Every AP Top 25 Team's Biggest Draft Busts of All Time
Though the rallying cry in life is often, “Buy Low, Sell High!” the harsh reality of many deals is more often than not “Buy High and Sell Lower before you lose everything…”
This ironic financial truth is illustrated perfectly in the art of drafting football players where guys selected in the first round are often busts, while players who go in the sixth round magically become All-Pros destined for the Hall of Fame.
The following slideshow takes a decidedly collegiate approach to the draft season and identifies the biggest draft busts for each of the programs that finished the 2012 season ranked in the AP Top 25.
These are the collegiate guys, by team, who NFL franchises bought high and had to sell low, making them classic draft busts.
Before we move on to the actual festivities, it’s important to define “busts” in the context of this discussion.
We’re talking about true draft busts here, as in Heath Shuler from Tennessee; guys who went high and were never heard of again in two years, as opposed to guys who went in the first round and played full careers but fell short of multiple Pro Bowl appearances.
There is a difference between NFL disappointment and NFL draft bust and in this case, we’re going for the true busts.
Since 1970 the Cornhuskers have sent a whopping 258 athletes to the NFL, making them one of the biggest factories of pro talent in the game.
With numbers like this, it’s understandable that Nebraska would have its share of draft busts to go along with the stories of ‘Huskers taking the NFL by storm.
Lawrence Phillips, RB
Lawrence Phillips was selected as the No. 6 overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams and probably would have gone higher had it not been for his well-publicized off-field issues.
Phillips ran for 2,777 yards and 30 TDs over two-and-a-half seasons as a collegian (the bulk came in 1994 when he racked up 1,722 yards and 16 scores) but then managed only 1,453 yards and 14 TDs cumulatively over four forgettable NFL campaigns.
Phillips finished his football career with a single season in the NFL-Europe, followed by two years in the CFL and last played at Calgary in 2003.
Trev Alberts, LB
Though Trev Alberts ultimately became a broadcaster on ESPN and now serves as the AD at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, he is also one of the biggest draft busts of all time.
As a senior at Nebraska in 1993, Alberts racked up 96 tackles, 15 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and 38 QB hurries; enough to earn him that year’s Butkus Award.
Alberts was the No. 5 overall selection by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1994 draft and went on to bust epically by recording only 49 tackles, four sacks, one INT and three forced fumbles in three forgettable NFL seasons.
Bruce Pickens, CB
Bruce Pickens came to Nebraska via a JUCO transfer from Coffeyville C.C. in Coffeyville Kan. and played for the ‘Huskers in both 1989 and 1990.
This was enough to convince the Atlanta Falcons to select Pickens No. 3 overall in the 1991 draft, a fact that is almost shocking in retrospect.
Pickens went on record two INTs and 88 tackles in an NFL career that spanned four seasons and included 48 game appearances.
Another heavy hitter when it comes to NFL draftees, Michigan has sent 216 Wolverines to the pros since 1970 meaning, like Nebraska, there was bound to be few lemons among the bunch.
What’s intriguing about the Wolverines is that their “bust” ratio is relatively low in relation to the high volume of pro talent they’ve managed to produce over the last 40-plus years.
Though some folks might expect to see Jarrod Bunch’s name here, careers shortened by injuries aren’t necessarily “busts” in the true sense of the word because getting hurt, especially early in a pro career, has nothing to do with whether or not you can take your talent to the next level.
Bunch played running back at Michigan and was selected by the New York Giants as the No. 27 overall pick in the 1991 draft, and after getting off to a good start, he suffered what was ultimately a career-ending knee injury.
David Terrell, WR
Though not as big of a flop as others on our list, David Terrell’s stud power at Michigan earned him a high draft rating but not a long-term NFL career.
Terrell caught 138 passes for 2,031 yards and 19 TDs from 1998 to 2000 at Michigan, which was enough to propel him to the No. 8 spot in the 2001 draft where he was selected by the Chicago Bears.
After four lackluster seasons at Chicago from 2001 to 2004 which spawned 1,602 yards and nine TDs, Terrell was cut and other than a single appearance with the Broncos in 2005, he never laced it up in the NFL again.
Dave Gallagher, DE
Though you hate to pick on a guy who played in the '70s, Dave Gallagher’s career at Michigan was so storied and his five seasons in the NFL so forgettable that it’s difficult not to mention him here.
Gallagher was a consensus All-American as a senior at Michigan and went to Chicago as the No. 20 overall pick in the 1974 draft.
As a pro, Gallagher spent from 1974 to 1979 hopping from Chicago to the New York Giants and finally to Detroit. In total he played in 51 games, started 21 times, recorded one INT and recovered a single fumble.
The Commodores have pumped out a very respectable 58 NFL draftees since 1970 and though this means that a bust is more difficult to find than say at Nebraska, Vandy at least has four first-rounders to pick from.
Leonard Coleman, DB
Leonard Coleman was a standout DB at Vanderbilt from 1980 through 1983 and still holds the program record for career INTs (15) and INTs in a single season (eight in 1982).
This was enough to gain the attention of the newly relocated Indianapolis Colts, which made him its first-ever draft pick since moving from Baltimore with the No. 8 overall selection in the 1984 draft.
Coleman’s less than memorable NFL career included five seasons in Indy, a span that produced six total INTs and two fumble recoveries in 49 games.
22. Northern Illinois
When your program has only 30 NFL draftees in history, the term “bust” becomes a lot more relative.
The only Huskie to ever grace the first round since 1970, DE Larry English who went No. 16 overall in 2009, is alive and well playing LB sporadically with the San Diego Chargers, meaning we’ll have to look elsewhere for a “lemon.”
Garrett Wolfe, RB
Garrett Wolfe played RB at Northern Illinois from 2004 to 2006 where he racked up an impressive 5,164 rushing yards and 52 TDs. His crowning jewel as a collegian was a 2006 campaign that included 1,928 yards and 18 trips to the end zone.
Wolfe’s efforts earned him a third-round spot in the draft, which came in the form of the No. 93 overall pick by the Chicago Bears.
