At this point, it is accepted by pretty much everyone involved that no matter how much tape is watched, data is analyzed, and college coaches are consulted; the NFL Draft will NEVER become a perfect science. Especially not when Mel Kiper is picking!
We’ll admit, the ESPN NFL draft “expert” does get some of his predictions right… but we’re not interested in the GOOD Mel Kiper here…
We want the bad stuff!
So here it is: Every NFL team’s draft pick that Mel Kiper was horribly wrong about.
Arizona Cardinals: Andre Wadsworth
Andre Wadsworth was a great story. Despite only getting recruited to play at one mid-major college, Stony Brook University in New York, Wadsworth threw caution to the wind – and went to Florida State as a walk on. While there, he turned himself into an All American performer. And heading into the ’98 NFL Draft, he was a surefire top 10 pick.
Wadsworth ended up going third overall to the Cardinals, but Kiper actually had him as the top ranked player in the draft…ahead of Peyton Manning! And he compared him to Bruce Smith!
It’s a good thing the Colts didn’t listen to Kiper, as Wadsworth lasted just three seasons in the league, while Peyton went on to become one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in league history.
Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones
Julio Jones has been on the short list of “best receivers” in the NFL – ever since the Falcons traded up to take him sixth overall in the 2011 Draft.
He has led the league is receiving yards twice and was named to an All Pro team five consecutive seasons… Not bad for a guy that Kiper claimed was not “sure-handed” enough to trade up for…
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson
Okay, while many of Kiper’s snafus are understandable given the unpredictable nature of evaluating college athletes – this one was inexcusable. Kiper took to national television and used Lamar Jackson’s accuracy statistics to critique him, but was quick to turn around and say stats are for losers when analyzing Josh Allen.
Does this make any sense to you?
Something’s gotta give here Mel!
Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen
Obviously, there was just something about Josh Allen that had Mel Kiper hot and bothered.
Between the contradictory analysis we just touched on, and his willingness to declare Allen the number one talent in a draft loaded with quarterbacks, it seemed odd that Kiper was buying so much stock in the University of Wyoming product.
While Allen has looked decent in his first few seasons, it is already pretty clear he should never have been a number one overall pick – like Kiper thought he should be.
Carolina Panthers: Jimmy Clausen
Alright… This one is a little bit of low hanging fruit, but it is too good not to use, as it may be the most dramatic, incorrect draft prediction of all time. Ahead of the 2010 NFL Draft, Kiper and Todd McShay were debating the future of former Notre Dame star, Jimmy Clausen.
Kiper, unprompted, went out on a limb and said, “If Jimmy Clausen is not a successful quarterback in the NFL, I’m done. That’s it. I’m out.”
Well, its been 10 years and Clausen hasn’t played in the NFL since 2015. Hey Mel, does seven career touchdowns and 14 interception qualify as “success?”
Maybe you should join Clausen in early retirement!
Chicago Bears: Mitch Trubisky
This one I will never really understand, but somehow the hype train went all in on Mitch Trubisky – in a draft class that featured the likes of Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes…
Sure, hindsight is 20/20 – and those two have had torrid starts to their NFL careers – but Trubisky hasn’t even come close to the bar that Kiper set when he tirelessly compared him to Matt Ryan ahead of the draft.
Cincinnati Bengals: Akili Smith
“Akili Smith will be a great NFL player” and “the passer Cincy lacked since Boomer Esiason.” This was Kiper’s take on Smith, following the QB’s phenomenal season at Organ after an insane junior college career.
Not only did Smith go just 3 and 14 as a starter in the league, before flaming out after four seasons, he was also taken ahead of NFL greats, like Edgerrin James, Tory Holt, Champ Bailey and Ricky Williams.
And to make matters worse, Kiper would later use Smith as a reference point for why Cam Newton, the former NFL MVP, shouldn’t go number one overall. Talk about only digging your hole deeper….
Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel
At first, he was destined to be the number one overall selection. Then, Kiper said he couldn’t see this player, and I quote, “sliding out of the top eight.”
