The Mark Has Been Made: The Biggest Misses
3. Breeland Speaks, 2018, Defensive End, Round 2, Overall Pick 46
It really stings when a team misses out on a draft pick when that guy’s taken in the first two rounds, especially in the top 50 picks. Recognizing the outside circumstances helps explain it, sure, but it doesn’t soothe the sting.
For Speaks, drafted out of Ole Miss, those outside factors included injuries and a change in personnel. He’s missed all of the last two seasons after playing in every game as a rookie, starting a quarter of them. His final numbers as a Chief come in at 24 tackles, three tackles for loss, eight QB hits, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
That’s pretty dire for a team’s draft pick in any given year, as Speaks was for the Chiefs in 2018.
2. KeiVarae Russell, 2016, Cornerback, Round 3, Overall Pick 74
Merely months after using a third-round selection on Russell, a cornerback out of Notre Dame, the Chiefs waived him on the eve of the regular season. Players selected in the third round are usually expected to contribute meaningful minutes during their rookie seasons, maybe even start. With Russell, that plan blew up in Sept. 2016 as Kansas City realized their mistake early.
Perhaps that’s a good thing. Instead of sticking with a guy the Chiefs knew wasn’t long for Kansas City, management parted ways with him.
That doesn’t take away from what a miss his selection turned out to be. For his part, Russell’s stuck around the league (albeit barely), appearing in 20 games for the Bengals from 2016-2018 and then another for Packers last season. He’s also spent time as part of the Chargers’ and Giants’ organizations. For his career, Russell has a single interception.
New Chiefs offensive guard Joe Thuney was drafted four picks later by the Patriots while ex-Chief Kendall Fuller went to Washington with the 84th overall pick. Four-year starting safety Justin Simmons went at the end of the third round to Denver while the Browns grabbed Pro-Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert with the first pick of the fourth round.
1. Jonathan Baldwin, 2011, Wide Receiver, Round 1, Overall Pick 26
The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t drafted in the first round all that much lately, but they usually hit when they do, especially in 2017, when the team traded up to pick No. 10 to take a quarterback out of Texas Tech.
But the old regime totally whiffed back in 2011 when they selected Baldwin, a wide receiver out of Pittsburgh. Baldwin lasted just two seasons with the Chiefs, catching 41 passes for 579 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs went 9-23 during Baldwin’s tenure.
Give the Chiefs some credit, though: they flipped Baldwin to San Francisco for a younger wide receiver in the hopes that the new guy just needed a change of scenery.
A.J. Jenkins went 30th overall to the 49ers out of Illinois in the 2012 draft. Somehow, he had even less success* in San Francisco than Baldwin did in Kansas City.
*Zero catches in three games. Yikes.
Alas, it wasn’t to be for either player. Jenkins spent two seasons with the Chiefs, catching 17 passes for 223 yards. Baldwin, meanwhile, lasted just a year by the Bay, hauling in three passes for 28 yards.
Among those still available when the Chiefs nabbed Baldwin:
- Cornerback Jimmy Smith (R1, 27)
- Running back Mark Ingram (R1, 28)
- Defensive end Cameron Heyward (R1, 31)
- Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (R2, 36)
- Linebacker Brooks Reed (R2, 42)
- Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey (R3, 77)
So, yes: a bit of a miss on Baldwin.
Did I miss any other draft busts in recent years?