Skip to main content

2009 NFL Draft Revisited

2009 NFL Draft Revisited: Matthew Stafford

2009 NFL Draft Revisited: Matthew Stafford

Evaluating any sport's draft is a tricky science of sorts, but when it comes to the 2009 NFL Draft a decade's worth of results basically leads to an opinion shared by many — it wasn't a great draft. While No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford has had a fine career, he has a losing record overall (66-75), has made just one Pro Bowl, and is still looking for his first playoff victory (0-3).

Not to single out Stafford, but if he's considered one of the "hits" of the 1999 draft that should tell you plenty when it comes to the number of misses. Only 11 players taken in the first round have made it to the Pro Bowl and just 27 of the entire draft class (256 players). This draft was historic in one respect, however. It was the first one since 1983 that had two centers (Alex Mack, Eric Wood) taken in the first round.

Stafford and Mack aren't the only ones still playing 10 years after they were drafted, but it's not a lengthy list either. Malcolm Jenkins, Clay Matthews, and Ziggy Hood are the only other first-round picks currently on an NFL roster. Other notable active players from this draft include LeSean McCoy, Julian Edelman, Jared Cook, Jason McCourty, and Thomas Morstead. Yes, Morstead may be a punter but he and two others (Kevin Huber, Pat McAfee) are three of the 27 Pro Bowlers from this entire draft class.

Here's a recap of the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft and how each player's career turned out, along with the best pick from each of the subsequent rounds. As you can guess, being taken early was certainly no precursor to success for this draft class.

1. Detroit: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

Detroit (2009-present)

Statistically speaking, Stafford’s 10-year career in Detroit has been a success. He’s been durable (he’s started all 16 games in each of the last eight seasons) and productive (he’s thrown for 38,526 yards and 237 touchdowns). But fairly or not, QBs are measured largely by wins and losses, and it is there that Stafford falls short — 66–75 as a starter, and 0–3 in the playoffs. 

2. St. Louis: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

St. Louis (2009-11), New York Jets (2012)

Baylor’s first first-round pick in more than a decade, Smith parlayed an impressive Scouting Combine performance into a six-year, $61 million contract and expectations that he would anchor the left side of the Rams line for years to come. A severe concussion late in his rookie season put an end to those plans. He lost his starting job in his second season and was out of the league by the end of the 2013 preseason.  

3. Kansas City: Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU

Kansas City (2009-13), Atlanta (2014-16)

Drafted as a 3-4 defensive end, Jackson never developed into the consistent pass-rushing threat the Chiefs envisioned, posting only nine total sacks in five seasons in K.C. He then had three nondescript seasons in Atlanta, recording one tackle in the Falcons’ Super Bowl loss to New England — Jackson’s last game in pro football. 

4. Seattle: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest

Seattle (2009-11), Oakland (2011-12)

Projected to be the best linebacker in the 2009 NFL Draft, Curry was a first-team All-American and Butkus Award winner at Wake Forest who looked like one of the safer picks at the top of the board. But like many other members of this class, he’s remembered as a bust. He would start only 39 games for his NFL career.

5. New York Jets: Mark Sanchez, QB, USC

New York Jets (2009-13), Philadelphia (2014-15), Dallas (2016), Chicago (2017), Washington (2018)

Best known today for the “Butt Fumble” of Internet infamy, Sanchez at one time was a playoff wunderkind and matinee idol who led the Jets to two unexpected AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two seasons in the league. That early success turned out to be fool’s gold, and Sanchez turned out to be little more than a journeyman, with an 86-to-89 TD-to-interception ratio for his career. 

6. Cincinnati: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

Cincinnati (2009-15), Minnesota (2016), Cincinnati (2017), Arizona (2018), Cincinnati (2018-present)

Smith’s flabby 40-yard dash at the Combine threatened to overshadow a legendary career as a decorated tackle for Alabama that had some calling him the best prospect at the position since Orlando Pace. Smith overcame the shame to forge a solid career as a reliable O-line bookend — although much of that career has come in the relative anonymity of Cincinnati.

7. Oakland: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

Oakland (2009-12), Indianapolis (2013), Pittsburgh (2014-18)

Heyward-Bey was tagged as a reach from the moment the Raiders selected him at No. 7, and the “bust” label was soon to follow. A decade later, he’s still in the league, but while he’s continued to collect paychecks, the label has stuck. Heyward-Bey has 202 career receptions and 16 touchdowns in 144 games. 

8. Jacksonville: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia

Jacksonville (2009-13), Baltimore (2013-15)

A one-time backup to D’Brickashaw Ferguson at Virginia, Monroe entered the league facing similar expectations, and he did become a reliable bookend for five seasons in Jacksonville. After starting 90 games, Monroe retired at age 29, citing concern for his health due to repeated head trauma. He has since become an outspoken advocate for medical cannabis. 

9. Green Bay: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

Green Bay (2009-15)
A squat but agile nose tackle, Raji became one of the more popular Packers during his tenure in Green Bay, due in part to a memorable playoff pick-6 against the Bears in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 23, 2011, a decisive moment in the Packers’ march to a Super Bowl win. After missing the 2014 season with a torn biceps, Raji came back for the 2015 season before retiring (though he called it a “hiatus”).

10. San Francisco: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech 

San Francisco (2009-14), Oakland (2015-17), Baltimore (2018), Arizona (2019)

Two stunningly productive seasons at Texas Tech, during which he set multiple NCAA records, led Crabtree to declare for the 2009 NFL Draft. After a holdout-shortened rookie season, Crabtree has forged a career as an effective possession receiver for three teams, catching 80-plus passes three times.