The year was 2014 and the player, none other than the man formerly known as Johnny Football…
Although Manziel is still young, he hasn’t played in the league since 2016 and it seems unlikely we’ll ever see the troubled quarterback get another shot.
Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott
Check out this list of names… 1. Connor Cook 2. Cody Kessler 3. Carson Wentz. 4. Trevone Boykin. That was the top four senior quarterbacks that Kiper had heading into the 2015 season. You know who was number five?
Dak Prescott, the future Rookie of the Year and two time Pro Bowler, who has saved the Dallas Cowboys from entering quarterback purgatory in the post-Tony-Romo-era.
Denver Broncos: Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow was one of the most polarizing NFL players in recent memory – so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Kiper had a take or two on him. And, well, they both ended up being wrong.
For starters, he predicted Tebow would end up playing tight end or half back in the NFL, both of which he staunchly refused to do.
Secondly, he predicted Tebow would get taken in the second or third round, dozens of picks later than the 25th overall slot that he was taken at – as a quarterback, by Denver.
Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson
“If the Lions pass on Brady Quinn, it would be yet another in a long line of questionable decisions.” That was Kiper’s position ahead of the 2007 NFL Draft – a hill he proved willing to die on even after the Lions ended up taking Georgia Tech star Calvin Johnson.
You know… The wide receiver who ended up going to six straight Pro Bowls and led the league in receiving yards back to back years?
Green Bay Packers: Matt Hassleback
While Matt Hasslebeck was never Tom Brady – he did pretty well for a sixth round pick, earning three trips to the Pro Bowl and even leading the Seahawks to a Super Bowl appearance in ’05.
Not bad for a late round pick that Kiper referred to as “a waste of a pick.”
Houston Texans: David Carr
Before Deshaun Watson, the Houston Texans seemed doomed, possibly for all eternity, to endure mediocre to downright awful quarterback play. Year after year they would head into the draft looking for “their guy.”
Kiper was pretty confident they had “their guy” when they took David Carr with the Number one overall pick back in ’02.
“Carr now becomes the cornerstone of the Texans’ franchise. He is a franchise-caliber quarterback with accuracy and velocity reminiscent of another No. 1 overall pick, Troy Aikman.” Kiper said.
Needless to say, when you end up getting released in favor of Matt Schaub, you are NOT the second coming of Troy Aikman…
Indianapolis Colts: Trent Dilfer
Let’s turn back the clock to an oldie, but a goodie – when Mel Kiper had one of his worst takes ever on the 1994 NFL Draft.
After Indianapolis passed on the lowly Trent Dilfer, Kiper told Chris Berman “I think it was a typical Colts move, the Colts needed a quarterback. To pass up a Trent Dilfer when all you have is Jim Harbaugh — give me a break.”
No matter how dire your quarterback situation is, Dilfer, who had more career interceptions than touchdowns, probably isn’t the answer. Especially considering they took future Hall of Famer, Marshall Faulk with that second overall pick Kiper wanted them to use on Dilfer….
Jacksonville Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert
Ahh, Blaine Gabbert… Where to begin with Blaine Gabbert, the quarterback who somehow in 2011 sent draft experts, Kiper included, into a frenzy – with many of them thinking that he, and not Auburn superstar Cam Newton, should be the first quarterback off the board.
Carolina, who took Newton first overall, had the common sense to go with the can’t miss prospect, but Jacksonville wasn’t so lucky. They ended up wasting the number 10 overall pick on the Missouri product.
Kansas City Chiefs: Ricky Stanzi
For someone taken as recently as 2011, Ricky Stanzi has quickly faded into obscurity, much to the chagrin of Kiper, who confidently predicted he would develop into the best QB taken in the 2011 draft.
You know, the draft that featured Cam Newton…
A bold prediction, considering Stanzi went IN THE FIFTH ROUND!
Oh, and if you are wondering why he faded into obscurity so quickly – its because he never ended up throwing a single pass in the NFL. Nice pick, Mel.
