The 50 Best College Players Have Surprises From Top to Bottom
Cam Newton had one of the greatest seasons in college football history this year. That alone has to make him one of the greatest players in college football history.
But, given his game, there has to be some concern about him failing to transition to a great NFL player. The same must be said for his teammate Nick Fairley, Julio Jones, A.J. Green or Ryan Mallett.
So here’s how we’re going to do this.
The player had to have SOME expectation of greatness in the NFL. For example, Eric Crouch was a great college quarterback and although he did play in the NFL, no one expected him to be a great player. The same is even true about Doug Flutie, Charlie Ward and Ken Dorsey.
Oh, and we’re also going to cut Syracuse running back Ernie Davis a break, for obvious reasons.
Drafted: 1st overall, 2005, San Francisco 49ers
No one would say that Smith was one of the greatest collegiate players of all time. And if he hadn't been the first overall choice in the 2005 draft, he might not be considered such a bust.
But because he was taken first, he has to be considered an immense disappointment.
He has a 16-24 record as a starter, and has thrown more picks (53) than touchdowns (51).
But unlike most players on this list, though, he still has a chance to shed the "bust" label.
He was just so highly-touted—more on potential than for what he accomplished in his two years as starter in Salt Lake City.
Drafted: 3rd overall, 1999, Cincinnati Bengals
Akili Smith will always be dubbed a draft day blunder. His four-year career was horrible: 3-14 as a starter, 46.6 percent completions, three touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
But like Alex Smith, Akili Smith was hardly one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time.
He only played one season at the Division I level.
Surely one of the all-time greatest busts, but because his collegiate career was so short (and not a record-setting, Heisman season like Cam Newton), he can't be anywhere near the top of this list.
College: Boston College
Drafted: 16th overall, 2002, Cleveland Browns
Back when it meant something, Green was a two-time first-team All-Big East Player for the Eagles. In his senior season, he won the conference's Offensive Player of the Year award in addition to an All-American honor.
And he looked like a budding superstar during his rookie season in Cleveland: The Browns made the playoffs (thanks in part to his 178 yards in a Week 17 must-win game) and he gained 887 yards.
But after that great half-season, and a promising start to 2003, he was soon arrested and suspended.
He scored two touchdowns the rest of his career.
College: Oregon State
Drafted: 1st overall, 1963, Los Angeles Rams
The first West Coast Heisman Trophy winner, Baker is still a legend in Corvallis. With both his feet and his arm, Baker led Tommy Prothro's independent Beavers to a 9-2 record and a win in the Liberty Bowl.
In the NFL, however, he had almost no success.
He started the Rams' first game of the 1963 season, threw three picks, never started another and was out of football after three years.
Drafted: 8th overall, 1996, Carolina Panthers
The man who he replaced, Tyrone Wheatley, had a better all-around career in Ann Arbor—rushing for 1,000 yards three consecutive seasons.
But Biakabutuka still owns the record for the greatest rushing season in Wolverine history, posting a record 1,818 yards in 1995.
The Panthers, in need of a running back, took him with their first choice (ahead of Biakabutuka's Ohio State rival, Eddie George), but he couldn't stay healthy.
Too bad, because when he was on the field he did well—having a handful of 100-yard days.
But injuries or not, he's still a bust.
Drafted: 11th overall, 1970, Denver Broncos
Seems like the Broncos went for the local hero instead of the best NFL talent.
Anderson was an All-American, a two-time bowl game MVP, and a two-time all-conference quarterback and running back.
Yet with the Broncos, he was mostly a role player, throwing a few passes, catching a few, and running the ball occasionally—like another Colorado Buffalo, Kordell "Slash" Stewart.
In five NFL seasons he accounted for just 12 scores.
College: Louisiana Tech
Drafted: 13th overall, 1999, Pittsburgh Steelers
For a non-AQ player to be considered a great player, they have to put up incredible stats.
