The 50 Biggest NFL Draft Busts of All Time

Wes StueveContributor IIIOctober 25, 2011

The 50 Biggest NFL Draft Busts of All Time

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    Then there is JaMarcus Russell. Russell is one of the most physically talented players to ever play in the NFL, but he was impossibly lazy.

    The LSU quarterback was often out of shape and did not work to improve himself at all.

    The No. 1 pick in 2007, Russell is already out of the NFL and showing no signs of ever returning.

50. Vince Young, QB, Texas

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    Young is still young and has some potential, but the signs are not good.

    The No. 3 overall pick in 2006 has been through a variety of mental issues and can't seem to play at an even average level.

    Though the former Texas star isn't a guaranteed flop yet, he certainly didn't work out well for Tennessee.

49. Pat Sullivan, QB, Auburn

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    Until recently, Sullivan was considered the best quarterback to ever play for the Tigers.

    However, the Auburn star never did anything in the NFL, throwing five touchdowns and 16 interceptions throughout his career.

48. Terry Baker, QB, Oregon State

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    Baker was a dual-threat quarterback who may have been limited by the St. Louis offense, yet he goes down in history as a huge bust.

    The first pick in 1963, Baker played just three seasons in the NFL and had a career passer rating of 40.7.

47. Matt Leinart, QB, USC

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    Leinart is another player who could still develop into something, but the former USC star is just a backup with little chance of becoming anything more.

    Though Leinart was picked 10th, he had huge expectations and failed to even come close to reaching them.

46. Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State

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    Maybin would certainly be higher on this list if he weren't still playing and just 23 years old.

    The 11th overall pick in 2009, Maybin was viewed as a high-risk, high-reward prospect.

    Unfortunately for the Bills, Maybin ended up flopping in Buffalo and is finally starting to contribute as a Jet.

45. Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado

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    After rushing for more than 2,000 yards in a season and winning the Heisman Trophy, Salaam went on to become a huge flop in the NFL.

    The 21st pick in 1995, Salaam developed a marijuana problem and never played enough to amount to anything significant.

44. Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame

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    Yes, Quinn wasn't a top 10 draft pick in 2007, but he was extremely highly thought-of and has failed in a big way.

    Quinn was given multiple chances to play in Cleveland, and now with the Broncos, he still can't get on the field.

    When Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow are both ahead of you on the depth chart, things aren't going so well.

43. Steve Spurrier, QB, Florida

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    The legendary college football coach played quarterback for the Buccaneers before ever thinking of leaving the playing field.

    Unfortunately for Spurrier, his reign in Tampa Bay produced one of the worst seasons in the history of the NFL, as the Buccaneers went winless in 1976.

42. Robert Gallery, OT, Iowa

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    Though Gallery did eventually develop into a decent guard, the former Hawkeye was not the franchise left tackle the Raiders thought they were selecting.

    Gallery was a huge bust as an offensive tackle and was not even close to being worth a first-round draft pick, much less the No. 2 pick in the draft.

41. David Carr, QB, Fresno State

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    Many argue that Carr could have been a good quarterback if he hadn't played for such a terrible team in Houston.

    While this argument is somewhat valid, Carr never did anything to help out the team either.

    The No. 1 overall pick in 2002, Carr was still unable to produce after leaving the Texans.

40. Tim Biakabutuka, RB, Michigan

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    While at Michigan, Biakabutuka tore up the NCAA and Ohio State especially with unprecedented success.

    However, Biakabutuka averaged just 500 yards a season over the course of his six-year NFL career, and the No. 8 pick in 1996 never produced much of anything.

39. Reggie Bush, RB, USC

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    This isn't to say that Bush is a useless player; he's not.

    However, the "Heisman winner" should have never been a top-five draft pick, as it was well known that he couldn't be an every-down back.

    In today's NFL, it is not at all hard to find good running backs, and the No. 2 overall pick in 2006 isn't even average.

38. Todd Blackledge, QB, Penn State

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    Blackledge never started more than eight games in a season and was awful when he did play.

    The Penn State quarterback won 31 games in college but failed dramatically in the NFL.

37. Reggie Williams, WR, Washington

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    The No. 9 pick in 2004, Williams was widely considered a bad pick at the time.

    At 6'4", 225 pounds, Williams lacked explosiveness and was nothing more than a possession receiver.

    However, Williams couldn't even find success in this role and is now out of the NFL.

36. Kenneth Sims, DE, Texas

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    Throughout his eight-year career, Sims recorded a meager 17 sacks.

    The Texas defensive end was the first player chosen in the 1982 NFL draft and could hardly have been less productive in the NFL.

35. Archie Griffin, RB, Ohio State

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    The only player to win two Heisman Trophies, Griffin was a phenomenal college player.

    However, he averaged just one touchdown for every year he was in the NFL and fewer than 500 yards a season.

    Griffin's electrifying play simply didn't transfer over to the NFL.