The selection was significant because it represented the Huskies' highest draft pick since RB LeShon Johnson went in the third round in 1994.
Though Wolfe didn’t “bust” epically, he rushed for only 282 yards and a single TD from 2007 through 2010 at Chicago and, as of 2012, was listed on the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes roster.
21. San Jose State
Another decidedly tough nut to crack in terms of draft busts, San Jose State has sent 53 guys off to the draft since 1970, a number which is actually impressive given that Vanderbilt has managed only 58 in the same time period.
The Spartans actually have had six guys go in the first round and all six have done relatively well in their NFL careers, so in the case of San Jose State, we’ll take it down a notch.
Eric Richardson, WR
Eric Richardson played WR for San Jose State from 1982 to 1983 and after only amassing 1,501 yards and 12 TDs in two seasons, the Buffalo Bills saw something that compelled them to take him in the second round of the 1984 draft.
Richardson went No. 41 overall that year and went on to a two-year career in the NFL that produced a paltry 250 yards and zero scores on 15 receptions.
20. Oregon State
Even though the Beavers are a big-time program that has been in the Pac-10 (now 12) since 1964, they’ve only had their number called a relatively-low 69 times on draft day.
What complicates any discussion of Oregon State and draft “busts” is the fact that its' first- and second-round draftees have both done relatively well over time, meaning we have to dip deeper in the bucket where NFL success is less likely by design.
James Allen, LB
James Allen amassed 197 tackles, seven sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and two picks as an OLB at Oregon State from 1998 through 2001.
Allen was selected in the third round as the No. 82 overall pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 2002 draft and went on to a four-year career in the NFL that never really got started properly.
Overall, Allen participated in 48 games, started 12 and contributed 73 total tackles, one INT, three pass deflections and forced four fumbles.
Weighing in with a hefty 187 draftees since 1970, the University of Texas is no slouch in sending its burnt orange-clad athletes up to the big dance.
In terms of busts, there are certainly lots to pick from where the Longhorns are concerned.
Marcus Tubbs, DT
After switching from TE to DT at Texas, Marcus Tubbs made his mark at the college level with 205 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 19.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
This was enough to entice the Seattle Seahawks to select Tubbs as the No. 23 overall player in the 2004 draft; an experiment that produced a total of 38 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles over three injury-plagued seasons.
Mike Williams, OT
A standout left tackle at Texas during the Chris Sims era, Mike Williams was the most highly-touted lineman of the 2002 NFL draft.
Williams was selected as the No. 4 overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2004, and after struggling as a starter nearly every game from 2002 through 2004, he was benched for most of 2005.
Williams took 2006 through 2008 off from football and attempted a comeback with Washington in 2009 where his career ended after eight starts.
Stan Thomas, OT
Another offensive tackle from Texas that busted epically, Stan Thomas played well enough as a Longhorn to have NFL talent scouts convince the Chicago Bears to take him in the first round of the 1991 draft.
Thomas went No. 22 overall in 1991 and ultimately started a mere seven games in four seasons from 1991 to 1994, a period of time evenly split between Chicago and the Houston Oilers.
Mossy Cade, DB
A defensive back for the Longhorns in the early 1980s, Mossy Cade is another guy who makes our bust list with a load of off-field problems to go along with his on-field troubles.
Cade was the No. 6 overall pick of the San Diego Chargers in the 1984 draft, but instead of lacing it up for the Bolts, he spent the ’85 season with the Memphis Showboats of the USFL.
Cade’s only foray into the NFL ranks came from 1985 to 1986 with the Packers when he made 19 starts and contributed five INTs and one fumble recovery.
Kenneth Sims, DE
Kenneth Sims played defensive lineman at Texas from 1978 to 1981 and as a senior was honored with the Lombardi Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation’s best lineman.
So highly-touted was Sims that he became Texas’ second-ever No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, the first being Earl Campbell who was the No. 1 guy back in 1978.
Sims went No. 1 to the New England Patriots, where he lasted from 1982 until 1989 but made only 64 of a potential 128 starts and registered a paltry 17 sacks.
18. Boise State
Given its success at each level where it has competed, it’s really no surprise that Boise State has managed 53 NFL draftees since 1970.
Each of the Broncos' four first-round draft picks have come since 2008 and bye-and-large this group has done well in the pros, meaning we had to look a bit lower into the second round to find potential “busts.”
Gerald Alexander, DB
Gerald Alexander played DB at Boise State from 2003 to 2006 and by the time the dust settled on his collegiate career, he had amassed 88 total tackles, nine picks and one forced fumble.
This resume propelled him into the second round of the 2007 draft, where he was picked up by the Detroit Lions as the No. 61 overall pick.
Even though Alexander started in all 16 games of his rookie season, he ultimately jumped around from Detroit to Jacksonville, Carolina, Miami and then finally to the New York Jets.
In total Alexander participated in 44 games from 2007 to 2011 and accumulated four INTs, three forced fumbles and 116 tackles.
With 63 total draftees since 1970, Northwestern is another BCS team with a respectable showing on draft day.
The Wildcats can only claim two first-round picks since 1970, both coming in the 2000s and one scoring them a dubious, though not tragic, bust.
Luis Castillo, DE
Even though Luis Castillo is another guy who suffered through a string of injuries in the NFL, in his case you could argue that he had six sometimes-healthy seasons and still never really lived up to his high billing.
Castillo played DE at Northwestern from 2001 to 2004, where he earned Pro Football Weekly first-team All-American honors as a senior.
Castillo was selected No. 28 overall by the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the 2005 draft and though he showed definite sparks of brilliance, overall his NFL career was a disappointment.
Castillo started in 79 games from 2005 to 2011 (all in San Diego) and recorded two INTs, six pass deflections, two forced fumbles and 158 total tackles.
16. Utah State
If you had to guess how many guys Utah State has drafted into the NFL since 1970, it seems pretty safe to say that the number would be less than 50, making the actual tally of 53 seem quite impressive.
The only first-rounder since 1970 for the Aggies has been Phi Olsen, Merlin’s brother, who went on to an injury-plagued yet successful NFL career making true “bust” scenarios more difficult to pinpoint.