That's exactly what undersized wideout Troy Edwards did in the late 1990s.
As a sophomore, Edwards caught 10 touchdown passes.
The next season, he hauled in an incredible 102 passes for 1,707 yards and 17 touchdowns.
As a senior, he caught 21 passes for 405 yards, and not against a cupcake: the defending national champion Nebraska Cornhuskers. He would finish the season with a ridiculous 140 passes (11.5 per game) for 1,996 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Looking to find another "diamond in the rough" from LA Tech (Terry Bradshaw), the Steelers took Edwards in the first round of the 1999 draft.
After a good rookie season (61 catches, 744 yards) he never again caught more than 19 for the Steelers and would retire after seven seasons with only 202 catches and 11 touchdowns....or roughly one-fifth as many as he had in three years at LA Tech.
Drafted: 1st overall, 2007, Oakland Raiders
Is JaMarcus Russell one of the biggest busts in draft history? Yes.
So here's why he isn't higher on this list: He wasn't one of the greatest college football players of all time.
Remember, the Tigers won the national championship after he left for the NFL...and don't say "so did the post-Peyton Manning Tennessee Vols"—Manning and Russell are worlds apart.
Russell had two fine seasons at LSU, but the Raiders (and Al Davis) fell in love with him because of his arm, his size and his strength—not exceptional prowess on the field.
Drafted: 10th overall, 1995, San Francisco 49ers
Stokes was a first-team All-Pac-10 player as a sophomore. The next season, he was the conference's Offensive Player of the Year. And as a senior, he was an early-season Heisman candidate, before injuries cost him playing time.
Still, he left UCLA with the single-season and career records for catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions. There's an argument to be made that, at that time, he was one of the greatest wide receivers in the conference's history.
The nearby 49ers, knowing that Jerry Rice was 33 years old, snatched him early in the 1995 draft as an heir-apparent. But in eight years with San Fran, he averaged just 40 catches a season and was soon supplanted by the team's third-round choice a year later from tiny Tennessee-Chattanooga: Terrell Owens.
Drafted: 3rd overall, 2002, Detroit Lions
A three-year starter at a prestigious program like Oregon, Harrington is definitely mentioned into the conversation as an one of the best quarterbacks in recent Pac-10 history.
He was the conference's Offensive Player of the Year in 2001, finished fourth in the Heisman voting, and earned a first-team All-American selection.
Naturally, the Lions (and draft guru Matt Millen) saw him as a sure-fire star in the NFL ,so they took him with the third pick. He didn't pan out—winning barely 33 percent of his starts and posting a 79-85 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Still, even in the past decade or so, there are several top-selected quarterbacks who had worse careers.
Drafted: 3rd overall, 1970, Cleveland Browns
Tough acts to follow on both ends for Mike Phipps. At Purdue, he succeeded future NFL Hall of Famer Bob Griese. And two spots after the Steelers selected future Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, the Cleveland Browns took Phipps.
The 1969 Heisman Trophy runner-up threw nearly twice as many interceptions (108) as he threw touchdowns (55) and completed less than 50 percent of his passes.
And although he went 9-1 as a starter for the Bears in 1979, having Walter Payton in the backfield probably had something to do with that.
College: Oklahoma State
Drafted: 16th overall, 1989, New England Patriots
For all the news he made in Stillwater, he made very little in the NFL.
After being at the center of one of the NCAA's biggest recruiting scandals, Dykes caught 60 passes for seven touchdowns as a sophomore. He followed that up with 61 grabs for 978 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
And despite playing with Barry Sanders during his historic 1988 season, Dykes caught 74 passes for 1,278 yards and 14 touchdowns.
A great wide receiver in his own right, Patriots head coach Raymond Berry selected Dykes in the first round of the 1989 draft.
But in a two-year NFL career, Dykes caught just 83 passes for 1,344 yards, and only seven touchdowns.
