Every NFL Team's Worst 1st-Round Draft Pick of the Past DecadeApril 5, 2020
Every NFL Team's Worst 1st-Round Draft Pick of the Past Decade
Some front-office executives take risks, while others target high-floor prospects to fill needs. Regardless, every team misses on a top pick at some point.
As April's 2020 draft approaches, we've taken a look back at the last decade's worst first-round draft picks from each franchise.
We've based the selections on production—specifically how much (or little) that player contributed to his first team—though, career longevity is taken into account. Did the veteran flame out of the league after four years or land at a new destination?
In addition, injury-prone players who didn't pan out are listed. Spotty availability doesn't pay dividends.
For teams with multiple players in consideration, the selection order can separate two close candidates. For example, an underachieving No. 2 overall pick is far more disappointing than a subpar choice at No. 22.
Unless a team has parted ways with its 2018 or 2019 first-rounder, those players are excluded this early in their careers.
Let's embrace the busts from the 2010s and see where it all went wrong for each player.
Arizona Cardinals: OG Jonathan Cooper
Draft Status: 2013, No. 7 Overall
Jonathan Cooper had an injury-riddled tenure with the Arizona Cardinals. He broke his fibula during the 2013 preseason, which ended his rookie campaign.
The following year, Cooper began slowly because of turf toe. He started two games late in the season and went back on the injury report with a wrist ailment.
The Cardinals shifted Cooper to right guard to make room for Mike Iupati on the left side in 2015, but the 2013 top-10 pick suffered another knee injury in the campaign's second half.
Despite Cooper's potential, the injuries piled up, which hurt his upside. The Cardinals traded him and a 2016 second-rounder to the New England Patriots for edge-rusher Chandler Jones. Cooper only started 11 out of 24 contests in Arizona.
His trade value has done more to help Arizona than his on-field production. Jones has been one of the league's premier pass-rushers, logging 60 sacks with the Cardinals. Cooper last started Week 13 in 2018 for the Washington Redskins and is unsigned.
Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, the 29th pick in 2016, deserves consideration, but he had a decent 2018, logging 4.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss. Cooper was a higher pick and couldn't stay healthy long enough to flash his potential in Arizona.
Atlanta Falcons: LB Sean Weatherspoon
Draft Status: 2010, No. 19 Overall
Over the past decade, the Atlanta Falcons have made smart first-round picks, and many of their earlier selections earned extensions.
Sean Weatherspoon wasn't a terrible choice—still, he's at the bottom of the bunch. The 2010 first-rounder only started in a majority of the games in 2011 and 2012. At his best, the linebacker logged 115 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, eight pass breakups and four sacks during his second campaign.
In 2013, Weatherspoon battled foot and knee injuries, which limited him to seven outings. He tore his Achilles during the 2014 offseason and never bounced back.
After a one-year stop in Arizona, he returned to Atlanta for 2016 and 2017. During that period, he only appeared in six contests, logging 28 tackles. Overall, the now-32-year-old put together two solid years in a Falcons uniform.
For those with recency bias, disappointing edge-rusher Vic Beasley's tenure may come to mind, but the No. 8 pick from 2015 led the league with 16.5 sacks in an All-Pro 2016 season. Weatherspoon didn't have a year close to that.
Baltimore Ravens: S Matt Elam
Draft Status: 2013, No. 32 Overall
The Baltimore Ravens traded 2018 first-rounder Hayden Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons after two seasons, but his receiving numbers improved in those two years. Wideout Breshad Perriman was disappointing but had a few flashes in 2016 and just signed a deal with the New York Jets.
As a rookie, Matt Elam recorded 77 tackles, five for loss, three pass breakups and an interception. His production went downhill from there. In 2014, he registered 50 tackles, one for loss, a half-sack and four pass breakups and lost his starting job late in the campaign.
During the 2015 offseason, Elam tore his biceps and missed the entire regular season. He served a one-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy and only played 54 defensive snaps in the following campaign. The Ravens released him after his arrest on drug-related charges in 2017.
While Hurst and Perriman remain in the NFL, Elam had brief stints with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL and the XFL's DC Defenders.
Ultimately, Elam produced one solid year for the Ravens before his NFL career went sour.