Hal Garner, LB
Really, it’s unfair to label a guy from the third round as a true “bust,” but since the premise of our list is that every team has a bust, Utah State’s is Hal Garner.
Garner played LB for the Aggies in the early '80s and was selected as the No. 63 overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in the third round of the 1984 draft.
Though Garner played special teams in a couple of Super Bowls, he made only two starts in his five seasons as a pro and recorded 1.5 sacks.
Another big boy in terms of draft wins, Oklahoma has sent 227 of its Sooners to a draft party since 1970.
What’s notable about the Sooners' record, in terms of first-round picks, is that they’ve been a lot more successful in the Stoops era at sending guys up who stick around for awhile than in the period before the visor hit the scene in 1999.
Andre Woolfolk, DB
Andre Woolfolk played both WR and DB at Oklahoma from 1999 to 2000.
Even by modest standards, Woolfolk’s college stats weren’t gaudy, but that didn’t stop the Tennessee Titans from taking him as the No. 28 overall player in the first round of the 2003 draft.
In total Woolfolk started only 11 games for the Titans from 2003 to 2006 and contributed three picks, 18 pass deflections, one forced fumble and 96 total tackles.
Stockar McDougle, OT
Though nowhere near as big of a bust as others on our list, Stockar McDougle had one great NFL season but other than that, it was slim pickings for the OT from Oklahoma.
After transferring in from Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas, McDougle was a standout lineman for the Sooners in 1998 and 1999 and went to Detroit as the No. 20 overall pick in the 2000 draft.
McDougle’s one shining moment was the 2003 season when he made 16 starts on what was one of the best Detroit O-lines in recent history.
All in all, McDougle made 56 starts at Detroit and Miami from 2000 to 2005 and ended his career at Jacksonville in 2006.
Rickey Dixon, DB
A key contributor to Oklahoma’s super-successful run in the late '80s, DB Rickey Dixon could never replicate his collegiate accomplishments as a pro.
Dixon had 17 career INTs from 1984 to 1987 at Oklahoma, including a nine-INT senior season that earned him both consensus All-American honors and the Jim Thorpe award.
This propelled Dixon all the way to the No. 5 overall pick in the 1988 draft, where he was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals.
As a pro Dixon made just 32 starts as a DB from 1988 to 1992 and with six total INTs in the NFL, he never even reached the number he made as a senior at Oklahoma.
Brian Bosworth, LB
Considered by many folks to be one of the biggest flops in the history of the game, Brian Bosworth went in the first round of the 1987 supplemental draft to the Seattle Seahawks and fizzled out epically.
Bosworth played LB at Oklahoma from 1983 to 1986, where he was a force that registered a whopping 395 tackles in three seasons, earning him the Butkus Award in both 1985 and 1986.
Though Bosworth may be well known for his flashy hair, personality, etc., we’ll let his NFL stats speak for themselves; three total seasons (1987 through 1989), 24 total starts, four sacks and three fumble returns.
Jackie Shipp, LB
Nestled among a group of Sooner first-round draft picks from the mid-1980s who didn’t necessarily light the world on fire, we find LB Jackie Shipp.
Shipp played at Oklahoma from 1980 to 1983, where he racked up 489 total tackles (No. 2 in program history) and also holds the school record for tackles in a single season, 189, which he set as a sophomore in 1981.
Shipp was picked up by the Miami Dolphins as the No. 14 overall selection in the 1984 draft, where he spent five lackluster seasons.
Shipp started only 44 games as a pro and recorded one pick and three fumble recoveries.
Ship went on to coach the D-line at his alma mater under Bob Stoops from 1999 until the end of this past season.
David Overstreet, RB
David Overstreet’s 1,717 career yards rushing from 1977 to 1980 frankly made Miami’s No. 13 overall selection of the Sooner RB in the 1981 draft look like a bit of a stretch.
Unfortunately, the Dolphins never got to see the highly-drafted Overstreet play until 1983 because due to a bizarre contract negotiation problem, he opted to play the 1981 and 1982 seasons at the CFL’s Montreal franchise.
When Overstreet finally did make it to Miami in 1983, he rushed for only 392 yards and one score on 85 attempts.
Sadly, that is where the story ends, as Overstreet tragically died in a car accident in 1984.
Elvis Peacock, RB
A name that doesn’t quite seem to fit in Oklahoma or the NFL, Elvis Peacock ran for 2,073 yards and 21 TDs as a RB for the Sooners from 1974 through 1977.
Peacock was selected by the Los Angeles Rams as the No. 20 overall pick of the 1978 draft (remember how good the Rams were in the late 70s), where he rushed briefly and was never seen or heard from again.
In total, Peacock rushed for 1,001 yards and seven scores as a pro and though these numbers aren’t necessarily shameful, they aren’t exactly first-round material either.
What really catches your eye when you look through LSU’s 175 draftees since 1970 is the number of guys who have gone in the first three rounds.
What is also fairly impressive is the number of first-rounder’s from LSU who have had solid NFL careers which are subsequently not worth mentioning in an NFL edition of an epic tragedy.
Glen Dorsey, DT
Though Glen Dorsey is still young enough to revive his pro career, the first five years have been bust-worthy.
Dorsey played on the D-line at LSU from 2005 to 2007 where he amassed 154 tackles, 13 sacks and three pass deflections on his way to becoming a first-round selection in the 2008 NFL draft.
Dorsey didn’t only get into the first round, he went No. 5 overall where he was selected by a Kansas City franchise in need of plenty of help.
Even though Dorsey started nearly every game during his first four seasons and racked up 159 tackles, he’s been nowhere near the No. 5 overall impact guy the Chiefs were hoping for.
Dorsey recently signed with San Francisco, where hopefully he can put his career back on track.
Craig “Buster” Davis, WR
After racking up 2,117 yards as a receiver from 2003 through 2006 at LSU, Craig “Buster” Davis was selected as the No. 30 overall pick in the 2007 draft.
