The Bottom 100: The 100 worst #1 NFL draft picks
by Dan Gardner
This is for all the NFL fans that loved the Top 100 of all Time list. It took awhile, the initial draft (no pun intended) had over 200 names in it. I eventually went through and first eliminated the guys that were busts with their first team but went to redeem themselves with other teams. I then eliminated the ones that people called busts based on their statistics, but simply hadn’t been cut yet. I then eliminated the ones that had their careers ended because of injury.
The final list was created by factoring several things:
1) How high were they picked? Some guys that were among the most colossal flops were picked in the 20’s and 30’s. It’s the ones that were top 10 picks or even first overall that carried the most weight in my mind.
2) How little playing time did they earn? Some of them were so bad that their best chance of seeing the field was to stay home and watch it on TV.
3) How did they play when they were out there? Some of them even did o.k. during their first season only to absolutely tank in their third year.
4) Who did they miss out on in order to take the player that bombed? Sometimes the very next pick was a Hall of Famer, or they traded a future Hall of Famer to make room for a bust. Other times the first player picked at a position was a total bust, while the next guy at their position was one of the best ever.
My original list had Pacman Jones at #100, but I deleted the player I ranked #100 after realizing that I had left off Joey Harrington. At first, I felt I could justify leaving Harrington off the list because he played more than the usual 3-4 seasons that most QB busts do. However, I realized I was creating a double standard having Rick Mirer, a #2 overall pick at QB, on the list in spite of him spending 12 years in the NFL.
So now, without further ado, here’s my list of the bottom 100-
100. 2006-18th overall, Bobby Carpenter, LB, Ohio State, Dallas Cowboys
Made a total of 96 tackles in four seasons as a Cowboy, but never became a starter. He was traded to the Rams for tackle Alex Barron and was even projected by some as a possible starter, but got cut at the end of preseason. He got signed by Miami but was cut by them as well after not performing well on special teams. Detroit picked him up quickly, so he might get a chance there.
99. 2007-17th overall, Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida, Denver Broncos
Totalled 40 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks from 2007 to 2010 with the Broncos. He was dumped by the Broncos after mid-season and just recently picked up by the Raiders. We’ll have to wait and see if they can turn him into Al Davis’s latest reclamation project.
98. 2006-10th overall, Matt Leinart, QB, USC, Arizona Cardinals
Some people were surprised on draft day when he lasted all the way to the tenth pick, and you can count me among the surprised. He got off to a decent start, starting 16 of 17 games in his first two seasons before suffering a season ending injury in 2007. His injury opened the door for Kurt Warner to have an incredible comeback season. Warner wound up leading them to the Super Bowl following the 2008 season, but the Cardinals never gave up on Leinart. After Warner’s retirement it was assumed that Leinart would take the starting job. However, he failed to distance himself from Derek Anderson, a journeyman Browns castoff. He was released by the Cardinals at the end of the 2010 pre-season after the Cardinals decided they had more faith in the upside of undrafted free agent Max Hall and late round draft pick John Skelton. The Texans wound up signing him to be their third string quarterback.
97. 2004, 22nd overall-J.P. Losman, QB, Tulane, Buffalo Bills
Started 34 games in 5 years with the Buffalo Bills. threw for 5,199 yards, 33 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. The Bills gave up on him in 2009 and the Raiders signed him late in 2009 as a reserve after a successful UFL stint. Currently third string with the Seahawks.
96. 2002, 32nd overall-Patrick Ramsey, QB, Tulane, Washington Redskins
He started 24 games with the Redskins from 2002 to 2005, but hasn’t started since. He hasn’t taken a snap since 2008 and he only played in 4 games from 2006 to 2008 for the N.Y. Jets and Denver Broncos. Originally got traded to the Jets for a sixth round pick a year after the Redskins drafted Jason Campbell. Spent only one season with the Jets before moving on to Denver for 2007 and 2008. Signed with Detroit & Tennessee during the 2009 season, and has been on the roster for Jacksonville, Miami and Minnesota in 2010 but hasn’t played yet.
95. 2001, 8th overall-David Terrell, WR, Michigan, Chicago Bears
Made 128 catches for 1,602 yards with 9 touchdowns in 4 years with the Bears. Played in one game with the Broncos in 2005 and attempted comeback there and with New England but never stuck on the roster.
94. 2003, 14th overall-Michael Haynes, DE, Penn State, Chicago Bears
Made 61 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks in three seasons with the Bears. Signed with the Saints in 2006 but never played.
93. 2003, 28th overall-Andre Woolfolk, CB, Oklahoma, Tennessee Titans
Only started 12 of 39 games and had 3 interceptions.
92. 2003, 6th overall-Johnathan Sullivan, DT, Georgia, New Orleans Saints
Had 77 tackles and 1.5 sacks in three seasons with the Saints. He was traded to the Patriots for WR Bethel Johnson, then cut in October of that year.
91. 2005, 7th overall-Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina, Minnesota Vikings
87 catches, 1,131 yards and 4 touchdowns in 5 years wasn’t the kind of productivity expected out of the 7th overall pick in 2005.
