AFC East: Napoleon Harris
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
What sort of player can the New England Patriots expect with the No. 23 pick in the draft?
I thought reviewing the level of talent each AFC East team's first-round draft slot has yielded over the past decade would prove educational.
In tracking the selections, the caliber of player at No. 23 doesn't seem appreciably worse than No. 17. In fact, the 23rd spot has produced more star power in the picks that hit.
The biggest regrets are cornerback Rashard Anderson (drug issues) and defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs (injuries).
It's too early to label Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall because he was sidelined by a shoulder injury last year as a rookie. Two of the three Rashards to play in the NFL were selected at No. 23 within the past decade. How about that?
But there've been several gems otherwise.
- 1999 Antoine Winfield, CB, Bills: Top-shelf cover man finally made his first Pro Bowl last year for the Vikings.
- 2000 Rashard Anderson, CB, Panthers: Colossal bust lasted 27 games before getting suspended for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
- 2001 Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints: Two-time Pro Bowler has rushed for 1,000 yards four times and is considered one of NFL's best backs when healthy.
- 2002 Napoleon Harris, LB, Raiders: Journeyman career has led him to three teams, with 73 starts in his 100 games.
- 2003 Willis McGahee, RB, Bills: Went late because he would miss rookie season while recovering from a knee injury, but came 10 yards shy in 2006 of rushing for 1,000 yards his first four active seasons.
- 2004 Marcus Tubbs, DT, Seahawks: Seattle was forced to cut him last preseason, when recurring knee injuries kept him off the field since 2006.
- 2005 Fabian Washington, CB, Raiders: Started only three games for the Raiders in 2007, but became the Ravens' starting left corner last year.
- 2006 Davin Joseph, G, Buccaneers: Pro Bowler has started 40 of his 41 games.
- 2007 Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Big-play threat has 156 catches and 2,017 yards through his first two seasons.
- 2008 Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers: Shoulder injury ended his rookie campaign after four games.