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Ranking the 5 Biggest NFL Draft Busts of All Time

Breana PittsContributor IIIMay 1, 2012

Ranking the 5 Biggest NFL Draft Busts of All Time

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    With the 2012 draft in the books, it's time to see how the rookies perform. They can either thrive or bust. 

    These players looked so promising in the draft, but never reached their full potential in the professional ranks. The most common position is quarterback because you either have it or you don't. 

    Here are the biggest NFL draft busts of all time.  

5. Russell Erxleben, P—New Orleans Saints

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    Year: 1979

    Pick: 11th overall

    In 1979, the New Orleans Saints spent the 11th overall pick in the draft on a kicker named Russell Erxleben. It was arguably the worst draft decision in franchise history.

    The fact that the Saints selected a kicker in the first round is already bad enough. In addition, Erxleben was not a good kicker or punter. He had injury problems that fall and lost the starting kicker job. In the four years Erxleben played in the NFL, he only made four career field goals.

    Adding insult to injury, the Saints passed on a young quarterback named Joe Montana, who was selected with the 82nd overall pick.  

4. Art Schlichter, QB—Indianapolis Colts

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    Year: 1982

    Pick: 4th overall

    Art Schlichter only played 13 games in the league. In those few games, he only 91 out of 202 passes for three touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His quarterback rating was a measly 42.6.

    Schlichter was a fixture in the headlines for his troubles with the law. By 1983, he was suspended indefinitely from the NFL for gambling. He was given a second chance in 1985, but was caught gambling again.

    He was arrested in January 1987 for being involved in a multimillion-dollar sports betting operation, which resulted Commissioner Pete Rozelle refusing to let Schlichter sign with another team. Schlichter spent 1996-2004 in prison for fraud and forgery. Now he's facing even more prison time for his role in a Super Bowl ticket scam in which he swindled more than $1 million.   

3. Tony Mandarich, T—Green Bay Packers

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    Year: 1989

    Pick: 2nd overall

    Some say Tony Mandarich was cursed by Sports Illustrated after the magazine featured the offensive tackle on the cover, declaring him "the best offensive line prospect ever." Whatever the case may be, he is definitely an infamous draft bust. 

    Mandarich was the first offensive lineman to earn $1 million per year, but the Packers soon learned they made a big mistake. The 6'6", 315-pound athlete was known for having a bad attitude and being a steroid user. Green Bay cut him after the third season.

    What makes things worse is that Mandarich was surrounded by future Hall of Famers. Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders were all drafted after him. 

2. JaMarcus Russell, QB—Oakland Raiders

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    Year: 2007

    Pick: 1st overall

    JaMarcus Russell was supposed to be a franchise-changing quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. Coming out of LSU, the young quarterback inked a six-year, $61 million contract, and it all went downhill from there.

    After going 25-4 as a starter in college, Russell went 7-18 in the NFL. He recorded 4,083 yards, 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in three seasons.

    Unfortunately for Oakland fans, Russell was rarely in shape. He never lived up to the high expectations that come with being the No. 1 pick.   

1. Ryan Leaf, QB—San Diego Chargers

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    Year: 1998

    Pick: 2nd overall

    While he may not be winning at anything else, Ryan Leaf won the title of "Biggest NFL Draft Bust of All Time."

    The San Diego Chargers had the second overall pick in the 1998 draft, right behind the Indianapolis Colts. After the Colts took a young Tennessee quarterback named Peyton Manning, the Chargers jumped at the opportunity to select Leaf, a QB from Washington State. Worst. Mistake. Ever.

    Leaf only spent two years with the Chargers before being shipped off to the Dallas Cowboys for his final season. He only completed 48.4 percent of his passes and threw 14 touchdowns. He did, however, rack up 36 interceptions. 

    Leaf's problems on the field don't even compare to his problems off the field. The disgraced quarterback is currently in custody at the Cascade County Detention Center, where he faces two felony counts of burglary and two felony counts of of criminal possession of a dangerous drug.   

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