NFL Draft in the 21st Century: Ranking The Biggest Busts of Past 10 Years
With the plethora of talent available to general managers during the NFL draft, there are bound to be a throng of players who just can't cut it.
Owners invest millions of dollars into a potential star and pray every night that he develops into a face of the franchise.
Unfortunately, most of the time they won't prosper and those drafted highest are known in history as busts when they fail.
Whether it be based on draft position or comparisons to those drafted after, players are labeled busts for varying reason. To properly grade the busts, we must take into account draft position, expectations and the production of those drafted after.
In the past ten years, there have been significant busts that have cost teams years of rebuilding. We will start at the turn of the century, where a change in philosophy made way for more picks based on potential and less concerning production.
Many scouts believe that they can find the next gem but most successful players come from the later rounds, rather than the unique athletes that are drafted early for their flashy attributes. Also known as the Al Davis method, drafting star athletes rarely leads to success.
Drafting smart football players who are tough and work hard is the key to winning. It is curious as to why teams don't follow this formula more.
Here are the top 10 busts of the past decade. This may be a tough list to read if your team has failed in the draft for years (Lions, Browns), enduring many busts. Read with caution.
10. Robert Gallery, Left Tackle, 2nd Overall Pick In 2004 NFL Draft
A year removed from a trip to the Superbowl, the Raiders were looking to solidify the offensive line and had their eyes set on the gargantuan from Iowa.
At 6'7" and 330 pounds, Gallery was seen as the next Walter Jones, a guy that could come in from day one and protect the quarterback's blind side. Things didn't work out as planned when he failed to stay at either tackle position, albeit horrible coaching from Art Shell, and was eventually moved to left guard.
While he has become an average to solid name on the Raiders' line, he has never been to a pro bowl and hasn't established himself as a force. Considering he was chosen 2nd overall, he gets the bust label.
9. Alex Smith, Quarterback, 1st Overall Pick In 2005 NFL Draft
Considering the Niners passed on Cal's Aaron Rodgers for Utah's Alex Smith, fans must be ripping their hair out. Not only has Rodgers established himself as a top-5 quarterback this year, but Smith has never found his groove, albeit showing occasional flashes of brilliance early on.
With almost a new offensive coordinator every year, it isn't fair to put ALL the blame on the guy who was supposed to lead the 49ers back to stardom.
Unfortunately, his superb play in Utah's spread offense hasn't led to NFL success. While he has been solid in his last two years, surpassing an 80.0 quarterback rating both years, with 18 TDs in 2009 and 14 in 2010, he is consistently rotated with backup Troy Smith. For a former first overall pick, he has greatly underachieved.
8. Dewayne Robertson, Defensive Tackle, 4th Overall Pick In 2003 NFL Draft
Entering the draft, scouts predicted Robertson to be the next Warren Sapp. At 6'1" and 320 pounds, he was small yet agile and wide, eating up blockers in college.
Once he was drafted, he failed to transition and appeared tired and bored at times. He was then moved to nose-guard in the 3-4 defense and was more productive, yet still not anything special.
After five years with the Jets in which he didn't surpass four sacks once, Robertson was traded to the Broncos and was released after one year with the team. He had only 22 tackles in 15 games of his one season in Denver.
7. David Carr, Quarterback, 1st Overall Pick In 2002 NFL Draft
Many readers may question why David Carr isn't higher on this list but the fact is that his failure isn't solely on him. Drafted first overall to a team that was just founded and with no talent around him, he never had a chance to succeed.
With 65 TDs and 71 interceptions for his career, he has become a solid backup, never really earning another chance to start. His rookie year ruined him when he was sacked an NFL-record 76 times. That can affect a quarterback's psyche and he never had the weapons and coaching around him to mature.
That said, he was the first pick and more was expected of him than a 74.9 rating for his career. He now resides in San Francisco, backing up the Smith debacle.
6. Joey Harrington, Quarterback, 3rd Overall Pick In 2002 NFL Draft
Drafted by the Detroit Lions to bring a winning formula, Harrington was average at best for his career. He never had a season with a quarterback rating over 77.5 and he seemed intimidated and uncomfortable most of the time. He did appear calm and confident for a few plays every few years.
With such high expectations, Harrington could never put it all together and finished his career with 79 TDs and 85 interceptions. He also had numerous problems with teammates and coaches and was blamed for Steve Mariucci's dismissal in Detroit by cornerback Dre Bly.
