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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Best, busts and biggest
By JOANNE KORTH
Published April 28, 2007
1. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
Sixth round (199th overall), 2000
Scouts said Brady, right, was too thin, too slow and his arm wasn't strong enough at Michigan. Too bad his ring finger isn't big enough to wear all three of his Super Bowl rings.
2. Shannon Sharpe, TE, Broncos
Seventh round (192nd overall), 1990
A lightly regarded receiver out of Savannah State, Sharpe won three Super Bowls (two with Denver, one with Baltimore) and was among the NFL's best pass-catching tight ends ever.
3. Terrell Davis, RB, Broncos
Sixth round (196th overall), 1995
A long shot to make the team after an unremarkable career at Georgia, Davis won two Super Bowls and rushed for a Broncos-record 7, 607 yards (2, 008 in 1998) during an injury-shortened career.
4. Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
Third round (92nd overall), 1998
An all-purpose player at Georgia, Ward has overcome the lack of an ACL in one knee to be the MVP of Super Bowl XL and Pittsburgh's all-time leading receiver.
5. Zach Thomas, LB, Dolphins
Fifth round (154th overall), 1996
Considered too small coming out of Texas Tech, Thomas has made seven Pro Bowls and more than 1, 500 tackles.
1. Ryan Leaf, QB, Chargers
No. 2 overall, 1998
San Diego traded two first-round picks, one second-round pick and four-time Pro Bowl player Eric Metcalf to Arizona to move up one place. It then signed the Washington State product to a four-year, $31-million contract with $11.25-million guaranteed. Problematic on and off the field, he threw 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in 26 games before retiring in 2002 at age 26.
2. Tony Mandarich, OT, Packers
No. 2 overall, 1989
The Michigan State product held out for a huge, four-year contract but was cut after three seasons. The next three players chosen: Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders.
3. Brian Bosworth, LB, Seahawks
Supplemental draft, 1987
A two-time Butkus Award winner from Oklahoma, the Boz cost Seattle its 1988 first-round pick (in the low 20s) and signed a 10-year, $11-million deal. But his injury-riddled career lasted only three seasons.
4. Aundray Bruce, LB, Falcons
No. 1 overall, 1988
The outside linebacker from Auburn started only 42 games during an 11-year career.
5. Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Bengals
No. 1 overall, 1995
The Penn State star tore an ACL on the first carry of his first preseason game and never fully recovered. He ran for 1, 144 yards in 10 seasons with the Bengals, Redskins and Saints.
Five super rookies
1. Eric Dickerson, RB, Rams
No. 2 overall, 1983
The SMU product's rookie rushing records of 390 carries and 1, 808 yards still stand.
2. George Rogers, RB, Saints
No. 1 overall, 1981
The Heisman Trophy winner from South Carolina scored 13 touchdowns and ran for a league-high 1, 674 yards.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
No. 11 overall, 2004
Pressed into the starting job by an injury to Tommy Maddox in Week 2, the Miami (Ohio) product went 13-0 then helped Pittsburgh reach the AFC title game.
4. Jevon Kearse, DE, Titans
No. 16 overall, 1999
Considered a "tweener" because he played linebacker at Florida, "The Freak" had 141/2 sacks as a defensive end and helped Tennessee reach the Super Bowl.
5. Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals
No. 54 overall, 2003
The FSU product set a record with 101 receptions, and his 1, 377 yards were second to Bill Groman's 1, 473 for Houston in 1960.
Five impact trades
1. Ricky Williams, 1999
The Saints, led by Mike Ditka, sent all of their picks plus two in 2000 to the Redskins to select all-time NCAA and Texas rushing leader Ricky Williams at No. 5.
2. Eli Manning, 2004
The younger brother of Peyton made it clear he did not want to play for the Chargers, who drafted the Ole Miss quarterback No. 1 overall anyway. Soon after, the Giants sent the No. 4 overall pick (N.C. State quarterback Philip Rivers), a third-round pick and first- and fifth-rounders in 2005 for Manning.
3. Jerry Rice, 1985
The 49ers were defending Super Bowl champions, but coach Bill Walsh was enamored with the Mississippi Valley State receiver. They traded their first two picks to move up to No. 16 to take Rice, one place ahead of the Cowboys, who some said intended to take him.
4. Tony Dorsett, 1977
When Tampa Bay chose Southern Cal running back Ricky Bell No. 1 overall, the Cowboys sent tight end Dee Mackey to the Colts for the No. 2 pick, which they used on the Pittsburgh running back.
5. Michael Vick, 2001
The Falcons traded their first- and third-round picks and a second-round pick in 2002 to the Chargers for the No. 1 pick, which they used on Virginia Tech quarterback Vick. Four picks later, the Chargers took TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson, and they took Purdue quarterback Drew Brees with the first pick of the second round.