The San Diego Chargers were the helmet phone that rang Davis’ number in ’07 and for their confidence, they were rewarded with 51 catches for 558 yards and two scores in four seasons.
Davis hasn’t played a live down in the NFL since 2010.
JaMarcus Russell, QB
JaMarcus Russell spent three seasons as a QB at LSU (2004 through 2006) and despite the fact that he never set the world on fire as a collegian, he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft.
Based purely on Russell’s stats at LSU, it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that Russell wound up playing in only 25 games for the Oakland Raiders from 2007 to 2009.
Over these three seasons Russell went 354-of-680 (52.1 percent) for 4,083 yards, 18 TDs and 23 INTs.
Despite much discussion of a comeback, Russell hasn’t resurfaced in the NFL since he left Oakland after the 2009 season.
Louisville weighs in with 77 draft picks since 1970 and with the current momentum they’ve built, the Cardinals' draft numbers should do nothing but rise in the future.
Since each of Louisville’s six first-rounder’s since 1970 have performed relatively well in the NFL, to find our “bust” we’ll look to a recent skill player from the second round.
Brian Brohm, QB
Brian Brohm played QB at Louisville from 2004 and 2007 and after putting up decent stats, he was selected in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Green Bay Packers.
Brohm was the No. 56 guy to go in 2008 and after being waived by the Packers, he got picked up by the Bills late in the 2009 season.
Brohm ultimately played in two games for the Bills in 2009 and then started one game in 2010 amassing 252 yards of passing, zero TDs and five INTs as an NFL player.
Brohm went on to spend 2011 and 2012 in the UFL and is on the roster for the CFL Hamilton Tiger Cats for the 2013 season.
12. Kansas State
The Wildcats have had 93 draftees called up to the NFL ranks since 1970, a number that goes a long way in summing up the meteoric rise of the program through the Bill Snyder era.
Though it’s tempting to lead off the list of K-State’s draft busts with QB Josh Freeman, who went to Tampa Bay as the No. 17 overall pick in the 2009 draft, it’s really too early to call him a bust since he’s only four years into his career at the most-skilled position on the field.
Chris Canty, DB
A consensus All-American at K-State in both 1995 and 1996 and the winner of the Jack Tatum Award as a junior in ’96, Chris Canty was selected No. 29 overall by the New England Patriots in the 1997 draft.
After all the hype, Canty lasted just two seasons in New England, where he made a total of 10 starts and recorded a single INT.
Canty moved on to Seattle, where he closed out his football career in 2000 with 12 total starts in four forgettable seasons.
Clemson has sent 146 of its football Tigers packing for a draft selection making it not a Nebraska, Michigan or Oklahoma, but putting it way ahead of fellow ACC programs like NC State and Maryland.
Tye Hill, DB
Despite less-than-stellar stats as a DB at Clemson, Tye Hill’s reputation as a speedster was enough to earn him the No. 15 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in the 2006 draft.
Hill played RB and then DB at Clemson from 2002 to 2005 and was a consensus All-American in 2005 with three INTs and 54 tackles.
Hill lasted just five seasons in the NFL; three in St. Louis, one in Atlanta and one in Detroit.
In all he started 25 games and amassed five INTs and 110 tackles.
Antuan Edwards, DB
Another Clemson DB that didn’t exactly set the NFL on fire, Antuan Edwards played safety at Clemson in the late '90s, where he compiled 219 tackles and eight picks.
As a senior in 1998, Edwards earned All-American honors and enough draft clout to be selected by Green Bay as the No. 25 overall pick in the 1999 draft.
As a pro Edwards spent six lackluster seasons at Green Bay, Miami and finally St. Louis, ultimately making 32 starts over eight seasons and contributing a total of seven picks and 156 tackles.
Terrence Flagler, RB
After watching Terrence Flagler reel off 1,258 yards and 16 TDs on 192 carries as a senior at Clemson in 1986, the San Francisco 49ers were likely thrilled to get him at No. 25 overall in the 1987 draft.
Yes, this kid was a consensus All-American from the ACC.
Unfortunately, Flagler’s light burned out fairly quickly in the NFL with only one start in five seasons and 1,049 yards gained not as a running back, but as a kick returner.
Flagler last laced it up in the NFL in 1991 with the then-Phoenix Cardinals.
Perry Tuttle, WR
A solid collegiate player who finished his career at Clemson with 2,534 yards and 17 TDs on 150 receptions, Perry Tuttle is yet another highly-drafted guy who never managed to gain traction in the NFL ranks.
Tuttle played WR for the Tigers from 1978 through 1981 and was selected by Buffalo as the No. 19 overall pick in the 1982 draft.
In total, Tuttle amassed 375 yards and three TDs in three seasons in the NFL and ultimately went on to spend five productive years in the CFL.
10. Florida State
With top-caliber talent flowing in like a lazy river in central Texas, it’s no surprise that Florida State has sent 192 of its Seminoles off to a destiny with draft day.
What’s tough about pinpointing Florida State’s draft busts is that it has quite a few first-round picks do just “OK” in the NFL.
While it’s tempting to list all these guys here, and there are quite a few, we’ll just include the draftees who truly busted epically, as opposed to those who just disappointed us.
Ernie Smith, LB
Perhaps it’s a bit early to call Ernie Smith a total “bust,” but he’s a guy who went No. 9 overall in the 2006 draft and still hasn’t found his way in the NFL.
Despite not ever completely living up to his hype as a collegian (with the possible exception of his junior year in 2005), the draft gods saw fit to push Smith up the charts to No. 9 where Detroit grabbed him in 2006.
Smith spent 2006 through 2009 at Detroit, moved to Philly in 2010, Indy in 2011 and has been in Dallas since 2012.
In all he’s started 81 games, recorded one INT, forced five fumbles and registered 388 tackles.
Again, this is the No. 9 overall pick from 2006 and he’s making the league minimum in Dallas, trying to hang on to a roster spot.
Travis Johnson, DT
The story of Travis Johnson is one shared by a handful of Seminoles who went later in the first round of the draft in the 2000s and who went on to play a few uninspired seasons in the NFL only fade into the background without much fanfare.