Buffalo Bills: QB EJ Manuel
Draft Status: 2013, No. 16 Overall
EJ Manuel had his crack at becoming a franchise passer but struggled through four seasons with the Buffalo Bills.
Under former head coach Doug Marrone, the Bills named Manuel the starter as a rookie. He showed glimpses of solid play but sprained his LCL midway through the season and missed six games.
In 2014, Manuel was benched after four starts in favor of Kyle Orton. At the end of the season, Marrone opted out of his contract with the Bills, which put Manuel's future in a state of uncertainty.
Rex Ryan replaced Marrone and tabbed Tyrod Taylor as the lead signal-caller. Manuel started three games for the Bills in 2015 and 2016 and couldn't reclaim the first-string job.
His rookie year went down as his best in Buffalo, as he logged 1,972 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a 58.8 completion percentage.
Defensive end Shaq Lawson had an underwhelming four-year run with the Bills, logging 16.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss. He showed incremental improvements during his time in Buffalo, though. Manuel regressed after an inconsistent rookie campaign and never recovered from losing the starting role.
Carolina Panthers: DT Vernon Butler
Draft Status: 2016, No. 30 Overall
Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin only played two-plus seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He racked up 1,008 yards during his rookie year and scored 18 touchdowns in 40 contests with the club.
Vernon Butler made a notable impact in just one season. Before 2019, he recorded 45 tackles, three for loss and two sacks while playing fewer than 34 percent of the team's defensive snaps in each of his first three campaigns.
Last season, Butler broke out for 32 tackles, seven for loss, six sacks and three forced fumbles while starting the first nine games of his career.
Carolina had to wait three years for Butler to show his potential.
In Week 16, officials ejected the defensive tackle for punching Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle. With a new coaching staff in place, the Panthers chose not to re-sign him.
Butler may continue to ascend under his former defensive coordinator and current Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott, but he didn't come close to fulfilling first-round expectations in Carolina.
Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White
Draft Status: 2015, No. 7 Overall
Like so many players who don't reach their potential early in their careers, wideout Kevin White battled multiple injuries.
He missed his rookie campaign with a stress fracture in his leg that required surgery. Then in 2016, after four appearances, the West Virginia product suffered a high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula.
Despite the early setbacks, White opened 2017 in a starting role. He caught two passes for six yards and then fractured his shoulder blade, which put him on injured reserve for a third consecutive year.
In four seasons with the Chicago Bears, White suited up for just 14 games, logging 25 receptions for 285 yards.
Offensive lineman Gabe Carimi, whom the Bears selected in the first round of the 2011 draft, only made 26 starts. Still, he saw the field a lot more than White—and in 2015, White came off the board second to Amari Cooper among wideouts.
Last offseason, White signed with the Arizona Cardinals. He battled a hamstring injury while trying to claim a roster spot and missed the final cuts.
Cincinnati Bengals: OT Cedric Ogbuehi
Draft Status: 2015, No. 21 Overall
Even though wide receiver John Ross was a reach at No. 9 in 2017, he has at least one more year to redeem himself and break out. Also, the Washington product showed improvement from his second to his third season, logging a career-high 506 receiving yards in 2019.
Cedric Ogbuehi tore his ACL in his last collegiate contest at Texas A&M and didn't debut with the Cincinnati Bengals until Week 13 of the 2015 campaign as a backup.
Ogbuehi started 25 games in 2016 and '17, but didn't provide quality pass protection on the left or right side. According to STATs (via the Washington Post), the offensive tackle allowed 14.5 sacks during those seasons.
The Bengals didn't pick up Ogbuehi's fifth-year option and allowed him to walk after 2018. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and was a backup.
In March, Ogbuehi signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks. At 27 years old, he could turn his career around, but the five-year veteran flopped in Cincinnati.
Cleveland Browns: QB Johnny Manziel
Draft Status: 2014, No. 22 Overall
The Cleveland Browns had a disappointing draft period from 2011 to 2014. Several first-rounders fell short of expectations—such as defensive tackle Phil Taylor, running back Trent Richardson, quarterback Brandon Weeden, linebacker Barkevious Mingo and cornerback Justin Gilbert.
Still, those players showed glimpses of pro talent. Weeden held backup roles with the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans. Mingo signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason.
