Death, Taxes, NFL Draft Busts: A Team-By-Team Look at Underachievers
There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and NFL draft busts. It happens to every team at some point in time. The NFL Draft, especially the first round, can make or break your franchise for years and years.
I have compiled a list of the biggest busts from each team in the NFL. I have also included three players that were passed on who have had great success in the league. Yes, I know hindsight is always 20/20, but it is fun—and sometimes painful—to see what could have been.
Detroit Lions—Charles Rogers
Taken with the second pick in the 2003 draft, the hometown kid out of Michigan State was supposed to be the next Herman Moore.
Rogers amassed 440 yards, four touchdowns, and two broken collarbones in three disappointing seasons with the Lions.
Andre Johnson, Terrance Newman, and Jordan Gross would have probably worked out a little better.
St. Louis Rams—Lawrence Phillips
With the sixth pick in the 1996 draft, the Rams selected Phillips, the stud running back out of Nebraska. Phillips battled legal troubles and never made an impact with the club.
I'm sure the Rams would have been happier with Eddie George, Marvin Harrison, or Ray Lewis. Call me crazy...
Kansas City Chiefs—Ryan Sims
The sixth pick in the 2002 draft out of North Carolina, Sims was supposed to be a run stuffer and a pass rusher from the defensive tackle spot. All he really stuffed was his face...
I'm sure KC would have rather had Albert Haynesworth, Dwight Freeney, or Ed Reed, all taken after Sims.
Seattle Seahawks—Koren Robinson
Robinson, out of North Carolina State, was taken with the ninth pick in the 2001 draft. The Seahawks thought they were getting an athletic and acrobatic wideout, but instead they got a head case who dropped way too many balls.
Santana Moss, Casey Hampton, and Nate Clements were all still on the board.
Cleveland Browns—Tim Couch
I could have easily gone with Courtney Brown, but when a quarterback flops it's much more dramatic. With the first pick in the 1999 draft, the Browns took Couch out of Kentucky. His numbers actually weren't terrible with Cleveland, but he only played five seasons and the Browns were mired in mediocrity.
Donovan McNabb, Edgerrin James, and Champ Bailey all could have donned the brown uniform.
Cincinnati Bengals—Ki-Jana Carter
Akili Smith was probably the more logical choice, but who can forget KJC? He was the first pick in the 1995 draft out of Penn State, where he had an amazing career.
That career, however, did not translate to the pros. He did score 15 touchdowns in his five injury-plagued seasons with the Bengals, but you expect much more out of the first pick.
Tony Boselli, Steve McNair, and Warren Sapp would have been worthy of the top pick.
Oakland Raiders—Todd Marinovich
I had a tough time picking out a bust from the Raiders, as they have surprisingly drafted quite well. However, with the 24th pick in the 1991 draft, the Raiders took Marinovich, a quarterback out of USC. He had two unproductive seasons with the club.
Brett Favre, Ricky Watters, and Erik Williams all could have donned the silver and black.
Jacksonville Jaguars—Reggie Williams
With the ninth pick in the 2004 draft, the Jags took the wideout Williams out of Washington. He has ideal size and hands to succeed in the NFL; he just has never lived up to his potential. He has been a serviceable receiver, but bigger things were expected.
Jonathan Vilma, Dunta Robinson, or Steven Jackson would have looked good in a Jaguar jersey.
Green Bay Packers—Tony Mandarich
A devout steroid abuser, Mandarich was selected with the second pick in the 1989 draft out of Michigan State. He started 15 games in four forgettable seasons with the Packers.
This one is going to hurt—Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, or Derrick Thomas could have played on the frozen tundra.
San Francisco—Alex Smith
The 49ers selected Smith with the first pick in the 2005 draft out of Utah. Smith never really took advantage of his opportunities, but I think he was hindered by a less than average supporting cast. He could still resurrect his career elsewhere.
Ronnie Brown, DeMarcus Ware, and Shawne Merriman could have been playing by the Bay.
Buffalo Bills—Mike Williams
With the fourth pick in the 2002 draft, the Bills took the tackle Williams out of Texas. This guy had all of the physical skills to be a dominant tackle, but he never put it all together and was a decent to below average NFL starter.
Levi Jones, Dwight Freeney, and John Henderson were all still waiting to hear their names called.
Denver Broncos—Dan Williams
The Broncos, much like the Raiders, have had a relatively good draft history, but with the 11th pick in the 1993 draft, they selected the defensive end Williams out of Toledo. Williams spent four forgettable seasons in Denver and collected a pathetic four sacks.
Brad Hopkins, Dana Stubblefield, or Michael Strahan could have joined the Mile High club.
Washington Redskins—Heath Shuler
With the third pick in the 1994 draft, the 'Skins selected the quarterback Shuler out of Tennessee. In his four seasons in the NFL, Shuler threw 15 touchdown passes and 33 interceptions. But hey, he turned out to be a pretty good Congressman.
Willie McGinest, Larry Allen, or Bryant Young probably would have worked out a little better.
New Orleans Saints—Shawn Knight
With the 11th pick in the 1987 draft, the Saints took Knight, a defensive end out of BYU. Knight played all of one season in New Orleans and had zero career sacks.
Bruce Armstrong, Haywood Jeffires, and Christian Okoye were all still waiting for their names to be called.
Houston Texans—David Carr
In the franchise's first draft in 2002, they took Carr with the first overall pick out of Fresno State.
It would have been a lot to ask of Carr to become a star in Houston with a brand new team and no offensive line, but his career never materialized even when they surrounded him with talent. In five seasons with the Texans, Carr threw 59 touchdown passes and 65 interceptions.
Houston could have used their first pick on Julius Peppers, Quentin Jammer, or Dwight Freeney.
