10 Biggest NFL Draft Busts Who Played in the Big Ten
If you read the article I wrote yesterday, the Big Ten has had its share of great NFL players. There are certainly more good players than bad from one of the premier conferences in the country.
On the opposite end of the discussion however, there are quite a few all-time busts as well. A few of which are some of the biggest busts in NFL history.
Read on at your own risk as I take a look back at the picks who set their NFL teams back, some worse than others.
No. 10: RB Ron Dayne, Wisconsin
Ron Dayne is one of the best college running backs of all time. As a four-year starter at Wisconsin, the "Dayne Train" set the NCAA Division I-A rushing record for total yards in a career.
He gained 1,863 yards as a freshman, 1,421 as a sophomore, 1,325 as a junior, and 1,834 as a senior. That same year, 1999, he won the Heisman Trophy. His rushing record still stands to this day.
He made this list simply because he had no production as an NFL running back, not because he was an awful player. He showed the power he dominated defenders with in college, but gained weight and had no athleticism. He was about as one-dimensional as you could get, and took quite a pounding.
Dayne was selected with the 11th overall pick of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. Over his seven-season career, he never once ran for 1,000 yards or scored 10 touchdowns.
He carried the ball 983 times for 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns. Dayne still hasn't officially retired, but hasn't seen any action since 2007 with the Houston Texans.
No. 9: CB Bruce Pickens, Nebraska
For a guy with the last name "Pickens," Bruce didn't pick many quarterbacks off in his short NFL career.
Pickens was drafted with the No. 3 overall pick in 1991 by the Atlanta Falcons but never played a full season. The most games he started in a season was four, during the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
He had just two interceptions in his brief NFL career, both in 1992 with the Falcons. Pickens was very good in college at Nebraska, but ended up a huge bust in the NFL.
No. 8: DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
Being an Ohio State fan, I saw Vernon Gholston play a lot. During his time at Ohio State, Gholston started 25 games. He finished with 87 tackles, and 30.5 stops for a loss.
He also had 21.5 sacks, which ranks fifth in school history. I thought he would be a sack machine in the NFL, especially with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.
He played for the Jets for two seasons and had as many sacks as I did over that time. Zero. After a year with the Chicago Bears, he was cut before this season and isn't even on an NFL roster.
No. 7: RB Ki-Jana Carter, Penn State
I would have him a lot higher, but running back Ki-Jana Carter tore his ACL as a rookie during a preseason game.
He was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
He looked slow and worn down after this injury and was never the same player again. If he didn't get hurt, I truly believe he would have been a good NFL player for a long time. Even after this injury, he played off and on for eight seasons before retiring in 2004.
This was a case of horrible luck, but Carter is one of the biggest busts in NFL history. He never rushed for 500 yards in a single season.
No. 6: WR Charles Rogers, Michigan State
Charles Rodgers was one of several failed wide receivers picked by Matt Millen when he was with the Detroit Lions.
He was drafted by the Lions second overall in the 2003 NFL Draft. It wasn't necessarily a reach, as he had a great career at Michigan State. The issue most fans had with the pick is that the team had more pressing needs.
Rogers still holds school records for most TDs in a career with 27, and most receiving yards in a single game with 270. He also broke Randy Moss's NCAA record of 13 straight games with a touchdown catch.
Playing only from 2002-2005, Rogers was a horrible bust and set the Lions back a long time. Even with other needs, the Lions could have drafted star wide receiver Andre Johnson.
Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.
No. 5: RB Blair Thomas, Penn State
Blair Thomas was a star running back at Penn State. He finished second on the Nittany Lions’s all-time rushing list with 3,301 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was just 97 yards shy of the Penn State record set by Curt Warner.
The No. 2 overall pick in 1990, the Penn State star lasted only five years in the NFL, gaining 2,000 yards over the course of his career.
He played for the New York Jets, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers.
Many thought he would return to greatness as a pro, but he never did.
No. 4: DE Courtney Brown, Penn State
Courtney Brown played at Penn State from 1996-2000, where he was nearly unstoppable as a pass rusher.
He finished his college career with a NCAA record-breaking 33 sacks and 70 tackles for loss. He was a physical freak, who was fast even at his size.
At the Penn State pro day Brown measured 6'4⅞" 271-pounds, ran a 4.52 seconds 40-yard dash, had a vertical leap of 37" and bench-pressed 225 pounds 26 times.
Brown was drafted by the Browns first overall in the 2000 NFL Draft and was only in the NFL for five years. Another victim of several nagging injuries, he was never able to play at a consistently good level.
No. 3: RB Curtis Enis, Penn State
Curtis Enis was another Penn State running back who never panned out due mostly to injury. He was drafted with the fifth pick in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft.
He ended up with a 3.3 yards per carry for 1,497 yards in his two-year career with the Chicago Bears. Enis was forced to retire in 2001 due to a degenerative condition in his left knee.
It's hard to say what might have been had he remained healthy, but that's history.
No. 2: QB Art Schlichter, Ohio State
The Indianapolis Colts drafted Art Schlichter with the No. 4 pick in 1982. The Ohio State quarterback's gambling problems were well-known but they drafted him anyway.
Schlichter was awful in the NFL and was eventually banned from the league when his gambling habit became even worse.
He had a career quarterback rating of only 42.6 and is considered one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history.
No. 1: OT Tony Mandarich, Michigan State
Tony Mandarich was one of the best offensive line prospects in the history of the NFL Draft.
Sports Illustrated did a cover story on him, nicknaming him "The Incredible Bulk." He weighed 304 pounds, ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds, did a standing long jump of 10' 3", leaped vertically 30" and bench-pressed 225 pounds an unbelievable 39 times.
He admitted after his career was over that he abused steroids and painkillers, which makes his college career fraudulent.
He was drafted No. 2 overall in 1989 by the Green Bay Packers, only playing a couple of seasons with them. He came back with the Indianapolis Colts a few years later, putting together two average seasons.
He is one of the biggest busts in NFL history and is definitely the biggest to come out of the Big Ten.
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