Unlike those other busts, Johnny Manziel entered the league with a lot of hype at the game's most important position. The former Texas A&M quarterback won the 2012 Heisman Trophy and earned AP Player of the Year honors as a redshirt freshman.
After a strong sophomore season, throwing for 4,114 yards, 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, Manziel went to the Browns as the second quarterback off the board in 2014 behind Blake Bortles at No. 3.
Manziel had the accolades and the fearless attitude that garnered that appeal. Yet, he threw for just 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in a two-year NFL career.
His behavior also factored into his downfall. As a rookie, he paid a $12,000 fine for an obscene hand gesture before he ever started a regular-season game. The quarterback also went to Las Vegas instead of joining his team for its 2015 season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Other troubles followed.
The Browns parted ways with Manziel two years into his rookie deal—no other NFL team signed him.
Manziel had brief stints with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes in the CFL. He also played in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.
Dallas Cowboys: DE Taco Charlton
Draft Status: 2017, No. 28 Overall
Over the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have nailed their Day 1 picks. Cornerback Morris Claiborne didn't play up to his first-round billing, but he recorded 27 pass breakups and four interceptions in five years with the team.
The Cowboys released Taco Charlton after two seasons. Before his release, he needed a "man talk" with former defensive coordinator and line coach Rod Marinelli after his attitude rubbed Marinelli the wrong way, per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News.
"We got to talking in the offseason and hash out our differences, and now we can move forward and worry about what's going on on the football field and go from there," Charlton said.
In the second half of his rookie season, Charlton flashed his pass-rushing skills, registering three sacks after Week 7. He opened the following year as a starter but suffered a shoulder injury and missed five games late in the campaign.
In September 2019, the defensive end tweeted "free me," and the Cowboys pulled the plug on their 2017 first-round investment soon after. Taco signed with the Miami Dolphins and logged more sacks (five) in 10 games with his new team than the club that drafted him (four).
Charlton could put together a strong second act with the Dolphins. Yet, he didn't show much development in Dallas.
Denver Broncos: QB Paxton Lynch
Draft Status: 2016, No. 26 Overall
Even though the Denver Broncos made a big mistake with Tim Tebow in 2010, their 2016 first-round pick looks even worse.
Tebow posted below-average passing numbers, throwing for 2,422 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 35 outings. Still, the Broncos went to the postseason and won a game with him under center. He also posed a major threat on foot, recording 887 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns through two seasons in the Mile High City.
Following Peyton Manning's retirement and Brock Osweiler's departure to Houston, Paxton Lynch couldn't beat 2015 seventh-rounder Trevor Siemian for the starting job.
In five games, which included four starts, Lynch threw for 792 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions over two seasons.
In his first year, Lynch made two starts in place of Siemian, who battled shoulder and foot injuries. During the 2017 preseason, he sprained his shoulder and didn't see action until Week 12 against the Raiders. The Memphis product completed nine of 14 passes for 41 yards and an interception in that contest.
Lynch made his last start for the Broncos in the 2017 season finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, recording 254 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in a game that featured mostly backups. Denver released him before the 2018 season.
In 2019, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks and didn't claim a spot on the initial depth chart. The Pittsburgh Steelers added him to their practice squad, and the 26-year-old received a call-up to the active roster.
He didn't play a single regular-season snap.
Detroit Lions: RB Jahvid Best
Draft Status: 2010, No. 30 Overall
Guard Laken Tomlinson comes in a close second to running back Jahvid Best on the Detroit Lions' list of underwhelming first-rounders from the 2010s.
According to STATs (via the Washington Post), Tomlinson allowed eight sacks in two seasons with the Lions. He's started for the San Francisco 49ers over the last three years and surrendered just 3.5 sacks in 2019.
Best's pro career came and went within three seasons, though he didn't take an offensive snap in his third year.
During his rookie campaign, Best flashed dual-threat capability, racking up 1,042 yards from scrimmage (555 rushing and 487 receiving).
In 2011, he had his most productive pro performance against the Chicago Bears, rushing for 163 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. But he couldn't build on his momentum because of head injuries.
Best suffered multiple concussions while playing for the Lions, and the lingering effects took him out of the game. He recorded 1,719 yards from scrimmage in two seasons—a promising career cut short.
