Draft Dose: Heisman winners

Posted Feb. 16, 2011 @ 10:58 a.m.
Posted By Andrew Struckmeyer

As we debate where Auburn standout QB Cam Newton, 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, should go in the 2011 NFL draft, the fourth installment of the Draft Dose series looks back at where previous Heisman winners were drafted and how they fared in the NFL. The results are decidedly mixed:

2000: QB Chris Weinke, Florida State (fourth round, 106th overall)

Weinke’s draft stock suffered a bit since he was 28 years old when he was selected in the ’01 draft after playing minor league baseball for six years. Weinke started 15 games in his rookie campaign, passing for 2,931 yards, 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. However, Weinke was nothing more than a career backup after that, starting five games over the next six seasons with the Panthers and 49ers. Weinke now works at the IMG Football Academy training young football players.

2001: QB Eric Crouch, Nebraska (3, 95)

Crouch had stints with three NFL teams, but ultimately never made the transition from running the triple option at Nebraska to being a dropback passer in the NFL. He even tried to play wide receiver or defensive back but wasn't able to pull off either position switch. Crouch attempted to make it in the Canadian Football League, but that didn't work either, and he is now a college football analyst for Versus.

2002: QB Carson Palmer, USC (1, 1)

Palmer was drafted by the Bengals to be their franchise quarterback, and has been that for the most part. Palmer led his team to the playoffs in 2005 and ’09, and has thrown for more than 3,000 yards in five different seasons, including two 4,000-yard campaigns. However, following a rocky 2010 campaign, Palmer asked to be traded.

2003: QB Jason White, Oklahoma (undrafted)

Despite White's stellar collegiate career, he went undrafted in 2005 because of injury concerns regarding his two surgically repaired knees, both of which had anterior cruciate ligament tears. Only one NFL team, the Titans, saw him as a fit. And that was if he made the Tennessee roster in the spring of 2005 as an undrafted free agent. Unfortunately for him, his knees didn't hold up and his NFL hopes were halted before they could get going. He is currently a businessman in his home state of Oklahoma.

2004: QB Matt Leinart, USC (1, 10)

Leinart went back to school after winning his Heisman Trophy, and saw his stock fall. He went from being the projected No. 1 overall pick if he had left school after his junior season to the 10th pick by the Cardinals. He showed promise early as a pro but was beaten out by Kurt Warner and then, following Warner's departure after the 2009 season, failed to beat out Derek Anderson for the starting job in ’10 and was released. He is currently a reserve with the Texans. Unless he radically turns his career around, he'll be considered a bust.

2005 (vacated): RB Reggie Bush, USC (1, 2)

While officially there is no winner of the 2005 Heisman Trophy, Reggie Bush was voted to be the winner, only to have it later stripped from him because of NCAA violations. Bush was selected by the Saints as the No. 2 overall pick in the ’06 draft, and while being a key contributor to one of the most explosive offenses in the league, he hasn't approached the lofty expectations for him.

2006: QB Troy Smith, Ohio State (5, 174)

Smith was drafted where you would expect reliable backups to go, and to this point, that is exactly what Smith has been. Smith has filled in ably in Baltimore and San Francisco, but will likely never be a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL.

2007: QB Tim Tebow, Florida (1, 25)

The Broncos traded up to select Tebow in the first round of the ’10 draft, and his presence immediately energized a downtrodden Broncos fan base. He saw limited action during most of the season in situational roles or as a "Wildcat" quarterback before starting the final three games of the season. He led Denver to a 1-2 record, throwing for more than 300 yards once, rushing for more than 75 yards twice and tallying three rushing TDs and four passing TDs in that span.

2008: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (1, 1)

The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year justified his standing as the first overall pick by starting all 16 games and throwing for 3,512 yards with 18 touchdowns. in doing so, he led the lowly Rams back into NFL relevance, bringing them within one game of the playoffs.

2009: RB Mark Ingram, Alabama (in 2011 draft)

The Alabama star returned for another year but couldn't duplicate the Heisman-caliber numbers he produced the year before. He missed two games with a knee injury, and didn't crack the 1,000-yard mark, finishing with 875 yards and 13 TDs. However, as the only running back projected to be a first-round pick, he stands to be the first back chosen in the ’11 draft.