2011 NFL Draft: 32 Worst 1st-Round Draft Picks of All Time
The 2011 NFL Draft has the usual level of hype already starting to build around it, but with that hype comes the cautionary tales of draft busts.
The ghosts of drafts past still haunt some teams as they try and overcome bad drafts. Drafting poorly in the first few rounds can set a team back years.
This is a list of 32 guys taken in the first round who, for various reasons, didn't work out. Some of these stories are funny, some are sad, and some are just plain ugly.
This list goes as far back as the merger in 1970.
32. Larry Stegent, RB, St. Louis Cardinals
Drafted: Eighth Pick in the 1970 Draft
What Happened: He injured his knee in a preseason game, and that ended up being a career-ending injury. While he played seven games that year, he took no hand-offs, and had one career reception for 12 yards.
31. Stan Thomas, OT Chicago Bears
Drafted: 22nd Pick in 1991
What Happened: Thomas just never lived up to his potential, playing only two years with the Bears before being shipped off to Houston. He played another two years before he was let go and never returned.
In his four years, he didn't record one meaningful stat.
30. Jon Harris, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
Drafted: 25th Pick in 1997
What Happened: Harris is another example of a player who just couldn't make the transition to the pros. In two years with the Eagles, he recorded two sacks
He had stints with the Browns and the Packers in 1999, but never added to his resume.
29. Jamal Reynolds, DE, Green Bay Packers
Drafted: 10th Pick in 2001
What Happened: Reynolds fell victim to the injury bug, but he never recovered and he only played in a total of 13 games in three seasons, recording only three sacks.
The Browns picked him up in the 2004 offseason, but he was cut before the season began and never played again.
28. Gerrard Warren, DT/DE, Cleveland Browns
Drafted: Third Pick in the 2001 Draft
What Happened: Gerard Warren is one of the main reasons the Browns are continually rebuilding. While he still is in the league and currently on the Patriots roster, he never showed the talent to be a third overall pick, and his numbers never reflected the price of the pick, either.
Warren also has had stints with the Broncos and the Raiders, where he has had a decent career as a backup, but he never impacted the game the way the Browns hoped. In 10 years in the league, Warren only has 35.5 sacks.
27. Clyde Duncan, WR St. Louis Cardinals
Drafted: 17th Pick in 1984
What Happened: In Clyde Duncan's two years, he recorded a total of four catches for 39 yards and one touchdown. His potential never showed up on an NFL playing field, and the Cardinals moved on.
26. Trezelle Jenkins, OT, Kansas City Chiefs
Draft: 31st Pick in 1995
What Happened: Jenkins' unremarkable career included nine games in three years, including one whole start.
25. Don Rogers, S, Cleveland Browns
Drafted: 18th Pick in 1984
What Happened: Don Rogers was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1984, and played another season with the Browns as they went to the playoffs in 1985.
Then he died of a cocaine overdose the day before his wedding on June 27,1986, eight days after Len Bias died for the same reason.
24. Russell Erxleben, K/P, New Orleans Saints
Drafted: 11th Pick in 1979
What Happened: Not only did the New Orleans Saints draft a kicker in the first round, it turned out he wasn't a very good one.
If you're going to draft a kicker or a punter in the first round, he better be Hall of Fame material from the word go. Erxleben wasn't even remotely close.
23. Kevin Allen, OT, Eagles
Drafted: Ninth Pick in 1985
What Happened: Allen played one forgettable season in the NFL his rookie year. Then he tested positive for cocaine when he reported to Eagles training camp in 1986. He then spent nearly three years in prison for sexual assault and was eventually banned from the NFL.
Buddy Ryan gave the most famous quote about Allen, saying he was "a good player to have around if you want someone to stand around and kill the grass."
22. Andre Johnson, OT, Washington Redskins
Draft: 30th Pick in 1996
What Happened: Former Redskins general manager Charlie Casserly admits to completely screwing this pick up. Casserly moved up to take Johnson, only for the team to realize by the end of training camp that Johnson not only wasn't first-round talent, he was marginal at best in the NFL.
He never played one game for the Redskins, eventually playing in only three games for the Detroit Lions.
21. Dimitrius Underwood, DE, Vikings
Draft: 29th Pick in 1999
What Happened: Dimitrius Underwood signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings just prior to training camp and then quit the first day. He was reported to be mentally unstable by his college coaches at Michigan State, and he sat out his senior year.
Underwood had short stints with the Dolphins and the Cowboys, but he never mentally stabilized enough to stay on either team for very long.
He tried to commit suicide twice. Underwood was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
20. Courtney Brown, DE, Cleveland Browns
Draft: First Pick of the 2000 Draft
What Happened: Courtney Brown had a decent rookie season, but then spent the rest of his career battling injuries. For a first overall pick, Brown never lived up to expectations, and has become just another footnote in the now long and distinguished list of failed first-round picks from the Cleveland Browns.
