Vince Young, the Biggest Waste of Talent in the NFL?
Maybe right now. But that is something said about Michael Vick four or give years ago, and he is now the front-runner for the MVP.
There are plenty of busts in the NFL today, mostly high first round picks. But there are a few good players out there who probably should be elite players. You'd have to consider them busts of a different nature.
For now, let's say two year's time is not enough to consider a player "wasting" their talents, so anyone drafted after 2008 doesn't qualify.
So who in the NFL is wasting their talents?
Draft: 1st round, 2nd overall, 2004
Gallery is a solid guard for the Raiders, and without him, they might not have the number two rushing offense in the NFL. But when an offensive lineman is the second overall selection in the NFL draft, his physical tools have to be unparalleled.
And as a left tackle from Iowa, Gallery was dubbed the next Jonathan Ogden, the next Orlando Pace. It certainly didn't work out that way.
Prior to the 2004 Draft, in a Sports Illustrated article, legendary offensive line guru Joe Bugel said, "Whoever drafts him is going to get a 15-year Pro Bowl player.....I can't find anything wrong with him."
Despite all that talent, and a reasonable career, it's surprising he's never come close to even a single pro bowl.
Draft: 6th round, 213th overall, 2005
Anderson is an special case of talent wasting. He was not a high draft pick. And he was a practice squad player, then a backup for several years in Cleveland.
But he has tremendous physical skills.He's mobile enough and has a great arm.
And when he put it all together in 2007, he earned a pro bowl spot. But he soon fell back to his old habits, turning the ball over and making bad decisions/throws in the red zone.
18 interceptions against just 12 touchdowns from 2008-09 sent him packing and out of Cleveland. And in Arizona, with an All-Pro wide receiver, he has twice lost his job to an undrafted, undersized rookie from BYU.
Draft: 1st round, 10th overall, 2006
Although having Leinart and Derek Anderson on this list might be an indictment of Ken Wisenhunt, the former Heisman Trophy winner deserves plenty of the blame.
Perhaps his physical tools weren't as great as a Jay Cutler or Vince Young. But he had plenty of intangibles and was very accurate at USC.
Furthermore, the Trojan who he followed (Carson Palmer) and the Trojan freshman who soon followed him (Mark Sanchez) have become fine NFL passers.
Leinart may never have become a hall of famer. But the rumors (and photos that suggest as much) that he was more interested in being a celebrity that a great player, imply he has wasted his talent.
Draft: 1st round, 6th overall, 2008
Gholston's speed endeared him to the Jets front office and then-head coach Eric Mangini. But he didn't fit in the Man-geniuses scheme, and hasn't done very much in two seasons under Rex Ryan.
It hasn't helped that he is somewhat a "tweener" (in between a defensive end and an outside linebacker), so maybe it's not entirely his fault that in 39 career games he has yet to record a sack.
Still, with a 4.58 40-yard dash, and a collection of honors from Ohio State, he doesn't seem to be getting much out of his talents.
Draft: 1st round, 20th overall, 2005
When Bill Parcells selected Spears and DeMarcus Ware in the same round of the same 2005 draft, he had to have the image former Giants greats Leonard Marshall and Lawrence Taylor in his mind. Together, that defensive end/oustide linebacker duo combined for over 200 sacks.
Well two decades later, half of that Spears-Ware team has lived up to their billing: Ware is a perennial pro bowler. Spears is not.
Injuries haven't helped Spears live up to his potential, and this year, he was recently placed on the IR.
But from 2005-09 he played every one of the 80 Cowboys games and recorded just eight sacks and 185 tackles.
As a four-year contributor for Nick Saban's LSU Tigers (they won the BCS Title his junior season), Spears had all the tools to be a great, complete defensive end. That hasn't happened.
Draft: 1st round, 15th overall, 2002
Haynesworth's age makes it tricky to say he is "wasting his talent." He turns 30 next year and for a defensive tackle that may as well be 35.
But, because there are plenty of DTs older than Haynesworth who are still extremely productive (Sean Rogers, Casey Hampton, Pat Williams), it's just as likely that his lack of productivity is a result of wasting his talents.
Just two seasons ago he was arguably the best defensive lineman in football. And since he went to Washington he is arguably the biggest free agent bust in recent memory.
And the lack of effort he has shown (not coming into camp in shape, complaining about the scheme) suggests that he doesn't seem to care.
Draft: 1st round, 3rd overall, 2006
More than any other quarterback on this list, Young has shown flashes of genius at the NFL level and staved off the theory that he is a bust.
He's earned two pro bowl selections, and played outstanding in several games this season. But he has been benched several times and been involved in off-the-field drama, both of which might lead to his departure from Tennessee.
Only Michael Vick is a better athlete at the position and Young has greatly improved his accuracy over the past few seasons. But he still has not been able to turn his physical skills into consistently excellent quarterback play.
Draft: 1st round, 9th overall, 2007
Ginn was probably a stretch as the second receiver taken in 2007, so that's not his fault. Still, his speed is unparalleled in the NFL today. He ran a 4.28 40-yard dash coming out of Ohio State.
He is still a terribly dangerous return man and we know that he is capable of being a good receiver: in 2008, he caught 56 passes for 790 yards and the Dolphins were a playoff team. But he has regressed since then and that is one of the reasons why Miami didn't mind trading him to San Francisco for a fifth round pick.
Paired again with former Buckeye Troy Smith, Ginn is still young enough to get his career back on track. But no matter how fast he is, if the hands don't get better, he won't live up to his draft slot.
Draft: 1st round, 6th overall, 2005
The cornerback formerly known as Pacman deserves credit for staying out of trouble since his arrival in Cincinnati. Maybe he has turned over a new leaf.
Still, he hasn't been able to do very much on the football field. And since he will miss the rest of 2010 with a neck injury, he won't change that any time soon.
We've seen how unbelievably talented Jones is: he returned four kicks for touchdowns in his first and second seasons in the NFL. One ESPN analyst said the Jones was the best athlete in the NFL.
But, since 2006, we have had very few opportunities to see if that is true.
Draft: 1st round, 21st overall, 1998
It's hard to say that a player who will be remembered as one of the greatest receivers of all time wasted his talent. Yet over the past six weeks, that's all anyone talks about regarding Moss.
Certainly when Moss wants to play and use his uncanny talents, he is outstanding. But he doesn't seem to be very interested in doing that.
He plays when he wants to. And that's been good enough to catch 949 passes and score 153 touchdowns. But if he did all that when he was only occasionally trying what would he have achieved if he put in Jerry Rice-like effort?
Answer: He would own all of Rice's records and perhaps a few Super Bowl rings.