50 Most Highly Rated NFL Draft Prospects Who Never Panned out

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIDecember 22, 2011

50 Most Highly Rated NFL Draft Prospects Who Never Panned out

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    No matter how good a player is at the collegiate level, that does not guarantee them success and glory in the National Football League.

    Sometimes it just doesn't work out.

    Over the years there have been several highly rated prospects that fell flat on their faces. We like to call these players busts.

    In that spirit, here are 50 of the most highly rated NFL draft prospects that never panned out. 

JaMarcus Russell

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    JaMarcus Russell may have had the strongest arm in NFL history, but he never matured to play at the NFL level.

    Russell came out of LSU as the first overall pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2007 but played in only 31 games as he posted a career 65.2 quarterback rating while completing only 52.1 percent of his passes. 

    Oh and by the way, Russell loves "drinkin' that purple drank." 

Tony Mandarich

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    Tony Mandarich was just fake. He was all fake.

    Mandarich was selected second overall in the 1989 draft by the Green Bay Packers but he was never able to compete against opposing pass rushers. 

    It's so clear that Mandarich was a performance enhancing user as his freakish strength magically disappeared as soon as he left the college ranks. 

Tim Couch

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    I guess that you could say that Tim Couch is one of the worst first overall picks in NFL draft history.

    Couch lasted only five seasons with the Cleveland Browns despite being believed to be the next great passer. The Kentucky product posted a career 22-37 record as a starter while completing only 59.8 percent of his passes and finishing with a 75.1 quarterback rating. 

Akili Smith

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    Akili Smith had so much talent and upside but he just never played well—plain and simple.

    Smith was the third overall pick by in the 1999 draft as the Cincinnati Bengals selected the Oregon product to be the quarterback of the future—that did not work out too well.

    Smith retired in 2002 after playing in 22 career games while posting a pitiful 52.8 quarterback rating and completing only 46.6 percent of his passes. 

Vince Young

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    Vince Young should have never been drafted third overall by the Tennessee Titans. I immediately figured that he'd be a bust as soon as the Titans picked him.

    V.Y. lasted only five years in Tennessee as he was a part of a quarterback carousel with Kerry Collins. Young may have a 31-19 record as a starter, but his 46 touchdowns compared to 51 interceptions and a 74.4 quarterback rating do not match up with his potential. 

    Young is now serving as Michael Vick's backup in Philadelphia. 

Mike Williams

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    Mike Williams may be having some success with the Seattle Seahawks right now, but he was forced out of the league in 2008 after being the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft.

    The USC product was selected by the Detroit Lions but he managed to only play in 22 games for the Lions and started just six of them. In those games, Williams caught 37 passes while scoring only two touchdowns. 

Terry Baker

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    Terry Baker was a very talented dual-threat quarterback during his days at Oregon State, but the first overall pick in the 1963 had an absolutely pathetic NFL career.

    Baker was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in hope that he'd be the team's quarterback of the future. Baker played in only 18 career games, started only one of them and retired with a 40.7 quarterback rating. 

Courtney Brown

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    Courtney Brown's biggest problem was that he just could not stay healthy as he failed to play a full NFL season after his rookie season in 2000.

    Brown was the first overall pick by the Cleveland Browns and was predicted to be a top-tier pass rusher. Well, he retired with only 19 career sacks in six seasons. 

Matt Leinart

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    Matt Leinart was one of the most successful quarterbacks in NCAA history and will be remembered as one of the all-time busts.

    Leinart fell to the 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft as the Arizona Cardinals desperately needed a quarterback, and Leinart was the best available. 

    Leinart lasted just four seasons in 'Zona as he posted a 8-10 record as a starter while completing only 57.1 percent of his passes and throwing 15 touchdowns compared to 20 interceptions.

    The USC product is now serving as the backup to Matt Schaub in Houston. 

Kenneth Sims

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    When you're drafted first overall and you're a defensive end, you better be a sack machine—Kenneth Sims was not.

    Sims was the first pick in the 1982 draft by the New England Patriots and was laughable.