Drafted: 30th overall, 1968, Washington Redskins
After Beban led the Bruins to a stunning upset of Michigan State in the 1966 Rose Bowl, the San Francisco native won the Heisman Trophy as a senior, thanks in part to his two touchdown passes while losing to O.J. Simpson's Trojans in the epic matchup of No. 1 versus No. 2.
The Redskins took Beban with their second-round pick, but playing under two NFL legends, first Otto Graham in 1968, then Vince Lombardi in 1969, Beban barely ever got on the field. He only threw one pass (although he did catch one) and retired after two seasons.
Drafted: 22nd overall, 2003, Cleveland Browns
Sure, he started a Super Bowl, but that's been about it for the man who was a Heisman runner-up and All-American as a sophomore.
He's thrown 40 touchdowns and 40 interceptions in the NFL and played for three different teams in the last three seasons.
Drafted: 4th overall, 1994, Washington Redskins
The precursor to Peyton Manning, Shuler led the Vols to nine wins as a junior and nine more as a senior.
He was the runner-up in the 1993 Heisman race—prompting Washington to take him at the beginning of the next spring's draft.
Ultimately, the selection was a blessing in disguise for the future congressman. But not for the Redskins.
Shuler started 13 games, lost nine of them, and threw 19 picks. He was traded to New Orleans, where in just one season he threw two touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
He retired after 1997 but would return to D.C. a decade later as the representative from North Carolina's 11th district.
Drafted: 15th overall, 1991, Pittsburgh Steelers
When Steve Spurrier took over the Gators in 1990, he inherited an all-SEC defensive end, Huey Richardson.
And in Spurrier's first season, Richardson carried the Gators defense, earning an All-American spot and setting the school record for career sacks.
Chuck Noll, looking for the next L.C. Greenwood or Mad Dog Dwight White, took Richardson with their first pick. But after a rookie year in which he played just five games and recorded no sacks, Noll retired and the Steelers shipped him to Washington, where he played four games before being released then signing with the Jets.
After that second season, he never played in the NFL again.
College: Notre Dame
Drafted: 22nd overall, 2007, Cleveland Browns
In Charlie Weis' offense, Quinn flourished from 2005-06: What else do you expect from a quarterback named Brady?
As a junior, Quinn tossed for 3,919 yards, 32 touchdowns, and just seven picks, while leading the Irish to a Fiesta Bowl appearance. The next year, Quinn was even better, throwing 39 touchdowns as Notre Dame earned a berth in the Sugar Bowl. When he left South Bend, Quinn held 36 school passing records.
But he tumbled on draft day, and despite two good games in the fall of 2008, he was unable to beat out Derek Anderson and was shipped to Denver for Peyton Hillis and draft picks. There, he couldn't beat out rookie Tim Tebow for the team's backup job.
College: Michigan State
Drafted: 2nd overall, 2003, Detroit Lions
A Biletnikoff winner, an All-American, and a two-time All-Big Ten receiver. Not only that, Rogers was 6'3" and 220 pounds.
That was more than enough to convince the Lions to tab the Michigan native.
And much like Joey Harrington, Rogers' slew of college achievements didn't translate to the NFL.
In three seasons (marred by injuries and legal problems), Rogers caught just 36 passes for 440 yards and four touchdowns.
Drafted: 1st overall, 1988, Atlanta Falcons
Big Play Aundary lived up to his name at Auburn. A three-year starter, he earned first-team SEC honors as a junior and senior, was an All-American as a senior, and won the 1987 Citrus Bowl MVP.
And although future NFL stars like Michael Irvin, Thurman Thomas, Neil Smith, Tim Brown and Randall McDaniel were available, the Falcons took Bruce with the first overall pick in the 1988 draft.
He wasn't an unabashedly terrible NFL player, playing 11 years, recording 32 sacks, and forcing nine fumbles. But that's nowhere near the type of production a first overall player should churn out.