Green Bay Packers: OL Derek Sherrod
Draft Status: 2011, No. 32 Overall
Derek Sherrod barely saw the field in four seasons with the Green Bay Packers. As a rookie, he fractured his tibia and fibula, which sidelined him for the following campaign.
Although Sherrod was active for seven contests in the second half of 2013, he didn't provide much of an impact. The Mississippi State product made his only start against the New York Jets in Week 2 of the 2014 season.
Later that year, the Packers waived Sherrod after 20 career appearances. The 2011 first-rounder never scratched the surface of his potential.
Once the Packers released him, the Kansas City Chiefs signed Sherrod a month later. He didn't suit up for a regular-season game with them, though.
Defensive end Datone Jones comes close to being the team's worst pick of the decade. He made nine starts and logged at least three sacks in two seasons. In comparison, Sherrod barely cracked the starting lineup after his leg injury.
Houston Texans: CB Kevin Johnson
Draft Status: 2015, No. 16 Overall
Over the past decade, the Houston Texans have mostly hit on their first-round picks. Early selections such as Kareem Jackson (2010), J.J. Watt (2011), Whitney Mercilus (2012) and DeAndre Hopkins (2013) are NFL starters.
Kevin Johnson started 10 out of 16 contests as a rookie, edging A.J. Bouye in a battle for snaps on the perimeter. He registered 54 tackles, nine pass breakups and an interception.
Unfortunately for Johnson, injuries sapped his momentum. In October 2016, he broke his foot, which allowed Bouye to take over. Johnson landed on injured reserve for the remainder of the year.
In 2017, Bouye signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, which gave Johnson another pathway to a sizable workload. He sprained his MCL in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals and missed four games. Despite a midseason return, the cornerback recorded just two pass breakups and zero interceptions.
In the 2018 opener, Johnson suffered a concussion and went on injured reserve for the remainder of the year. The Texans parted ways with him during the 2019 offseason.
Johnson signed with the Buffalo Bills and suited up for all 16 games in 2019. His performances reflected a backup-level cornerback, and he finished with 36 tackles, five pass breakups and a sack.
Among the Texans' first-rounders over the last decade—excluding tackle Tytus Howard from the 2019 class—Johnson ranks at the bottom in overall starts.
Indianapolis Colts: DE Bjoern Werner
Draft Status: 2013, No. 24 Overall
Bjoern Werner joined the Indianapolis Colts' front seven primarily as a backup during his rookie year. He showed promise, logging 18 tackles, three for loss and 2.5 sacks.
In 2014, he started 15 games and made most of his impact from Weeks 5 to 7, logging all four of his sacks during that period. The Florida State product played 71 percent of the team's defensive snaps during the year.
Former Colts general manager Ryan Grigson highlighted knee and shoulder injuries as reasons Werner didn't finish 2014 on a strong note.
The Colts limited Werner's rush duties and shifted him to strong-side linebacker for 2015. He also transitioned to a backup role in 10 contests. The team listed him as a healthy inactive for the other six games.
During the 2016 offseason, Werner signed with the Jaguars, but they released him before the regular season. Within four years of his drafting, he was out of the league.
Phillip Dorsett also comes to mind. The 2015 first-rounder logged just 51 catches for 753 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons with the Colts. They flipped him for quarterback Jacoby Brissett in a 2017 trade with the Patriots, though.
Dorsett has also had a longer career than Werner, as the receiver is going into his sixth season. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks in March.
Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Blaine Gabbert
Draft Status: 2011, No. 10 Overall
Blaine Gabbert and Luke Joeckel stand out as the Jacksonville Jaguars' biggest disappointments over the last decade.
The Jaguars selected Joeckel with the No. 2 pick in 2013. He started 39 contests—mostly at tackle—over four seasons. The Texas A&M product opened 11 games with the Seattle Seahawks in 2017.
Although Gabbert remains in the league, he's only started 10 or more games in two campaigns. In Jacksonville, the Missouri product should've succeeded quarterback David Garrard, but he wasn't up to it.
In 28 games, Gabbert threw for 4,357 yards, 22 touchdowns and 24 interceptions while completing just 53.3 percent of his passes. The Jaguars had a 5-22 record with him under center.