Harrington was last seen in September of 2009 with the New Orleans Saints but was cut shortly after.
5. 2000 NFL Draft Class
In the first draft at the turn of the century, three of the first five draft picks were significant busts.
The first and second picks, Courtney Brown and Lavar Arrington respectively, were two stud defenders from Penn State, seen as franchise changers. Then came the infamous Peter Warrick.
Brown wasn't able to stay healthy in his career and never produced as a result, finishing his six-year career with only 19 sacks.
For a player who was seen as the next Lawrence Taylor, Arrington failed mightily as the second overall pick. While he does have 23.5 sacks in his career, 11 of those came in his third year and six the next year. His career has been clouded with trash talk and disobedience. He failed trying to recreate his career with the Giants in 2006.
Warrick, a prodigious wide-receiver from Florida State finished his senior year with 207 catches, 32 TDs, averaged 127.3 all-purpose yards and was the 2000 Sugarbowl MVP, with 160 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the game. He was expected to win the Heisman Trophy but then had legal issues. After never gaining more than 667 yards in his first three seasons with the Bengals, Warrick broke out in his fourth year with 819 yards but then got injured and was replaced, for good, by seventh round pick T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and was barely heard from again.
Considering players like Brian Urlacher, Plaxico Burress and Jamal Lewis were taken after, these owners are surely crying themselves to sleep.
4. Matt Leinart, Quarterback, 10th Overall Pick In 2006 NFL Draft
Originally predicted to be the first overall pick by the Texans, Leinart fell all the way to the Arizona Cardinals at pick number 10 after scouts began to thoroughly dissect his flaws and look for reasons to take Vince Young instead.
Sitting behind Kurt Warner for a few years, Matt Leinart was never seen as a gunslinger and evidently has a selfish, pretentious attitude when it came time for him to fight for his job.
Believing everything should be given to him, the Hollywood star child from Southern Cal failed as an NFL quarterback with his lack of any arm strength and his cocky attitude. At least Chad Pennington can out-throw someone.
3. Reggie Bush, Running Back, 2nd Overall Pick In 2006 NFL Draft
Don't misunderstand, Reggie Bush is a fine player and a solid component to any winning club, but not the star he was projected to be. With a dominant college career in which he embraced running outside the tackles and using his remarkable speed to outrun defenses, scouts salivated over his talent.
Predicted to be the first pick, Bush was drafted second after the Texans decided that Mario Williams was the right choice. He has prospered in Houston. Bush was still on the board with New Orleans coming up.
The Saints couldn't pass on the talented Bush. With a Superbowl ring already under his belt, Bush is a solid player, albeit injury problems. However, Bush is far from what many projected, now another dime a dozen back. He has never surpassed 600 yards in a season and only has 17 TDs in his five years. He has never made the pro-bowl.
2. Charles Rogers, Wide Receiver, 2nd Overall Pick In 2003 NFL Draft
With failed drug tests in college and the selfish attitude, Rogers still caught the attention of every scout in the NFL because of his talent. A star at Michigan State, Rogers was a big, physical target, seen as the next star receiver.
Scouts figured that if Randy Moss could succeed with all his college issues, Rogers could surely prosper with the right guidance. Unfortunately, he was drafted by the Lions. Before finishing his career with 36 receptions for 440 yards, he had problems with his collarbone after breaking it and couldn't find interested teams after that.
It doesn't make it any better for the Lions that all-pro wide receiver Andre Johnson was taken by the Texans with the next pick (3rd overall).
1. Jamarcus Russell, Quarterback, 1st Overall Pick In 2007 NFL Draft
Call it cliche, but Russell is the biggest bust ever, amidst Ryan Leaf and Akili Smith. The guy ruined the Raiders, a team that is only now heading in the right direction.
Scouts raved over Russell's arm strength and his size, but didn't realize that he lacked any pocket presence, didn't understand the concept of accuracy and could care less about the sport of football. All the talent in the world can't make a successful player.
In his first three years, Russell never developed as his completion percentage decreased from 54.5 in his rookie year to 48.8 in his third season. He never surpassed 2500 yards and has a career rating of 65.2,. He had 18 TDs and 23 interceptions for his career, fumbling 22 times.
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The contract he received after being drafted, signing for $61 million, with $32 million guaranteed was the largest ever for a rookie.
He is now out of football.