10 No. 1 Draft Picks You're Probably Better Than
In professional sports there are draft busts and there are draft busts. Not all are created equal. Generally speaking, to qualify as a bust an athlete must have the high expectations attached to first round—usually an early first round—pick.
Busts, specifically in the NFL, can be found through the first three rounds, but expectations decrease and patience with their development increases with every spot that goes by. That's why dropping a little in the draft can actually be seen as a blessing.
That being said, you're not going to find an athlete that wouldn't rather take a chance as the No. 1 overall pick. It means a bigger paycheck, a longer contract, instant celebrity status—often temporary—and a permanent place in history.
On the other side of the coin, the spotlight can be intense and overwhelming. And when expectations are too high to ever live up to, rebelling against them often seems to be the first reaction. Resulting in some truly unremarkable careers.
It's hard to believe that some picks were ever even considered top tier talent, let alone worth of a No. 1. Here are 10 former No. 1 draft picks that you're probably better than!
Well, maybe not you specifically, but any middling bum out there playing the same sport.
Name, Team: Bryan Bullington, Pittsburgh Pirates
Draft Year: MLB No. 1, 2002
In 2002, pitcher Bryan Bullington was not considered the top talent available in the draft, which is obviously why the previously heinous Pirates decided to draft him. He was a solid college player and came cheaper than most, including B.J. Upton, the "consensus" No. 1.
Unfortunately, but predictably, Bullington did absolutely nothing in MLB. He kicked around the minors for five seasons, pitching a total of 81.2 innings at the pro level. In '05, Bullington pitched just 1.1 innings for the Buccos, with an ERA of 13.50.
All Stars Chosen After: Zack Greinke No. 6, Prince Fielder No. 7, Cole Hamels No. 17
Name, Team: Steve Emtman, Indianapolis Colts
Draft Year: NFL No. 1, 1992
Defensive lineman Steve Emtman was as dominant a college player as there ever was while playing for Washington. Unfortunately, his body just wasn't built to ball in the NFL. He played just 18 games in three seasons with the Colts, ending each on injured reserve.
Emtman stuck around for another three seasons, two with the Dolphins and one with the Redskins, but several serious injuries to his back and knees proved too much to overcome. He retired at age 27 with career stats that wouldn't even impress over one season.
Pro Bowlers Chosen After: Troy Vincent No. 7, Chester McGlockton No. 16, Dale Carter No. 20
Name, Team: Kwame Brown, Washington Wizards
Draft Year: NBA No. 1, 2001
There may be no better example of how long a No. 1 overall pick hang kick around based on potential alone, while contributing next to nothing with his play, than Kwame Brown. He's a cautionary tale for drafting NBA players straight from high school.
He's a also the first in what would be a long line of unforgivably bad busts facilitated by Michael Jordan. Brown's stats over his 12-year career are just miserable; the only thing more miserable was his cancerous presence in the locker room.
All Stars Chosen After: Tyson Chandler No. 2, Pau Gasol No. 3, Joe Johnson No. 10
Name, Team: Alexandre Daigle, Ottawa Senators
Draft Year: NHL No. 1, 1993
Undoubtably one of the biggest draft busts in sports history, Alexandre Daigle's legacy is further enhanced by stunningly unattainable expectations—he was touted as the "next Mario Lemieux" and/or the "next Wayne Gretzky." Um. No.
From 1992-95, the Senators won a total of 33 games in three seasons and hoped Daigle would be their franchise salvation. He wasn't. What he was, though, was the highest paid rookie in league history; his play on the ice, mediocre at its best.
Let this be a lesson to any teams that think tanking, which is what the Senators are widely considered to have done here, is the best way to secure the best talent in the draft.
All Stars Chosen After: Chris Pronger No. 2, Paul Kariya No. 4, Victor Kozlov No. 6
Name, Team: Matt Bush, San Diego Padres
Draft Year: MLB No. 1, 2004
Widely considered one of the biggest busts in MLB history—if not the single worst No. 1 overall pick ever—San Diego native Matt Bush was selected by the Padres, who may have been a little too excited about signing a hometown boy.
Bush came cheaper than some of the other alternatives, once again proving you get what you pay for. He never advanced beyond Double-A in their system and was such an abysmally bad hitter that they tried to turn him into a pitcher. Smart.
