Reviewing the Biggest Bust in Every NFL Team's Draft History
The 2018 NFL draft is nearly upon us, and fans are already excited about the new pieces their favorite teams could be bringing aboard, particular the guys who will be selected on the first two days of the draft—which kicks off Thursday, April 26.
Players taken in the first three rounds are widely expected to be early contributors. Those taken in Rounds 1 and 2 are expected to be impact players almost immediately. Therefore, teams with multiple picks in these rounds, like the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, should be generating even more buzz.
Here's the problem, though: For all the promise these early draft picks bring, they're still a mystery. Potential doesn't always equal results, and many of these supposed blue-chip prospects are going to disappoint. Some are even going to be downright disappointments—and there's plenty of history to back this up.
We're going to revisit that history here as we explore the biggest draft bust for every franchise and examine exactly what made them such major disappointments. Factors like playing career, draft status and strength of draft class will be considered.
Arizona Cardinals: G Jonathan Cooper
Is it fair to call a draft pick a bust when injuries played a large role in his struggles? It probably isn't, but it happens often, and there are going to be a few busts on this list who may have been stars if not for injuries. Former Arizona Cardinals guard Jonathan Cooper is one such player.
The North Carolina product was taken seventh overall in the 2013 draft but missed his entire rookie campaign after breaking his leg in the third preseason game. He was never able to fully bounce back with Arizona and played just two seasons for the Cardinals before being traded to the New England Patriots.
Fortunately, Cooper has managed to salvage his NFL career, playing for both the Cleveland Brows and the Dallas Cowboys. The San Francisco 49ers inked him to a one-year deal this March.
"Having started 27 games in four NFL seasons, Jonathan brings great experience to the interior of our offensive line," 49ers general manager John Lynch said, per Doug Williams of NBC Bay Area.
It's tough to argue with Lynch, but those 27 starts are far less than you'd hope to see from a Top 10 pick after five seasons—especially when only 11 of those starts came with the team that drafted him.
Atlanta Falcons: LB Aundray Bruce
The Atlanta Falcons have drafted players in the first round who have had worse careers than pass-rusher Aundray Bruce. The former Auburn standout lasted 11 seasons in the NFL, most of his career spent with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders.
Bruce was taken with the first overall pick in the 1988 draft, so the Falcons were right to have high expectations for him. Unfortunately, he only spent four seasons in Atlanta and produced just 16.0 sacks during that span. A franchise-shaping sack artist he was not.
What makes the selection of Bruce look so bad is that Atlanta had its choice of players and picked him. The pool of players the Falcons passed on included future Hall of Famers Tim Brown, Michael Irvin and Randall McDaniel. It also included future stars like Sterling Sharpe and Paul Gruber.
While he never emerged as a truly disruptive pass-rusher—he had just 32.0 sacks in the NFL—Bruce was a solid player. Considering the players Atlanta didn't select, swinging on him resulted in a huge miss.
Baltimore Ravens: WR Breshad Perriman
If we're not counting the franchise's old incarnation in Cleveland (we're not), the Baltimore Ravens have only been drafting since 1996. This is why it shouldn't be too surprising to see the Ravens' biggest bust is a recent selection.
In 2015, Baltimore spent the 26th overall pick on former Central Florida receiver Breshad Perriman. While Perriman did produce 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns during the 2014 season, his high draft stock was based largely on his measurables—a common occurrence with skill players heading into the draft. At his pro day, Perriman ran a 4.24-second 40 and produced 18 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
The problem is that injuries cost Perriman his rookie season, and he hasn't reached his potential since. While Perriman did appear in 16 games and tally 499 yards in 2016, he took a step back the next year and was eventually benched completely.
"I understand. I do understand," Perriman said after the benching, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. "I don't totally agree with it. But I understand why it happened."
Perriman needs to understand that time is running out for him to save his NFL career. Though he's appeared in 27 games, he's made just four starts and produced just 576 total receiving yards. That's not what you want out of a first-round pick.