90. 2004, 25th overall-Ahmad Carroll, CB, Arkansas, Green Bay Packers
Had three interceptions in 2 years as a starter in Green Bay, but his tendency to cause penalties cost him his job. He got waived by Green Bay during the 2006 season and picked up by Jacksonville, but they cut him the following summer after an arrest. He sat out the 2007 season after being cut. He got another chance as a backup with the Jets in 2008 and played in all 16 games, but they too cut him in 2009 after 6 games. He now plays in the CFL.
89. 2002-4th overall-Mike Williams, T, Texas, Buffalo Bills
He started all but 6 games during his first three seasons, but didn’t pan out at tackle, eventually losing his starting job to undrafted free agent Jason Peters. Played in 9 games with the Bills in 2005, starting 6. Went to Jacksonville in 2006 but never played. Spent two years out of football before trying a comeback with the Redskins when he was still 410 pounds. He lost 70 pounds and eventually got moved to right guard, where he played in and started 8 games. He got re-signed in 2010 but got diagnosed with blood clots near his heart & had to miss the season. I, for one, am cheering for him, but with a health problem that serious, I’d just like to wish him a full recovery.
88. 2001, 24th overall-Willie Middlebrooks, CB, Minnesota, Denver Broncos
In 4 seasons with the Broncos, he started 2 games and totalled 66 tackles before being traded to San Francisco for defensive end John Engelberger. Played in 5 games with 8 tackles before being cut.He never made a single interception in 5 years.
87. 2001, 25th overall-Freddie Mitchell, WR, UCLA, Philadelphia Eagles
Made 90 catches for 1,263 yards and 5 touchdowns in 4 seasons with the Eagles. Got released in 2005, signed by the Chiefs afterwards, but waived on the final cutdown.
86. 1992, 14th overall-Derek Brown, TE, Notre Dame, New York Giants
Made 11 catches for 87 yards in his three years with the Giants. Joined the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. Lasted three years in Jacksonville before moving on to the Raiders and then the Cardinals. In his nine year career he had 43 catches for 401 yards with one touchdown.
85. 1995, 7th overall-Mike Mamula, DE, Boston College, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles traded their first round pick (12th overall) and two second round picks to the Buccaneers for the seventh pick and a third round pick. He was a workout monster before the 1995 draft, and the combine helped him shoot up the charts to become a top ten pick. He had 17 1/2 sacks in his first three seasons before having a season ending injury in 1998. Came back in 1999 and played that season & 2000 in Philadelphia. He added 14 sacks in those last two seasons. Another interesting note to add-the Buccaneers picked Warren Sapp with the 12th pick.
84. 1991, 7th overall-Charles McRae, T, Tennessee, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Started 38 games in 5 seasons in Tampa Bay, but only started 4 games in three of those five seasons and never turned into the bookend tackle they were expecting. left for the Raiders in 1996 and only started 1 game out of 13.
83. 1987, 4th overall-Brent Fullwood, RB, Auburn, Green Bay Packers
Wasn’t as bad as most of the guys on this list-he actually was selected for the Pro Bowl after the 1989 season, when he rushed for 821 yards and 5 touchdowns. The next season he was cut by Green Bay after taking himself out of a game and later going out partying after the game. He was picked up by the Browns that season but only played in one game without carrying the ball. Miami gave him a shot in 1991 but he never played there either.
82. 1999, 27th overall-Aaron Gibson, T, Wisconsin, Detroit Lions
Started 34 of 38 games in his career. Started only 15 of 16 games in three years with the Lions. He was with the Cowboys in 2001and 2002 and was active for one game each season. Went to the Bears in 2002 and in 2003 he actually started all 16 games. In 2004 he started only 3 of 4 games for the Bears and that was it for his career.
81. 1992, 13th overall-Eugene Chung, T, Virginia Tech, New England Patriots
Started 30 games in first two seasons with the Patriots before losing his starting spot. He was picked in the expansion draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995 and played in 11 games but didn’t start. Was out of the league in 1996 but got a shot with the Colts in 1997 and played ten games before retiring the next season.
80. 1989, 7th overall-Tim Worley, RB, Georgia, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ran for 770 yards and 5 touchdowns as a rookie, then slumped in his second year with only 418 yards and no touchdowns. He was injured most of 1991, then suspended for the 1992 season. In 1993 he was traded to the Chicago Bears for a fifth round pick. The Bears released him five games into the 1994 season and he retired.
79. 1989, 9th overall-Sammie Smith, RB, Florida State, Miami Dolphins
Led the Dolphins in rushing in 1989 and 1990, but fumbling problems led to the end of his career. He got traded to the Denver Broncos in 1992 for Bobby Humphrey, but only totalled 94 yards on 23 carries in his one year with the Broncos.
78. 1997, 22nd overall-David LaFleur, TE, Louisiana State, Dallas Cowboys
Had a breakthrough season with 35 catches and 7 touchdowns in his third season, then virtually disappeared in 2000 with only 12 catches, 109 yards and a touchdown. He never played again in the NFL afterwards.
