A topic that can be written about for days...bad draft picks by Atlanta franchises. How do you narrow down the worst? By looking not only at what disasters some of these picks became and where they were chosen, but also looking at the what-could-have-been choices that were bypassed. My top 10 starting with the "least worst."
10. Falcons, 1988, #1, Aundray Bruce - Not so much because of who they should have drafted, because the studs at the top of this draft were all WR's, which are always risky (Sharpe, T.Brown, Irvin). This pick has to make the list because it was the #1 overall selection and Bruce turned out to be an average D-lineman. He did play in 151 games in his career and record 32 sacks, so #10 on the list seems right for this pick.
9. Braves, 1979, #4, Brad Komminsk - The Braves were desperate for a good young center fielder they could bring into their system with their 1st rounder in '79. Komminsk was a huge disaster, ending with a .218 career average with only 215 career hits. Two picks later at #6, the Cardinals selected Andy Van Slyke, a 3 time all-star who finished in the top 5 in MVP voting twice.
8. Hawks, 2005, #2, Marvin Williams - This selection would be a lot higher on this list if Marvin hadn't improved so much the last 2 seasons. This selection does need to be on this list because of the players we passed on in 2005. The Hawks needed a point guard in the worst way. Not surprisingly, Chris Paul and Deron Williams are taken immediately after the Williams pick and are now arguably the top 2 point guards in the NBA.
7. Thrashers, 1999, #1, Patrik Stefan - Stefan was the 1st draft pick in franchise history, and like most of GM Don Waddell's moves the 10 years he has had control, was underwhelming at best. As an expansion franchise, you need an impact player when given the 1st pick in the draft. Stefan never scored more than 14 goals in his injury plagued career until the Thrashers finally cut ties in 2006. A better pick here? How about #2 pick Daniel Sedin? He has scored 20+ goals 4 times including a team leading 36 in 2007. Actually, anyone with 1st line potential would have been fine with the #1 overall pick.
6. Falcons, 1991/1997, #3, #12, U of Nebraska CB's, Bruce Pickens & Michael Booker - These 2 get linked together because of their obvious ties. Pickens was the #3 pick as a DB, a position the Falcons definitely needed to address. Problem was, they chose the wrong player. Future Pro Bowl DB Todd Lyght went 2 picks later and went on to a 10 year career with 37 career INT's. Pickens just played in 48 career games with 2 INT's. Booker was brought in to fix the still horrific defensive backfield in '97, and while he played some on the Super Bowl team, was far from being worthy of a 1st round pick.
5. Braves, 1995, #27, Chad Hutchinson - Hutchinson was the Stanford quarterback that was never going to sign with a big league club. The one unforgivable mistake a baseball GM can make is to use a 1st round pick on a player that is going to college. No compensation is given if the player is not signed and if there is not already a known monetary agreement before the pick is made, take someone else. The future big leaguers that went shortly after the Hutchinson pick? Michael Barrett, Carlos Beltran, Sean Casey, and Jarrod Washburn.
4. Hawks, 1999, #17, #20, #27, Cal Bowdler, Dion Glover, Jumaine Jones - With an unheard of 4 1st round picks, the Hawks wound up picking this dynamic trio. With future solid NBA players all over the draft board at the end of the 1st round, the Hawks took these guys. Who could the Hawks have drafted here? How about James Posey, Jeff Foster, Devean George, Kenny Thomas, or Andrei Kirilenko.
3. Hawks, 1985, #5, Jon Koncak - You gotta love taking a back-up center with the 5th overall pick. The end of the Dominique era could have been so much better, maybe even NBA title better with the right pick here. A Karl Malone pick here probably lands the Hawks a title or two. Even a pick of Chris Mullin or Charles Oakley probably gets them to at least an Eastern Conference Final. But a white-stiff center from SMU? Please.
2. Hawks, 2006, #5, Sheldon Williams - I was at Philips Arena the night the Sheldon pick was announced. I was also among the hundreds of people that immediately booed the pick. How bad is your GM if this pick is #2 on this list and all the fans already knew it was bad right when it was made? There was one player who all the experts said was the most "NBA Ready" - and a team coming off a 26 win season needs "NBA Ready" players - Brandon Roy, who is now a superstar. Still needing a PG and more shooters, Randy Foye would also have made sense - actually, anybody besides Sheldon would have made sense.
1. Falcons, 1998, #74, Jammi German - While not the most talked about draft miss, this draft selection is the worst in my view. Looking for a WR in the 3rd round, the Falcons turn to an oft-injured, soft, WR from Miami and for some reason pass on future Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward. Ward grew up 15 miles from the GA Dome and went to the Univesity of Georgia for crying out loud. ATL's WR struggles over the years (Dwight, Jefferson, D. White, etc) could have been avoided if the right player is chosen here.
Note: You could easily do an entire list of just Hawks picks, but I narrowed down their picks to the worst 4 in my view. Just missing the cut were picks like #1 overall in 1975 David Thompson (who never played in a game for the Hawks), #4 pick in 1981 Al Wood (played 19 games as a Hawk), and 1978 #10 pick Butch Lee (96 career games played). The Hawks offered Thompson more money than the Nuggets of the ABA and I don't fault them taking by far the best player in that draft. Wood and Lee were decent players in less than average draft classes.