Buffalo Bills: LB Aaron Maybin
Aside from quarterbacks, pass-rushers are the most coveted players in the NFL. They're difficult to find in the later rounds of the draft, and they almost never become available in free agency. This is precisely why the Bills were willing to pull the trigger on Penn State product Aaron Maybin with the 11th overall pick back in 2009.
Maybin had just one year of full-time starting experience before deciding to go pro, but his stock after that year was high. The sophomore finished the 2008 season with 12.0 sacks and 20.0 tackles for loss. He was also a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation's top defender.
The knock on Maybin was that he was raw and undersized. Those proved to be legitimate concerns as he regularly played in the 240-pound range at 6'4" in the NFL and never refined his edge-rushing techniques. As a result, he was regularly overpowered as a pro and rarely effective as a sack artist.
Maybin spent just two seasons in Buffalo before being waived, and he failed to contribute a single sack. He made only one start over those two seasons and finished with 23 tackles and a forced fumble. He did have a six-sack season with the New York Jets after the Bills let him go, but those six were the only sacks of his NFL career. He played just four seasons in the league, was a bust overall and a massive one for the team that drafted him.
Carolina Panthers: OT Jeff Otah
The Carolina Panthers have an up-and-down track record when it comes to drafting players in the first round. They've grabbed stars like Julius Peppers and Cam Newton. They've also landed lackluster players like Rashard Anderson and Jason Peter.
Former Pitt offensive lineman Jeff Otah began his career well enough but ended up on the bust end of the spectrum.
Carolina actually traded up into the first round to select Otah with the 19th overall selection in 2008. The Panthers gave away their second- and fourth-round picks that year and a first-round selection in 2009 in exchange for the pick from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Otah started 25 games over his first two seasons, and it briefly appeared he would be a staple along the offensive line. However, he had knee surgery before the 2010 season and missed the entire campaign. He appeared in four games the next season before being placed on injured reserve, and Otah never played in the NFL again.
Considering the Panthers gave up three picks to land Otah, they cannot be happy with what they got in return.
Chicago Bears: RB Curtis Enis
Penn State's Saquon Barkley may well be the third running back taken in the top five spots of the draft in the last three years. The early careers of Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette suggest this would be a wise pick. Young playmaking backs really can transform an offense. However, there are plenty of cautionary tales, too.
Just take a look at fellow Penn State product Curtis Enis. After a strong collegiate career—he rushed for more than 1,200 yards in 1996 and 1997—Enis was a coveted prospect in the 1998 draft. Few could blame the Chicago Bears for using the fifth overall pick on him.
Enis struggled to adapt to the pro game, however, and rushed for a mere 497 yards as a rookie before tearing his ACL. He lasted just three seasons in Chicago because of knee issues and totaled just 1,497 career rushing yards on 3.3 yards per carry. He tried to extend his career with the Browns but never took the field for them.
While the Bears weren't the only team high on Enis in 1998, their selection of him looks even worse because they passed on the likes of Randy Moss, Fred Taylor and Tra Thomas to get him.
Cincinnati Bengals: QB Akili Smith
Between Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton, the Cincinnati Bengals have enjoyed stability at the quarterback position for more than a decade. Before that, however, things were a bit different. Cincinnati used the third overall pick in the 1999 draft on former Oregon quarterback Akili Smith, hoping to head into the new millennium with that stability. They never got it from Smith.
Though he did make 11 starts in his second season, Smith never earned a solid grasp on the job. He made just 17 starts in four seasons with the Bengals, and his on-field performance left much to be desired.
In those four seasons, Smith passed for just 2,212 yards with 13 interceptions and a mere five touchdowns. He had 371 yards rushing but gave up nearly all of that in sack yardage, having been sacked 59 times for 327 yards. Smith finished with a career passer rating of just 52.8. That, at least, was higher than his completion percentage (46.6).
Smith carried red flags into the draft, most notably his status as a one-year starter. However, the Bengals were willing to gamble on his athletic potential and high upside. The gamble backfired, and Cincinnati used the first overall pick on Palmer four years later.