Las Vegas Raiders: Jamarcus Russell
“Three years from now, you could certainly be looking at a guy who is certainly one of the elite top five quarterbacks in this league. Obviously, he’ll need a little time. But you’re talking about a 2-3-year period. Once he’s under center, look out, because the skill level he has is certainly John Elway-like.”
Raise your hand if you know who this quote was about… None other than former Raiders draft bust, Jamarcus Russell.
Not only did Russell bust, he busted bad, lasting just three seasons in the NFL, playing 31 total games and completing 52.1 percent of his passes for 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
Los Angeles Chargers: Ryan Leaf
Ryan Leaf was another all time miss from Kiper.
Not just because Leaf never amounted to much in the NFL, but also for the now infamous quote Kiper had on the QB, claiming that “His attitude will be an asset in the NFL and give him a mental advantage.”
Yeah, what an attitude that guy had. On his way to 14 career touchdown passes, he started out hot with that “attitude,” skipping a symposium that was mandatory for all NFL draftees and incurring a $10,000 fine. That is exactly who you want leading your franchise.
Los Angeles Rams: Ki-Jana Carter
Ki-Jana Carter was phenomenal at Penn State during his final season in Happy Valley, running for 1,539 yards and 23 touchdowns. There’s no denying that.
But when you go on national television and declare someone the next Bo Jackson – like Kiper did – you better be sure about it. And he better not net 14 total starts and 3.6 yards per carry for his career.
Miami Dolphins: Ted Ginn Jr.
Wow… I guess Mel Kiper really liked Brady Quinn, huh…?
Although Ted Ginn didn’t end up a superstar in the league, the former number nine overall pick has carved out a nice niche in the NFL, returning kicks and making more than his fair share of plays in space during his career, which has spanned 13 years now.
Kiper was not pleased, however, when he saw the Dolphins pass on Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn for Ginn, saying “You get a chance to take Brady Quinn at No. 9, and you take Ginn coming off a foot injury — not real polished as a wide receiver — you’ve got to be kidding me.”
Well, considering Ginn is still in the NFL and Quinn hasn’t played since 2014, when the Dolphins signed him off the scrap heap, I’d say that they made an okay choice.
Minnesota Vikings: Randy Moss
Randy Moss is widely accepted as one of the top five wide receivers to ever play in the NFL and the Vikings might want to thank Mel Kiper for helping to land him with the 21st overall pick, as the Draft Expert was very low on him.
Kiper didn’t even have him as a top 12 player available, claiming he needed to “develop the skills of getting off press coverage and route running” — like Kevin Dyson, who he did have in his top 12.
Neither receiver went in the top 12 and, well, Dyson and his 18 career touchdowns never quite had the success that Moss did in the league.
New England Patriots: Tom Brady
At this point, everyone knows Tom Brady. He is recognized as the greatest quarterback of all time, despite falling all the way to the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Unsurprisingly, Kiper had doubts about the future three-time NFL MVP’s viability in the NFL, wondering if Brady could “overcome that lack of mobility….”
Uh, yeah. I think it’s safe to say he did.
New Orleans Saints: Reggie Bush
The 2006 NFL Draft was easily one of the most hyped draft’s in recent memory. It featured two college stars, in Vince Young and Reggie Bush, who were both rumored to be going number one overall.
Kiper was all in on Bush, the dynamic playmaker out of USC, claiming that even if he quit playing running back and entered the draft as a wide receiver, he’d still be worth a first round pick. While Bush did have a nice NFL career, he never lived up to the impossible expectations Kiper had for him when he entered the league.
New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins
To say that Mel Kiper was high on Dwayne Haskins would be an understatement. Ahead of the draft, he said, “Haskins is the most accurate passer in this class, and he’s a natural touch thrower. He’s going to sit in the pocket and drop dimes.” Kiper would go so far as to say that Haskins would surely be the “heir apparent” to Eli Manning in New York.
The Giants ended up passing on Haskins and going with the Duke product, Daniel Jones, instead – and Haskins had yet to prove he has the “accuracy” that Kiper was raving about.