77. 1996, 5th overall-Cedric Jones, DE, Oklahoma, New York Giants
The Giants found out after they picked him that he was blind in one eye, so he couldn’t play on the left side. On the bright side, that caused them to shift Michael Strahan to the left side. He started only 3 games in his first three years and had 4 sacks in his first three seasons. He started every game the next two seasons but only produced 11 sacks from 1999 to 2000.
76. 1987, 25th overall-Terrence Flagler, RB, Clemson, San Francisco 49ers
Totalled 42 carries for 145 yards and 1 touchdown, and 12 catches for 151 yards in three years with the 49ers. Had one season (1989) as their full time kick returner, but averaged only 20.1 yards per return. Although the Forty-Niners probably weren’t looking for a full time back since they had Roger Craig at the time, i’m sure they still expected more. He spent the next two seasons with the Cardinals but never panned out with them either.
75. 1986, 14th overall-Gerald Robinson, DE, Auburn, Minnesota Vikings
Was the all time sack leader at Auburn, but was out of the league for one year after only two years in the league. Came back in 1989 and played two seasons with the Chargers, and then four more years with the Rams.
74. 1989, 24th overall-Tom Ricketts, G, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers
Started only ten games in 6 years in the league. He got eight of those in his third season with the Steelers, then got dumped off to the Colts, where he started two games. Signed with the Chiefs in 1993 and played in three games. Went to New Orleans in 1994 but never played and that was it.
73. 1986, 13th overall-James FitzPatrick, T, USC, San Diego Chargers
Played 4 years for the Chargers and 3 years for the Raiders. Never started until 1991, and even then it was only 4 games. The Chargers thought so little of him that they traded him to a division rival, so they obviously weren’t too concerned about the possiblity of him resurrecting his career with the Raiders.
72. 1983, 7th overall-Todd Blackledge, QB, Penn State, Kansas City Chiefs
It’s funny to think that he was the second quarterback picked in 1983. First came Elway, then Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Ken O’Brien, Tony Eason, and Dan Marino. Obviously now we can look back and say he wasn’t the second best of the bunch, he’d be in the hall of fame if that was the case.
71. 1972, 14th overall- John Reaves, QB, Florida, Philadelphia Eagles
His lack of development didn’t keep him from having a long career. His last year in the league was 1987, but that was as a strike replacement player for Tampa Bay. Before that he spent 1983 thru 85 in the USFL. He only spent three years in Philly before they gave up on him. Then it was off to Cincinnati for four years as Ken Anderson’s backup, then in Minnesota in 1979, and he was out of the league until Houston signed him in 1981.
70. 1988, 1st overall-Aundray Bruce, LB, Auburn, Atlanta Falcons
When a pick this high misses, it’s like throwing away a lottery pick. Top ten picks are supposed to be the cream of the crop, but when it’s the first pick in the draft, that’s a major miss.The only thing that kept me from ranking him higher was the fact that he played 11 years in the league. If he had been a third round pick I might’ve said he had a decent career playing 11 seasons. Bruce was supposed to be the second coming of Lawrence Taylor, but he only produced 16 sacks in his 4 seasons in Atlanta. He signed with the Raiders as a plan B free agent in 1992, but he only had another 16 sacks as a situational pass rusher over the next seven seasons. They even tried him at tight end a couple of times in his career and that didn’t work either.
69. 1983, 8th overall-Michael Haddix, RB, Mississippi State, Philadelphia Eagles
Played for Philadelphia from 83-87, and Green Bay from 89-90; totaled 1,004 yards in 5 years with the Eagles, but it took 344 carries to get there.
68. 1982, 1st overall-Kenneth Sims, DE, Texas, New England Patriots
Another case where his longevity kept him from being ranked higher. Throughout his entire 8 year career, he played in only 74 games, and made 17 sacks. He had 5.5 of those in 1985 when New England went to the Super Bowl, which showed that he had the ability, but not the motivation. He earned the nickname “Game Day” when he explained his disinterest in practice by saying “I’ll be there on game day.” In 1990, he was arrested and charged with cocaine possession in Austin, Texas. He was released by New England not long after the arrest and his career was over.
67. 1979, 23rd overall-Steve Fuller, QB, Clemson, Kansas City Chiefs
Spent his first four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, then went to the Rams in 1983, but didn’t throw a single pass there. Spent the next four seasons with the Bears as a backup behind Jim McMahon and got a ring with the 85′ Bears. Missed the 87′ season due to injury, then spent one last season (1988) on the sidelines with the Chargers.
66. 1989-21st overall-Bill Hawkins, DT, Miami (Fla.), Los Angeles Rams
Had 5 sacks in 4 seasons with the Rams; injuries slowed him down and he was cut during the final cutdown before the start of the 1993 season.