Although they swung and missed with a No. 2 overall pick, a backup quarterback in the 10th spot deals a much bigger blow because of the importance of the position.
Kansas City Chiefs: WR Jonathan Baldwin
Draft Status: 2011, No. 26 Overall
Among the Kansas City Chiefs' first-rounders in the 2010s, Jonathan Baldwin had the shortest tenure. He only spent two seasons with the club, logging 44 receptions for 607 yards and two touchdowns, with a 41.4 percent catch rate.
Baldwin didn't play with a high-end group of quarterbacks. Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, Tyler Palko and Brady Quinn commanded the huddle during the wide receiver's time with the team in 2011 and 2012.
Yet, during the 2013 offseason, the Chiefs traded Baldwin to the San Francisco 49ers for wideout A.J. Jenkins, who also needed a change of scenery to shed the bust label.
Baldwin caught three passes for 28 yards in seven outings with the 49ers. San Francisco waived him in August 2014. The Detroit Lions picked him up but released him because he failed a physical. The wide receiver didn't resurface.
Baldwin's short run with the Chiefs and brief NFL career separate him from Kansas City's other first-rounders since 2010, which is a stellar group to begin with.
Las Vegas Raiders: LB Rolando McClain
Draft Status: 2010, No. 8 Overall
On paper, Rolando McClain's numbers look solid. He recorded 246 tackles, 17 for loss, 6.5 sacks and 20 pass breakups in 41 contests over three seasons with the Raiders. However, the story behind the boxscore is troubling.
During his time with the team, McClain received a 180-day jail sentence after he received a guilty verdict on assault, menacing, wrongful discharge of a firearm and reckless endangerment charges. On a separate occasion, authorities said he provided a false name after an officer cited him for tinted windows.
At one point, the Raiders dismissed McClain from practice because of his disruptions. In 2012, the coaching staff limited his defensive snaps in favor of Miles Burris, who was a rookie fourth-rounder at the time.
During the 2013 offseason, former Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie admitted the team only kept McClain on the roster for salary-cap reasons
"McKenzie did not get into specific transactions but hinted it would have been difficult to cut Rolando McClain during the season because of the salary cap," Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group wrote. "McClain is expected to be released when it's more beneficial to the Raiders' financial bottom line."
In April 2013, the team waived McClain. He checked out long before his official release.
Cornerback Gareon Conley, the No. 24 pick in 2017, had a disappointing run with the Raiders. He played just 23 contests, logging 44 tackles, 18 pass breakups and four interceptions with the club. Management traded him to the Houston Texans for a third-round pick before the 2019 deadline.
Still, McClain was a far bigger disappointment.
Los Angeles Chargers: CB Jason Verrett
Draft Status: 2014, No. 25 Overall
This is a rarity among the worst picks. In 2015, Jason Verrett put together a Pro Bowl season, logging 47 tackles, two for loss, 12 pass breakups and three interceptions. Yet, he's the least successful of the Los Angeles Chargers' first-round selections over the last decade.
While offensive lineman D.J. Fluker had a mediocre four-year run in Los Angeles, giving up 17.5 sacks, per STATs (via the Washington Post), he suited up for 59 games and improved after a move to right guard.
Verrett couldn't stay healthy from 2014 to 2017. Remember, the best ability is availability. The cover man played six games or fewer in three out of four campaigns with the Chargers.
He suffered several injuries, including a torn labrum, a foot injury, a torn ACL, a ruptured Achilles tendon and a hamstring injury.
Verrett could've blossomed into one of the Chargers' best picks. Unfortunately, he's played just two regular-season games since 2016.
Los Angeles Rams: OL Greg Robinson
Draft Status: 2014, No. 2 Overall
Tavon Austin seems like the choice. The Rams selected him eighth overall in 2013, and he never developed into a lead wide receiver.
Yet, Austin played out his entire rookie deal with the Rams. In addition to 194 receptions for 1,689 yards and 12 touchdowns, he ran for 1,238 yards and nine scores through his first five seasons.
Greg Robinson didn't finish his rookie deal with the club. The Rams traded him to the Detroit Lions for a 2018 sixth-rounder, which shows how far the No. 2 overall pick fell after two seasons.
