Philly's top draft flops

San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg went to Washington with the first pick, as expected, in the Major League Baseball draft. There's no guarantee, of course, that he'll be any good.
San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg went to Washington with the first pick, as expected, in the Major League Baseball draft. There's no guarantee, of course, that he'll be any good.
Posted: June 10, 2009

First-round draft picks are tricky. LeBron James worked out. Kwame Brown didn't. That's the way it goes. For every Peyton Manning there's a Todd Marinovich.

Yesterday, the Washington Nationals took San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg with the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft. Considering everything that's been written about the hard-throwing righty, Strasburg is destined to do great things and win many awards. Unless, of course, he doesn't.

Many years ago, the Yankees drafted Brien Taylor, a pitcher with as much hype as Strasburg. Maybe more. At the time, Taylor received the largest signing bonus ever given to an amateur. Then he hurt his shoulder in a fistfight. Last I heard, he was a bricklayer in North Carolina.

Philly has seen its fair share of first-round disappointments over the last 20 years. Some players fizzled and failed to realize their full potential. Some were taken much higher in their drafts than they should have been. And others never should have been selected at all.

Here's Philly's Not-So-Super Seven of the last two decades:

7. Shawn Bradley (second overall pick, 1993 NBA draft): Bradley played 12 seasons in the NBA, but he lasted only two and a half in Philly. In 1994-95 - the only season that he managed to play all 82 games in a Sixers uniform - he started just 59 times and averaged 9.5 points and eight rebounds per game. When you're 7-foot-6 and you're billed as a franchise center, that's not so hot. Making matters worse, Bradley was routinely poster-ized. If you're bored, Google "Shawn Bradley" and "dunk." You'll get some great results, including the "top 10 dunks on Shawn Bradley" that SportsCenter compiled a while back. The only reason Bradley isn't higher on this list is that he stayed in the league for so long.

6. Jerome McDougle (15th overall pick, 2003 NFL draft): Over five years with the Eagles, the defensive end played just 33 games and amassed a whopping three sacks. Then again, the guy got shot and lived to tell about it, so things could have been worse for him.

5. Adam Eaton (11th overall pick, 1996 MLB draft): He was traded out of the organization (for fellow failure Andy Ashby, no less) and didn't return until late in his career, when the Phillies threw nearly $25 million at him - money he's still collecting. In exchange for drafting Eaton, bringing him back from the Padres, and overpaying him, Eaton gave the Phillies 14 wins, 18 losses, a grotesque 6.10 ERA, and one giant headache. And he insisted on claiming a championship ring despite not playing in the World Series. He was a terrific disaster.

4. Mike Mamula (seventh overall pick, 1995 NFL draft): He had a couple of decent seasons during his career with the Eagles. The trouble was that the Birds reached way too high to grab him. Before the NFL combine, he was viewed as an undersize defensive end and projected by some as a second- or third-round pick. Then Mamula killed the bench-press test and won the gym-rat lottery. Ray Rhodes and the Eagles sent the 12th pick and some other goodies to the Bucs so they could move up to No. 7 and take Mamula. Tampa Bay, if you've forgotten, took Warren Sapp. The sad part? It wasn't the worst pick of the Rhodes era.

3. Freddie Mitchell (25th overall pick, 2001 NFL draft): If only his skills measured up to his mouth and his nicknames, FredEx (or the People's Champ, if you prefer) might have been a Hall of Famer. Instead, he rarely started for the Eagles and was cut after four unspectacular seasons. These days, he has a Web site and routinely posts video blogs explaining how he's on the verge of a comeback that's now five years in the making. At least he didn't have very far to fall.

2. Sharone Wright (sixth overall pick, 1994 NBA draft): He lasted just four seasons in the NBA, approximately a year and a half of which was spent in Philly. Wright never averaged more than 12 points or seven rebounds per game for the Sixers. No one thought it was possible to draft a big man worse than Bradley. Then along came Sharone Wright.

1. Jon Harris (25th overall pick, 1997 NFL draft): Two seasons. Two sacks. Too bad. Yet another defensive end who didn't work out for the Birds. Remember when Rhodes called him another Too Tall Jones? That Ray Rhodes sure had a keen eye for talent.

Congrats to Ed Stefanski and the Sixers for trading Reggie Evans to Toronto in exchange for three-point threat Jason Kapono. It's hard not to like the deal considering the Sixers didn't give up much. And now they finally have a long-range shooter. . . . George Strait fans might be the most sensitive people on the planet. I make one little crack about a country singer, and suddenly everyone's Wranglers are in a bunch. Have a sarsaparilla, partners - it's on me. . . . Brad Lidge has blown a bunch of saves this season, and now he's on the disabled list with a bum right knee. It's the same knee he had surgically repaired - twice - before last year's perfect season. It's the same knee that bothered him earlier this year. So what happens if Ryan Madson pitches well while Lidge is on the mend? Would you turn the closer's roll over to the hot hand, or would you give Lidge his job back?


Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or gonzalez@phillynews.com

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