65. 1993, 2nd overall-Rick Mirer, QB, Notre Dame, Seattle Seahawks
Started four seasons for the Seahawks before getting traded to the Bears for a first round pick in 1997. Played in only 7 games for the Bears, starting three, but went without a touchdown and threw 6 interceptions. He was waived by Chicago only a year after giving up a first round pick to get him and giving him a three year deal worth more than 11 million dollars. Signed with Green Bay in 1998 but never threw a pass with them. He was traded to the N.Y. Jets in 1999, but he won only two of his six starts and eventually got replaced by Vinny Testaverde. He was cut after the season and signed with San Francisco. Played in only one game with San Francisco in 2000, then went two years without throwing a pass in 2001 with the 49ers and Oakland in 2002. He started 8 of 9 games with the Raiders in 2003, but threw only 3 touchdowns and wasn’t re-signed. Signed with the Lions in 2004 but never played.
64. 2002, 3rd overall-Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon, Detroit Lions
So this is where I chose to place him since I compared him with Rick Mirer. The parallels are there-he started for four years in Detroit before they gave up on him. In his case though, Detroit wasn’t lucky enough to have enough demand for him to trade him for a #1 pick. His situation is another where I don’t totally blame the failure all on him. They tried to build around him, but the Lions just kept missing on 1st round picks. They picked WR Charles Rogers (who you’ll read more about MUCH later in this list) with the 2nd pick in 2003, then RB Kevin Jones & WR Roy Williams in 2004, and WR Mike Williams in 2005.
Overall, his statistics during his career turned him into another middle of the pack replaceable quarterback. The only year when he didn’t throw more interceptions than touchdowns was his last year in Detroit, 2005, and even then it was 12 TD’s and 12 INT’s. He got traded to the Dolphins for a 6th round pick before the 2006 season. He only lasted one season in Miami before signing with Atlanta in 2007 to compete for the job as Michael Vick’s backup. Of course, this was the unlucky year when he was thrust into the starting role after Vick’s arrest and suspension. Even a career high 61.8 completion percentage wasn’t enough to save him, since their offense was built around Vick. He got replaced at the end of the season by Chris Redman. Overall for his career, he played in 81 games, completed 1,424 passes out of 2,538 attempts, threw for 14, 693 yards, 79 TD’s and 85 INT’s, and finished with a rating of 69.4.
63. 1987, 6th overall-Kelly Stouffer, QB, Colorado State, St. Louis Cardinals
His career numbers-225 completions, 437 attempts, 2,333 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions. His story began with him holding out for his entire rookie season. If he had signed with the Cardinals he could’ve eventually had a shot at replacing Neil Lomax. Instead he landed in Seattle after they traded their first and fifth round picks for him. He quickly found himself stuck behind veterans Dave Krieg and Jeff Kemp. He played in only 11 games in his first three seasons, and did not even attempt a pass in 1990. His first real shot at starting came in 1992, but he completed less than fifty percent of his passes, throwing 3 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and he was outplayed by journeyman Stan Gelbaugh.
62. 1990, 4th overall-Keith McCants, DE/LB, Alabama, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Couldn’t cut it at linebacker for Tampa Bay, he was yet another example of a player miscast into the Lawrence Taylor/Charles Haley mold. He had only twelve sacks in those three seasons. He was cut by Tampa Bay in 1993 and signed by the Oilers. He started one game with the Oilers before going to Arizona. He made 1.5 sacks in his two seasons in Arizona, but was done after a total of six years in the NFL.
61. 1987, 16th overall-John Bosa, DE, Boston College, Miami Dolphins
Totalled seven sacks in three years before it was bye bye NFL.
60. 1993, 27th overall-Todd Kelly, OLB, Tennessee, San Francisco 49ers
Was drafted to fill the familiar Charles Haley type role, but started only 6 games in 2 years with only 4 1/2 sacks. Went to Cincinnati in 1995 and had only one sack. Spent two games each with Cincinnati and Atlanta in 1996 and that was it for him.
59. 1988, 16th overall-Eric Kumerow, DE, Ohio State, Miami Dolphins
Miami really tried to fix their pass rush, they spent first round picks on defensive ends in 1987 and 1988. The bad news is, those number one picks produced John Bosa and Kumerow. He only had 5 sacks from 1988 to 1990, then joined Chicago for the 1991 season but he never played there.
58. 1995, 21st overall-Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado, Chicago Bears
Started only 20 of 31 games in 3 years with the Bears. he ran for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns during his rookie year, but never overcame his fumbling problem. Was cut by the Bears after only 3 starts in 1997. Had a brief comeback attempt in Cleveland and Green Bay in 1999, but he only ran the ball once for 2 yards with the Browns and never played in Green Bay.
57. 1986, 12th overall-Chuck Long, QB, Iowa, Detroit Lions
His best season was 1987, he threw for 2,598 yards, 11 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He got traded to the Rams in 1990 after 6th round pick Rodney Peete took his place.
56. 1979, 3rd overall- Jack Thompson, QB, Washington State, Cincinnati Bengals
Lasted four seasons in Cincinnati before getting shipped off to Tampa Bay, where he lost the starting job to Steve DeBerg.