34. Jack Thompson, QB, Washington State

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    Thompson broke records at Washington State and went on to be the No. 3 pick in the 1979 draft.

    Unfortunately, Thompson typically sat on the bench and struggled when he did start.

    The college star is yet another example of college statistics not telling the story.

33. Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida

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    When the Jaguars drafted Harvey with the eighth pick in the 2008 NFL draft, they knew the pick would be unpopular with many analysts.

    In this case, the analysts turned out to be right, and Jacksonville remains in desperate need of pass-rushers.

    Even with terrible defensive ends, the Jaguars had no problem with losing the former Florida lineman.

32. Levi Brown, OT, Penn State

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    Brown may still be starting in the NFL, but that just shows how bad the Arizona offensive line is.

    The fifth pick in 2007, Brown might be the NFL's worst starting left tackle, and to make matters worse, the Cardinals could have had a star.

    Many thought the team would take star running back Adrian Peterson in 2007, but the team instead ended up with Brown.

31. Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina

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    The seventh pick in 2005, Williamson is the perfect example of an athlete who can't play football very well.

    The former Jaguar was incredibly fast with great size but simply couldn't catch the football.

    Nearly every offseason we heard about how improved Williamson was, yet he never did produce in the NFL.

30. Johnathan Sullivan, DT, Georgia

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    Taken with the No. 6 pick in 2003, Sullivan was expected to become one of the league's elite defensive tackles.

    However, the Georgia defensive lineman actually regressed after a terrible rookie season in which he recorded a career-high 26 tackles and one sack.

29. Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State

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    The Packers traded a ransom to the Seahawks in order to acquire Reynolds in the draft, so this pick looks even worse than it otherwise would.

    Reynolds produced virtually nothing in the NFL and was out of the league before the start of his fourth season.

28. Rich Campbell, QB, California

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    The saddest thing about Campbell is the fact that he never started a single game.

    The California product threw just 68 passes throughout his incredibly short career.

    Campbell managed to be out of the league after four seasons.

27. Russell Erxleben, K, Texas

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    Before Sebastian Janikowski, there was Russell Erxleben.

    The Texas product played both kicker and punter and somehow managed to be drafted 11th overall in 1979.

    When a kicker is selected this high, there are obviously huge expectations. Erxleben didn't come close to reaching them.

26. David Klingler, QB, Houston

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    With the Bengals, Klingeler threw 16 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, leading the team to a 4-20 record.

    The Houston quarterback spent a total of four seasons in Cincinnati before moving on to Oakland as a backup, where he struggled in limited action.

25. Peter Warrick, WR, Florida State

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    Warrick was simply sensational at Florida State, though he did display some questionable decision-making off the field.

    The No. 4 pick in 2000 never seemed particularly interested in improving and played with incredible softness.

24. Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon

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    The No. 3 pick in 2003, Harrington spent several years with the Lions before being traded to the Dolphins.

    Though the Oregon star certainly did not have much to work with in Detroit, he played abysmally and probably would have busted with any team.

23. Trev Alberts, LB, Nebraska

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    At Nebraska, Alberts was a feared Butkus Award winner and was thought of highly enough to be the No. 4 pick in the 1994 NFL draft.

    Unfortunately for Alberts, he was hit hard with injuries. Even when he was on the field, Alberts struggled with the mental part of the game and produced very little.

22. Curtis Enis, RB, Penn State

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    Enis was hit hard with injuries throughout his career, and he ended up with a 3.3 yards per carry for 1,497 yards.

    While Enis did not see the field often, the Penn State running back failed to produce even when he was in the game.

21. Aundray Bruce, LB, Auburn

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    The first overall pick in 1988, Bruce was seen as the next great pass-rushing linebacker but was cut by Atlanta after just two seasons.

    Bruce spent a couple more years in the NFL but never amounted to anything.

20. Ron Dayne, RB, Wisconsin

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    One of college football's truly great players, Dayne proved to be one-dimensional in the NFL.

    The 5'10" 250-pounder had some serious power but lacked the speed and quickness to play as an every-down running back.

    Defenses knew what to expect when Dayne was in the game, and he paid for it.

19. Andre Ware, QB, Houston

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    After being drafted seventh in 1990, Ware would never become a starting quarterback and lasted in the NFL for a brief four seasons.

    Ware produced astounding numbers in college but couldn't adjust to the pro game and ended his career with five touchdowns.

18. Rick Mirer, QB, Notre Dame

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    After the Notre Dame star was selected with the No. 2 pick in 1993, Mirer was expected to become a star for many years.

    Unfortunately for the Seahawks, Mirer was a career journeyman, jumping all over the NFL until 2004.

17. Dewayne Robertson, DT, Kentucky

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    A good enough defensive tackle to be drafted fourth overall, Robertson not only failed to develop into an impact player, he wasn't even decent.

    In his defense, the Jets' defensive scheme did not fit Robertson's aggressive style of play.