NFL Magazine 2019

11. Buffalo: Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State

Buffalo (2009-10), New York Jets (2011-12)

After two disappointing seasons for Buffalo that included zero sacks, Maybin was released and signed with the Jets. His first two sacks in green were strip sacks, but he was unable to maintain that level of play and was released in 2012. After a brief stint in Canada, Maybin retired from football and has since become a successful artist. 

12. Denver: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

Denver (2009-13), Miami (2014)

The top running back prospect in this draft class, Moreno never quite lived up to the promise of his two outstanding seasons at Georgia. After an All-Rookie season in which he rushed for 947 yards, Moreno’s production languished until a 1,038-yard comeback campaign in 2013, a year in which he became the first Bronco with 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season. The breakout earned him a one-year deal with the Dolphins, but injuries destroyed his sole season in Miami, and he’s been out of football since. 

13. Washington: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas

Washington (2009-14), Tennessee (2015-18)

Despite some suspicions that Orakpo was more physical specimen than productive player, the Redskins made him their top pick, and he rewarded their faith by becoming a reliable, effective pro, earning Pro Bowl trips in 2009, 2010 and 2013. In 2015, he signed a four-year deal with Tennessee and made another Pro Bowl in 2016. He retired following the 2018 season. 

14. New Orleans: Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State

New Orleans (2009-13), Philadelphia (2014-present)

The 2008 Jim Thorpe Award winner, Jenkins saw his stock fall a bit with a slow 40 time at the Combine, but he has largely lived up to his college promise, contributing to two Super Bowl-winning teams and earning a pair of Pro Bowl trips. Jenkins has intercepted at least one pass in nine of his 10 seasons and has scored seven defensive touchdowns, including a 99-yard interception return in 2015.

15. Houston: Brian Cushing, LB, USC

Houston (2009-17)

Cushing’s career was tainted by allegations of PED use, including multiple suspensions following positive tests (four games in 2010, 10 games in 2017), but he is the leading tackler in Texans history with 664 despite the suspensions, as well as injuries that cost him a couple dozen more games. 

16. San Diego: Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois

San Diego (2009-13), Tampa Bay (2014)

English had as many sacks as a sophomore at Northern Illinois as did in his entire NFL career (12). After a promising rookie season, English suffered a foot fracture in training camp before the 2010 season and never again approached the status of reliable contributor.  

17. Tampa Bay: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

Tampa Bay (2009-13), Minnesota (2013), Indianapolis (2015)

Freeman seemed to possess the physical gifts — size, arm strength — to justify a first-round pick. And he showed flashes of competence during the first four seasons of his pro career, posting a career-best 95.9 passer rating in 2010 and passing for better than 3,400 yards in three straight seasons. A slow start in 2013 doomed him in Tampa, though, and, after a one-game stint with Indianapolis in 2015, he retired with a 25–36 record as a starter and a TD-to-interception ratio of 81-to-68.

18. Denver: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee 

Denver (2009-13), N.Y. Giants (2014-15), Tampa Bay (2016-17)

Ayers was a full-time starter for only one season in college, and he never could establish a foothold as a full-time player at the next level, either, starting 59 games in nine NFL seasons. His best season came in 2015 with the Giants, when he posted a career-high nine sacks in 12 games. 

19. Philadelphia: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

Philadelphia (2009-14), Kansas City (2015-16), Baltimore (2017)
Never a superstar at the NFL level, Maclin was nonetheless a more-than-serviceable receiver for Philadelphia and Kansas City, amassing a career-best 1,318 receiving yards with 10 TDs for the Eagles in 2014 and catching a career-high 87 passes for the Chiefs in 2015. Released by the Ravens in March 2018 after one nondescript season, Maclin retired in March.

20. Detroit: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

Detroit (2009-16)

The sole tight end taken in the first round, Pettigrew provided Matthew Stafford with an attractive, sizable target for a few seasons before declining production and a torn ACL ushered him out of the league. His peak came in 2011, when he posted career highs in catches (83), yards (777) and touchdowns (five) for a Lions team that set a franchise scoring record. 

21. Cleveland: Alex Mack, C, California

Cleveland (2009-15), Atlanta (2016-present)

Mack has proved to be one of the better picks of the first round, becoming one of the league’s most reliable players at a critical position. He played every offensive snap for Cleveland — even playing through a bout of appendicitis — until a broken leg in 2014 ended his season after Week 6. He signed a free agent deal with Atlanta in 2016 and has made the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons with the Falcons. For his career, Mack is a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time second-team All-Pro. 

22. Minnesota: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

Minnesota (2009-12), Seattle (2013-14), N.Y. Jets (2014), Buffalo (2015-16)

The electrifying Harvin is one of the few players to have won a state title in high school, a national title in college and a Super Bowl ring in the NFL. Sadly, a combination of injuries, severe migraine headaches and questionable professionalism hampered what could have been a truly stellar career. He finished his NFL tenure with 22 touchdowns receiving, five rushing and five on kick returns.  

23. Baltimore: Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss

Baltimore (2009-13), Tennessee (2014), Carolina (2015-16)

Immortalized in print and on celluloid, Oher was never much more than serviceable, spending almost as much time at right tackle as at his namesake “blind side” left tackle spot and never making a Pro Bowl. He did finally live up to some of the hype during Carolina’s Super Bowl season of 2015, allowing a career-low four sacks in protecting Cam Newton’s — yep — blind side, but injuries essentially ended his career a year later. 

24. Atlanta: Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss

Atlanta (2009-13)

A knee injury early in Jerry’s rookie season derailed his career just as it was beginning. One of the more notable busts of this draft, Jerry finished his career having started only 29 games. He’s probably best remembered for retiring from football unexpectedly on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series prior to the 2014 season.