55. 1992, 6th overall-David Klingler, QB, Houston, Cincinnati Bengals
Drafted to be the successor to Boomer Esiason, he started in 1993 and 1994 until losing the job to Jeff Blake. He joined the Raiders in 1996 and stuck around for two seasons before going off to Green Bay to compete to backup Brett Favre but was cut by them in 1998.
54. 1987, 19th overall-Paul Palmer, RB, Temple, Kansas City Chiefs
Ran back two kickoffs for touchdown during the strike shortened 1987 season. Had a over 1,000 combined rushing & receiving yards in 1988. Got traded to Detroit in 1989, then Dallas where he lead the team in rushing with 446 yards during their 1-15 season. Got replaced when they drafted Emmitt Smith with the 17th pick, and he never played again.
53. 1979, 11th overall- Russell Erxleben, P, Texas, New Orleans Saints
Spent 5 years as the Saints punter, and then popped back up in 1987 to punt once for Detroit. Not surprisingly, he was the last punter taken in the first round.
52. 1991, 16th overall-Dan McGwire, QB, San Diego State, Seattle Seahawks
Was drafted to be the eventual successor to long time starter Dave Krieg. His brother Mark was an all star baseball player, so it was widely assumed that he would do just as well in football. He only started two games in his first three seasons and was seemingly replaced when the Seahawks spent the second pick in 1993 on Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer. Wound up playing in 7 games in 1994, with three starts, but only threw two touchdowns while also throwing thirteen interceptions. Moved on to Miami in 1995 where he appeared in one game and threw one incomplete pass.
Overall, between Kelly Stouffer (1988 trade with Cardinals), McGwire and Rick Mirer (1993), the Seahawks blew 3 #1 picks trying to replace long time starter Dave Krieg, who himself was an undrafted free agent in 1980.
51. 1991, 22nd overall-Stan Thomas, T, Texas, Chicago Bears
Started seven games his rookie season but didn’t hold up and never started again. Got traded to the Oilers in 1993 and lasted there for two seasons as a backup.
50. 1981, 10th overall- David Verser, WR, Kansas, Cincinnati Bengals
Hauled in 23 catches in 4 years in Cincy before going to Tampa Bay for a year and resurfacing in 87 in Cleveland for the strike. He was a good deep threat the first couple of years, but that was about it.
49. 1991, 3rd overall-Bruce Pickens, CB, Nebraska, Atlanta Falcons
Held out during his rookie year, then played in only seven games. Played in all 16 games in his second year, with only four starts and had two interceptions, which were the only two of his career. Started the first four games in the 1993 season, but performed poorly and got traded to the Green Bay Packers. Lasted only two games in Green Bay before getting dumped by them as well. Played three games in Kansas City after they gave him another chance, but couldn’t stick there either. Sat out the 1994 season & didn’t get another chance to play until the Raiders signed him in 1995. He played in all 16 games with one start but didn’t play again afterwards.
48. 2000, 26th overall-Erik Flowers, DE, Arizona State, Buffalo Bills
Had 4 sacks in two seasons with the Bills. Got released in 2002 then signed by the Houston Texans. Signed & waived by the Steelers in 2003, then signed by the Rams in 2003 & stuck around through 2004 before being signed and cut by Atlanta in 2005.
47. 2001, 10th overall-Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State, Green Bay Packers
The Packers traded the 17th pick and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to the Seahawks for the tenth overall selection so they could pick Reynolds. He went on to play in only 18 games in 3 years and made only 18 tackles and three sacks in those three years. They tried to trade him to the Colts but the trade was voided after he couldn’t pass his physical. He eventually got released by Green Bay. He was picked up by the Browns but never played there or anywhere else in the NFL afterwards.
46. 1986, 24th overall-Bob Buczkowski, DE, Pittsburgh, L.A. Raiders
Lasted only two seasons with the Raiders (1986-87), and one each with the Cardinals (1989) and Browns(1990).
45. 1999, 12th overall-Cade McNown, QB, UCLA, Chicago Bears
Started 15 of 25 games in 2 years with the Bears. Got traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2001 for a fourth round pick. He never threw a pass with Miami, then was traded in 2002 to the 49ers for a 7th round pick. He never played there either, he had season ending shoulder surgery and never played in the NFL again.
44. 1995, 31st overall-Trezelle Jenkins, T, Michigan, Kansas City Chiefs
Played in nine games with only one start in 3 years. Spent part of 1997 with the Saints after departing Kansas City.
43. 1994, 3rd overall-Heath Shuler, QB, Tennessee, Washington Redskins
Started only 13 of 19 games in three years with the Redskins, but lost out to fellow 1994 rookie Gus Frerotte. Went to New Orleans in 1997 and started 9 of 10 games, but only threw 2 touchdowns with fourteen interceptions. Was inactive in 1998 and that was it for him.
42. 1972, 1st overall-Walt Patulski, DE, Notre Dame, Buffalo Bills
Produced 23 1/2 sacks in 4 seasons with the Bills. He got traded to the Cardinals in 1976 for a second round pick, then suffered a career ending knee injury & never played a down for them.
