Going into the 2003 NFL Draft, most experts ranked Georgia DT Johnathan Sullivan as the 3rd or 4th best defensive lineman. Based on the importance of the position, they still considered him a mid-1st round pick. Regardless, the New Orleans Saints packaged TWO mid-1st round picks (#17 and #18) in order to move up and take him 6th overall. During his three-year career, Sullivan recorded 56 tackles and 1.5 sacks. With those numbers, he certainly qualifies as a bust. However, I couldn’t include him as a Top 10 Bust because he lacked the pedigree typical of such a high pick. As discussed in a previous post, I established the Troy Williamson Exemption for this exact reason. Then again, it’s hard to overlook Sullivan’s horrendous NFL production so I granted him an Honorable Mention.
In general, higher draft picks perform better than lower draft picks. That statement obviously doesn’t tell you anything new. However, have you ever wondered how much better? Fortunately, pro-football-reference.com has developed a proprietary statistic to quantify a player’s value. Called Weighted Average Value (WAV), the statistic can be used to rank all-time greats as well as to determine all-time busts. Furthermore, it can be applied to evaluate trades involving future draft picks. For instance, the Saints gave up draft picks totaling an expected WAV of 175 in order to get the rights to Ricky Williams. You probably already know that the Saints made a bad decision. After reading this post, you’ll learn how bad.