Everyone loves a winner. Everyone loves the underdog. But nobody loves the "bust". Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 NFL QB busts of all time.
The criteria for this list was that the QB had to be drafted in the top 10 overall of their draft class, over the last 50 years (1960-2010) and supplemental draft picks were not considered (sorry Dave Brown haters). So common names like Todd Marinovich, Jim Druckenmiller, Cade McNown and Dan McGwire are purposefully absent since they were selected after the 10th overall pick.
Naturally there will be people missing you think should be here (David Klingler, Andre Ware, etc.) so feel free to identify them via comments.
Akili Smith was drafted by the lowly Cincinnati Bengals in 1999 with the 3rd overall pick. He was the original Oregon bust who paved the way for Joey Harrington years later. Smith managed to eek out four years in the NFL but played in just 22 games. Over that span he passed for just 2,212 yards and 5 TDs while tossing 13 INTs, fumbling 19 times, and completing just 47% of his passes.
When the Oakland Raiders selected LSU QB JaMarcus Russell as the #1 overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, many felt that old man Davis was crazy. He was given a $61M contract with $32M guaranteed. Today, he isn't even a backup in the NFL. He played 31 games over three years, totaling 4,083 yards with 18 TDs, 23 INTs and 25 fumbles.
Jack Thompson, the "Throwin' Samoan" was drafted 3rd overall in 1979 by the perennially poor drafting Cincinnati Bengals. He hung around for six years between the Bengals and Buccaneers, playing in 51 games. He finished his career with 5,315 yards, 33 TDs, 45 INTs, a 53% pass completion percentage, and a 63.4 QB rating. He paved the way for the Bengals to draft future 1st round busts Akili Smith and David Klingler.
Art Schlichter is one of the saddest stories of a star athlete with unlimited potential crashing and burning. Drafted 4th overall by the then Baltimore Colts in 1982, Schlichter lasted just three years in the NFL before his gambling problems cost him his livelihood and his future. In 13 career games Schlichter passed for 1,006 yards, 3 TDs and 11 INTs, completing just 45% of his passes and finishing with a 42.6 career QB rating.
This is the oldest bust in this list. Terry Baker played football and basketball in college. He won the Heisman in 1962 and was the #1 overall draft pick by the then Los Angeles Rams. But he played just three years in the NFL, only one of those seasons as a QB. He had one last try at football success when he spent a year playing in the CFL, but that didn't work out either. Baker may have been the original Heisman Trophy winning NFL bust.
Ryan Leaf was drafted 2nd overall in the 1998 draft by the San Diego Chargers - right after Peyton Manning was taken by the Colts. He played a total of three years for the Chargers and Cowboys, and in 25 career games he amassed just 3,666 yards and 14 TDs while throwing 36 INTs and fumbling 24 times. His career QB rating is 50.0 and he completed less than 49% of his passes.
In 1981 Rich Campbell was taken in the 1st round, 6th overall, by the Green Bay Packers. In four years he played in seven games, threw for 386 yards, 3 TDs, and 9 INTs, and completed just 46% of his pass attempts, earning a very embarrassing 38.8 career QB rating.
This one will likely cause a lot of controversy. How can a "bust" spend 12 years in the NFL, as Mike Phipps did? Well, just because you managed to hang around for a while doesn't necessarily mean you were good. Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1970 as the 3rd overall pick, Phipps survived for 12 years in the NFL, throwing for 10,506 yards. Now if 850 yards a year for your career as a QB is worthy of the #3 overall pick where do I sign up? He had just 55 TDs, a paltry 52.5 QB rating, completed just 49% of his pass attempts, and threw for 108 INTs, including 72 INTs over a four year span. Even Jay Cutler laughs at that many INTs.
Kelly Stouffer is here for two reasons, (1) because he was a horrible QB, and (2) because he thought he was so great he let his 6th overall draft pick status drive him to sitting our his rookie year because he couldn't agree on a contract with the then St. Louis Rams. With his 1987 rookie season wasted and no end in sight to his holdout, the Rams traded Stouffer to the Seattle Seahawks where he played a total of 22 games and passed for just 2,333 yards and 7 TDs. He finished his career with 19 INTs, a 54.5 QB rating, and a 52% career completion percentage.
Heath Shuler with his second of three NFL teams, the New Orleans Saints
Heath Shuler, oh sorry, Congressman Shuler, was selected 3rd overall in the 1994 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. His career was over by 1998 when he was a practice squad player for the Oakland Raiders. He retired with less than 4,000 passing yards, 15 TDs, 33 INTs, a 54.3 QB rating and a 49% career completion percentage.