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Some draft picks, 10 years on

If you’re an NHL fan, I’m sure you recognize the names Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog and Mark Scheifele.

If you’re an NFL fan, how about the names Cam Newton, Von Miller and Julio Jones.

NBA fan? How about Kyrie Irving, Derrick WIlliams and Kemba Walker.

Baseball is your game? I’m pretty sure you know who Gerrit Cole, Trevoe Bauer and Francisco Lindor are.

So what do all these stars from across the four major professional leagues have in common? All of them were in the top 10 of their league’s draft in 2011, 10 years ago.

I decided to take a look back at how things had turned out from those drafts, and decided 10 years was enough time to let things sort themselves out.

The four sports have different ways of handling their top picks. In the NFL and NBA, they’re expected to be on the roster on opening day and probably starting. In the NHL, that’s sometimes the case, but it’s just as likely the player drafted will spend at least one more year in junior hockey or in Europe before joining his NHL team.

Major League Baseball is a totally different animal, since even the top picks can figure on spending two or three years at a minimum in the minor leagues before making it to the big time.

So looking at those names I had at the top of the column, you might be thinking, “Yeah, those scouts sure know how to identify the top players for the draft”.

Well, how about these players, also from the top 10 of those drafts in 2011? This time, see if you can figure out what league drafted them: Jake Locker, Jimmer Fredette, Jonas Brodin, Jan Vesely, Cory Spangenburg, and Blaine Gabbert.

Locker and Gabbert were NFL picks; Brodin was an NHL choice; Fredette and Vesely were picked by NBA teams that year; and Spangenberg was a Major League Baseball pick.

Professional teams spend millions on scouting before the draft, looking for every little detail about not just how a player looks now, but how he projects to play a few years down the road – and still they have a lot of misses.

But sometimes they also get hits in the most unlikely places. Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi and Chris Redman were three quarterbacks picked in the top 100 of the 2000 NFL draft, while a kid named Tom Brady had to wait until the 199th pick to hear his name called.

My favourite, though, was in the 1988 Major League Baseball draft. In the 62nd round, the Los Angeles Dodgers used the 1,390th pick to pick a catcher as a favour to his father, a friend of Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda.

In 2016, Mike Piazza was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

You never can tell.

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