College: Washington State
Drafted: 2nd overall, 1998, San Diego Chargers
Maybe Leaf is the biggest bust in NFL history. But this isn't a list of biggest busts: It's a list of the best college players to flop in the NFL.
Leaf had two excellent seasons in Pullman throwing, but there were a handful of better college quarterbacks who achieved far more only to also fall flat on their face.
Drafted: 11th overall, 2000, New York Giants
Dayne had a decent NFL career, amassing 3,722 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns in seven seasons with the Giants, Broncos and Texans.
But the 1999 Heisman Trophy winner and two-time Rose Bowl MVP who left Camp Randle as the all-time leading rusher didn't once top the 1,000-yard mark.
Considering the enormous expectations on him, that lack of production constitutes a "flop."
Drafted: 1st overall, 1999, Cleveland Browns
Couch had two record-setting seasons with the Wildcats, but averaging 50 throws per game for two seasons will help pad the stats. No wonder he threw for over 8,000 yards and 73 touchdowns in his sophomore and junior seasons.
For the Browns, he was not a worthy first overall selection, losing more games than he won, and throwing more interceptions than touchdowns.
And despite their high hopes for the new face of the new Browns, he ended up becoming just the first in a string of first-round mistakes.
College: Penn State
Drafted: 1st overall, 2000, Cleveland Browns
While taking a quarterback from Kentucky may have been a slight gamble for the expansion Browns, they (rightfully so) figured taking a defensive player from Penn State was a sure thing.
In the case of Brown, it wasn't. It's Nittany Lion linebackers—not defensive ends—who seemingly leave Happy Valley and end up in the Pro Bowl every year.
Brown, who was First-Team All-Big Ten in 1998 and 1999, was the conference's Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, and set an NCAA career record for sacks, struggled with injuries in the NFL and was forced to retire after six subpar seasons.
Drafted: 1st overall, 1982, New England Patriots
Two decades before the 2-14 Cleveland Browns used the first overall selection to take a dominating defensive end from an elite college program, the Patriots did the same thing.
Fresh off another a horrific 2-14 season, New England nabbed Kenneth Sims, the Lombardi Award winner and a two-time All-American, with the top pick in the 1982 draft.
But in the NFL, like Courtney Brown, Sims was repeatedly hurt, recorded only a handful of sacks, and retired after his eighth season.
At least he played in Super Bowl XX.
College: Notre Dame
Drafted: 30th overall, 1969, Pittsburgh Steelers
Hanratty's personal stats weren't terribly impressive: 4,152 yards, 27 touchdowns, 34 picks in three seasons at the helm.
But as a sophomore, he quarterbacked the Irish to a 9-0-1 record and the national championship. Two more years in South Bend produced 15 more wins and a third-place finish in the1968 Heisman race, and made Hanratty an all-time legend in Fighting Irish lore.
His hometown Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Hanratty at the beginning of the second round and gave him plenty of chances to earn the starter's job over the next year's top pick, Terry Bradshaw, but he just couldn't do it.
College: Notre Dame
Drafted: 7th overall, 1978, San Francisco 49ers
MacAfee was a three-time All American at Notre Dame and remains the only tight-end to win the Walter Camp Award.
He also finished third in the 1977 Heisman Trophy voting. That resume makes him one of the greatest tight ends in college football history.
But after two mediocre seasons in the NFL, Bill Walsh asked him to stop being a pass catcher for former Notre Dame teammate Joe Montana, and move to the offensive line.
At age 24, MacAfee retired to enroll at the University of Pennsylvania's dental school.
Drafted: 5th, 1993, Tampa Bay
Maybe playing in one of the greatest defenses of all time along with a handful of first-round talents (Antonio Langham, George Teague and John Copeland (who was selected immediately after him)) made Curry seem better than he really was.
But he was a key member of the Crimson Tide for three years, recording 22.5 sacks and 51 quarterback pressures during his stay in Tuscaloosa.
