Twenty years ago, the New England Patriots drafted quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round with the 199th overall selection. Brady has an NFL-record six Super Bowl rings, one for every quarterback drafted ahead of him in 2000.
The last quarterback drafted in 2000 was Joe Hamilton — the Georgia Tech product was picked 234th overall by the Buccaneers. Hamilton was runner-up in the 1999 Heisman voting behind Ron Dayne, but his NFL career consisted of no passing attempts and one rushing attempt for minus-2 yards. In other words, Tampa Bay was 20 years too late on Brady.
The only starting quarterback besides Brady to win an AFC East title since 2001 is Chad Pennington — in 2002 with the New York Jets and 2008 with the Miami Dolphins.
Here are some of the worst draft moves this century:
2000: Thirty teams pass on Tom Brady
Hear that? Yup, that’s the collective groan of the 30 teams that passed on Brady. The Texans are the only team grinning — they came into the league in 2002. It must be especially frustrating for the Jets, 49ers, Ravens, Steelers, Saints and Browns, who all took quarterbacks ahead of Brady in 2000.
2003: Pistons draft Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade
The Pistons drafted Milicic second overall. Anthony, Bosh and Wade were the next three picks off the board. When you include LeBron James, that’s four future Hall of Famers in the top five, and Darko. With Detroit winning a title in 2004, it begs the question: How many more could they have won?
2002-07: Raiders miss on four future HOFers
The Raiders’ drafting woes under owner Al Davis in the 2000s are well documented. But to make matters worse, they made picks immediately before future Hall of Famers from 2002 to 2007, just missing on Ed Reed, Larry Fitzgerald, Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson, instead getting Napoleon Harris, Robert Gallery, Fabian Washington and JaMarcus Russell. One group had 34 combined Pro Bowl selections; the other had zero.
2009: Timberwolves take Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn ahead of Stephen Curry
The Timberwolves drafted not one but two point guards immediately in front of two-time MVP Curry. They took Rubio and Flynn with the fifth and sixth picks, while Curry went seventh. That hurts.
2004, 2016, 2017: Browns and QBs
In 2004, Cleveland took tight end Kellen Winslow sixth overall, passing on hometown product Ben Roethlisberger, who went 11th to the Steelers. Big Ben has won two Super Bowls with Pittsburgh and gone 22-2-1 in starts against the Browns. Cleveland also traded the first-round picks used to draft Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in recent years.
2005: 49ers draft Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers to the 49ers seemed like a home run in 2005 — he was a homegrown kid who grew up a 49ers fan. Instead, San Francisco drafted Smith first overall, and he struggled with seven different offensive coordinators in his first seven seasons. Rodgers fell into Green Bay’s lap at 24th overall, and he was groomed behind Brett Favre.
2009: Twenty-one teams pass on Mike Trout
Trout was the 25th pick in 2009. To be fair, the Angels sort of passed on him, too, drafting outfielder Randal Grichuk 24th overall. Trout has been pretty good so far in his career, already accumulating more career WAR than Derek Jeter.
2007: Trail Blazers draft Greg Oden over Kevin Durant
Twenty-three years after the Trail Blazers took Sam Bowie one pick ahead of Michael Jordan, misery struck again. They drafted Oden first overall, one pick ahead of Durant. Durant, the four-time scoring champ and two-time Finals MVP, had more points in his rookie year than Oden had in his career. Oden was limited by injuries.
2006: Detroit Tigers draft Andrew Miller over Clayton Kershaw
The Tigers’ draft beefs aren’t quite as bad as the Lions or Pistons, but they crack the list for taking Miller one pick ahead of Kershaw in 2006. To be fair, four other pitchers were drafted ahead of those two. But, imagine the trio of aces with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Kershaw during their run in the early 2010s.
2017: Chicago Bears take Mitchell Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson
The way things are trending, this could be one of the draft’s biggest regrets. In 2017, the Bears traded up one slot to take Trubisky second overall, while Mahomes and Watson were the next two quarterbacks off the board. Mahomes already has become the youngest quarterback to win an MVP and Super Bowl, and Watson has made back-to-back Pro Bowls.