    The Texas product played in eight seasons and managed to record just 17 sacks. 

Rashaan Salaam

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    Rashaan Salaam is just another Heisman Trophy winner to turn out to be a huge flop in the NFL.

    Salaam ran for more than 2,000 yards while in the college ranks, but the 21st overall pick by the Chicago Bears had a real problem with marijuana. 

    Salaam lasted only four seasons. 

Maurice Clarett

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    Maurice Clarett may have been only a third round pick, but he had so much potential. 

    Clarett was an absolute stud at Ohio State but ran into the law far too many times and simply never matured enough to excel at the NFL level. 

Pat Sullivan

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    Pat Sullivan's career in the NFL was laughable as he was a dominant quarterback for the Auburn Tigers. 

    Sullivan played in 30 career games with the Atlanta Falcons after being selected 40th overall in 1970. He managed to throw only five touchdowns while being picked off 16 times. 

Steve Spurrier

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    Steve Spurrier is one hell of a college coach but he absolutely sucked as an NFL quarterback.

    Spurrier was drafted third overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 1967 and posted an embarrassing 57.1 quarterback rating in nine seasons in San Fran.

    Spurrier then went onto play one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before vanishing from the pro level. 

Charles Rogers

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    Charles Rogers had an incredible collegiate career with Michigan State but was a complete bust with the Detroit Lions as he was drafted second overall back in 2003. 

    Rogers played in only 15 games for the Lions as he recorded just 36 receptions and four touchdowns. All in all, Rogers never really had the work ethic to make it as a pro. 

Robert Gallery

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    For being the second overall pick in a draft, you better be pretty damn good—Robert Gallery was not.

    Gallery was the top rated offensive tackle in the 2004 draft, but he simply did not make it as a tackle with the Oakland Raiders.

    However, Gallery has resurrected his career as an offensive guard and is now playing for the Seattle Seahawks. 

David Carr

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    I actually feel bad for David Carr as he was thrown to the wolves in his first year in the league as he was the first overall pick by an expansion team, the Houston Texans.

    Carr lasted five seasons with the Texans as he finished with a 22-53 record as a starter while posting a pitiful 75.5 quarterback rating with 65 touchdowns compared to 71 interceptions.

    Carr is currently serving as a backup with the New York Giants. 

Peter Warrick

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    If you go from being the fourth overall pick in the NFL to eventually playing in the Indoor Football League, then it's safe to say that you're a complete bust. 

    Peter Warrick is the perfect example as he amounted to nothing with the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Tim Biakabutuka

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    Tim Biakabutuka lasted only six seasons in the NFL after being drafted eighth overall by the Carolina Panthers back in 1996. 

    The Michigan product was the top rated running back in the '96 draft, but started only 35 games. He averaged 4.1 yards per-carry and failed to accumulate 1,000 yards in any season. 

Reggie Bush

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    I hate to say it but Reggie Bush is one of the biggest busts in the last 10 years.

    Granted Bush had some successful seasons with the New Orleans Saints, but he never really panned out into being an every-down running back—he should have not be drafted second overall in 2006.

    On top of never really turning into a productive runner, Bush has played only one full season in his six-year career. 

Jamal Reynolds

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    There is no reason why the Green Bay Packers should have traded almost their entire draft just to acquire Jamal Reynolds—his NFL career was laughable.

    Reynolds lasted only three seasons in the NFL while recording just three sacks after being drafted 10th overall and being a top-rated defensive end. 

Ryan Leaf

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    Ryan Leaf is probably the biggest bust in NFL history. Actually, in the entire history of mankind. 

    Leaf was drafted second overall by the San Diego Chargers but lasted only two seasons with the team as he was 4-17 as a starter and completed a putrid 48.8 percent of his passes

    Leaf then went onto play one season with the Dallas Cowboys and then disappeared. 

Todd Blackledge

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    Todd Blackledge was drafted with the seventh pick in the 1983 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Blackledge spent five years in Kansas City as he posted a 13-11 record as a starter while throwing 29 touchdowns compared to 38 interceptions.