41. 1990, 7th overall- Andre Ware, QB, Houston, Detroit Lions
Won the Heisman Trophy in 1989 and put up some incredible statistics as the starting quarterback at the University of Houston. However, after being drafted by the lions he played in only 14 games in 4 seasons, with 6 starts. In his entire NFL career he threw for 1,112 years, with five touchdowns and eight interceptions.
40. 2002, 12th overall-Wendell Bryant, DT, Wisconsin, Arizona Cardinals
Made 39 tackles and 1.5 sacks in three seasons before being suspended for the 2005 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
39. 1987, supplemental 1st round pick-Brian Bosworth, LB, Oaklahoma, Seattle Seahawks
Injuries derailed his NFL career, but he’s had a long career as an actor since then. He suffered a shoulder injury in 1988, and then played only 2 games in the 1989 season before being forced to retire. A team doctor said he had the shoulders of a 60 year old and he was only 25 at the time. I almost feel guilty putting him on this list since injuries derailed his career, but there would be a lot of people complaining if I didn’t put him in here somewhere.
38. 1982, 4th overall- Art Schlichter, QB, Ohio State, Baltimore Colts
First he lost the starting job to fellow rookie Mike Pagel in 1982, then he got suspended for gambling in 1983. He came back in 1984 and even won the starting job in 1985, but was cut after 4 games and never played again.
37. 1990, 2nd overall-Blair Thomas, RB, Penn State, New York Jets
Historically known for being the first running back off the board in a draft where the 2nd running back picked was Emmitt Smith. He lasted four seasons with Jets before going on to split a season between New England and Dallas, and then one season with the expansion Carolina Panthers. He totalled 533 carries for 2,236 yards and 7 touchdowns.
36. 1971, 7th overall-Joe Profit, RB, Louisiana-Monroe, Atlanta Falcons
Ran for 471 yards and three touchdowns in three years in the NFL. There were a few really good players picked right before him, but they also could’ve had John Brockington, Clarence Scott, or Jack Youngblood just to name a few options.
35. 1981, 6th overall-Rich Campbell, QB, California, Green Bay Packers
He only lasted 4 years, and the numbers say it all: 31-68-386 yards, 3 TD’s, 9 INT’s
34. 1982, 19th overall-Perry Tuttle, WR, Clemson, Buffalo Bills
Lasted three seasons, 2 in Buffalo and one in Tampa Bay & Atlanta. Career totals: 25 catches, 375 yards, 3 TD’s. He resurrected his career in the CFL & helped Winnepeg win a championship, but since this is about NFL careers, he’s still on the list for now.
33. 1997, 25th overall-Jon Harris, DE, Virginia, Philadelphia Eagles
Started only 8 games in two seasons with the Eagles and had one sack in each season. Went to Cleveland & Green Bay in his third season but never played.
32. 1988, 21st overall-Clifford Charlton, LB, Florida, Cleveland Browns
Played 31 games in 2 years and had one sack. Suffered a torn ACL & MCL and never played again.
31. 1995, 25th overall-Billy Milner, T, Houston, Miami Dolphins
Played in 29 games with 9 starts, was traded to the Rams for tight end Troy Drayton during his second season. He wound up being cut after his second season and never played again.
30. 2000, 23rd overall-Rashard Anderson, FS, Jackson State, Carolina Panthers
Started 9 of 27 games in two years with the Panthers. he made 51 tackles and one interception. Unfortunately, that was it for his career. He was suspended for the 2002 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, then suspended again in 2003 for fasiling to meet the NFL’s requirements for reinstatement. the Panthers released him after the second suspension and he hasn’t played since.
29. 1987, 11th overall-Shawn Knight, DE, Brigham Young, New Orleans Saints
Played in 10 games with the Saints (1987), 14 with the Broncos (1988), and 7 with the Cardinals (1989). He never produced a single sack in 3 years.
28. 1998, 29th overall-John Avery, RB, Mississippi, Miami Dolphins
Lasted only one season in Miami, then got traded to Denver in a rare bust for bust swap. He was released in training camp in 2000, then played in the XFL in 2001, the CFL in 2002, came back to the NFL with the Vikings in 2003, then back to the CFL from 2004 thru 2007.
27. 1999, 24th overall-Reggie McGrew, DT, Florida, San Francisco 49ers
Didn’t play at all in his rookie season and was active for only 22 games in his career with the 49ers. He went to Atlanta in 2002 but was active for only 2 games.
26. 1995, 30th overall-Craig Powell, LB, Ohio State, Cleveland Browns
Played in three games with the Browns, then 9 games with the Ravens after the Browns moved to Baltimore. Joined the Jets in 1997 for 2 games.
25. 1987, 5th overall-Mike Junkin, LB, Duke, Cleveland Browns
One of the biggest reaches in draft history, Junkin was projected by most to be a fifth or sixth round pick. The Browns shocked everyone by taking Junkin with the fifth pick in the draft. He turned out to be injury prone too, playing in only 15 games in his first two seasons. He signed with Kansas City in 1989, played in 5 games, and that was it for his career.