Though this is fairly common these guys were, at the end of the day, still first-round draft picks who you could have expected more from.
Johnson played DT for the Seminoles from 2002 through 2004 and really it was his senior season where he shined with 50 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks.
This and his inherent athletic gifts were enough for the Houston Texans to select him No. 16 overall in the 2005 draft.
Johnson started 38 times in Houston from 2005 to 2008 recording 80 tackles, two sacks and seven pass deflections.
His career came to an end two years later, in 2010, in San Diego.
Derrick Gibson, DB
Even though Derrick Gibson didn’t go until No. 28 in the 2001 draft, his performance in the NFL still has to be considered a bust relative to his high rating coming into the league.
Gibson played safety at Florida State from 1997 through 2000 and finished his career with seven INTs and 214 tackles, giving the pros hope that he could transfer his success up a level.
Ultimately Gibson was selected late in the first round in 2001 by the Oakland Raiders, where he spent all five of his unmemorable NFL seasons.
The stats don’t lie; 32 starts, three INTs and 156 tackles.
Jamal Reynolds, DE
Another bust from Florida State in the 2001 draft, DE Jamal Reynolds’ bust-ability makes Derrick Gibson’s pick look fairly fruitful.
Reynolds played DE at Florida State from 1997 through 2000 and enjoyed a senior season that included unanimous All-American honors and the Lombardi Award.
Reynolds was selected as the No. 10 overall pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 2001 draft and lasted only three forgettable seasons in the NFL.
Many folks consider Jamal Reynolds to be one of the biggest draft busts in the history of the game.
Andre Wadsworth, DE
Another epic bust at DE from Florida State, Andre Wadsworth at least had injury woes in the NFL to explain why his beast status in college didn’t quite transfer over in the pros.
Wadsworth played both DT and DE for the Seminoles from 1994 through 1997 and was named a consensus All-American as a senior DE in 1997.
This propelled him all the way to the No. 3 overall spot in the 1998 draft where he was picked up by the Arizona Cardinals.
Wadsworth ultimately lasted three seasons in the NFL, all at Arizona, starting 30 games and contributing one INT, eight sacks, three forced fumbles and 72 tackles.
Reinard Wilson, DE
Reinard Wilson was a stud DE at Florida State who failed to make a transition to LB in the pros.
Wilson played for the ‘Noles from 1993 to 1996 and his 13 sacks as a senior was enough to earn him consensus All-American honors in 1996.
Wilson was selected by Cincinnati as the No. 14 overall pick in the 1997 draft and switched to LB where he made 23 starts from 1997 to 2002.
Though Wilson registered 24 sacks and 129 tackles in his NFL career, from a big-picture perspective, he was a big-time draft pick that just didn’t pan out.
Sammie Smith, RB
For those of you hungry for an offensive player from Florida State that busted in the draft, here’s Sammie Smith, who played RB for the ‘Noles from 1985 through 1988.
Though Smith rushed for 1,230 yards as a junior in 1987, overall his numbers at FSU weren’t jaw-dropping (2,539 career yards), making his No. 9 selection in the 1989 draft curious in retrospect.
But, Smith went at No. 9 to Miami in ’89 and went on to bust to the tune of four seasons (one with Denver) for 1,881 yards and 15 TDs.
Not exactly No. 9 overall stats.
With 208 draftees since 1970, Florida is another program with plenty of opportunities to have busted in terms of high draft picks.
As is the case with Florida State and virtually every team with 200-plus draft picks in the Super Bowl era, the Gators have so many draftees that could be considered “busts” that it is a bit overwhelming.
And so again, we’ll just attempt to hit the highlights, or extreme lowlights, depending on how you look at it.
Derrick Harvey, DE
Honestly it would be difficult to find a more recent guy who has busted more dramatically than has former Florida DE Derrick Harvey.
Harvey was a stud at Florida from 2005 to 2007, including earning the rare honor of being named the MVP—as a defensive lineman—of the 2007 BCS title game when the Gators bested Ohio State 41-14.
Harvey left Florida after his junior season and was selected by Jacksonville as the No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 draft.
From 2008 to 2010 Harvey made 32 starts for the Jaguars and recorded eight sacks and 72 tackles (only 20 solo); a far cry from what was expected of him coming off what was a stellar run at Florida.
Harvey hasn’t laced it up since playing five games at Denver in 2011 and was most recently released by Cincinnati prior to the 2012 season.
Jarvis Moss, DE
Another recent Gator in the bust pile, like Harvey, DE Jarvis Moss used the 2006-07 national title game to propel himself into the upper echelon of the draft, only he didn’t waste any time and went in 2007.
Moss played DE at Florida from 2004 to 2006 and was selected by Denver as the No. 17 overall pick in 2007.
Moss wound up starting only one game for the Broncos, managed six sacks and 32 tackles and ended his career at Oakland in 2011.
Reggie McGrew, DT
A member of the Steve Spurrier-coached Florida national championship team in 1996; McGrew played D-line for the Gators from 1996 through 1998.
McGrew came out as a junior and was selected as the No. 24 overall pick in the 1999 draft by the 49ers, where he tanked epically.
When the dust settled on what became his three-year career in the pros, McGrew accumulated one sack and nine tackles and never once started a game in the NFL.
Huey Richardson, DE
Huey Richardson was a stud DE at Florida from 1987 to 1990 and did well enough at the college level to earn first-team All-American honors as a senior.
Richardson was selected as the No. 15 overall guy in the 1991 draft by Pittsburgh and was basically sunk as soon as the Steelers made the ominous decision to move him to the LB position.
Richardson ultimately went from being the No. 15 pick to playing only five games at Pittsburgh, getting traded to Washington, playing four games there, moving on to the Jets for seven games and ending his career there in 1992.
8. South Carolina
The Gamecocks have thrown 104 of their nearest and dearest into the draft mix since 1970 and as far as busts are concerned, well, there is at least one.
Troy Williamson, WR
Another speedster without stellar stats in college, Troy Williamson only managed 1,754 receiving yards in three seasons at South Carolina but still made the top 10 picks of the 2005 draft.
