By: Will Burchfield
In hindsight, it’s easy to condemn the Lions’ selection of Joey Harrington with the third overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. But GM Matt Millen never wanted much to do with the pick, or the quarterback, in the first place.
Per Peter King of The MMQB, Millen tried dumping the third overall pick on the Dallas Cowboys moments before the draft began. Cowboys GM Jerry Jones wasn’t interested:
“I’ll never forget being in the Cowboys draft room an hour before the draft started. Phone rang. Jerry Jones picked it up. Detroit GM Matt Millen on the line. Wanted an offer, any offer, for the third pick in the draft. Not enthusiastic about Joey Harrington, from the sound of the phone call. Jones didn’t want the pick, nor the quarterback. Harrington went third, to Detroit. Bad idea. Oh, my favorite player not picked in the 261-man draft: James Harrison.”
Harrington, an Oregon product, would go on to start 55 games for the Lions from 2002 to 2005, posting a record of 18-37. He threw more interceptions (62) than touchdowns (60) and finished with a 68.1 passer rating.
Notable players the Lions passed on in the first round of the 2002 draft include Dwight Freeney (No. 11 overall), Jeremy Shockey (No. 14), Albert Haynesworth (No. 15) and Ed Reed (No. 24).
The Cowboys, with the No. 8 overall pick, selected safety Roy Williams.