In 46 contests with the Rams, Robinson allowed 17.5 sacks and committed 35 penalties, per STATs (via the Washington Post).
The Rams received a haul in a trade with the Washington Redskins, who moved up to the No. 2 spot for quarterback Robert Griffin III in 2012. Robinson became one of the selections in the deal, but the Rams didn't reap many benefits with him on the front line.
He showed improvement in pass protection during 2018 and 2019, allowing just 4.5 sacks with the Cleveland Browns. In February, border patrol arrested and charged him with marijuana possession with the intent to distribute, per TMZ. The 27-year-old is facing up to 20 years in prison and may never reach his full potential on the gridiron.
Miami Dolphins: DE Dion Jordan
Draft Status: 2013, No. 3 Overall
The Miami Dolphins saw two first-rounders come and go in short stints.
Last September, the team traded safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, a fourth-rounder and 2021 seventh-round selection to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a first- and fifth-round picks along with a 2021 sixth-rounder. He registered 80 tackles, two for loss, nine pass breakups and two interceptions in 18 contests for the Dolphins—fairly effective in a short span.
Dion Jordan played more games (26) than Fitzpatrick with the team but provided minimal impact. The Oregon product recorded 46 tackles, three for loss and three sacks in Miami.
Secondly, Jordan violated the substance-abuse policy twice during the 2014 campaign. The league suspended him for the 2015 season because of a diluted test sample.
The NFL conditionally reinstated Jordan, but he didn't play a snap for the Dolphins during the 2016 campaign. In 2017, Miami released him after he failed a physical.
Overall, Jordan's time with the Dolphins didn't amount to much. To make matters worse, Miami moved up to the No. 3 spot for him in 2013.
Minnesota Vikings: WR Laquon Treadwell
Draft Status: 2016, No. 23 Overall
We can flip a coin between defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (No. 23 pick, 2013) and wideout Laquon Treadwell. The former held a primary starting role in 2014 and 2015, logging 76 tackles, 10 for loss and seven sacks in a decent stretch.
Treadwell scored his first touchdown three years into his career. He grossly underachieved in each season with the Vikings. Adam Thielen, who went undrafted in 2013, worked his way up the ranks and surpassed the coveted first-rounder out of Ole Miss.
Treadwell had plenty of opportunities to secure one of the starting perimeter roles. He never clicked in the offense, recording 65 receptions for 701 yards and two touchdowns in four years. Theilen and Stefon Diggs took over the starting spots and became on of the league's best receiving duos.
Because the Vikings didn't exercise the fifth-year option on Treadwell's deal, he won't have a shot to soak up Diggs' targets following the latter's trade to Buffalo. Instead, the 24-year-old will attempt to reinvent himself with the Atlanta Falcons.
New England Patriots: DT Dominique Easley
Draft Status: 2014, No. 29 Overall
Dominique Easley is another classic case of what injuries can do to hurt a player's potential.
At Florida, Easley tore his ACL twice. The New England Patriots rolled the dice on him anyway. He didn't start his rookie campaign on the physically unable to perform list or injured reserve, but late in the season, the team shut him down because of knee soreness.
In 2015, Easley missed five contests because of a hip pointer and torn quad. He landed on injured reserve again. Before his third season, the Patriots released him.
Easley resurfaced with the Los Angeles Rams, flashing his ability to pressure the pocket with 3.5 sacks in 2016. In March 2017, he tore his ACL, which sidelined him for the following campaign. The 27-year-old only played in three games in 2018 and then underwent another knee surgery.
Easley's career pathway is unique among Patriots first-rounders because of his short tenure with the club. He could've provided a consistent pass rush on the interior, but injuries derailed his chance.
New Orleans Saints: LB Stephone Anthony
Draft Status: 2015, No. 31 Overall
Stephone Anthony flashed his ability to cover ground during his rookie campaign. He registered a team-leading 112 tackles and put up five tackles for loss, a sack, five pass breakups and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Despite Anthony's solid production, the New Orleans Saints moved him to strong-side linebacker to make room for James Laurinaitis in the middle.
In addition to his adjustment to a new position, Anthony suffered a leg injury during the preseason. He landed on injured reserve because of a knee ailment. Far from a polished player, the Clemson product needed more development in coverage, which explains why the team moved him to the strong side for support against the run.