24. 1987, 15th overall-John Clay, T, Missouri, Los Angeles Raiders
Played for the Raiders in 1987 and the Chargers in 1988. Played in 10 games with the Raiders and 2 with the Chargers.
23. 2000, 29th overall-R.Jay Soward, WR, USC, Jacksonville Jaguars
Played in 13 games, starting two, and had 14 catches, 154 yards and one touchdown. Never played again after his rookie season.
22. 2004, 31st overall-Rashaun Woods, WR, Oklahoma State, San Francisco 49ers
He had 7 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown in his rookie year. He missed the 2005 season due to injury, then was traded to the Chargers for cornerback Sammy Davis. He was released by the Chargers and claimed by the Broncos, but he failed his physical. He signed with the Toronto Argonauts in 2007 but they released him 2 weeks later. He signed with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in October 2007 then was cut by the team before the 2008 season.
21. 1997, 26th overall-Jim Druckenmiller, QB, Virginia Tech, San Francisco 49ers
In 2 years with the 49ers he played in 6 games, starting 1, completing 21 of 52 passes for 239 yards with 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions. Got shipped to Miami in 1999 after the team signed Jeff Garcia. Never played in Miami, or anywhere else in the NFL after that.
20. 1984, 6th overall-Mossy Cade, DB, Texas, San Diego Chargers
Played in the USFL before going to Green Bay for the 1985 and 1986 seasons. He wound up being convicted on two counts of sexual assault involving a woman he was related to by marriage, and served fifteen months in prison after being convicted. The sexual assault charges earned him the nickname “the Aunteater”, and he was unable to find work in the NFL after getting out. The Minnesota Vikings signed him soon after his release from prison, but he was released quickly thanks to all the bad publicity.
19. 1991, 24th overall-Todd Marinovich, QB, USC, Los Angeles Raiders
Did well statistically in his first season, throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions. Got a shot in 1992, but his drug problems and run ins with the law kept him from developing. He failed his third drug test before the 1993 season and that was it for his career. One more interesting fact-early in the second round, the Falcons picked the next quarterback on the board, a guy named Brett Favre.
18. 1997, 27th overall-Rae Carruth, WR, Colorado, Carolina Panthers
His career got off to a nice start with 44 catches and 4 touchdown catches his rookie year. He was injured his second year and played in only 2 games. His third season ended rather infamously when a woman who was 6 months pregnant with his child was shot four times and later died in a shooting he was involved in. He was released by the Panthers and later sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison.
17. 1987, 7th overall-Reggie Rogers, DE, Washington, Detroit Lions
He only played in 6 games during his rookie season due to emotional problems. His second season ended after only 5 games when he was involved in a DUI traffic accident that killed 3 teenagers. The Lions waived him during the summer of 1989 because he broke his neck in the accident. He spent 16 months in prison and then had brief stays with the Buffalo Bills (1991) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1992).
16. 1988, 26th overall-Ted Gregory, NT, Syracuse, Denver Broncos
Played in three games during his rookie season and had one sack. On draft day, his coach Dan Reeves was shocked to discover that Gregory was shorter than he was ( Reeves is 6’1″). He turned out to be such a bust that he was traded to New Orleans for another first round bust (Shawn Knight) before the end of training camp. His one season in New Orleans wound up being his only season in the NFL.
15. 1998, 30th overall-Marcus Nash, WR, Tennessee, Denver Broncos
Had 4 catches for 76 yards in his rookie year. Those were the only catches he made in his two years in the NFL. Lasted only one season in Denver, then got traded to Miami in a rare bust for bust swap. Sound familiar? One surprise in his NFL career I learned during research: he earned a Super Bowl ring since he was with the Ravens for the 2000 season. He played in the arena league from 2003 thru 2008.
14. 1984, 17th overall-Clyde Duncan, WR, Tennessee, St. Louis Cardinals
4 catches, 39 yards, in two seasons. I almost though they mistook him for R. J. Soward when I saw the numbers.
13. 1972, 11th overall- Jerry Tagge, QB, Nebraska, Green Bay Packers
Threw a total of three touchdowns in three years (1972-74) as a Packers QB. That was it for his career. Two picks later, the Steelers got the best running back on the board, Franco Harris. Yeah, ouch. He did briefly redeem himself in the CFL, finishing second for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award, but injuries ended his career in 1979.
12. 1991, 15th overall-Huey Richardson, LB, Florida, Pittsburgh Steelers
The number of tackles he made in his career also equaled the number of seasons he played in the NFL: one.