Cleveland Browns: CB Justin Gilbert
The Cleveland Browns are no strangers to draft busts. From Brady Quinn to Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson to Cameron Erving, plenty of first-round picks have been disappointments for Cleveland since its return to the NFL. The 2014 draft brought two such disappointments in the forms of cornerback Justin Gilbert and quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel's fall from grace in the NFL has been well-publicized, and with his comeback attempt, he still holds a place in the spotlight. Even Manziel, though, was a star compared to the failure that was Gilbert.
The former Oklahoma State standout lasted just two seasons for the Browns and made a mere three starts. He was eventually traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he lasted just one year there before being handed a one-year suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Gilbert still has a chance to return to the league, assuming he successfully seeks reinstatement. However, he's never lived up to his potential and will remain a suspension risk if he does return. To date, he has produced just 34 tackles, nine passes defended and one interception. That's disastrous for an eighth overall pick.
Yes, Manziel broke the hearts of many a Cleveland fan, but he was taken much later in the first round (22nd overall) and at least gave the Browns a half-season's worth of starts.
Dallas Cowboys: CB Rod Hill
The Dallas Cowboys have had success drafting small-school prospects in the past. From Ed "Too Tall" Jones to Tony Romo, Dallas has seen stars come from programs not known as powerhouses. Kentucky State product Rod Hill doesn't fall into that group.
The Cowboys drafted Hill 25th overall in the 1982 draft. They tried him at nickelback and as a return specialist as a rookie with mostly disastrous results. He did have a stellar 89-yard kickoff return in the 1982 playoffs, but he also had a muffed punt that led to a postseason loss to the rival Washington Redskins.
Dallas traded Hill after just two seasons. While he did play six seasons in the NFL, Hill was never able to carve out a starting role. He finished his career with just four interceptions.
Small-school products often carry a risk factor because of their level of competition. Selecting them has paid off plenty of times, but the Cowboys knew Hill could turn out to be a bust—which he ultimately did.
"It was a very high-risk pick there," former Cowboys coach Tom Landry said, per Gary Myers of the Dallas Morning News. "There's no surprise when you miss on a Rod Hill because you've taken a real calculated risk."
Denver Broncos: DT Ted Gregory
We don't have a picture of former Syracuse defensive tackle Ted Gregory in a Denver Broncos uniform for one good reason. He never actually played a down for the franchise. He suffered a knee injury in training camp and was traded to the New Orleans Saints before the start of his rookie season.
Had the Broncos done their homework, they might have seen the knee problems coming—he first hurt it midway through his final season with Syracuse and had to leave the 1988 Sugar Bowl after reinjuring it. As the tale goes, however, Denver didn't even meet with Gregory before selecting him 26th overall in the 1988 draft. The Broncos weren't happy with what they ended up with, and they decided to cut their losses and ship Gregory to the Big Easy.
Unfortunately, Gregory's knee gave all the way out in just his third game with the Saints. He never played in the NFL again after it did, and he finished his pro career with just one sack.
Every draft pick is a gamble of sorts, but it seems silly that Denver would take a chance on Gregory with future Pro Bowlers like Chris Spielman and Ken Norton Jr. still on the board. The Broncos rolled the dice on Gregory, though, and busted in a big way.
Detroit Lions: QB Andre Ware
Some quarterbacks simply aren't meant to be stars in the NFL. Recently, we've seen Heisman Trophy winners like Matt Leinart and Johnny Manziel fail as pros, but they certainly weren't the first.
The Detroit Lions drafted 1989 Heisman winner and Houston star Andre Ware with the seventh overall pick in the 1990 draft. His playmaking ability was certainly something to behold—he passed for 4,699 yards and 46 touchdowns his final college season—but not everyone believed his skills would translate to the NFL.
Detroit's scouting director resigned the day after the Lions made the selection.
Ware did indeed struggle to adapt to the pro game. He earned a single start before his third season, and he made only six in his four-year NFL career. Ware completed just 51.6 percent of his passes and amassed a mere 1,112 yards with five touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Ware even appeared in fewer games (14) than notable Lions bust Charles Rogers (15).
Green Bay Packers: OT Tony Mandarich
This one should come as no surprise, as former Green Bay Packers first-rounder Tony Mandarich is widely considered one of the biggest busts of all time.
