted who.

The bold is a point about how important team is to player perception though. Only a nitwit calls Lebron a "bust" but he takes a lot of heat for lacking team success. Of course 7 years in "UFA-Repellent" Cleveland hurt his chances...and imagine the perception of Melo if he has a title now, even as a Rookie with the Pistons. He'd be the same player but he'd "have a title". And that would matter, a lot, in terms of perception.

It's funny that Darko has a ring...Had the Heat won, Oden would have gotten one before Durant...that would have been funny.

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I don't know that I buy Melo as a HOFer, but I am pretty sure he's the same guy either way.

My example is Olajuwon vs. Stockton/Malone. One team peaked during Jordan's first retirement. The other during the Bulls height of dominance. Luck matters in why Hakeem has two titles to Malone/Stockton's zero.

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