When populating a list of ten draft busts in franchise history, we have to quickly acknowledge that sometimes it's not their fault. It's circumstances, like David Pollack. It's bad luck. A raw deal. But if you make a comparison of a player from where he's drafted and how much he contributes, then you have to include him. Injuries contribute to draft busts regularly because in the end that player didn't fulfill the roll of being a top draft pick in that year's NFL Draft. But again, it's not his fault in the same way that it's not Ki-Jana Carter or Kenny Irons' fault; both suffering major injuries during their respective preseason limiting their progression; in Irons' case, ending his career.
David Pollack, a defensive end from Georgia, entered the draft after winning the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, the Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player), the Ted Hendricks Award (top defensive end), the Lombardi Award (top offensive/defensive lineman of the year) and the Lott Trophy during his 2004 campaign. As a three-time All-American, stud doesn't even come close to describing the havoc Pollack caused.
Impressive enough with his versatility and tenacity, the Cincinnati Bengals selected him 17th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, converting him into an outside linebacker.
Pollack didn't start until week six but in the final seven regular season games but he did post 3.5 quarterback sacks, starting three of the final five games during his rookie year. During the Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pollack posted eight tackles and a quarterback sack.
And before we could watch him progress, the football gods decided Pollack's career was over. In the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns in week two, Pollack collided with running back Reuben Droughns, leaving him immobile on the field. Due to the neck injury, Pollack missed the entire 2006 and 2007 seasons before deciding to retire in April of 2008. That Cleveland game later proved particularly costly. Richie Braham, the team's rugged and toughest offensive lineman, suffered a career-ending leg injury and Tab Perry never fully recovered after having a great rookie season as a kickoff return specialist.
Like we've said, Pollack's injury isn't his fault and certainly it isn't his fault that he goes down as a draft bust. And to be perfectly honest, we'd be alright if others decided to keep him off the list. At the same time, injuries are as much a cause of a failed draft pick as is someone with a very poor mental state of mind (ala, Ryan Leaf). Because they all end up in the same place; a short NFL career setting back the team by losing that first round pick. Pollack's injury wiped out a promising career that followed a dominating college career. And from a team's perspective, thanks to the antics of Odell Thurman, the Bengals went from having two promising linebackers to a complete disaster in 2007 with injuries and poor talent before Dhani Jones signed off the street.
Pollack is currently venturing into a career in sports radio.
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