There are a couple of reasons for Mandarich's notoriety. For one, the former Michigan State standout was taken second overall in the 1989 draft—a draft that saw future Hall of Famers Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders drafted in succession immediately after Mandarich. And while Mandarich was blessed with immense talent, he didn't take life as a pro very seriously early in his career, either.
"When I think about that, I think, what a cocky SOB," Mandarich said, per Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. "I would hate that person right now. It's just immaturity, it's stupidity, it's like you're bulletproof."
Mandarich lasted just four seasons with the Packers and made 31 starts for the franchise that drafted him. He did go on to be a serviceable lineman for the Indianapolis Colts for three seasons, but Mandarich was a major bust for Green Bay and never lived up to his draft status or to the status of his impressive draft class.
Houston Texans: DT Amobi Okoye
One could argue former No. 1 overall pick David Carr is the biggest bust in the history of the Houston Texans. However, it's hard to fault Carr for failing to succeed when he was sacked 76 times as a rookie and 249 times in five seasons with the Texans. As was the case with Tim Couch and the Browns, Carr was simply too beaten up and beaten down to fully live up to his potential.
Carr at least gave the Texans five years' worth of starts. Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye only lasted four seasons in Houston and never lived up to the expectations that come with being a top-10 pick.
The Texans scooped up Akoye in the 2007 draft because of his ability to defend both the run and the pass from the tackle position. A serviceable starter for four seasons, Akoye wasn't a complete disaster, but he wasn't the disruptive force Houston was hoping to add, either.
Okoye had just 11.0 sacks and two forced fumbles for the Texans before being released. He went on to play two more seasons for the Bears but never again held a starting role. In order to secure Akoye, the Texans passed on future Pro Bowlers like Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lawrence Timmons and Joe Staley.
Indianapolis Colts: LB Trev Alberts
When discussing the biggest busts in Colts history, it usually comes down to quarterback Jeff George and linebacker Trev Alberts. George was a major disappointment in Indianapolis, but at least he went on to have some success with other teams over a 12-year career. Alberts, on the other hand, played one fewer season in Indianapolis (three) than George did and never played for another franchise.
Alberts flashed plenty of talent at Nebraska, racking up 15.0 sacks and winning both the Dick Butkus Award and Jack Lambert Trophy in 1993. This prompted Indianapolis to select him fifth overall in the 1994 draft.
Unfortunately, the Colts didn't see much return on their investment. After three years full of subpar play and injuries, Alberts decided to put an end to his playing career (he's had successful broadcasting and executive careers since).
In his three seasons with the Colts, Alberts made just seven starts and recorded a mere 69 tackles and 4.0 sacks. Yes, George was a disappointment in Indy, but Alberts was barely a blip on the NFL radar.
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR R. Jay Soward
The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the top teams in the NFL, even if the league's schedule-makers don't believe they're a prime-time draw. However, this hasn't always been the case, and a number of past draft busts are a big reason why.
Blaine Gabbert wasn't the answer at quarterback. Quentin Groves and Derrick Harvey never became playmaking pass-rushers, and Justin Blackmon's once-promising career ended almost overnight.
None of these busts were quite as disappointing as former USC receiver R. Jay Soward. Jacksonville took him with the 29th overall pick in the 2000 draft, but he never came close to living up to his draft status.
Next to Soward, Blackmon looks like a ring of honor member. Both had off-field issues, but Blackmon at least had a decent 865-yard rookie campaign. Soward produced a mere 14 receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown as a rookie. That was all the Jaguars got from him, as he was suspended multiple times for violation of the league's substance-abuse policy and never again suited up in the NFL.
Soward did eventually win the Grey Cup with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, but he only added to a long stretch of Jacksonville misery.
Kansas City Chiefs: QB Todd Blackledge
Quarterback Todd Blackledge is not the worst player the Kansas City Chiefs ever drafted in the first round. Offensive tackle Trezelle Jenkins, for instance, only appeared in nine games for Kansas City after being taken 31st overall.
