THE BIGGEST BUSTS in NFL draft history achieve the notoriety of Mrs. O'Leary's cow or Jeremy Giambi, sparking painful memories on anniversary after dreadful anniversary. Every spring, as the first round draws near, we read again about Ryan Leaf and watch recycled video of Akili Smith. And we relearn the lesson: Pin your hopes on the wrong quarterback and it can wreck your franchise for years.
Young quarterbacks are inherently unpredictable, we're told. As Malcolm Gladwell put it in 2008, "The job ... is so particular and specialized that there is no way to know who will succeed at it and who won't." You could, in fact, make a drinking game out of chugging every time you hear the phrase "the draft is a crapshoot" on Day 1, except you'd fall unconscious long before teams start picking players.