11. 1999, 29th overall-Dimitrius Underwood, DE, Michigan State, Minnesota Vikings
It’s not like there was no warning about him, even his college coaches warned scouts that he wasn’t mentally stable enough to play in the NFL. He signed a 5 year deal worth $5.03 million, and then walked out the next day, saying he couldn’t resolve the conflict between playing and serving his Christian faith. After Minnesota waived him, he was claimed by the Miami Dolphins. He only played in one preseason game before getting injured. He was released by Miami in December 1999. He got another chance in Dallas and made 21 tackles and 4 sacks. However, he attempted suicide by running into traffic and was soon released by the Cowboys.
10. 1998, 5th overall-Curtis Enis, RB, Penn State, Chicago Bears
Started only 18 of 36 games in three years with the Bears. He averaged only 3.3 yards per carry and had a total of four touchdowns in his career. Signed with Cleveland after being dumped by the Bears but couldn’t make the roster there either.
9. 1995, 1st overall-Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Penn State, Cincinnati Bengals
He missed his rookie season after tearing a ligament in his knee on his third carry of his game in the preseason. Started only 14 of 31 games the next two seasons, then played in only 4 games from 1998-1999. Got released in 2000 and was out of football until the Redskins signed him in 2001. He was out again in 2002, then signed with New Orleans, where he lasted from 2003-2004 as a reserve.
8. 1999, 3rd overall-Akili Smith, QB, Oregon, Cincinnati Bengals
Eagles fans wanted him so bad that they booed when they drafted Donovan McNabb. Of course we now know that McNabb went on to lead the Eagles to five NFC championships. Akili Smith never led his team to a championship game, but he did counter McNabb’s five NFC championship games by throwing five touchdown passes in his entire NFL career. Oh wait, that’s not the same.
7. 1985, 9th overall, Kevin Allen, T, Indiana, Philadelphia Eagles
Tested positive for cocaine in 1986, got charged with sexual assault and spent the next three years in prison. He never played in the NFL again afterwards.
6. 2007-1st overall, JaMarcus Russell, QB, Louisiana State, Oakland Raiders
Started only 25 of 31 games he played in for the Raiders. Threw for only 3 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2009, and was released after the Raiders acquired Jason Campbell before the 2010 season. He worked out for the Redskins in 2010 but showed up weighing 286 pounds. I’m still betting on him making a comeback in 2011 as the Redskins third string QB, since Mike Shanahan loves proving Al Davis wrong. You have to admit, it would make a nice story.
5. 2003, 2nd overall- Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State, Detroit Lions
I think they expected more than 36 catches for 440 yards and 4 touchdowns in 3 years from the #2 overall pick. Didn’t play at all in 2004 because he broke his collarbone a second time. He got suspended for 4 games in 2005 and finally released in 2006
4. 1998, 2nd overall-Ryan Leaf, QB, Washington State, San Diego Chargers
Before the draft there was alot of speculation about who would be the better pro quarterback-Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf? I don’t think anyone would have guessed that it would be determined after three seasons. He played in 25 games with 21 starts, completed only 48.4 percent of his passes for 3,666 yards with 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
3. 1963, 1st overall-Terry Baker, QB, Oregon State, L.A. Rams
Lasted three years, throwing for 154 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. Played one year in the CFL after being dumped by the Rams.
2. 1996, 6th overall-Lawrence Phillips, RB, Nebraska, St. Louis Rams
The Rams were so sure of him that they traded Jerome Bettis to the Steelers for a third round pick. Bettis went on to put up hall of fame numbers with the Steelers, while Phillips simply couldn’t stay out of trouble and was dumped after ten games during his rookie season. He was picked up by Miami in 1997 and went on to get cut again and spent 1998 out of football. He signed with the 49ers in 1999 but became best known there for missing a block that led to the concusion that ended Steve Young’s career.
1. 1989, 2nd overall-Tony Mandarich, OT, Michigan State, Green Bay Packers
Already widely regarded as one of the top ten busts of all time, I give him the #1 overall spot based on who the Packers missed out on when they got him. The three picks that followed him were all Hall of Fame players. With the third pick, the Lions got Barry Sanders. The next pick was Chiefs sack master Derrick Thomas. The fifth pick was Falcons cornerback Deion Sanders. Even the next player off the board, Broderick Thomas, would’ve been an upgrade over Mandarich.
However, given what the experts knew about Mandarich at the time, the Packers front office would’ve heard a unanimous chorus of boos if they had picked anyone else. He was supposed to be the next great thing to happen to offensive tackles. He ran 4.7 second 40 yard dash, which was unheard of for a 300 pound lineman. Some said he was a better prospect than Anthony Munoz, who I consider the best tackle i’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, he held out, and never even beat out Alan Veingrad, a former undrafted free agent, for a starting job. He did eventually redeem himself, ever so slightly, by making a comeback with the Colts as an offensive guard. However, even there he was never much more than a sixth lineman, he didn’t start that often.
I know, I probably look a little biased, picking a Packers bust as the worst since i’m a Packers fan, but I can’t think of any other cases where a team missed out on 3 hall of famers to pick a bust. Although, I never did research who else Kansas City missed out on in 1983 when they made Todd Blackledge the 2nd quarterback picked…..
Player information obtained through Yahoo sports profiles and the player’s individual Wikipedia pages.