Blackledge owns a special place in Chiefs infamy, however, because of some of the players drafted after him. The Chiefs made the Penn State product the seventh overall pick in the 1983 draft. He was the second quarterback taken, behind John Elway. Two of the quarterbacks drafted after Blackledge—Jim Kelly and Dan Marino—ended up in the Hall of Fame. A third, Ken O'Brien, appeared in multiple Pro Bowls.
Meanwhile, Blackledge lasted just five seasons with the Chiefs. He appeared in 40 games for Kansas City but never established himself as a high-end signal-caller. He spent two more seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers but couldn't revive his career. Blackledge finished his NFL career with only 5,286 yards passing, 29 touchdowns, 38 interceptions and a passer rating of 60.2.
In addition to Kelly and Marino, the Chiefs also passed on future Hall of Famers Bruce Matthews and Darrell Green in favor of Blackledge.
Los Angeles Chargers: QB Ryan Leaf
As fans and teams debate which quarterback is going to be the biggest success out of this year's draft class, it's easy to draw comparisons—and take heed from—the 1998 draft. Leading up to draft day, there was a major debate on whether Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf was the guy to take. The Colts, of course, took Manning at No. 1. This left Washington State's Leaf sitting at No. 2.
The Los Angeles Chargers, then in San Diego, grabbed Leaf with that second pick, and the franchise likely spent years regretting it.
Manning went on to win two Super Bowls and put together a Hall of Fame career. Leaf never came close to putting in the kind of work that made Manning successful, and substance-abuse issues had him out of the league quickly.
“I failed at the highest level in front of everybody, and instead of asking for help and being a mentee to one of the many mentors, I backed myself into a corner,” Leaf explained, per Brian Tabick of KIMT.com.
Leaf lasted just four years in the league—three with the Chargers—and passed for just 3,666 yards, 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
Los Angeles Rams: RB Lawrence Phillips
Despite a disturbing series of off-field incidents—including multiple assault allegations—to his name, Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips was taken by the St. Louis Rams (now L.A. Rams) with the sixth overall pick in the 1996 draft.
The Rams were willing to gamble on Phillips because of his on-field accomplishments with the Cornhuskers. He helped deliver two national championships and had a standout 1,722-yard season in 1994.
Phillips never lived up to his potential as a pro. He totaled just 1,265 yards in two seasons with St. Louis and was released before the end of his second year there. He finished his second season with the Miami Dolphins and spent a year with the San Francisco 49ers but never became a workhorse back.
Phillips averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in his NFL career.
There are two big reasons the selection of Phillips looks even worse for the Rams. First, the Rams passed on the likes of Eddie George, Marvin Harrison and Ray Lewis to draft him. Second, they traded away Jerome Bettis on the day of the draft. Bettis, you might know, went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Steelers.
Miami Dolphins: WR Yatil Green
We've mentioned that teams sometimes overvalue a player because of measurables. We've also mentioned that injuries can lead to busts, as unfortunate as that is. Well, both facts come into play when discussing former Dolphins first-round pick Yatil Green.
The Dolphins scooped up the Miami Hurricanes receiver with the 15th overall pick in the 1997 draft despite a lackluster collegiate career—he produced 1,477 yards in three seasons.
Massive wideouts didn't dominate the landscape like they do today, so Green's size (6'2", 205 lbs) was enticing. Unfortunately, the Dolphins never got to put his size advantage to good use. Green tore his ACL on the first day of his first training camp and didn't appear in a game until his third pro season. He caught 18 passes for 234 yards in 1999 that year but would never play again.
Multiple knee surgeries derailed Green's career. He was cut by Miami after the 1999 season and was later cut by both the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders before leaving the NFL completely.
Minnesota Vikings: WR Troy Williamson
If his career continues to underwhelm the way it has, wideout Laquon Treadwell may end up as the biggest bust in Minnesota Vikings history. For now, though, fellow receiver Troy Williamson sits atop the list.
Williamson had incredible size (6'1", 203 lbs) and speed (he ran a 4.32-second 40 at the combine), which is why the Vikings took the South Carolina product with the seventh overall pick in 2005. Williamson simply couldn't put everything together and learnt to excel as a pro.
