Successful drafts are the foundation for nearly every Super Bowl winning team in NFL history. Signing notable free agents and a big trade acquisition can certainly have great impact, but no team ever hoisted the Lombardi Trophy without drafting key players. A great draft pick can change the fortune of franchises and help cellar dwellers become championship contenders. However, a bad draft pick can set an already struggling franchise even further in to their losing ways. Every NFL franchise has drafted players that turned out to be busts (some more frequently than others), the Atlanta Falcons are no exception.
Drafted: 7th overall
Position: Running Back
College: Northeast Louisiana
Could have had: Ohio State’s John Brockington who made the Pro Bowl during his first three NFL seasons, after getting drafted 9th overall by the Green Bay Packers. Brockington ran for over 1,100 yards during his rookie year.
Profit ran for only 197 yards in 17 games over a course two and half seasons for the Falcons. He joined the New Orleans Saints in the middle of the 1973 season (rushing for 274 yards) and never played in the NFL again after that year.
Drafted: 2nd overall
Position: Defensive Tackle
Could have had: Leslie O’Neal who recorded 132.5 sacks during his 14 year career. O’Neal was drafted 8th overall by the San Diego Chargers.
Casillas was a two-time All American under Barry Switzer and helped the Sooners win the 1985 national championship. He played only four seasons for the Falcons and never became a Pro Bowl caliber player on their defensive line. He went on to have more success later in his career, helping the Dallas Cowboys win back-to-back Super Bowls in the early 1990’s.
Drafted: 1st overall
Could have had: Neil Smith, Bennie Blades, Paul Gruber, Tim Brown, Sterling Sharpe, or Terry McDaniel who were all top ten picks that year.
Bruce only started in 42 games during his 11 year NFL career and never quite lived up to the expectations of being the next Lawrence Taylor. He only played four seasons for the Falcons, before finishing his career with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders.
Drafted: 3rd overall
Could have had: Todd Lyght or Aeneas Williams. Lyght was chosen 5th overall by the Los Angeles Rams and Williams slipped all the way to the Phoenix Cardinals in the 3rd round at 59th overall.
With Deion Sanders on their roster, the Falcons already had the best cornerback in the league and looked to form a dominant duo in the secondary for years to come. Pickens only played seven games during his rookie year (held out signing until October) and was traded to Green Bay in the middle of the 1993 season. No exactly the partner they had in mind for Prime Time.
Drafted: 7th overall
Position: Defensive End
Could have had: Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis, or Jon Beason
The Falcons needed a defensive end to replace Patrick Kerney, who signed a lucrative free agent deal with Seattle in the offseason. Anderson started every game of his rookie season, but failed to get a sack. He only record 4.5 sacks over his next three seasons with the Falcons and is now a backup for the Cincinnati Bengals.