Hindsight is the most vicious weapon used against NFL players, coaches and general managers. People who look back and evaluate talent retroactively will often chuck at preconceived notions of how good players were before their careers started. Betting odds for which quarterback will be taken first in the 2022 NFL draft are compelling for once this year.
While in year’s past, there always seemed to be a clear-cut top selection, the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft are hard to pinpoint. Several of the players projected in the first round are players who may fall out of the first round completely. Liberty’s Malik Willis is -170 is to be chosen first, while Pitt standout Kenny Pickett has the second-highest odds at +125. No other quarterback has better odds than +2500.
But while this quarterback class is lightly regarded, it doesn’t mean these players couldn’t have strong careers. One class that was more highly regarded hardly produced anything for the teams that picked them. Here’s a look at the 1999 NFL draft.
Not an easy situation
Tim Couch was chosen No. 1 overall by the expansion Cleveland Browns and didn’t walk into an easy situation. In his first season with Cleveland, Couch was forced into a starting role and compiled a 2-12 record, passing for 2,447 yards with 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. During his five seasons in the NFL, Couch compiled a 22-37 starting record.
Couch’s best season came in 2002, when he compiled an 8-6 starting record. He passed for 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, completing 61.6 percent of his passes. However, Couch didn’t get a chance to start in Cleveland’s 36-33 loss to Pittsburgh in the playoffs. He didn’t get to start in the playoffs because he broke his leg in the regular season finale. The next year, Couch would lose his starting job to Kelly Holcomb.
Donovan lives up to the hype
None of the quarterbacks drafted in the 1999 class — which included five first-round picks — would end up winning a Super Bowl. However, Donovan McNabb, who was chosen second overall, had a borderline Hall-of-Fame career that spanned tours-of-duties with three-different teams. McNabb had a 98-62-1 record as a starter with 92 of those wins coming in Philadelphia.
McNabb finished his career with 37, 276 passing yards, 234 passing touchdowns and 117 interceptions. In the playoffs, McNabb was more than solid with Philadelphia compiling a 9-7 record and tossing 24 touchdowns compared to 17 interceptions. Unfortunately for McNabb, Philadelphia was never able to win a Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XXXIX, McNabb threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns, but was also intercepted three times.
For his career, McNabb was selected to the Pro Bowl six times and helped transform Philadelphia into one of the top teams in the NFC.
The Never Was
Akili Smith was picked third by the Cincinnati Bengals and became another in the line of disappointments at quarterback for Cincinnati. Smith was 3-14 as a starter and never started more than 11 games in a season. Smith passed for five touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his career.
What Could Have Been
Dante Culpper didn’t start during his rookie season, but when he got the opportunity in 2000, he showed incredible potential in a loaded offense. Partnering with standout receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter, Culpepper passed for 3,937 yards, 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2000. However, a number of injuries would limit Culpepper’s productivity.
Culpper spent his first seven seasons in Minnesota, compiling a 38-42 record as a starter and being named to the Pro Bowl in three seasons. While Minnesota only finished 8-8 in 2004, Culepper would lead the league with 379 completions and 4,717 passing yards. He would also toss 39 touchdown passes.
After seven seasons in Minnesota, Culpepper left for two disastrous seasons in Detroit, where he was hampered by injuries and recorded an 0-10 record as starter. Before retiring, Culpepper made stops with the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. For his career, Culpepper passed for 24,153 yards.