"When I look now at prospects who don't pan out, I go back to my own situation as far as having all the tools but not having it there mentally when it came down to it," Williamson explained, per Michael Rand of the Star Tribune."
Williamson lasted only three seasons with the Vikings and never caught more than 37 passes in a season for them. He also spent two years with the Jaguars but only appeared in 10 games after leaving Minnesota. He finished his NFL career with 87 receptions, 1,131 yards and four touchdowns. That's about what you'd hope to get out of one season from a top-10 receiver.
New England Patriots: CB Chris Canty
For as great as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been over the past nearly two decades, drafting hasn't always been his strong suit. Unlike Lombardi Trophies, though, New England had draft busts before he came to town.
Cornerback Chris Canty was one such poor pick, and he comes in as our biggest Patriots bust. The Kansas State star was selected 29th overall in the 1997 draft, which at the time did not feel like a reach. Canty had two All-American seasons with the Wildcats and was awarded the Jack Tatum Trophy, given to the nation's top defensive back, in 1996.
Unfortunately, Canty never emerged as a star in the NFL. He lasted two seasons in New England and logged 67 tackles and just one interception in that span. He also spent time with the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints but was out of the league after four seasons.
For his career, Canty only produced four interceptions and 105 tackles. Making the pick look worse is the fact that New England passed on cornerback Sam Madison, who had four Pro Bowl seasons for the rival Dolphins.
New Orleans Saints: K Russell Erxleben
Do you remember how absurd it seemed when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent a second-round pick on kicker Roberto Aguayo? Do you remember how well the move didn't work out? Well, that was nothing compared to what the Saints pulled back in 1979.
The Saints decided to use the 11th overall selection on former Texas kicker and punter Russell Erxleben that year. The thought was that he could solidify two positions for a lengthy period of time, so he was worth such a high pick.
Erxleben only played in New Orleans for five seasons and only lasted six years in the NFL. That's telling when you consider how long good kickers and punters tend to last in the league.
Now, to be fair, having a top-tier kicker is beneficial. Erxleben wasn't the last kicker drafted in the first round, and he isn't the highest-drafted one either—Charlie Gogolak was taken sixth overall by the Washington Redskins in 1966.
Here's the problem, though. Erxleben had almost no value as a field-goal kicker. He only attempted field goals in three of his six seasons. He only attempted eight field goals and seven extra points overall. Therefore, the Saints essentially spent the 11th pick on a punter.
New York Giants: TE Derek Brown
We've seen how much the big, fast and physical tight end has changed the modern NFL offense. Guys like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce are among the biggest mismatches in the league. This isn't a completely new trend, though, as teams have been looking for mismatches at the position for years.
The New York Giants thought they had such a mismatch when they selected former Notre Dame standout Derek Brown with the 14th overall pick in 1992. The 6'6", 271-pound Brown averaged an impressive 14.5 yards per reception in college, and he had the size to manhandle smaller defensive backs as a pro.
Brown didn't pan out in New York, however. He produced just 11 receptions and 87 yards in New York and was gone after three years. The Jaguars selected Brown in the 1995 expansion draft, and he also played for the Raiders and Cardinals.
Though he did last seven nine seasons in the NFL, Brown never made his mark as an offensive weapon. He had four seasons with zero receptions and finished his career with 43 catches, 401 yards and a single touchdown.
New York Jets: LB Vernon Gholston
We've talked about the risks of overvaluing measurables. Well, another prime example of why this can backfire is edge-rusher Vernon Gholston. The Ohio State product had just two seasons of college production. While the second was impressive—he had 14.0 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss in 2007—Gholston's stock was based largely on his combine performance.
Gholston ran a 4.67-second 40, put up 37 reps on the bench press and produced a 125-inch broad jump. This suggested that Gholston carried plenty of strength and explosiveness to go with his 6'4", 258-pound frame. The Jets decided this potential was enough to warrant the sixth overall pick in 2008.
Gholston's play in the NFL never matched his physical potential or even his play as a Buckeye. He lasted just three seasons in New York, started a mere five games and never logged a sack.
Gholston also spent time with the Bears, Redskins and Rams but never played a game for any of them. He finished his career with just 42 tackles.
