Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It's a simple concept that happens to resonate amazingly this time of year for NFL fans, especially in cities like Houston that are in dire need of an infusion of youth, talent, and hope at the quarterback position.
Up until now in his tenure as head coach, Bill O'Brien has abstained from doing anything splashy at the quarterback position (sorry, Tom Savage, you bring very little splash), and predictably, the results have been on the front side of average, 9-7 in each of his two seasons. Generally, the Texans beat teams with crappy quarterbacks and get worked by teams with good quarterbacks. Ultimately, this is no way to be living if you want to win a Super Bowl.
So now it's a virtual lock that the Texans will use a high draft choice (defined by me as first or second round) on a signal caller. With so many milestones coming up over the next couple of months — the combine, individual workouts, interviews, etc. — it remains to be seen how the big board takes shape. However, if O'Brien and Rick Smith need reminders on what has not worked for teams over the past couple of decades (call it the Peyton Manning Era), here are the most egregious examples at the quarterback position, in chronological order...
1. RYAN LEAF (1998, 2nd overall, San Diego Chargers)
Games started: 21
Career record: 4-17
Career passer rating: 50.0
Draft Bust video: If you're looking for a five-minute video that pretty much summarizes how not to conduct yourself as a highly drafted quarterback, here you go...
Comment: Manning-Leaf became the cautionary tale for any major quarterback decisions, especially decisions where any ransom needed to be paid to move up just a spot or two. Amazingly, Leaf became a worse human being after football than he was in football, spending time in prison for breaking into neighboring homes to steal drugs.
Buyer's remorse pick: Charles Woodson, CB (4th overall, Raiders)
2. TIM COUCH (1999, 1st overall, Cleveland Browns)
Games started: 59
Career record: 22-37
Career passer rating: 75.1
Draft Bust video: Your garden-variety "bust video"...
Comment: Couch touched off the cycle of bloodshed at the Browns' starting QB position that is now about a couple dozen deep since the team returned to the league in 1999. He is the George Washington to Manziel's Barack Obama.
Buyer's remorse pick: Donovan McNabb, QB (2nd overall, Eagles)
3. AKILI SMITH (1999, 3rd overall, Cincinnati Bengals)
Games started: 17
Career record: 3-14
Career passer rating: 52.8
Draft Bust video: Smith is so irrelevant that he can't even get a "bust video" on YouTube, so you're left with his college highlights to see just what enticed the Bengals to make him the third pick in the draft...
Comment: Credit the Bengals for at least pulling out of their QB tailspin by drafting Carson Palmer a few years after this, and Andy Dalton in the second round in 2011. They will always have this over their cross-state rivals. To Smith's credit, he remains the greatest NFL player ever named "Akili."
Buyer's remorse pick: Champ Bailey, CB (7th overall, Redskins)
4. DAVID CARR (2002, 1st overall, Houston Texans)
Games started: 79
Career record: 23-56
Career passer rating: 74.9
Draft Bust video: If you're looking for Carr's greatest day as a pro, it's probably all of these talking heads praising the Texans' selection of him effusively...
Comment: Carr's collapse wasn't entirely his fault. He had an expansion offensive line in front of him and no veteran quarterback to help bring him along. Throwing him out there like a tackling dummy in 2002 was probably not Dom Capers's most prudent decision.
Buyer's remorse pick: Julius Peppers, DE (2nd overall, Panthers)
5. JOEY HARRINGTON (2002, 3rd overall, Detroit Lions)
Games started: 76
Career record: 26-50
Career passer rating: 69.4
Draft Bust video: The Joey Harrington versus Mike McMahon debate in this video tells you everything you need to know about how utterly stupid some of the conjecture is this time of year...
Comment: The Lions made this pick even worse the next season when they took Michigan State WR Charles Rogers with the second overall pick. At least the Texans were able to get Andre Johnson for Carr to throw it to.
Buyer's remorse pick: Dwight Freeney, DE (11th overall, Colts)
6. JaMARCUS RUSSELL (2007, 1st overall, Oakland Raiders)
Games started: 25
Career record: 7-18
Career passer rating: 65.2
Draft Bust video: Mel Kiper compares JaMarcus Russell to John Elway in this video....
Comment: If NFL football were played from your knees, apparently Russell would've wound up as the greatest player in league history, since every evaluation of him mentions how he can sling it a jillion yards from his knees.
Buyer's remorse pick: Calvin Johnson, WR (2nd overall, Lions)
7. SAM BRADFORD (2010, 1st overall, St. Louis Rams)
Games started: 63
Career record: 25-37-1
Career passer rating: 81.0
Draft Bust video: Someone actually put together a 30-minute video of all of Sam Bradford's throws over 15 yards downfield. I have a feeling I would hate this person if I knew him or her personally...
Comment: Bradford is not a bust to the degree that some of these other names are. Not even close. But in a way, he's an even more dangerous brand of signal caller — an injury-prone good guy who's just enough of a tease to make you think he can be The Guy, when he will never, EVER, EVER be The Guy. Some team will pay him $10 million to $12 million this offseason, hand him the keys and waste a season going 7-9. Quarterbacks like Bradford are just as big a plague as guys who wash out huge in their first couple of seasons, and at least with those guys, you know to move on nearly right away.
Buyer's remorse pick: Pretty much any of the next six guys taken, take one — Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Eric Berry, Russell Okung, Joe Haden
8. JAKE LOCKER (2011, 8th overall, Tennessee Titans)
Games started: 23
Career record: 9-14
Career passer rating: 79.0
Draft Bust video: Locker retirement video at age 26...
9. BLAINE GABBERT (2011, 10th overall, Jacksonville Jaguars)
Games started: 35
Career record: 8-27
Career passer rating: 71.9
Draft Bust video: Wow, Gabbert was awful as a Jag....
10. CHRISTIAN PONDER (2011, 12th overall, Minnesota Vikings)
Games started: 36
Career record: 14-21-1
Career passer rating: 75.9
Draft Bust video: Christian Ponder was in a Sports Science segment!
Comment: You honestly can't discuss any of these three quarterbacks individually without bringing them up collectively. If you are a "don't reach for a QB, take the best player available" guy (or gal), then you should be using the 2011 draft as Exhibit A in any arguments you find yourself in:
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1. Cam Newton, QB
2. Von Miller, OLB
3. Marcell Dareus, DT
4. A.J. Green, WR
5. Patrick Peterson, CB
6. Julio Jones, WR
7. Aldon Smith, OLB
9. Tyron Smith, T
11. J.J. Watt, SH (Super hero)
13. Nick Fairley, DT
14. Robert Quinn, DE
That's basically a shit ton of Pro Bowlers and three bad quarterbacks. Damn....
Buyer's remorse pick (Titans): J.J. Watt, DE (11th overall, Texans)
Buyer's remorse pick (Jaguars): Watt
Buyer's remorse pick (Vikings): Not trading up one spot and taking Watt
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.