Brown only played in 26 games and recorded just eight sacks between 2002 and 2004, finishing his completely unremarkable career in Denver after tearing his ACL during the 2006 preseason.
19. Matt Leinart, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Draft: 10th Pick in 2006
What Happened: We're still trying to figure this out. Leinart apparently liked the idea of being a starting quarterback in the NFL more than he actually liked to work at actually being a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Leinart kept losing his starting job to Kurt Warner, despite numerous opportunities for him to take the job and be successful. At the beginning of the 2010 season, with Warner retired, Leinart relaxed even more, sleepwalking his way through the preseason before losing the job to Derek Anderson and being cut.
The Houston Texans picked him up a few days later, but he never took one snap for the team. His future remains uncertain.
18. Kyle Boller, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Draft: 19th Pick in 2003
What Happened: Boller just couldn't stop turning the ball over. Inconsistent play kept resulting in Boller getting benched in favor of Steve McNair. Once Joe Flacco entered the scene, Boller's days were numbered.
He now is a backup in Oakland, but his future there is uncertain.
17. Rashaun Woods, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Draft: 31st Pick in 2004
What Happened: Woods just wasn't good enough. His rookie season, he had seven catches for 160 yards and one touchdown. He spent the 2005 season on injured reserve before being traded to the San Diego Chargers. He eventually was traded to the Broncos before the season even started.
One failed physical later, Woods' NFL career was over.
16. Reggie Rogers, DE, Lions
Draft: Seventh Pick of 1987
What Happened: Reggie Rogers was a complete wreck of a person who had to go into counseling just to give him a chance of getting on the field his rookie season. Five games into the 1988 season, he drunkenly slammed his car into another, killing three teenagers.
The Lions waived him the following summer, and Rogers ended up serving 16 months in prison for vehicular homicide.
Rogers attempted a comeback with the Bills and Buccanneers, but his career never took off
15. Steve Emtman
Draft: First Pick of the 1992 Draft
What Happened: AstroTurf and bad luck happened to Emtman. Each of his first three seasons ended with Emtman on the injured reserve list. First he tore his left ACL, then he ruptured his pateller tendon, and in his first game of the 1994 season, he ruptured a disc in his kneck.
He played a few more weeks until the pain forced him to go back on the IR.
Brief stints with the Redskins and Dolphins followed his time with the Colts, but the injuries forced Emtman to retire at age 27.
14. Bernard Williams, OT, Eagles
Draft: 15th Pick in 1994
What Happened: Bernard Williams liked to smoke the ganja. After his rookie season, Williams was suspended by the NFL for failing a drug test.
Fifteen failed drug tests later (yes, you read that right, 15), Williams was banned from the NFL.
13. Mike Junkin, LB, Cleveland Browns
Draft: Fifth Pick in 1984
What Happened: Mike Junkin was supposed to be "A Mad Dog in a Meat Market!"
He was anything but. Junkin put up big numbers in college, but they were against smaller schools, and once playing against the big boys, Junkin's career quickly fizzled. He only played in 20 games in three seasons, starting only seven of those games.
12. Lawrence Phillips, RB, St. Louis Rams
Draft: Sixth Pick in 1996
What Happened: Phillips couldn't control his temper. Phillips was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend in college. Despite this, the Rams traded Jerome Bettis to the Pittsburgh Steelers before drafting Phillips.
The Rams cut him after he got into a dispute with head coach Dick Vermeil. He continued to have trouble related to his temper off the field and the Rams cut him in 1997. He played for a few more teams, but had trouble wherever he went.
He became famous for missing a block in 1999 while playing for the San Francisco 49ers, allowing Aeneas Williams to hit Steve Young, knocking him out, and giving him the concussion that effectively ended Young's career
In December of 2009, Phillips was sentenced to more than 31 years in prison for attacking his girlfriend and driving his car into three teens.
11. Steve Pisarkiewicz, QB, St. Louis Cardinals
Draft: 19th Pick in 1977
What Happened: Steve Pisarkiewicz just wasn't any good. The Cardinals drafted him to be the quarterback to succeed Jim Hart, but Pisarkiewicz was barely good enough to be the backup. In three seasons, his last with Green Bay, Pisarkiewicz played in only 10 games.
10. Todd Marinovich, QB, Los Angeles Raiders
Draft: 24th Pick in 1991
What Happened: Marinovich loved to party, and he didn't like other people telling him what to do. After being raised by an overbearing father, famously profiled in Sports Illustrated, who groomed him from birth to be the perfect athlete, Marinovich turned to drugs to relieve the anxiety.