Oakland Raiders: QB JaMarcus Russell
Wyoming's Josh Allen has a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft because he has prototypical size and athleticism and a rocket arm. The downside with him is he completed just 56 percent of his passes in each of the last two years. This feels eerily similar to the conversation surrounding JaMarcus Russell heading into the 2007 draft.
Russell did complete 67.8 percent of his passes at LSU in 2006 but completed only 60.5 percent the year prior and just 50.7 percent in 2004. However, he possessed tremendous arm strength, size (6'6", 265 pounds) and athleticism (ran a 4.72-second 40). The Raiders found his potential too enticing to pass up and grabbed Russell with the first overall pick in 2007.
Remember what we've been saying about overvaluing measurables?
Russell never emerged as a viable franchise quarterback. He battled weight issues, substance-abuse problems and failed to dedicate himself to the game. He started just 25 games for the Raiders and was out of Oakland after three seasons. He attempted a couple of different comebacks but never played in the NFL after 2009. He completed just 52.1 percent of his passes as a pro with 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
If the Browns are interested in Allen at No. 1, they'd better feel comfortable that he's going to put more work in as a pro than Russell did.
Philadelphia Eagles: RB Leroy Keyes
Leroy Keyes was one of the most dynamic college players ever. A two-way player at Purdue, he played running back, cornerback, safety and kick returner. He was a two-time All-American and finished second in Heisman voting in 1968. Players of his ilk are hard to come by, so the Eagles didn't hesitate to snag him third overall in 1969.
The problem is that Keyes didn't have the same impact as a two-way player in the NFL. He was a middling running back, averaging just 3.0 yards per carry over the course of his career. He settled in as a strong safety but never became a difference-maker there.
Keyes did log eight interceptions for the Eagles, but he didn't make enough of an impact to stick around. Philadelphia let him walk after four seasons, and Keyes was out of the league after one year with Kansas City.
What's most disappointing about the selection of Keyes is that he was taken two picks after future Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson and one pick ahead of future Hall of Famer Joe Greene. Philadelphia also passed on future Hall of Famers Ted Hendricks and Roger Wehrli to draft Keyes.
Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Huey Richardson
Teams are always searching for franchise-caliber pass-rushers, which is why more than a couple of collegiate sack artists have made this list. Chuck Noll's Pittsburgh Steelers, long known for their stout defense, selected one of the biggest pass-rusher busts of all time in 1991.
At Florida, linebacker Huey Richardson was remarkable. He earned first-team All-SEC and first-team All-American honors after the 1990 season and finished his collegiate careers with 26.5 sacks and 50.5 tackles for a loss. Hoping Richardson could be a disrupting force as a pro, Pittsburgh selected him 15th overall in the 1991 draft.
Richardson was not a force.
He lasted just one season with the Steelers (appearing in five games), played in 16 total NFL games and failed to record a sack.
"The Huey Richardson pick to me was total insanity," former Steelers director of football development Tom Donahoe said, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It just wasn't going to work and it didn't work."
San Francisco 49ers: QB Jim Druckenmiller
The 49ers appear to finally have their franchise quarterback in the form of Jimmy Garoppolo. They've tried several times to find one since the Steve Young era but have usually come up short—though Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick briefly had success and Jeff Garcia was selected to three Pro Bowls with the 49ers. San Francisco's first attempt came in 1997, when it tried to draft Young's successor.
San Francisco took Virginia Tech product Jim Druckenmiller 26th overall in 1997, hoping he could take over for Young in short order. This plan never materialized, however, and Druckenmiller rarely even saw the field.
Druckenmiller appeared in just six games for the 49ers with one start before being traded to the Dolphins in 1999. He finished his NFL career with a mere 52 pass attempts. According to Druckenmiller, a lack of playing time and experience contributed to his failed development.
"I think it comes down to getting an opportunity to play," Druckenmiller explained, per Nick Fierro of The Morning Call. "The only thing that bugs me is whether I could have done it. I never got to prove that."
The 1997 draft isn't loaded with quarterback talent, but the 49ers did pass on future Pro Bowler Jake Plummer to grab Druckenmiller.