San Diego Chargers—Ryan Leaf
In one of the most hotly debated arguments preceding an NFL draft, Manning vs. Leaf ended in a landslide. Peyton Manning went first to the Colts, and the Chargers took Leaf second out of Washington State in the 1998 draft.
In three seasons with the Chargers, Leaf threw 13 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. Meanwhile, Manning has thrown 333 touchdown passes.
No one can blame the Chargers for taking Leaf, but if they could do it over again, they could have had Charles Woodson, Fred Taylor, or Randy Moss.
New York Jets—Blair Thomas
With the second pick in the 1990 draft, the Jets took Thomas, a running back out of Penn State. In four seasons with the Jets, Thomas rushed for 2,009 yards and five touchdowns.
Emmitt Smith, Cortez Kennedy, or Junior Seau could have played in the Big Apple.
Chicago Bears—Curtis Enis
Another running back from Penn State on the list—I am noticing a trend. With the fifth pick in the 1998 draft, the Bears selected Enis. In three seasons with the Bears, Enis rushed for 1,497 yards and four touchdowns.
The Bears could have taken Randy Moss, Fred Taylor, or Alan Faneca at this spot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Eric Curry
With the sixth pick in the 1993 draft, the Bucs took Curry, a defensive end out of Alabama. In five seasons with the Bucs, Curry got to the quarterback a mere 12 times.
Jerome Bettis, Willie Roaf, and Lincoln Kennedy were all still on the board.
Dallas Cowboys—Mike Sherrard
With the 18th pick in the 1986 draft, the Cowboys selected the wide receiver Sherrard out of UCLA. Sherrard spent only one season in Dallas, and his promising career was cut short by three broken legs and a dislocated hip.
Neal Anderson, Tom Rathman, or Pat Swilling could have played in Dallas.
Carolina Panthers—Tim Biakabutuka
With the eighth pick in the 1996 draft, the Panthers selected Biakabutuka,a running back out of Michigan. In six seasons with the club, he rushed for 2,530 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Eddie George, Marvin Harrison, and Willie Anderson were all still waiting to hear their names called.
Minnesota Vikings—Troy Williamson
Tagged as a speedster out of South Carolina, the Vikings grabbed Williamson with the seventh pick in the 2005 draft. He was supposed to be the next Randy Moss, but in three seasons with the Vikings, Williamson amassed 1,067 yards and three touchdowns.
DeMarcus Ware, Shawne Merriman, or Roddy White could have donned the purple.
New England Patriots—Chris Singleton
With the eighth pick in the 1990 draft, the Pats selected Singleton, a linebacker out of Arizona. In four seasons with the club, Singleton had 152 tackles and four quarterback sacks.
The Pats could have taken Emmitt Smith, Renaldo Turnbull, or Leroy Butler in Singleton's stead.
Atlanta Falcons—Bruce Pickens
With the third pick in the 1991 draft, the Falcons took Pickens, a defensive back out of Nebraska. In three uninspired seasons with Atlanta, Pickens intercepted only two passes.
The Falcons could have replaced him with Todd Lyght, Herman Moore, or Alvin Harper.
Miami Dolphins—Yatil Green
With the 15th pick in the 1997 draft, the Dolphins took Green, a receiver out of Miami. In three seasons with the club, Green caught 18 passes for 234 yards. That draft wasn't all bad, as the next two picks for the Dolphins were Sam Madison and Jason Taylor.
Tiki Barber, Reidel Anthony, and Jamie Sharper were all taken after Green.
Baltimore Ravens—Travis Taylor
With the 10th pick in the 2000 draft, the Ravens took the talented wide receiver out of Florida. In five mediocre seasons with the Ravens, Taylor grabbed 15 touchdown passes.
John Abraham, Julian Peterson, and Shaun Alexander were all options that the Ravens passed on.
Indianapolis Colts—Steve Emtman
With the first pick in the 1992 draft, the Colts selected Emtman, the defensive end out of Washington. In three seasons with the Colts, Emtman sacked the quarterback a mere five times.
Robert Porcher, Troy Vincent, and Sean Gilbert would have all been admirable No. 1 picks.
Philadelphia Eagles—Kenny Jackson
With the fourth pick in the 1984 draft, the Eagles selected Jackson, a wide receiver out of Penn State. In seven forgettable seasons with the Eagles, Jackson caught 122 passes for 2,139 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Bill Maas, Wilbur Marshall, or Boomer Esiason could have felt the wrath of Philly fans in Jackson's stead.
New York Giants—Cedric Jones
With the fifth pick in the 1996 draft, the Giants selected Jones, a defensive end out of Oklahoma. In five seasons with the Giants, Jones collected 15 sacks.
Willie Anderson, Ray Lewis, and Lawyer Milloy were all still on the board when the Giants took Jones.
Tennessee Titans—Pacman Jones
With the sixth pick in the 2005 draft, the Titans selected Jones, a cornerback out of West Virginia. His performance on the field isn't what made him a bust; it was his troubles off the field that drove him out of Tennessee and out of the league in general.
Jammal Brown, Shawne Merriman, or DeMarcus Ware would have probably worked out better for the Titans.
Arizona Cardinals—Andre Wadsworth
With the third pick in the 1998 draft, the Cardinals took Wadsworth, the big defensive end out of Florida State. In three disappointing seasons with the Cardinals, Wadsworth amassed a measly eight sacks.
Vonnie Holliday, Greg Ellis, and Charles Woodson were all still on the board at this time.
Pittsburgh Steelers—Tim Worley
With the seventh pick in the 1989 draft, the Steelers selected the running back Worley out of Georgia. In four seasons with the Steelers, Worley rushed for 1,338 yards and five touchdowns.
The Steelers could have had Steve Atwater, Trace Armstrong, or Andre Rison in Worley's stead.