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Though Maurice Clarett is the only non-first-round draft selection on this list, he is the worst selection of all of them.
Clarett was a national sensation in his lone season at Ohio State in 2002. Clarett led the team to a BCS national championship title, and established a school freshman record in rushing yards. Unfortunately for Clarett, everything went downhill from that point on.
Clarett was suspended for the 2003 season by Ohio State for off-the-field issues before being dismissed. He would then unsuccessfully attempt to enter the 2004 NFL draft.
By the time the Broncos selected Clarett in the 2005 NFL draft, he had gone two-and-a-half years without playing football. Not only did the Broncos select him higher than expected, they selected him at the end of the first day of the draft with the 101st overall selection in the third round.
This selection is the worst mistake in Broncos history for a number of reasons. Clarett was a skilled player at one point in time, but due to a lengthy period without playing football and pure laziness, he wasn't close to being an NFL talent in 2005.
Mike Shanahan's arrogance was another factor. Granted, Shanahan has been known for his ability to develop running backs. He had a number of 1,000-yard rushers during his head coaching tenure in Denver, including Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis and Reuben Droughns. Such a track record of success may have convinced Shanahan that he could make anybody—including a player as troubled as Clarett—a star running back in his offensive system.
He couldn't have been more wrong.
Clarett ran 40-yard times of 4.72 and 4.80 seconds at the NFL Combine. He showed up to training camp overweight at 248 pounds.
The Broncos released Clarett on August 28, 2005, without Clarett even playing a down in a preseason game. He never appeared in an NFL game.