New York Jets: Geno Smith
Ahead of the 2013 Draft, Kiper actually flip flopped on this guy a couple of times, but once April rolled around, he felt he really had a grasp on it.
The draft expert predicted that former West Virginia Mountaineer, Geno Smith, would go number four overall to the Eagles, citing Smith as a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s offense.
And while overhyped quarterbacks slipping in the draft is common, to fall 35 picks to the Jets – at 39th overall – is a pretty significant miscalculation.
Not to mention that the Eagles also held the 35th pick and passed on Smith a second time!
Philadelphia Eagles: Nelson Aghlor
Nelson Agholor is one of the most consistently disappointing players in the entire NFL… It feels like every season is going to be his season, until it isn’t.
And for someone who Kiper praised as a “hands catcher,” and “versatile,” he has proven to be neither at the NFL level.
Pittsburgh Steelers: TJ Watt
It is never easy on the second brother that makes it into professional sports, especially not when the first ends up being a bonafide star like J.J. Watt.
Even though there were striking comparisons between J.J. and his younger brother T.J., Kiper was not sold on the latter being worth a first round pick.
And well, he was almost right, as the Steelers picked him up with the 30th pick in the draft. But considering the fact that just three years in T.J. has already earned two trips to the Pro Bowl and a first team All Pro selection, I’d say he was worth a first rounder.
San Francisco 49ers: Kentwan Balmer
Here’s a guy that some of our younger fans mine not even know about, Kentwan Balmer. 29th overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers back in 2008 – and while his three year career and zero career sacks were distinctly unmemorable, the controversy he and Kiper found themselves embroiled in certainly was.
You see, some believe Kiper was involved in a pay-for-play scandal with Balmer’s agent, Gary Wichard – in which Kiper would favor Wichard’s clients in his draft analysis in an attempt to improve their stock.
Kiper has been accused of doing this with Balmer, who ended up lasting just three seasons in the NFL after receiving a ton of pre-draft hype from Mel.
Seattle Seahawks: Russel Wilson
Okay, here’s a couple of stat lines – one of which is still pending.
11 seasons, 22 starts, 31 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions.
1 season, 16 starts, 31 touchdowns, and five interceptions.
The first is Seneca Wallace’s career stat line. And the second, well, that was just Wilson’s 2019 campaign. Throw in six Pro Bowls and a Lombardi Trophy, and let’s just say Russ has had himself quite the career so far.
Not surprisingly, Kiper predicted Wilson would have a “Seneca Wallace-type career.”
Judging by their resumes, that couldn’t have been more wrong if he tried.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston
The jury is still very much out on how good Jameis Winston will be at the NFL level, as he has given plenty of reasons to both doubt and believe in him.
But even if he continues on to a successful career, I doubt he will ever prove Kiper’s assessment that he has “a high football IQ and an ability to read, anticipate and process at a very high level what defenses are trying to do.”
Five seasons into his career, I think that would be the exact opposite of how I’d describe Jameis Winston’s play thus far.
Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry has been a beast in the NFL. Sure, his statistics have been up and down, but in Kiper’s words, “stats are for losers” and he was platooned early in his career. 2019 showed just have devastating Henry can be if given the reigns as the feature back, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who watched him play at Alabama.
That is, besides Kiper, who worried that he didn’t have enough “wiggle” to garner first round or even second round attention in the draft…
Washington Redskins: Kirk Cousins
Although his value has been debated nearly his entire NFL career – I think at this point we can all agree that Kirk Cousins is at the very least, an above average NFL quarterback, right?
Well, back in 2016 when Cousins was still on the Redskins, Kiper was confident he had found his replacement in Connor Cook, the former Michigan State signal caller. Yes, the Connor Cook that was thrust into the starting role in Oakland after Derek Carr and Matt McGloin went down with injuries – and looked like a deer in headlights.
Maybe Cook will parlay his XFL stint into another go at the NFL, but considering he couldn’t even win the quarterback competition for the Houston Roughnecks, I’d say Cousins turned out to be the much better option here.