Williamson—who was also a track star for the ‘Cocks—played WR at South Carolina from 2002 to 2004 without too much fanfare, but that didn’t stop the Minnesota Vikings from making him the No. 7 overall guy in the 2005 draft.
Williamson’s NFL career was short and not very sweet; 24 starts in five seasons, 1,131 receiving yards and four scores on 87 receptions.
His football career ended in 2009 in Jacksonville, where he made two game appearances and caught three balls for 34 yards.
Moving out to the west coast we find Stanford, the program which lays claim to 144 draftees, including 14 first-round picks since 1970.
Though Stanford has pumped out a few quasi-busts, we’ll only go with the most egregious offenders here.
Kwame Harris, OT
While an outstanding offensive lineman at Stanford from 2000 through 2002, Kwame Harris fell just short of becoming a full-fledged All-American and nationally-recognized player at the college level.
Yes, Harris was very good, especially by conference standards, but was he good enough to be chosen No. 26 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2003 draft?
Well, in retrospect, probably not, a brazen claim that his very brief NFL career backs up.
Though Harris started 32 consecutive games from 2005 through 2006 with the 49ers, he struggled to the point that he lost his role in 2007 and moved on to the Raiders in 2008.
Harris started 11 games for the Raiders in 2008 and ended his career there at the end of the season, never being able to translate his collegiate success at the pro level.
Tommy Vardell, RB
Tommy Vardell used his 1,188-yard, 22-TD senior season in 1991 at Stanford to catapult himself all the way to the No. 9 overall slot in the 1992 draft.
This fact is almost even more unbelievable when you consider the fact that Vardell rushed for only 705 yards in his first three seasons as a Cardinal.
It was Cleveland that called Vardell’s name at No. 9 on draft day in 1991 and what the Browns got for their trouble, after four seasons, was 1,070 yards and three TDs.
Vardell’s career in the NFL finally ended in San Francisco in 1999 when he ran for six yards and one score on six carries.
5. Texas A&M
Moving swiftly on to Aggieland, Texas A&M has manufactured 179 draft-day participants since 1970, a number that puts the Aggies only a mere eight short of in-state rival Texas.
Thankfully, A&M seems to have pumped out fewer true busts than have their neighbors in Austin.
Patrick Bates, DB
Patrick Bates’ college career actually began at UCLA, where he spent his freshman season as a strong safety in 1990 before transferring to Texas A&M, where he became a defensive standout through the 1992 season.
Bates went to the Raiders as the No. 12 overall pick in the 1993 draft, where he busted epically recording only a single pick in two seasons.
Bates finished his NFL career at Atlanta in 1996 with nine starts, 37 tackles and zero INTs.
Quentin Coryatt, LB
Quentin Coryatt was a stud at Texas A&M from 1989 to 1991 and earned the lofty No. 2 overall spot in the 1992 draft.
Perhaps the most anticipated defender to leave College Station, Texas for the NFL until Von Miller, Coryatt went to the Indianapolis Colts fully expecting to set the world on fire.
Though Coryatt lasted seven seasons in the NFL, he recorded only 8.5 sacks and 442 tackles; a small return on the No. 2 draft pick he came into the league with.
Roger Vick, RB
Another guy who somehow managed to turn a 1,000-yard rushing season in his senior year into a first-round draft pick, Roger Vick played RB at Texas A&M from 1983 to 1986.
Vick rushed for 1,073 yards and 11 TDs on 244 carries as a senior in 1986, all career highs, which was enough to propel him to the No. 21 slot in the 1987 draft.
Vick was selected by the New York Jets, where he played three uninspired seasons, ultimately ending his career in Philadelphia in 1990.
Overall, Vick’s NFL career stats include 1,289 yards and 10 TDs on 333 carries.
Curtis Dickey, RB
The No. 5 overall pick in the 1980 draft, Curtis Dickey parlayed a 3,703-yard career as an Aggie into one of the top spots on draft day.
Dickey, a speedster from Madisonville, Texas, played at A&M from 1976 to 1979 and went pro with Baltimore with the Colts, enduring the move with the franchise to Indianapolis in 1984.
In all, the No. 5 pick played six seasons in the NFL and finished his career with 4,019 yards and 32 scores and while these numbers aren’t necessarily tragic, it’s important to note that the bulk of his success came in three seasons early in his career.
Bubba Bean, RB
Bubba Bean managed to rush for 900-plus yards in both his junior and senior seasons at Texas A&M in 1974 and 1975 and this was just enough to somehow, someway, compel the Atlanta Falcons to use their No. 9 pick on him in the 1976 draft.
Bean played RB for the Aggies from 1972 through 1976 and went on to a brief three-year career in the NFL (all in Atlanta), featuring 1,528 yards and six scores on 405 carries.
The Georgia Bulldogs have contributed 179 players to the draft since 1970, and like the other big hitters in 2012’s final AP, we’ll have to choose the “busts” carefully to keep this light reading.
Johnathan Sullivan, DT
Johnathan Sullivan was a stud on the D-line at Georgia to the tune of being the No. 6 overall pick in the 2003 draft.
Sullivan was picked by New Orleans, and after 16 starts in three lackluster seasons from 2003 to 2005, the Saints traded him to New England, where he never played a down.
Sullivan’s career stats in the NFL include 1.5 sacks, three pass deflections, once forced fumble and 57 tackles; not necessarily what you would expect out of a healthy guy at No. 6.
Matt Stinchcomb, OT
A first-team All-American at Georgia in both 1997 and 1998, Matt Stinchcomb attracted enough attention by NFL scouts to be selected by Oakland as the No. 18 overall pick in the 2000 draft.
Stinchcomb did start nine games as a rookie but ultimately never could get his pro career to stick, leaving football after a final season with Tampa Bay in 2004.
Stinchcomb started 36 of a potential 80 games in his five-year NFL career.
Bernard Williams, OT
A guy who was a bust due to, well, a drug bust, Bernard Williams was an outstanding OT at Georgia in the early '90s.