    Blackledge had an incredible career at Penn St. but was a complete puddle at the pro level. 

Lawrence Phillips

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    Lawrence Phillips is a giant scumbag while being one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

    Phillips was picked sixth overall by the St. Louis Rams back in 1996 but managed to play only two seasons with the team before vanishing to Miami and then ultimately from the league entirely. 

Blair Thomas

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    Blair Thomas failed to accumulate 1,000 yards in a single season throughout his pitiful six-year career.

    Thomas was the second overall pick in 1990 by the New York Jets and lasted only four seasons in the Big Apple. During his time as a Jet, he averaged only 4.2 yards per carry while starting only 36 games. 

Joey Harrington

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    Joey Harrington had an incredible career at Oregon but was pitiful at the NFL level.

    Harrington was drafted third overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2002 draft but finished with a pathetic 18-37 record as a starter with the Lions.

    Harrington floated around the league after spending four seasons in the Detroit and has yet to be seen since 2007. 

Eric Crouch

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    Eric Crouch had a very impressive collegiate career at Nebraska but his talent did not turn him into a dominant player at the next level.

    Crouch was selected in the third round by the St. Louis Rams as he failed to play a single game for them. Instead, Crouch spent time in NFL Europe and is now currently playing for the Omaha Nighthawks in the UFL. 

Archie Griffin

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    Archie Griffin is the only player to win two Heisman Trophys—so immediately you'd think that he'd be the greatest running back to play the game, right? Not so much.

    Griffin spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Bengals and scored only seven touchdowns while failing to accumulate 1,000 yards in a season. 

Rick Mirer

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    Rick Mirer or Drew Bledsoe? Luckily, the New England Patriots drafted Bledsoe. 

    Mirer was the second overall pick in the 1993 draft and was a complete joke for the Seattle Seahawks. In four seasons, Mirer posted a 20-31 record as a starter while throwing 41 touchdowns and an awful 56 interceptions. 

Aaron Maybin

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    Aaron Maybin is having some success right now as a New York Jet, but as a Buffalo Bill his career was pathetic.

    Maybin was drafted 11th overall back in 2009 by the Bills as he managed to play in 26 games in two seasons before being cut. Many believed that Maybin would be an elite pass rusher, but in those two seasons in Buffalo, he failed to record a single sack. 

Jack Thompson

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    Jack Thompson's career at Washington State made him a star but his career in the NFL made him forgettable.

    Thompson struggled tremendously as he was drafted third overall in 1979 and posted a 63.4 quarterback rating with the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Bruce Pickens

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    Bruce Pickens was the third overall pick in the 1991 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and many believed that he was the next great play-making cornerback. 

    Well, everyone was wrong.

    The Nebraska product lasted four seasons in the NFL as he finished with only two career interceptions. 

Keith McCants

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    Keith McCants is just on a long list of lousy players to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    McCants was the fourth overall pick back in 1990 and managed to only three seasons with Tampa and then two more with the Arizona Cardinals. 

    The defensive end out of Alabama finished his career with only 13.5 sacks and 184 tackles. 

Andre Ware

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    Andre Ware is just another high draft pick quarterback to fail miserably in the NFL.

    Ware was the seventh overall pick in the 1990 draft by the Detroit Lions but managed to only play 14 games for Detroit as he posted a 3-3 record while completing only 51.6 percent of his passes and retiring with a pitiful 63.5 quarterback rating. 

Ki-Jana Carter

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    Ki-Jana Carter really did not have the best of luck.

    Carter was drafted first overall in 1995 by the Cincinnati Bengals but in his first preseason game he tore his ACL and really never bounced back to his full potential.

    Carter lasted only seven seasons in the league as he failed to accumulate 1,000 yards once in his stints with the Bengals, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. 

Derrick Harvey

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    Derrick Harvey is probably one of the most unpopular people in the city of Jacksonville.

    Harvey was drafted eighth overall back in 2008 by the Jaguars and was one of the worst defensive ends to ever be selected in the top 10.