The 1992 Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year was tabbed fifth overall by the Bucs—but in five seasons with Tampa Bay, he recorded just 10 sacks, and then spent two fruitless seasons with the Jaguars.
College: Notre Dame
Drafted: 1st overall, 1972, Buffalo Bills
In addition to starting every game of his three-year career in South Bend, Patulski was a two-time All-American for Ara Parseghian's Irish, and would later be selected to Notre Dame's All-Century team.
Although he had a few good years with the Bills, he didn't quite live up to first-overall draft status and was later shipped to St. Louis—where he lasted just one season before a knee injury ended his career at age 27.
Drafted: 5th overall, 1994, Indianapolis Colts
After an outstanding junior season in 1992 (All Big Eight, second-team All American) Alberts was one of the leaders of Tom Osbourne's incredible defense.
During that 1993 season, in which the Cornhuskers went undefeated during the regular season, Alberts posted 97 tackles and 15 sacks. The co-captain was named a first-team All-American and the Big Eight's Defensive MVP.
None of that mattered in the NFL. Injuries and limited production caused him to retire after three seasons, at the age of 27.
Drafted: 2nd overall, 2004, Oakland Raiders
As a three-year starter in the Big Ten, and an Outland Trophy winner, he was clearly one of the best college linemen of his era.
And today, Gallery has turned himself into a pretty decent NFL guard.
But the Raiders used the second overall pick on him to play tackle and become the next Anthony Munoz or Orlando Pace. That never happened. Not even close.
Drafted: 3rd overall, 1967, San Francisco 49ers
Long before he was the Gators' Ole Ball Coach, Spurrier was the Gators' Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.
A three-year starter in Gainesville, he was a first team All-American as a junior and a unanimous choice for that same honor a year later.
Looking to find the heir-apparent to an aging John Brodie, the 49ers took Spurrier with the third overall choice in 1967. It didn't work out.
Spurrier went 13-24-1 in the NFL (0-12 for expansion Bucs) and for every two touchdowns he threw, he tossed three picks.
Drafted: 4th overall, 1992, Washington Redskins
As a wide receiver, Desmond Howard was an enormous bust in the NFL: In 12 seasons he caught 123 passes. Now, as a kick/punt returner, he was incredible—he returned eight kickoffs for scores, was named to the 2000 Pro Bowl, and won the Super Bowl XXXI MVP.
But the Redskins didn't use the fourth overall choice on a kick returner: They expected Howard to do more as a reciever—after all, he left Ann Arbor as the second-leading receiver in school history, behind Anthony Carter.
Drafted: 6th overall, 1992, Cincinnati Bengals
In two seasons as the Cougars' starter, Klingler put up eye-popping numbers: 5,140 yards and 54 touchdowns as a junior, 3,424 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior.
Despite playing in that pass-happy, Run-and-Shoot offense, the Bengals took Klingler in the first round of the 1992 draft.
Klingler made 24 starts for Cincinnati; the Bengals lost 20 of them.
College: Penn State
Drafted: 2nd overall, 1990, New York Jets
A freshman on JoePa's 1986 national championship Nittany Lions, Thomas took over as the feature back his junior year and by the end of his career in Happy Valley, nearly broke the school record for yards.
Seeking another Franco Harris, Lydell Mitchell or Curt Warner, the Jets took Thomas with their first pick in 1990 only to see him become one of the decade's biggest busts.
In four seasons with the Jets, Thomas rushed for 2,001 yards and scored just five touchdowns. He was out of football after the 1995 season.
College: Penn State
Drafted: 5th overall, 1998, Chicago Bears
The Bears didn't learn the lesson of Blair Thomas.
Enis rushed for 32 touchdowns and over 2,500 yards in his final two years in Happy Valley.
Not long after all the drama over the Peyton Manning-Ryan Leaf selection, Chicago took Enis with the fifth pick (instead of Fred Taylor). In three seasons with Chicago, Enis never broke the 100-yard mark before retiring at age 24 because of a knee injury.