Over the years, Bush had a number of unsettling brushes with the law, including a series of hit and run incidents for which he's currently serving substantial prison time. Bush's alcohol problem is so bad that he chose an extra year in prison over a year of probation.
All Stars Chosen After: Justin Verlander No. 2, Jered Weaver No. 12, Billy Butler No. 14
Name, Team: Ki-Jana Carter, Cincinnati Bengals
Draft Year: NFL No. 1, 1995
In the proud tradition of football teams in Ohio drafting many of the busts to end all busts, the Bengals nabbed former Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter in 1995. He didn't disappoint at the pro level—if the expectation was that he'd be as terrible as the PSU backs that came before him.
The Bengals didn't just target Carter in the draft, they traded up to get him. A few months later he tore his ACL on his third preseason carry, setting the stage for seven-injury plagued seasons. Carter retired after the 2004 season, having rushed for 1,144 yards in 59 games played.
Pro Bowlers/Hall of Famers Chosen After: Warren Sapp No. 12, Ty Law No. 23, Curtis Martin No. 74 (Round 3)
Name, Team: Greg Joly, Washington Capitals
Draft Year: NHL No. 1, 1974
Another prospect that came into the league with expectations that set him up to fail, Greg Joly drew comparisons to the great Bobby Orr before being drafted by the Capitals in 1974. To say that he didn't quite live up to that billing would be a massive understatement.
Joly was an epic minus-68 his first season in Washington, having the dubious distinction of being part of the single worst team in NHL history—the Caps went 8-67-5 that year. Obviously being a part of that team at that time did him no favors, but Joly only got worse.
After three seasons, Joly's point totals and number of games played went down and his penalty minutes crept up. He retired after the 1982-83 season, but he had been effectively finished for three years at that point.
Hall of Famers Chosen After: Clark Gillies No. 4, Bryan Trottier No. 22 (Round 2), Mark Howe No. 25 (Round 2)
Brien Taylor, New York Yankees
Name, Team: Brien Taylor, New York Yankees
Draft Year: MLB No. 1, 1991
Former Yankees pitcher Brien Taylor was considered a "can't-miss" prospect when he was selected No. 1 overall in 1991. The major problem with those "can't-miss" prospects is sometimes they do, in fact, miss.
Taylor showed some promise in his minor league career, but during the '93 offseason he required surgery in his pitching arm—stemming from a fight, not something baseball related—and was never the same.
He flailed around in the minors until '98, when the Yanks mercifully pulled the plug. In November 2012, Taylor pled guilty to the distribution of crack cocaine and was sentenced to 38 months in prison.
All Stars Chosen After: Dmitri Young No. 4, Shawn Green No. 11, Manny Ramirez No. 13
Name, Team: JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders
Draft Year: NFL No. 1, 2007
JaMarcus Russell is your classic Al Davis bust who sat atop the Raiders' draft board—and theirs alone. He was impressive as a three-year starter at LSU, improving substantially each season.
Well, whatever motivated him in Baton Rouge didn't exist in Oakland. Russell was bad in '07, worse in '08 and, inexplicably, even worse in '09. The only numbers he built on were his interception total and his weight.
All told, Russell ate himself out of a job, out of a house and out of a sizable fortune he amassed with the Raiders. That would almost be impressive, if it wasn't so sad.
Pro Bowlers Chosen After: Calvin Johnson No. 2, Adrian Peterson No. 7, Darrelle Revis No. 14
Name, Team: LaRue Martin, Portland Trail Blazers
Draft Year: NBA No 1, 1972
The story of LaRue Martin, who played for the Trail Blazers from 1972-76, seems to be constantly repeating in the NBA—at least some version of it. At 6'11" and 208 lbs, Martin was a standout stud at Loyola and famously once outplayed Hall of Fame center Bill Walton during a game against UCLA.
It's worth noting that two years later the Blazers actually drafted Walton with the No. 1 pick.
Martin played four seasons in Portland, averaging just seven points, five rebounds and 17 minutes of playing time per game. He was, quite simply, not good. Martin had the resume and the size—he certainly looked like a basketball player—but his game didn't translate to the professional level.
All Stars/Hall of Famers Chosen After: Bob McAdoo No. 2, Paul Westphal No. 10, Julius Erving No. 12
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