    Harvey played just three seasons with the Jags and tallied only eight sacks. 

Levi Brown

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    I hate to say it like this but Levi Brown sucks. He really does.

    Brown is the worst left tackle in the NFL today.

    The Arizona Cardinals had a chance to draft All Pro running back Adrian Peterson back in 2007 but drafted Brown withe fifth overall pick. 

Alex Smith

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    Until this season, Alex Smith's career in the NFL had been horrid.

    Smith was 21-1 as a starter at Utah under Urban Meyer but is only 30-34 as a starter in the NFL.

    The first overall pick back in 2005 has a career 76.0 quarterback rating while completing only 58 percent of his passes. 

Reggie Williams

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    Reggie Williams is just another wide receiver that was drafted in the top 10 but never panned out in the NFL.

    The Washington product was picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2004 draft but only lasted five seasons in the league as he caught 53 passes and only 18 touchdowns. 

Brady Quinn

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    Brady Quinn fell dramatically in the 2007 draft as he was selected 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns.

    Quinn had a very successful stint at Notre Dame and had all the talent and upside to make it at the next level. However, Quinn did not work out with the Browns as he posted a 66.8 quarterback rating in three years with the team and is now serving as Tim Tebow's backup in Denver. 

Rich Campbell

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    Rich Campbell is probably a name that all Green Bay Packers fans hate.

    Campbell was the sixth overall pick in 1981 and played only seven games as a Packer in four seasons—he did not start a single game. 

Troy Williamson

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    Troy Williamson is pathetic. That's all I have to say.

    Williamson was drafted back in 2005 with the seventh overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings but played in only three seasons with the Vikings while tallying 79 receptions and four touchdowns—that's how he should have produced in a single season. 

Art Schlichter

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    Art Schlichter was banned by the league in 1987 after being involved in a multi-million dollar sports betting scandal. 

    Schlichter was the fourth overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts back in 1982 and was absolutely pathetic as he finished with an 0-6 record as a starter along with a putrid 42.6 quarterback rating. 

Steve Emtman

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    Steve Emtman suffered from a tremendous amount of injuries and vanished from the league by the time he was 27.

    Emtman was drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 1992 after leading the Washington Huskies to a national championship victory. However at the NFL level, Emtman did nothing as he recorded just eight sacks in five seasons. 

Brian Bosworth

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    Brian Bosworth was the first overall pick in the 1987 NFL supplemental draft by the Seattle Seahawks. 

    Bosworth had a very impressive career as linebacker for the Oklahoma Sooners but his success did not carry over to the next level.

    Bosworth retired in 1989 after suffering a terrible shoulder injury as he played in only 24 career games. He started all of them, but only managed to record four tackles. 

Heath Shuler

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    Heath Shuler was the third overall pick in the 1994 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins but his career only lasted until 1997. 

    Shuler was one hell of a quarterback during his days at Tennessee, but his success never carried over to the NFL level.

    Shuler my have failed in the NFL, but he's doing very well right now as a U.S. Representative for the state of North Carolina. 

David Klingler

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    Yet another draft blunder by the Cincinnati Bengals. 

    David Klingler was the sixth overall pick in 1992 but was out of the league by 1997.

    The Houston product passed for only 16 touchdowns while being intercepted 22 times in 33 career games. 

Trev Alberts

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    The Indianapolis Colts failed yet again with the selection of linebacker Trev Alberts.

    Alberts had a phenomenal career at Nebraska but his success never translated at the pro level as he lasted just three seasons in the NFL while recording four sacks and only 49 tackles. 

Curtis Enis

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    It's not his fault that Curtis Enis suffered injuries throughout his embarrassing three-year career with the Chicago Bears.

    In those three seasons, Enis started only 18 games and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, scoring only four touchdowns despite being the fifth overall pick in 1998. 

Aundray Bruce

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    It was believed that Aundray Bruce was the next great NFL pass rusher—he failed miserably.

    Bruce was the first overall pick in 1998 but lasted only four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons as he recorded only 16 sacks.