What Went Wrong with the Biggest Draft Busts of the Decade So Far
There have been some prominent draft busts over the years, but even since 2010, a few players have made their cases to be considered in the conversation, with examples of former top choices flaming out.
In the wake of the recent reports about Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, it got me thinking about other athletes who have fallen from grace, determining what went wrong with them as they found themselves no longer fan favorites.
After narrowing down a long list, here's how some of the biggest draft busts since 2010 ended up in the position they're in now.
I know that the New York Yankees didn't draft Masahiro Tanaka, but after they paid $155 million for the former Japanese League star in 2014, the pitcher has found his way onto this list.
Of course, that's not exactly the fairest way to treat a guy who has gone 25-12 with a 3.16 ERA in two seasons in the Bronx, but because Tanaka hasn't lived up to the major price tag that he attracted when the Yanks first signed him due to injury, he has to be considered somewhat of a bust, right?
The good news is that he's back to throwing again and should contribute at some point for the Yanks in 2016, but at 27 years old and coming off a serious elbow injury, were the millions New York spent on the guy really worth the three months of excitement he first brought? As of right now, not in my opinion.
I'm not sure how many people expected Jimmer Fredette's game to translate to the NBA, but the Milwaukee Bucks' front office was among those who did because the team took the kid from BYU with the 10th overall pick in 2011, trading him to the Sacramento Kings shortly afterwards.
A college star who shot lights out, averaged 29 points per game his last year with the Cougars and had a catchy name that fans adored, Jimmer was either going to be the next hot shot or a complete bust.
He turned out to be the latter.
Not quite at the skill level of an NBA player, the kid should have a solid pro hoops career. It just won't be on the highest level.
Still just 22 years old, it might be too early to label Edmonton Oilers winger Nail Yakupov a bust, but the clock is ticking to prove himself otherwise.
That's because Yakupov was taken with the top pick in the 2011 draft by the Oilers, meaning he was thought to be the best player in a pool of potential studs, but he hasn't lived up to the hype or responsibility of such a selection.
In fairness, a lot of it has to do with his health, as he's battled injuries throughout his NHL career that have stunted his growth with the Oilers.
Still, even while on the ice, Yakupov hasn't been the playmaker he was supposed to be based off of his junior league career—even as he is surrounded by other top overall picks like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and now Connor McDavid.
Taken with the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, running back Trent Richardson was supposed to become the bruising runner the team needed to compete in the AFC North.
After a decent rookie campaign that ended with 950 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns, T-Rich flamed out, and the Browns traded him to the Indianapolis Colts just two games into the 2013 season. He has struggled ever since.
Once again finding himself on a new team in 2015, the Oakland Raiders, Richardson didn't even survive training camp, as the team cut him.
He now finds himself without a team and with no reported potential suitors in the near future.
The reason as to why Richardson flopped is a curious one, so maybe he just lacked the desire or talent to cut it in the demanding NFL.
There was temptation to put someone like Derrick Williams or Thomas Robinson here, but since those two players are both still in the NBA, it's Jan Vesely who gets the not-so-dubious nod.
The second coming of Darko Milicic, it seems, Vesely never adapted or matured into the player many believed he could become when the Washington Wizards selected him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
With comparisons to Andrei Kirilenko, the lanky Vesely instead gets mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned Darko, as he exited the NBA nearly as quickly as he entered it, lasting just three seasons in D.C. before heading back overseas.
So much for teaming this guy with former No. 1 overall pick John Wall in Washington for years to come, huh?
Johnny Manziel was once the wonder boy who seemed to have all the athleticism and skill in the world. But following his first career start against the Cincinnati Bengals in December of 2014, the writing became pretty clear on the wall: Manziel isn't an NFL quarterback.
More than his lackluster performance that day against the Bengals was the fact that Manziel's lack of preparation became a trend, with him believing that he could get by on raw talent alone.
Unnamed teammates bashed him to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Pat McManamon (via CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson), his coaches and the franchise tried to discipline him and everyone in the media began to write him off.
With his current situation—where a former girlfriend alleges he assaulted her after threatening to kill her—Manziel isn't just going to be looking for a new team in 2016; he may be looking for a good lawyer, too, as he'll be lucky if any franchise ever reaches out should the reports prove true.
It can take a long time for MLB draft picks to pan out because of the different levels a player needs to go through in order to reach the big leagues, but the verdict is already out on former Tampa Bay Rays draft pick Josh Sale: He's a major bust.
Taken with the 17th overall pick in 2010, Sale was supposed to hit his way through the minors and into Tampa's lineup. Sadly, it never happened.
After being suspended for three consecutive seasons for a number of different reasons—including a positive test for amphetamines and behavior detrimental to the team after an incident at a strip club—the Rays finally gave up on the kid before the 2015 season, releasing him.
Drugs, strippers and bad behavior don't typically result in a solid pro baseball career.
Taken by the Miami Dolphins with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, defensive end Dion Jordan was supposed to be a dynamic edge-rusher who could use his quickness to get to opposing quarterbacks.
Instead, he's trying to get himself reinstated after some poor choices.
With just three career sacks in 26 total games, Jordan hasn't just been unproductive on the field, as he's failed three drug tests since joining the team three years ago.
After the NFL suspended him all of the 2015 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Jordan will be lucky to ever play another down in the NFL again, making him one of the biggest busts in Dolphins history.
When the Jacksonville Jaguars picked wide receiver Justin Blackmon No. 5 overall in the 2012 NFL draft, many thought it was the best move they could have made, as the Oklahoma State product was supposed to be the next big star at his position and the anti-Dez Bryant—another former Cowboy.
Yeah, so much for all of that.
Rather than catching passes on the football field, Blackmon found himself getting in trouble off the field, as the 26-year-old has been arrested several times since coming into the league. The NFL suspended him for the past couple of seasons, and I'm willing to bet that he isn't on any teams' radars moving forward, all but ending his NFL career.
Sometimes all the talent in the world can't save a kid, and that's what happened with Blackmon, as he and his off-field issues were the worst enemies he could have.
There's a reason why longtime sportswriter Bill Simmons reacted the way he did on the night of the NBA draft in 2013 when the Cleveland Cavs selected Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall, and it's because it was a shock to millions, even before the kid suited up in an NBA game.
After playing just one season for the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, no one would have expected that Bennett would become the top pick that year—though the Cavs brass believed otherwise.
Playing on a Cavs team full of youngsters who were still trying to find their identities, Bennett struggled from the jump, showing up to training camp out of shape and dealing with a nagging shoulder injury.
It seemed like he never cared much during his time with the Cavs, which is why he became a part of the blockbuster deal prior to the 2014-15 season that landed Cleveland Kevin Love and sent Bennett to the Minnesota Timberwolves.