Biggest Draft Day Busts in Detroit Lions History
Everyone makes mistakes.
But when a NFL team screws up a first-round pick, it isn't called a mistake; it's called a bust.
And that label was created for a reason. First-rounders are a huge investment, and a thriving industry has arisen around finding the perfect match every offseason.
The Detroit Lions haven't always discovered the best asset for themselves in the NFL draft. There have been some especially disastrous picks that will be highlighted in the following slides.
One note before we get to the carnage. All of the picks featured here are first-round picks because a second-rounder inherently brings a stronger risk. It's hard to give anything other than a top-32 pick the title of bust.
2003: Michigan State Wide Receiver Charles Rogers
As you and your buddy argue about who the Lions should take this year, there will surely be some discussion about wide receivers. It's a huge position of need.
But one of you is likely leaning towards waiting on a wideout. You've been burned too many times before and will point to the depth at wide receiver as the reason you'd rather wait.
That's how deep of a wound Charles Rogers inflicted on the Lions fans' psyche. He's the real reason you can't stomach the thought of another highly drafted wide receiver despite Calvin Johnson's success.
Rogers was taken with the second overall pick after an incredibly productive career at Michigan State that included All-American and Biletnikoff honors. The warning signs were present at the combine when he used a urine-masking agent and failed to provide a usable specimen for a subsequent test.
After a solid first month with three touchdowns, Rogers broke his clavicle and his career tumbled out of control. A drug suspension welcomed him back from a second injury the following year. The wheels completely came off. Once the dust settled, it turned out that Rogers had smoked away his entire career.
2002: Oregon Quarterback Joey Harrington
At this point, if you're at least in your 20s, you're probably wondering why you clicked on this article. Perhaps you're a glutton for punishment. Either way, you cringed when this slide came up.
Joey Harrington was going to save the franchise. His Oregon campaign had ended in an invitation to New York, where he came in fourth for the Heisman.
All consideration for awards, however, ended with that trip. Harrington bumbled his way through four rocky seasons as the starter, never completing more than 57 percent of his passes and throwing more touchdowns than interceptions just once.
To be fair, not a single quarterback from Joey's class went on to much of a career. In fact, except in length, he has an argument as the best one of the bunch.
However, the fact remains that other playmakers like defensive tackle John Henderson or defensive end Dwight Freeney were still on the board. This pick had a devastating effect on the franchise and ended head coach Steve Mariucci's coaching career.*
*There's absolutely no evidence to support that claim. I'm just saying that Mariucci never coached again after he was fired by the Lions. You draw whatever conclusions you want from that.
1986: Iowa Quarterback Chuck Long
Don't worry, Joey. You aren't the only Lions quarterback to cost a coach a job. Former Iowa star Chuck Long has the same bullet point on his resume.
Long didn't develop enough to post at least one solid season like Joey. He started out with a bang in the form of a 64-yard touchdown pass and went into a free fall from there.
After helping process the paperwork for head coach Darryl Rogers' termination, Long stuck around for one more season before giving Los Angeles a try. Somehow, that didn't work out, so he returned for a final parade of defeat with the 1991 Lions before heading off into the sunset.
1990: Houston Quarterback Andre Ware
We might as well finish the run on quarterbacks with the one that put up the least substance in comparison to the hype created.
Andre Ware capped a record-setting stint at Houston with the Heisman Trophy. Of course, the Lions couldn't resist grabbing Ware when he fell to No. 7.
Unfortunately, Ware didn't set any records with the Lions. He barely got in the game on his way to five touchdowns and eight interceptions.
There weren't a ton of obvious options than Ware, but a certain Hall of Fame running back for the Dallas Cowboys wasn't taken off the board until No. 17. He would have paired pretty well with another Hall of Famer to take away the pressure on whoever they had found to play quarterback.
2005: USC Wide Receiver Mike Williams
With the 10th pick of the 2005 draft, general manager Matt Millen struck perhaps his most surprising (dumbest?) move: he took another wide receiver. This time it was USC product Mike Williams.
Williams hadn't played in the year prior to the draft. He had followed Maurice Clarett's lead (never a good move), and when the appellate court overturned the decision to allow players less than three years removed from high school to enter the draft, Williams was left out in the cold.
That didn't deter Millen. But things like logic, reasoning and understanding draft value weren't exactly his strong suits.
Instead of grabbing a defensive difference-maker like DeMarcus Ware or Shawne Merriman, the next two guys selected, the Lions received a total of 44 receptions over three years. That's the type of decision-making that eventually led to an 0-16 season.
1999: Wisconsin Offensive Tackle Aaron Gibson
The Lions had been looking for a tackle for years, so they decided to face the issue head-on and really take a bite at the apple. Aaron Gibson could have used said apple.
The behemoth offensive tackle from Wisconsin weighed over 380 pounds heading into the draft. Some would be concerned about such a large man and his ability to stay healthy or block agile defenders.
Not the Lions. They plowed ahead with the 27th pick instead of grabbing Patrick Kerney or Al Wilson, two guys who would end up playing in Pro Bowls.
1987: Washington Defensive Tackle Reggie Rogers
All of the careers featured here have had either brevity or ineptitude in common. Yet none of them reach the level of implosion that was Reggie Rogers' NFL tenure.
Rogers was taken with the 7th overall pick after a two-sport run at the University of Washington. That's about as far as he would make it.
His rough childhood spilled into his new life, ruining any chance at building someone sustainable. He spent just two years in Detroit before running a red light while intoxicated and killing three people.
The Lions released him before the next season. Rogers ended up serving 16 months in prison for the incident.
All in all, he notched a total of one sack with the Lions in just 11 games. That's the definition of a bust.