Drafted: 7th overall, 1990, Detroit Lions
Two years before David Klingler, Andre Ware was the quarterback flinging touchdown passes in bunches.
As a sophomore, Ware had an excellent season, throwing for 2,507 yards and tossing 25 touchdowns with just eight interceptions.
In 1989, Ware became a star, winning the Heisman by setting 26 single-season passing records. He threw for 4,699 yard and 46 touchdowns in Jack Pardee's Run-and-Shoot.
The Lions, looking to have the first Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and running back in the same backfield, took Ware in the 1990 draft.
In four seasons, he made just six starts and was eventually cut.
College: Michigan State
Drafted: 2nd overall, 1989, Green Bay Packers
"The Incredible Bulk" was the first truly over-hyped player in draft history.
He had a fine career in East Lansing, winning a pair of Big Ten Lineman of the Year awards, as well as an All-American selection in his senior season.
But he just never panned out as an NFL tackle and was out of football after just three years.
For the Packers he was definitely a bust, but since he came back five years after retiring, to start for the Colts from 1996-98, he partly redeemed himself.
Drafted: 12th overall, 1986, Detroit Lions
Before Andre Ware and Joey Harrington, the Lions drafted the 1985 Heisman runner-up to be their franchise quarterback.
Long had an incredible career with the Hawkeyes, throwing for over 9,200 yards and 64 touchdowns and actually appeared in five bowl games.
But with the Lions, he didn't win either of his two starts, then led the NFL interceptions in 1987. After another dismal season in 1988, Long never started another game and was out of the NFL by age 28.
Drafted: 3rd overall, 1987, Houston Oilers
A four-year letterman for the Hurricanes, Highsmith won one national championship as a freshman and nearly another as a senior.
He left Miami with more touchdowns than any player in school history.
But in six seasons with the Oilers, Cowboys and Buccaneers, he rushed for just seven touchdowns and never gained more than 80 yards on the ground in a single game.
College: Florida State
Drafted: 3rd overall, 1998, Arizona Cardinals
Wadsworth was utterly dominant for the Seminoles in the mid-1990s. He was second-team All-ACC as a freshman, then again as a sophomore, and again as a junior.
By his senior season, Wadsworth was not only first team All ACC, he was a first team All-American and the conference's Defensive Player of the Year.
He wowed all the scouts at the combine with his 4.65 40-time and 38.5-inch vertical. But after a decent rookie year (six sacks in 15 starts) he suffered multiple injuries, recorded just three more sacks and retired after just three seasons.
College: Penn State
Drafted: 7th, 1983, Kansas City Chiefs
In his final two years with the Nittany Lions, Blackledge won 21 games and the Davey O'Brien Award, and became the first quarterback to ever give Joe Paterno a national championship.
That resume was enough to convince the Chiefs to select him over Jim Kelly and Dan Marino in the fabled Quarterback Class of 1983.
But in seven NFL seasons, Blackledge struggled with accuracy—tossing 38 interceptions in just 29 starts and completing only 48 percent of his passes.
College: Notre Dame
Drafted: 2nd overall, 1993, Seattle Seahawks
Seemingly Joe Montana's successor as the next truly great Notre Dame quarterback, Mirer took the reins of the Irish offense as a sophomore in 1990 and led the team to the Orange Bowl.
He was again one of the nation's top signal-callers as a junior and senior, leaving South Bend with a phenomenal 29-7-1 record as a starter and three bowl victories.
After Washington-native Drew Bledsoe was off the board, the Seahawks settled for Mirer and were destined to be disappointed.
In four years, he went 20-31 as a starter and would finish with 76 interceptions and only 50 touchdowns.
Drafted: 1st overall, 1992, Indianapolis Colts
Emtman was an All-American, a national champion, and the Lombardi and Outland Trophy winner.
But his most amazing achievement was this: As a DEFENSIVE TACKLE, Emtman finished fourth in the Heisman race.