    While this certainly did not help Robertson, it is not a legitimate excuse for his failure in the NFL.

16. Courtney Brown, DE, Penn State

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    The No. 1 overall pick in 2000, Brown wasn't necessarily a bad player; he just couldn't stay healthy.

    The Penn State star was a physical specimen and could have become an elite pass-rusher if not for the durability issues.

    Though Brown showed flashes of greatness, he couldn't consistently produce.

15. Bruce Pickens, CB, Nebraska

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    Pickens was drafted with the No. 3 overall pick in 1991 and lasted just a couple seasons in the NFL.

    With a meager two career interceptions, Pickens left the NFL without contributing anything to the Falcons.

    The Nebraska cornerback was expected to become a star, but instead ended up as a huge bust.

14. Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State

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    Even under defensive guru Rex Ryan, Gholston was unable to record a single sack throughout his career in New York.

    The sixth pick in 2008, Gholston was a workout warrior but couldn't play at a high level.

    Though the Bears gave him a shot, Gholston is currently out of the NFL.

13. Blair Thomas, RB, Penn State

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    Thomas was an unusually high draft pick for a running back and failed miserably in the NFL.

    The No. 2 pick in 1990, the Penn State star lasted through just the 1995 season, gaining 2,000 yards over the course of his career.

12. Steve Emtman, DE, Washington

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    At Washington, Emtman was one of the most dominant forces football has ever known.

    After being drafted first overall in 1992, however, Emtman quickly fell off the map.

    The Washington star suffered numerous injuries and ended his career at the much too young age of 27.

11. Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Penn State

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    The rare running back to be drafted first overall, Carter suffered a torn ACL as a rookie, and things went downhill from there.

    Though the Penn State star lasted 10 seasons in the NFL, Carter never rushed for more than 464 yards in a single season.

10. Art Schlichter, QB, Ohio State

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    The Colts chose to draft Schlichter with the No. 4 pick in 1982 despite knowing about the Ohio State quarterback's gambling problems.

    Schlichter never played well in the NFL and was eventually banned from the league as his gambling habit became even worse.

9. Tim Couch, QB, Kentucky

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    In Couch's defense, the former Kentucky quarterback played with an expansion team and played with one of the least talented offenses in the history of the NFL.

    However, Couch never really looked like an NFL quarterback and probably wouldn't have succeeded with a good team around him.

8. Heath Shuler, QB, Tennessee

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    The low point of Shuler's career was when, in 1996, he was benched for Gus Frerotte.

    The third pick in 1994, Shuler dominated for the Tennessee Volunteers.

    The pro game proved to be different, as Shuler struggled mightily throughout his brief but painful career.

7. Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State

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    Rogers was an immensely talented wide receiver but fell victim to injuries and off-field problems.

    Though the Michigan State star was considered a great prospect at the time, Matt Millen is often mocked for the failed pick.

    Perhaps the worst thing about the selection is that the Lions could have had Andre Johnson instead.

6. Akili Smith, QB, Oregon

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    Yes, Smith was only the third selection in the same draft as Tim Couch, but if you ever watched Smith play, you will understand.

    Though the Oregon quarterback was an extremely high draft pick, he was quite possibly the worst signal-caller in the NFL for a few years.

5. Brian Bosworth, LB, Oklahoma

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    At Oklahoma, Bosworth was widely acknowledged to be a complete psychopath on the field.

    However, part of this was due to extreme steroid use, and Bosworth quickly fizzled out in the NFL.

    Seattle made the regrettable decision to sign Bosworth to a 10-year contract and dealt with the consequences.

    He was out of the league just two years after being drafted.

4. Lawrence Phillips, RB, Nebraska

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    Phillips was widely considered a future star and a can't-miss prospect. But as the NFL draft continually proves, anything can happen.

    Phillips faced a variety of off-field problems and ended up serving many years in prison.

    The Nebraska running back could have very well been a star on the field, but the world will never know due to his stupid actions.

3. Tony Mandarich, OT, Michigan State

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    Mandarich was quite possibly the best offensive line prospect in the history of the NFL draft.

    However, his play was not entirely legitimate, as the Michigan State offensive tackle abused steroids and painkillers in college.

    Mandarich did eventually make a bit of a comeback, but by then it was far too late to salvage his career.

2. Ryan Leaf, QB, Washington State

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    For many years, Leaf was unanimously considered the biggest bust in NFL history.

    The No. 2 pick of the 1998 NFL draft, Leaf proved to have a dangerous personality. Some actually thought that Leaf was a better prospect than Peyton Manning.

    The Washington State star played for four different teams and was out of the NFL by 2002. Impressive, to say the least.

1. JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU

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    Then there is JaMarcus Russell. Russell is one of the most physically talented players to ever play in the NFL, but he was impossibly lazy.

    The LSU quarterback was often out of shape and did not work to improve himself at all.

    The No. 1 pick in 2007, Russell is already out of the NFL and showing no signs of ever returning.