Seattle Seahawks: LB Aaron Curry
Linebacker Aaron Curry came into the 2009 draft with plenty of accolades. He twice earned All-ACC honors, was named an All-American and won the Butkus Award in 2008. A sideline-to-sideline playmaker, Curry racked up 105 tackles and 16.0 tackles for a loss in his final season.
Hoping to add a defensive field general to their ranks, the Seahawks scooped up Curry with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft. This proved to be a mistake.
Curry lasted just two-and-a-half seasons in Seattle before being traded to the Raiders in 2011. He finished that season and played one more in Oakland before calling it a career. He had just 163 solo tackles and 5.5 sacks in four seasons.
His best year came with the Raiders in 2011 when he had 46 tackles in 11 games. That's a decent year but not what's expected of a top-five pick.
While Seattle did go on to forge a championship-caliber defense, the fact that it passed on defenders like Brian Orakpo, Clay Matthews, Malcolm Jenkins and Brian Cushing to grab Curry has to sting a bit.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Keith McCants
If we're talking about the worst draft decisions of the Buccaneers, the top choice would have to be the selection of Bo Jackson. An unsanctioned predraft visit with the team caused Jackson to forfeit the remainder of his last college baseball season. The Buccaneers still drafted him first overall in 1986. Unsurprisingly, Jackson refused to play for them.
Since we're talking about players who were busts for the teams who drafted them, though, we're going to go with former Alabama linebacker Keith McCants, who was drafted fourth overall in 1990.
McCants as a defensive force for the Crimson Tide in 1989, racking up an impressive 119 tackles and 4.0 sacks. However, he wasn't the same tackling machine with the Buccaneers. He had 156 tackles and 12.0 sacks in three seasons in Tampa. After three more years in the NFL—with the Cardinals and Texans—McCants retired.
Botching the Jackson scenario was bad because it cost Tampa the No. 1 overall pick. However, drafting McCants meant passing on future Hall of Famers Junior Seau—taken just one pick after his fellow linebacker—and Emmitt Smith.
Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker
Considering the league's dependence on the quarterback position, it's not unusual to see teams gambling on signal-callers high in the draft. It's going to happen this year and it certainly happened in the 2011 draft, when four quarterbacks went in the Top 12.
You can bet that teams are hoping to fare better than most did in 2011. Of the first four QBs drafted—Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder—only Newton has developed into a franchise quarterback.
The Tennessee Titans had their pick of quarterbacks not named Newton at No. 8 overall and decided to pull the trigger on Washington product Locker. Blessed with a powerful arm, great athleticism and a solid 6'3", 231-pound frame, Locker definitely looked the part.
To the Titans' dismay, Locker never became a reliable starter. He made just 23 starts in four seasons in Tennessee before announcing his retirement. Locker finished his career with a completion percentage of 57.5, a passer rating of 70.9 and only 4,967 yards passing.
Not only was Locker a bust, but the Titans passed on the likes of J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan and Justin Houston to get him.
Washington Redskins: QB Heath Shuler
As long as the NFL draft is a thing, teams will continue to use early draft picks on quarterbacks. That's simply how important the position is. This is why it's likely that several signal-callers will be taken at the top of the 2018 draft, and it's why the Redskins used the third overall pick on former Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler back in 1994.
Shuler was Washington's top choice in a weak quarterback class that included the likes of Trent Dilfer, Doug Nussmeier and Perry Klein. It was a sensible choice as Shuler set a number of Tennessee passing records and was coming off a tremendous 1993 season. He passed for 2,354 yards that year with 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He finished as the runner-up in the Heisman voting.
Shuler never replicated that success as a pro, however. He did make eight starts as a rookie, but he only started five games after that and lasted just three seasons in Washington. He finished his NFL career with 3,691 yards passing, 15 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.
Shuler's career looks even worse when compared to the two players drafted on either side of him. Marshall Faulk, taken second overall, is in the Hall of Fame. Fourth overall pick Willie McGinest spent 15 years in the league, earned three Super Bowl rings and made a pair of Pro Bowls.