Williams was selected by Philadelphia as the No. 14 overall guy in the 1994 draft, and after starting all 16 games in his rookie season, he ultimately lost his opportunity at an NFL career due to a string of failed drug tests.
Williams went on a seven-year career in the XFL, AFL and CFL.
Tim Worley, RB
A consensus All-American in 1988, Tim Worley ran for 1,246 yards and 17 TDs as a senior at Georgia, gaining lots of momentum coming into the 1989 draft.
Worley was selected by Pittsburgh in the lofty No. 7 overall slot in 1989, and after rushing for 770 yards as a rookie and 418 in 1990, he basically began to fizzle.
Worley’s NFL career ended in 1994 in Chicago with 25 career starts, 1,792 yards and only eight TDs.
Lindsay Scott, WR
A standout receiver at Georgia from 1978 to 1981, Lindsay Scott finished his career as a Bulldog with 2,165 yards and 10 TDs on 136 catches.
This was enough to propel Scott to the first round of the 1982 draft, where New Orleans found him at the No. 13 slot.
Unfortunately, Scott’s career in the pros proved quite short and unfruitful with 22 starts from 1982 to 1985 producing 864 yards and one score on 69 grabs.
4. Notre Dame
With a full 232 draft contributions since 1970, we’ll have to be extra choosy with the Irish in order to not over-populate this list.
What’s really striking when looking at Notre Dame’s list of draftees over the past 40 years is not so much the total number but the lack of a strong presence in the first round, making epic busts actually a little more difficult to pinpoint.
Brady Quinn, QB
Brady Quinn finished his senior season at Notre Dame third in the Heisman voting and with the Maxwell Award in his capable arms, both which meant that he was either ready for the pros or overrated.
Quinn was selected by Cleveland as the No. 22 guy in the 2007 draft and as we’ve said before in this long-winded affair, we’ll let the stats speak for themselves.
Quinn has made 20 starts from 2007 to 2012 in the NFL (at Cleveland and Kansas City) and is 296-of-550 (53.8 percent) for 3,043 yards, 12 TDs and 17 INTs.
Rick Mirer, QB
Though some folks will argue that Rick Mirer’s college numbers are quite good by Notre Dame standards, all bets were off as soon as he went No. 2 overall in the 1993 draft.
Yes, he did OK at Notre Dame, but he still only completed only 54 percent of his passes and had 23 INTs to offset his 41 TDs.
And again, he went No. 2, overall, in the draft.
Mirer was selected by Seattle as the No. 2 guy in 1993, and after the dust finally settled on his NFL career in 2003, he had, not so surprisingly, completed only 53.3 percent of his passes.
Mirer spent four uninspired seasons with the Seahawks, where he threw 41 TDs versus 56 INTs and then made single-year whistle stops at Chicago, the New York Jets, San Francisco and finally Oakland where the tour bus finally stopped in 2003.
His career numbers include 50 TDs and 76 picks.
Ken MacAfee, TE
Perhaps a guy you haven’t heard a lot about, Ken MacAfee played WR/TE at Notre Dame from 1974 to 1977 and did well enough to earn consensus All-American honors in both 1976 and 1977.
A further gauge of what this guy did in college is the fact that he finished No. 3 in the 1977 Heisman balloting.
MacAfee went to San Francisco at a lofty No. 7 in the 1978 draft, and after churning out 471 yards and five TDs as a TE in 1978 and 1979, he opted to leave the NFL for dentistry school.
Was he bust or just another elf who wanted to clean molars more than he wanted to make toys?
Well, I’m just saying, he went at No. 7 overall and after two “OK” seasons, we never heard from him again…
Walt Patulski, DE
Reaching back into the vault a bit further we find DE Walt Patulski, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1972 draft.
Patulski was a four-year starter at Notre Dame and as a senior in 1971, he won just about every honor imaginable, including the Lombardi Award.
Patulski went to Buffalo in the draft, where he put up decent stats but never, in four seasons, started a single game.
Patulski’s career ended in St. Louis (then home to the Cardinals) in 1977.
3. Ohio State
A proverbial NFL talent agency, Ohio State has sent 250 of its Buckeyes up to the big leagues since 1970, a number that makes bust-hunting a daunting task.
As is the case with the other big boys on our list, we’ll limit the discussion on Ohio State’s draft misses to those that carry the biggest punch.
Vernon Gholston, DE
One of the biggest busts from any source in the last five years, Ohio State’s Vernon Gholston’s failure to launch in the NFL has played out shockingly.
Gholston played DE for the Bucks from 2005 to 2007 and finished his career with 87 tackles, one INT and three pass deflections; enough firepower to earn him the title of Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year as a senior.
Gholston was selected by the New York Jets as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Who knew then that he’d be gone in only three seasons with a mere five starts and 16 tackles to his name?
Though Gholston has since signed with both Chicago and St. Louis, he hasn’t played a down since 2010.
Ted Ginn, WR
Though Ted Ginn has put up some decent numbers as a pro, this is still the guy who was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2007 draft.
Ginn was a solid receiver at Ohio State from 2004 to 2005, finishing his collegiate career with 1,943 yards and 15 scores on 135 grabs.
How this was enough to compel Miami to draft him at No. 9 is a bit of a question mark, but draft him they did.
Ginn spent three seasons with the Dolphins and has been with the 49ers since 2010; overall he’s got 2,048 receiving yards and six scores to his name to go along with a solid resume as a return specialist.
But again, this guy went at No. 9, as a receiver.
Dan Wilkinson, DT
Yes, Dan Wilkinson played 13 seasons in the NFL and OK, he started 182 games over this time period.
So, what makes him a bust?
Well, this guy was the No. 1 overall pick in 1994 and he has 54.5 sacks, 301 tackles and six forced fumbles to show for it.
Was he an epic bust?
Was he very, very close?
Wilkinson played at Ohio State in the early '90s and earned consensus All-American honors in 1993 as a senior.
He was drafted No. 1 overall in 1994 by the Cincinnati Bengals and made stops in his career at Washington, Detroit and Miami.
