Bests, busts in UF draft history


Though disappointed by his fall to the fourth round, Florida alum Alex Brown went on to have a productive NFL career. (File photo by The Associated Press)

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.

Alex Brown cried on draft night. They weren't tears of joy. He was heartbroken.

Facts

Television schedule

Round 1: 7-10:30 p.m. Thursday, ESPN and NFL Network
Rounds 2-3: 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN (ESPN2 at 7 p.m.) and NFL Network.
Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, ESPN (ESPN2 at 6 p.m.) and NFL Network

“I couldn't sleep,” he said. “It was a tough day. I was so hurt. I didn't get what I didn't do right.”




The former Florida defensive end wasn't selected until the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He figured he might go in the late first round but certainly by the second.

Player after player came off the board. The first day then consisted of three rounds.

He cried that night.

“It still bothers me,” Brown said. “I had been told all my life that what you do on the field is what matters. Then I found out it was about the Combine. Guys kept getting drafted. The one that really bother me was the kid from Kentucky, Dennis Johnson.”

Johnson was the final pick of the first day of the draft. Brown can tell you how many years he and just about every other player drafted ahead of him lasted in the league.

“I kept track of them,” he said.

Finally, on the second day of the draft, Brown got a call from Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo. He told Brown that if San Francisco didn't take him with the 102nd pick, the Bears would take him at 104 knowing that San Diego wouldn't with 10 defensive linemen.

“I told him he would never regret it,” Brown said.

The 49ers picked a Gator alright — placekicker Jeff Chandler.

“He always lets me know that he went ahead of me,” Brown said.

Brown is an example of the inexact science of the NFL Draft. No matter how many times players are tested and interviewed, there are still late picks who thrive and early ones who crash and burn. Brown lasted nine seasons in the NFL, eight of them with the Bears where he helped them to a Super Bowl.

In every NFL Draft there are always steals and stumpers, brilliant moves and those that go bust, gems and ahems. Teams drafting Florida players in the history of the draft have come up with some smart picks and others that blew up in their faces.

The top five steals (players drafted after the 100th pick) and busts (first-round picks that didn't pan out) in UF's draft history:

Steals

1. Aaron Hernandez, New England, 113th pick: Hernandez was considered a bit of a risk because of a positive test for marijuana when he played for the Gators. He dropped to the fourth round where the Patriots scooped him up. In three seasons, Hernandez already has 175 catches and 18 touchdown receptions.

2. David Little, Pittsburgh, 183rd pick: Little, who passed away in 2005, was a seventh-round pick of the Steelers in 1981 and started 89 straight games for Pittsburgh. He played for 12 seasons and had 10 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries during his career in the NFL.

3. Andra Davis, Cleveland, 141st pick: Davis was selected by the Browns in the fifth round and emerged as the team's starting middle linebacker. In 2005, he recorded 199 tackles. He played seven seasons for the Browns, one with Denver and two for Buffalo. In all, he played in 143 games and had 787 tackles.

4. Alex Brown, Chicago, 104th pick: Brown surprised some by returning for his senior season and lasted until the fourth round despite being Florida's all-time sacks leader. He had 43.5 sacks as a member of the Bears and intercepted five passes.

5. Jeff Mitchell, Baltimore, 134th pick: Mitchell missed the second half of his senior season with an ankle injury which is one reason he lasted until the fifth round. He began starting at center for the Ravens in 1998 and was the starting center on the Super Bowl champs in 2000. Mitchell also started for five seasons with Carolina.

(If you're wondering why Brad Culpepper, a 10th-round pick, isn't on this list, he wasn't really a steal for the team that drafted him — Minnesota. It was after he was cut and signed with Tampa Bay that he became a starter in the NFL).

Busts

1. Derrick Harvey, Jacksonville, 8th pick: Harvey is an example of how things went bad in Jacksonville, which had a five-year run of bad choices that led to last year's 2-14 record. Harvey was a star defensive end at Florida, but it didn't translate at the next level. He had eight sacks in four years and was rated the sixth-worst draft pick of the last decade by TheDailyBlitz.com.

2. Huey Richardson, Pittsburgh, 15th pick: Richardson was an outstanding defensive end at Florida, but he went to the wrong team. The Steelers made a panic pick when the players they liked were all drafted ahead of their 15th pick and tried to convert him back to linebacker, where he played early in his UF career. It didn't work. The Steelers cut him before his second season and he played one more year with the Jets and Redskins.

3. Jarvis Moss, Denver, 17th pick: What is it with defensive ends from Florida who flop? Moss had a memorable career at UF (including the blocked field goal vs. South Carolina in 2006), but he never seemed truly motivated in Denver. He had only six sacks in six seasons.

4. Clifford Charlton, Cleveland, 21st pick: Charlton was a tackling machine for Florida in the late 1980s. The linebacker played in 31 games for the Browns with one start, but a devastating knee injury ended his career after just two seasons.

5. Paul Duhart, Pittsburgh, 1st pick: Duhart was drafted in 1945 after playing a year with Green Bay. Florida didn't have a team in 1943 because of the war and Duhart was eligible for the 1944 draft. The NFL ruled that he had to be put back into the draft after one season as a part-time starter for the Packers. He played two games for the Steelers in 1945 before being sold to the Boston Yanks. Injuries ended his career following the '45 season.

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