If it seems like the class of 2014 is shaping up to be a déjà vu moment for NFL Draft aficionados, you aren’t alone in those sentiments. From the fact that the Houston Texans hold the top overall selection to the contents of the class itself, this year could be an identical twin of the 2006 draft crop. Of course the main thing this group is lacking is a Heisman Trophy winning running back with eligibility issues, but Johnny Manziel kind of covered that with his own shenanigans prior to the season even getting started.
Let’s flash back to the controversial decision by the Texans to take defensive end Mario Williams No. 1 overall instead of the elite Heisman-winning talent referred to earlier in Reggie Bush. Running backs have lost their value in today’s league, but that truly is the primary difference between this year and 2006. The trio of quarterbacks from yesteryear included Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler – or in other words, the upside potential, the safe pick and the gunslinger.
Seeing the parallels yet?
Obviously the defensive end this year is the incomparable Jadeveon Clowney who carries a bit more hype into the draft than Williams did once upon a time. Regardless of that fact, most still believe he is the top talent in this draft whether he is chosen No. 1 overall or not. Then you have that trio of enigmatic quarterbacks with Blake Bortles playing the role of the upside potential, Teddy Bridgewater being the safest of the bunch and Johnny Football carrying the gunslinger label.
Throw in the fact that Donte Whitner’s hard hitting style going in the top 10 could be compared to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and the idea that Eric Ebron at tight end could impress and vault into a top 10 selection a la Vernon Davis and you’ve got a near mirror image. Clearly linebackers and running backs have lost their appeal as early selections as they were back then, but the valuable defenders could still find their way into the top half of round one.
It’s difficult enough to compare players across eras let alone draft classes that happened nearly a decade apart, but the 2014 NFL Draft is looking quite similar to 2006. Whether Bortles turns into VY, Bridgewater becomes a washed up pop gun for an arm in Leinart or Manziel develops into a parabolic accident waiting to happen – wait, isn’t that already the case? – this class has the feel of 2006 all over again.
Now if only the rest of us could transport back there too.