As the draft descends upon us, football fans everywhere are engaging in wildly unrestrained speculation, most of which is baseless and, usually, way off the mark. But even though there's no way to predict with any accuracy what teams will do in the draft, using historical trends at least provides some justification for whatever crazy claims we can come up with. And that's why I say, if the past is any indication, we simply must trade out of the #14 spot. Because it's cursed.
Take a look at the players selected at #14 since 1998:
1998 - Jason Peter, DT - Carolina Panthers. Note this is NOT Jason Peters, the 2-time Pro Bowl left tackle for the Bills (who was undrafted). Jason Peter played 3 seasons for the Panthers before a chronic neck injury forced him to retire in 2001. He recorded 7.5 sacks in 3 seasons. Yeah, sort of the definition of a bust.
1999 - John Tait, OT - Kansas City Chiefs. 2-time Pro Bowler, quality starter for the Chiefs for 5 years, then the Bears, although he plans to retire this year. Not a bust, especially given some of the players taken before him that year (Tim Couch, Akili Smith), but not a future hall of famer, either.
2000 - Bubba Franks, TE - Green Bay Packers. Another solid, if unspectacular, starter who's career was hampered by injuries, but he did make 3 pro bowls.
2001 - Kenyatta Walker, OT - Tampa Bay Bucs. Although he started for Tampa in their Super Bowl victory against the Raiders, Walker only lasted 6 seasons with the Bucs--and couldn't play the LT spot he was originally drafted for. He drew little interest from other teams but eventually made the practice squad (!) of the Toronto Argonauts. So he's got that going for him.
2002 - Jeremy Shockey, TE - New York Giants. Keep your fingers crossed for this season. He has played well in the past, but his inability to perform for the #1 offense--and specifically the #1 passing offense--is a concern.
2003 - Michael Haynes, DE - Chicago Bears. Only lasted 3 seasons in Chicago, during which time he recorded 5.5 sacks. So unspectacular that the Saints picked him up in 2006--but he was never activated and got cut mid-season. That happened again with the Jets.
2004 - Tommie Harris, DT - Chicago Bears. Made up for the Haynes pick with Tommie Harris, a 3-time Pro Bowler who, before Albert Haynesworth, was the highest paid DT in the league. Definitely the most solid of the 14s.
2005 - Thomas Davis, LB - Carolina Panthers. Who? Maybe I should know him, since he's played in all but 2 games for the Panthers since he was drafted, but his stats are modest at best. Has 1 interception in 4 seasons, which is disappointing considering he played safety at Georgia, but did rack up 114 tackles last year. A solid starter, I suppose, but definitely underwhelming.
2006 - Brodrick Bunkley, DT - Philadelphia Eagles. These more recent picks are harder to evaluate, but Bunkley hasn't shown much in his 3 seasons-- has recorded 5 sacks, but didn't earn a starting spot until last year. Not necessarily a bust, but definitely nothing to write home about.
2007 - Darrelle Revis, CB - New York Jets. Some great young CBs in this class, Revis was named to the Pro Bowl last season and already has 8 interceptions in his short career. I really wish the Saints went with a defensive pick in this draft, as Meachem is arguably one of the few first-round busts so far from 07 and the defensive players from that year really have had an impact around the league.
2008 - Chris Williams, OT - Chicago Bears. The Bears love this 14 spot, don't they? Williams has no playing history to evalute, since the Bears basically drafted him with the knowledge that he'd be injured, and he was--had back surgery, didn't play at all. No one seems to know what they were thinking. But maybe he'll eventually be awesome.
The conclusion that the #14 pick is bound for bust is a bit of a stretch, but it seems like there is a real derth of superstars that have come out of that mid-first round range. Part of it could be attributed to the fact that teams often "reach" for players afer the elite, top-ten prospects are gone, and maybe it's all coincidental. However, in the same timeframe, there's a superstar taken at virtually every other spot.
What this exercise has shown me (other than kill a lot of time at work) is that Malcom Jenkins is a perfect fit for the #14 spot--a solid player who will contribute as a starter but will not reach that elite, upper echelon of NFL superstardom. Bottom line, though, is that the Saints are probably better served trading down in (and maybe out of) the first round so that we can address depth at multiple positions and avoid a high-salary bust. The top of the 2nd round is historically filled with really good players--and of all the Saints draft picks in the Payton era, the 1st rounders have been the most disappointing.