But in the NFL, injuries cost him dearly and he was forced to retire by age 27.
College: Florida State
Drafted: 4th overall, 2000, Cincinnati Bengals
At the time, there may never have been a more highly decorated wide receiver in NFL Draft history.
Warrick was a three-time All-ACC player, a two-time All-American, twice a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, and set a school record with 32 touchdown catches.
And although he had a few decent years with the Bengals, and played in a Super Bowl with Seattle, he never came close to living up to the numbers he put up in Tallahassee.
College: Penn State
Drafted: 1st overall, 1995, Cincinnati Bengals
As great as Blair Thomas and Curtis Enis were for Joe Paterno, Carter was even better.
In the Nittany Lions' first year of Big Ten play, Carter had a fine year, rushing for 1,026 yards and seven touchdowns.
But during Penn State's perfect 1994 season, he was remarkable—rushing for 1,539 yards and a school record-setting 23 touchdowns.
He capped off that historic year with three touchdowns and 156 yards rushing in the Rose Bowl to win the game's MVP.
The Bengals, who had traded with the expansion Panthers, took him first overall but a horrific knee injury ruined his career. He tried a courageous comeback but never rushed for more than 464 yards in a single season.
Drafted: 1st overall (supplementary), 1987, Seattle Seahawks
The Boz was all-conference as a sophomore, an All-American as a junior and senior, and remains the only player to win the Butkus Award twice.
Regardless of the steroid use that kept him out of the 1987 Orange Bowl against Arkansas, the star-hungry Seahawks were eager to nab Bosworth in the Supplemental Draft.
But in three seasons the most memorable play he made was being hammered at the goal line by Bo Jackson in a 37-14 Monday Night Football loss to the Raiders.
Three years later, he was out of football and making terrible movies.
Drafted: 10th overall, 2006, Arizona Cardinals
Matt Leinart is not as big an NFL bust as players like Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington or Tim Couch. But he lands far above them on the list because he was a much better college quarterback and has been a pretty horrible pro.
As a sophomore, he led the Trojans to the AP national championship. As a junior, he won the Heisman and led USC to an undisputed national title. And as senior, he finished third in the Heisman voting and again took the Trojans to a national title game.
Before Tim Tebow came along, he was without a doubt the most accomplished collegian of the 21st century.
Yet in the NFL, he had four opportunities to win the Cardinals' starting job in the preseason, failed, and was cut.
College: Ohio State
Drafted: 24th overall, 1976, Cincinnati Bengals
The only two-time Heisman Trophy winner had three incredible seasons for Woody Hayes' Buckeyes, amassing over 1,400 yards each season, and topped the 100-yard mark in an NCAA record 31 consecutive games.
But with the Bengals, the undersized back just didn't measure up. He scored just seven touchdowns and averaged just 28 yards per game during a seven-year career.
Drafted: 6th overall, 1996, St. Louis Rams
After a prodigious freshman year, Phillips became the nation's premier running back in 1994, rushing for 1,722 yards as the Cornhuskers won the national championship.
A year later, he was an early Heisman favorite before the team suspended him for an alleged domestic assault. But he returned to rush for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the Cornhuskers' Fiesta Bowl thumping of Florida, which earned them a repeat national championship.
Urged to leave early for the NFL, the St. Louis Rams were delighted to take Phillips with their first-round pick in the 1996 draft (so much so that they dealt Jerome Bettis to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a pair of draft choices).
But Phillips played just three seasons and his professional career is better remembered for letting Aeneas Williams give Steve Young a career-ending concussion than any carry he every had in the NFL.
College: Ohio State
Drafted: 4th overall, 1982, Indianapolis Colts
How does a four-year starter at Ohio State wind up with an 0-6 career record in the NFL?
Well, a gambling ban followed later by an arrest will do it.
Maybe it wasn't a "flop" in the same vein as a Ryan Leaf or an Akili Smith. But in many ways it was worse.