Believe it or not, that’s the first draft pick of the Bill Belichick Era in New England. The Patriots took him with the 46th pick in the 2000 Draft (the first-rounder went to the Jets for Belichick himself … Which worked out), and this Adrian Klemm character won three Super Bowl rings as a Patriots.
But it didn’t happen in the way either side envisioned. In his five years in Foxborough, Klemm started just 10 games, then went to the Packers in 2005 and was out of the league shortly after that.
Anyway, I was flipping through Sporting News, my old employer’s publication, the other day, and who do I see in there? Why, it was Adrian Klemm! Turns out, he’s caught on with his old college coach, June Jones, at SMU, where he’s now serving as offensive line coach.
Talking with SN’s college football man Dave Curtis, Klemm said, “The Super Bowl rings definitely open some doors. The kids don’t always know, but the coaches who follow football know my background. It shouldn’t be like this, but what I say carries more weight. They perceive me to know a little more. It’s an advantage when I recruit.”
Someday, Klemm will be the answer to a trivia question (If he isn’t already). But what I found more interesting was going back through past Teams of the Decade, and seeing how legendary coaches in those spots also got off to inauspicious starts in the draft.
Vince Lombardi took Iowa QB Randy Duncan with the first pick in the 1959 draft. Duncan went to Canadian Football League to chase money, never played a down in the NFL, and Lombardi had to dig deep and find some afterthought named Bart Starr (1956 17th-round pick) at the bottom of his roster to make up for it.
Then-first-year-Steelers coach Chuck Noll took Notre Dame QB Terry Hanratty with the 30th pick in the 1969 draft, and that worked out so well that he plucked Terry Bradshaw with the first pick in the next year’s draft.
Bill Walsh’s first selection as San Francisco coach was UCLA’s James Owens, the 29th pick in the 1979 draft, who rushed for 33 yards and caught 19 passes in two years before being jettisoned to Tampa Bay. To his credit, Owens was an Olympic hurdler back in 1976. To Walsh’s credit, he got some dude named Joe Montana with his next pick, at 82nd overall.
Jimmy Johnson and the Cowboys are the aberration here, having taken Troy Aikman with the first pick in 1989 in what was a loaded draft (Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders and Derrick Thomas were also in the Top 5.)
So when you look at Klemm and see a bust, know that Belichick’s in good company in having his first pick fall to pieces. And remember that about 153 picks later, the coach made up for it in a big, big way.