He never made the Pro Bowl.
Art Schlichter, QB
Perhaps the biggest draft bust in Ohio State history, QB Art Schlichter was the No. 4 overall pick in 1982 and only lasted three unmemorable seasons in the NFL.
Schlichter played under center for the Buckeyes from 1978 to 1981 and despite completing fewer than 60 percent of his passes, he finished in the top five of the Heisman voting in both 1979 and 1981.
Schlichter went to Baltimore on draft day in 1982—which became Indianapolis in 1984—and over three seasons with the Colts, he accumulated only 202 passing yards, three TDs and 11 INTs.
Schlichter went on to play in the CFL and the Arena League.
Tom Cousineau, LB
A stud LB at Ohio State from 1975 to 1978, Tom Cousineau busted out with 211 tackles as a senior in 1978 and earned consensus All-American honors in both 1977 and 1978.
All this made Couisneau a natural No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 draf, where he went to Buffalo (a repeating offender on our list) six slots ahead of Phil Simms at No. 7.
Couisneau’s NFL flop was epic, lasting just six seasons and featuring 6.5 sacks, 10 picks and five fumble recoveries.
Cousineau’s NFL career ended in San Francisco in 1987.
More of a recent phenomenon in terms of success at the NFL level, Oregon has sent 121 players to the NFL draft since 1970, making the search for busts a little less overwhelming.
Joey Harrington, QB
Honestly, Joey Harrington is a borderline candidate for this list only because we’re trying to stick with true draft busts, as opposed to draft disappointments.
What makes Harrington, with six serviceable seasons and over 14,000 passing yards in the NFL, a bust is the fact that he went No. 3 overall in the 2002 draft which leaves you expecting more.
Harrington played QB at Oregon from 1998 to 2001, where he put up over 6,000 yards but only completed 54.3 of his passes.
Strikes against Harrington, who went to Detroit at No. 3, are that he only lasted six seasons and he threw more INTs (85) than TDs (79).
Akili Smith, QB
In what has to be considered one of the more bizarre draft picks in recent memory, the Cincinnati Bengals took the barely-experienced Oregon QB Akili Smith at No. 3 overall in the 1999 draft.
It’s hard to blame Smith for being a bust in this case because he didn’t pick himself that high, but still, he’s a bust.
Smith played two seasons at QB for the Ducks, with the bulk of his resume coming in 1998 when he racked up 3,763 yards, 32 TDs and only eight INTs.
But still, the kid threw for only 56.6 percent in his first full season as a starter.
As a Bengal, Smith went 214-of-461 for 2,212 yards, five TDs and 13 INTs from 1999 to 2002 and completed just 46.6 of his passes.
Smith went on to finish out his football career with three seasons in the CFL.
Alex Molden, DB
Alex Molden played CB at Oregon from 1992 to 1995 and finished his career with 60 broken-up passes, 11 picks and first-team All-American honors as a senior in ’95.
Molden went to New Orleans at a very tasty No. 11 overall in the 1996 draft and even though he stuck around the league for eight seasons, he accumulated virtually no meaningful stats relative to being a high first-rounder.
Other than New Orleans, Molden made stops at San Diego and Detroit and ultimately finished his NFL career with only 12 picks and 252 tackles.
If you’re wondering where current powerhouse Alabama ranks among the great NFL talent factories, how about a notch lower with only 171 overall picks since 1970?
It’s no surprise that a big slew of the first-rounders from Tuscaloosa have come on Nick Saban’s watch, as opposed to before his arrival in 2007.
Since most of Saban’s guys are still getting their careers underway in the NFL, we’ll be forced to look further back in Alabama history to find the big busts.
Antonio Langham, CB
After ripping it up at Alabama from 1991 to 1993, CB Antonio Langham earned consensus All-American honors as a senior in ’03 and despite some eligibility issues was highly attractive in the 1994 draft.
Langham went to Cleveland No. 9 overall in the 1994 draft and though he hung around the NFL for seven seasons, he never came close to living up to his high draft rating.
In total, Langham started 76 games at Cleveland, Baltimore, San Francisco, Cleveland and New England from 1994 to 2000 and picked up 14 INTs, two forced fumbles and 314 tackles as a pro.
Eric Curry, DE
The No. 6 overall pick in the 1993 draft, DE Eric Curry went to Tampa Bay on the strength of a career at Alabama that included consensus All-American honors in 1992.
Yet another defender who struggled at the next level, Curry spent seven unremarkable seasons in the NFL and ultimately left football after five failed seasons at Tampa Bay and two even less successful campaigns at Jacksonville.
Curry’s NFL resume includes 44 starts, 12.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and 81 tackles.
Kevin McCants, DE
Really, the most notable thing that happened to Kevin McCants during his six-year NFL career was the time he stepped in between OC Kevin Gilbride and DC Buddy Ryan during their infamous altercation on the Oilers sideline in 1993.
Other than that, especially given that he was the No. 4 overall pick in 1990; it was all a major bust.
McCants played DE at Alabama in the late '80s and received consensus All-American honors as senior in 1989 before becoming a high draft pick for Tampa Bay in the 1990 festivities.
McCants spent his first three seasons in the NFL as a Buccaneer, moved to Houston for two seasons and finished out his lackluster career with two years in Arizona in 1994 and 1995.
Overall, and remember this guy went No. 4, McCants finished his pro career with 13.5 sacks, one pick and 184 tackles.
Jon Hand, DE
Another guy who stuck around in the NFL for long enough to prove he was up to the challenge, Jon Hand was the No. 4 overall pick in the 1986 draft and basically never shined in the pros.
Hand was an All-American at Alabama in 1985 and did well enough to shoot up the draft charts like a rocket for the 1986 draft where he was selected by Indianapolis, a frequent offender on our list.
Hand did enjoy nine seasons with the Colts, but he didn’t enjoy the kind of success you would have expected the No. 4 pick to pump out.
Overall Hand, well, handed over 35.5 sacks and 537 tackles; while not tragic numbers by any stretch of the imagination, it's certainly not what the Colts may have bargained for with their big pick.
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