It was a little disappointing when A.J. Brown was drafted by the Tennessee Titans. That's long been a lesser passing game and iffy quarterback situation, plus they seem to already have a No. 1 wideout in Corey Davis. Had Brown gone to Seattle, like Mississippi teammate D.K. Metcalf, and we'd be talking about a potential top-5 pick in rookie drafts.
Metcalf generated a lot more hype the last couple of months, due to his huge combine performance and huge physique (you're probably seen the shirtless picture, which drew enough attention that Pete Carroll took off his own shirt when meeting up with Metcalf draft weekend -- yes, that happened). But Brown was the better college performer by far. Could he go on to have the better NFL career?
I took at look at examples this century of college teammates both being drafted in the first three rounds. It's happened more often than you'd think -- 17 times in the last 20 years. How often has the guy who had the better final season of college gone to have the better pro career?
Judge for yourself. Of the 16 previous instances where a pair of wideouts from the same school were drafted early, eight of them didn't seem to help or hurt the argument. In those eight cases, either both wideouts were busts, both turned out great, or both put up very similar college numbers.
Of the other eight, I counted six times where the better college player had the better pro career. Those guys are in bold. Two times the inferior college numbers produced the better pro career. Those two are in italics. In the table, numbers are final year of college receiving.
|TEAMMATES DRAFTED IN FIRST THREE ROUNDS, 2000-PRESENT|
|2019||2||51||A. J. Brown, Tenn.||Mississippi||85||1320||6|
|2019||2||64||D.K. Metcalf, Sea.||Mississippi||26||569||5|
|2016||2||47||Michael Thomas, N.O.||Ohio State||56||781||9|
|2016||3||85||Braxton Miller, Hou.||Ohio State||26||341||4|
|2014||1||12||Odell Beckham Jr., NYG||Louisiana State||59||1152||9|
|2014||2||63||Jarvis Landry, Mia.||Louisiana State||56||573||5|
|2013||1||29||Cordarrelle Patterson, Minn.||Tennessee||46||778||5|
|2013||2||34||Justin Hunter, Tenn.||Tennessee||73||1083||9|
|2013||1||8||Tavon Austin, St.L.||West Virginia||114||1289||12|
|2013||3||92||Stedman Bailey, St.L.||West Virginia||114||1622||25|
|2011||2||44||Titus Young, Det.||Boise State||71||1215||9|
|2011||3||78||Austin Pettis, St.L.||Boise State||71||951||10|
|2009||1||29||Hakeem Nicks, NYG||North Carolina||68||1222||12|
|2009||3||83||Brandon Tate, N.E.||North Carolina||16||376||3|
|2009||3||82||Derrick Williams, Det.||Penn State||44||485||4|
|2009||3||91||Deon Butler, Sea.||Penn State||47||810||7|
|2007||1||23||Dwayne Bowe, K.C.||Louisiana State||65||990||12|
|2007||1||30||Craig Davis, S.D.||Louisiana State||56||836||4|
|2007||1||9||Ted Ginn Jr., Mia.||Ohio State||59||781||9|
|2007||1||32||Anthony Gonzalez, Ind.||Ohio State||51||734||8|
|2007||2||45||Dwayne Jarrett, Car.||Southern Cal||70||1015||12|
|2007||2||51||Steve Smith, NYG||Southern Cal||71||1083||9|
|2005||1||22||Mark Clayton, Balt.||Oklahoma||66||876||8|
|2005||2||39||Mark Bradley, Chi.||Oklahoma||23||491||7|
|2005||3||96||Brandon Jones, Tenn.||Oklahoma||27||345||3|
|2004||1||15||Michael Clayton, T.B.||Louisiana State||78||1079||10|
|2004||2||50||Devery Henderson, N.O.||Louisiana State||53||861||11|
|2002||2||33||Jabar Gaffney, Hou.||Florida||67||1191||13|
|2002||2||48||Reche Caldwell, S.D.||Florida||65||1059||10|
|2001||1||16||Santana Moss, NYJ||Miami||45||748||5|
|2001||1||30||Reggie Wayne, Ind.||Miami||43||755||10|
|2000||1||10||Travis Taylor, Balt.||Florida||34||463||6|
|2000||3||80||Darrell Jackson, Sea.||Florida||67||1156||9|
|2000||1||4||Peter Warrick, Cin.||Florida State||71||934||11|
|2000||3||66||Ron Dugans, Cin.||Florida State||43||644||3|
|2000||3||78||Laveranues Coles, NYJ||Florida State||12||179||1|
Laveranues Coles, it should be noted, played in only four games his final year of college. The other inferior college producer, Cordarrelle Patterson, hasn't been a great pro, but he's had his moments (more than Hunter, certainly).
Plenty of times the better college player was expected to be better -- e.g., Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, or Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller. And Brown was selected a little earlier than Metcalf, so it shouldn't be a surprise if he's better. But he hasn't drawn the hype of Metcalf, and I think he's being selected later in a lot of rookie drafts. Anyway, will be interesting to watch these players over the next few years. Maybe it'll be a Santana Moss-Reggie Wayne deal, where both turn out great.