After too many failed drug tests, and not being able to claim and keep the starting job, Marinovich failed his third drug test during the 1993 preseason and his NFL career was over.
9. Charles Rogers, WR, Detroit Lions
Draft: Second Pick in the 2003 Draft
What Happened: Drugs, injuries and poor work ethic. Rogers reportedly failed several drug tests while at Michigan State, and violated the NFL's substance abuse policy three times, drawing a four-game suspension in 2005.
Rogers was released just prior to the 2006 season and his career was over.
8. Tony Mandarich, OT, Green Bay Packers
Draft: Second Pick in 1989
What Happened: Steroids and ego. Mandarich used steroids to achieve his unbelievable bulk, and his ego didn't want to waste time in a "village" like Green Bay.
After three years of underperforming, Mandarich was cut. He played a few more years with the Colts before retiring.
7. Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Draft: First Pick in 1995
What Happened: A torn ACL in his first preseason combined with skills that never developed in the pros. Carter was undersized and never really was able to punch through holes, assuming he could find them to begin with.
Carter finished his career in 2004 with 1,144 total rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.
6. Jim Druckenmiller, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Draft: 26th Pick in 1997
What Happened: Druckenmiller was a bust in every sense of the word. He threw a total of 52 passes in his NFL career for 239 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. He was traded to the Dolphins for the 1999 season, but then was released.
5. Akili Smith, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Draft: Third Pick in 1999
What Happened: Smith only had one successful season in college, and despite being very gifted athletically, never seemed to grasp the intricacies of the pro game. The Bengals finally moved on after the 2002 season, and he tried out for the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before finishing his career in the Canadian Football League.
Smith only started 17 career games for Cincinnati.
4. Rae Carruth, WR, Carolina Panthers
Draft: 27th Pick in 1997
What Happened: While Carruth had a decent rookie season, his 1998 season was cut short by injury. He played most of the 1999 season until Nov. 16, 1999, when Carruth decided to put out a hit on his pregnant girlfriend and then participated in the shooting.
Carruth became a fugitive and was found hiding in the trunk of a car a few days after the Panthers cut him, citing a morals clause in his contract.
Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. He has maintained his innocence and continues to appeal his case while awaiting release no earlier than October 2018.
3. Art Schlicter, QB, Baltimore Colts
Draft: Fourth Pick in 1982
What Happened: Art Schlichter had a bit of gambling problem. In fact, he was a compulsive gambler who lost every single penny he ever made. The problem was rumored as far back as his Ohio State days, but there never was enough evidence to do anything with it.
Schlicter was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, and immediately lost the starting job to Mike Pagel. During the 1982 NFL strike, all Schlichter did was gamble. He lost everything and went to the Feds to protect himself from the bookies.
As a result, he was suspended for the 1983 season. His NFL career was over by 1985 because he couldn't stop gambling. He tried to revive his career in 1986 with the Buffalo Bills, but the Bills signed this guy named Jim Kelly and Schlicter was cut before the season started.
Schlicter spent a lot of time in jail after his career ended for various gambling-related felonies.
2. JaMarcus Russell, QB, Oakland Raiders
Draft: First Pick in 2007
What Happened: This is something the experts still are trying to figure out, because Russell was big and strong, and had the kind of Combine performance Raiders owner Al Davis loves.
However, once in the NFL, JaMarcus Russell gained a reputation for laziness, and he barely played his rookie season due to a lengthy holdout and head coach Lane Kiffin's unwillingness to start him until the end of the season
Once in games, Russell looked lost, throwing several interceptions, and he never could hold down the starter's job for very long.
After the 2009 season, the Raiders quarterback roster grew to five quarterbacks, and Russell's weight reportedly had ballooned to 300 lbs.
The Raiders released him on May 6, 2010. No team claimed him off of waivers, and he remains a free agent going into the 2011 season.
Russell also has been charged with drug charges related to codeine syrup, but a grand jury refused to indict Russell this past October.
1. Ryan Leaf, QB, San Diego Chargers
Draft: Second Pick in 1998
What Happened: Ryan Leaf had all the physical skills necessary to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he lacked any of the abilities needed to claim and maintain the job between his ears.
Leaf's short career was marked by immature behavior, temper tantrums and confrontations with fans, coaches and the media.
By the end of the 2000 season, the Chargers had seen enough and released him. However, Leaf injured his wrist toward the end of that year, and that injury plagued him through the next two years along with his attitude problem before he finally retired at age 26 with a career QB rating of 50.
The name "Ryan Leaf" and the term "draft bust" since have become synonymous. Leaf's post-career activities include resigning as a coach from West Texas A&M due to a pain pill scandal, and Leaf would have further legal troubles due to his involvement in controlled substances.
As of December 2010, Leaf reportedly signed a deal to write three books about his life.