Ryan Leaf Case a Reminder for Caution on NFL Draft Day

Ryan Leaf, once hoped to be the key to turning around the struggling the San Diego Chargers football franchise, is considered by many today to be the biggest bust in the history of the NFL Draft.

On April 14, former NFL quarterback and second overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, Ryan Leaf was fined $20,000 and sentenced to 10 years probation for eight felony drug charges by an Amarillo, Texas judge—including seven counts of “obtaining a controlled substance” through fraudulent means and one count of “delivery of a controlled substance”—according to the Associated Press.

The drug charges—stemming from allegations that Ryan Leaf presented a number of physicians with an “incomplete medical history” in order to obtain prescription painkillers and, on at least one occasion, attempted to buy a painkiller from a member of the West Texas A&M NCAA football team before resigning as an assistant coach for the team in 2008—are only the latest part of a long and very humbling downfall for Leaf since being selected second overall in the NFL Draft of 1998.

In the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers—teams both in need of a franchise quarterback at the time—held the first and second overall picks respectively, with both Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf considered the top prospects.  Whether Leaf or Manning was to be selected as the top overall draft pick was then the subject of debate for months leading up to the Draft, however, Leaf is now considered by many to be not only the biggest Draft bust in professional football, but in all of professional sports.  The story of Ryan Leaf, whose lack of maturity and composure early on in his brief NFL career proved to be his undoing, is one for NFL owners and general managers to remember with caution when scouting new prospects—especially with NFL Draft being just around the corner.

Timing of NFL Draft May Increase Chances of Roethlisberger Trade

The coincident timing of Ben Roethlisberger's latest off-the-field troubles with the upcoming NFL Draft could signal the end of Roethlisberger's tenure in Pittsburgh.

With the NFL Draft coming up in one week, hype surrounding what could be one of the most important draft picks for the St. Louis Rams franchise has coincided with a high level of speculation in recent days regarding the possibility that the Steelers may be seeking to trade all-pro quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the very near future.

One possible trade scenario in which the Steelers organization has reportedly expressed interest would send Ben Roethlisberger to the Rams in exchange for the top overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, according to columnist Jason La Cantora of NFL.com.  Such a move would presumably result in the acquisition of NCAA standout quarterback Sam Bradford for the Steelers.  Bradford—who passed for 50 touchdowns and a 180.84 QB rating in 14 games in 2008—is considered by some potential suitors to be as promising a prospect as any for a potential franchise quarterback.

Although it was announced on Monday that Ben Roethlisberger would not be charged in his latest case of sexual assault allegations, the consequent climate of tension within the Steelers organization and the coincident timing of Roethlisberger’s off-the-field troubles with the upcoming NFL Draft could create a very real possibility that the Steelers may in fact trade Roethlisberger if they believe Bradford is truly a safer bet for the future of the organization.