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San Diego Chargers Draft Busts - #10 Courtney Van Buren

First, an explanation. Every day for the next four weeks, we'll be highlighting the top 10 San Diego Chargers biggest draft busts and then the top 10 best draft picks by the Chargers. I am in charge of picking these, so here are the "rules" that I've come up with for the "busts" side of things.

  • Only players picked in the first 3 rounds are eligible. After that is when teams start taking fliers on guys with injury problems and all that, but in those first 3 rounds they're looking for guys to contribute either immediately, long-term or both.
  • I limited it to the last 12 drafts. Why? Because that's how long I've been watching Chargers football, so the names on the draft lists from the years before that might as well have been in Cantonese to me.
  • Draft position matters a great deal. A third round pick that did nothing does not hurt the team nearly as much as a first round pick that did nothing, so the first round pick is going to be positioned higher (lower?) with the same career as someone picked in a later round.

Now, onto our first draft bust......Right Tackle Courtney Van Buren (The Baron!). After the jump, find out why it pained me to include him on this list.

After mentioning "The Baron" (probably not his nickname, but it should be) in a post a few weeks back, and then seeing the Chargers post a picture of his enormous shoe on Twitter, I decided to do a little snooping to see if I could find out what ever happened to Courtney. Here's what I found:

  • An entertaining Twitter account. On it, Courtney talks sports, politics, religion, books, civil rights and even puts up his Formspring profile if you want to ask him something.
  • An absolutely fantastic, although infrequently-updated, blog. Imagine the Twitter account, but expanded to allow him more than 140 characters.
There is absolutely nothing in the world that tickles my fancy more than an intelligent professional athlete. I like the idea that at least some of the guys on the gridiron have room in their brain for something besides lifting weights and reading defenses. If I were a professional athlete, or even a professional coach, I'd be like Phil Jackson and hangs out books for Christmas and tell the 250 lb. insane LB "You'd really enjoy this".....knowing full well that most of my gifts would be getting tossed in a box in the garage and forgotten about. The idea that one of those guys might read it, enjoy it, and want to discuss it? Warms my heart.

However, Courtney is not on this list because he writes more like an English major than he does a former professional athlete. He's on this list because he was a 3rd round pick (80th overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft and didn't do much after signing the contract.

After playing a half-season (making 7 starts at Right Tackle) in his rookie season, Van Buren's knees just could not hold up. He spent the following season on the Chargers bench before being released. In 2006 he signed a one year deal with the Detroit Lions, although it would appear he was cut during camp for not being able to keep those same knees healthy.

If it weren't for his injury issues, Courtney would probably still be playing in the league (he's only 31 years old). Unfortunately, his pro career is summarized by being a 3rd round pick and then barely registering on the NFL radar before disappearing.

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