Not everyone considers Packers first-round pick Justin Harrell a draft bust. In the latest installment of Packers Talkback, one reader sounds off and I offer my response. As always, you can get into the conversation by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your recent column naming Justin Harrell "Thompson's biggest bust" and "a stinker" smacks of someone who doesn't understand football. A player who is injured and cannot play (and ultimately retires) because of injuries is not a bust. A bust is a player who plays, but is very disappointing -- he never meets his projected talent and playing level. As (yet another) hometown Packer journalist, YOU are a bust!
Your definition of a draft bust doesn’t quite hit the mark, in my opinion, and gives Justin Harrell too much leeway. I would agree with you that someone like receiver Terrence Murphy, who was picked by the Packers in the second round in 2005 but suffered a career-ending neck injury as a rookie, shouldn't be labeled a bust because he never got the chance to prove himself. But I believe Harrell’s case is different. The Packers gave him four years to overcome his injuries, and there were times he was healthy enough to play but made no impact whatsoever. You make it sound as if Harrell suffered a season-ending injury every year, when in fact he was healthy enough to play in 13 games in 2007 and 2008. Wikipedia defines a draft bust this way: “When a highly touted or highly selected draftee does not meet expectations. This can be for a variety of reasons, but the most often noted are injury or inability to perform at a professional level.” That definition fits Harrell perfectly, and for someone selected that high (No. 16 overall), I consider him a draft bust. If that opinion makes me a bust in your eyes, so be it.