The Saints traded Anthony to the Miami Dolphins before the 2017 season. With his new squad, the linebacker couldn't match the production from his decent rookie year. In 2019, he returned to the Saints and logged one tackle in 12 outings.
Among the Saints' first-rounders over the last 10 years, Anthony had the shortest tenure on a rookie deal, which lasted just two seasons.
New York Giants: RB David Wilson
Draft Status: 2012, No. 32 Overall
Offensive lineman Ereck Flowers was a candidate, but he made a successful transition to guard, and the 25-year-old signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Miami Dolphins in March.
David Wilson's career spanned two seasons. He became the first NFL player to log at least 100 rushing yards and 200 kick return yards in a single game. As a rookie, the running back led the league in the latter category (1,533).
Still, the Giants selected Wilson 32nd overall. He only ran the ball 71 times for 358 yards and four touchdowns in his first year. Clubs can find a spark on special teams on Day 3 of the draft—a first-round pick has to be more than an explosive kick returner.
Wilson didn't have a chance to elevate his game on offense. In Week 5 of his second season, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. The Giants placed him on injured reserve for the remainder of the year, and the then-23-year-old retired in 2014.
Wilson's time in New York was unfortunately a blip because of injury. He recorded 115 carries for 504 yards and five touchdowns for his career.
New York Jets: CB Dee Milliner
Draft Status: 2013, No. 9 Overall
The New York Jets have tried to fill their need at cornerback multiple times through the draft over the last decade. Kyle Wilson (2010) had a chance form a good duo with Darrelle Revis. Dee Milliner could've succeeded the four-time All-Pro in a lead role.
In five seasons with the Jets, Wilson recorded 162 tackles, four for loss, 17 pass breakups and three interceptions. He started more than six contests in one campaign, and for the most part, the Boise State product looked like a backup.
Milliner tops Wilson on the disappointment scale because he went ninth overall compared to 29th for the former. Secondly, the Jets pulled the Alabama product from the starting lineup multiple times during his rookie season, and then injuries kept him off the field.
Starting in 2014, Milliner battled an ankle injury, quad ailment, tore his Achilles tendon and underwent wrist surgery. After his rookie year, he appeared in just eight games—mostly in a reserve role.
The Jets burned a top-10 pick on a high-upside player who had a few rookie flashes (17 pass breakups and three interceptions) but showed no consistency before his body wore down.
Philadelphia Eagles: DE Marcus Smith
Draft Status: 2014, No. 26 Overall
Offensive lineman Danny Watkins (No. 23 pick in 2011) started 18 out of 23 games at right guard and only played through two years of his deal. Still, he's second to Marcus Smith on the disappointment meter.
In three seasons, which includes 53 outings, Marcus Smith didn't start a game with the Philadelphia Eagles. He barely registered in the box score, logging 23 tackles, four for loss and four sacks.
Smith had a breakout 2013 senior year at Louisville, producing 16 sacks. We didn't see that blend of power and speed on the pro level—to any extent.
After Philadelphia, Smith played one season with the Seattle Seahawks and another in Washington. In 2018, he only lined up for nine defensive snaps at the latter destination, which was his last NFL stop.
Smith suited up for three teams in five seasons and never cracked the starting lineup, which spells underachiever in bold print.
Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Jarvis Jones
Draft Status: 2013, No. 17 Overall
We saw early potential in cornerback Artie Burns (25th pick, 2016) during his rookie campaign. Although his quality performances quickly vanished, the Miami product might turn his career around in Chicago with new opportunities.
Jarvis Jones didn't exhibit much promise at all.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jones put together four mediocre seasons as a starting outside linebacker in 35 out of 50 games. From 2013 to 2016, he recorded 130 tackles, 11 for loss, six sacks, nine pass breakups, two interceptions and four forced fumbles.
On paper, Jones' numbers don't look terrible. With that said, the Steelers likely expected more from a player who was selected 17th overall. He sat out for a majority of the 2014 campaign with a wrist injury that required surgery. Nonetheless, most of his shortcomings were a result of ineffective play or limited production while healthy.
After his stint with the Steelers, Jones signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Within six months, the team waived him and reached an injury settlement because of an injured disk in his back.
San Francisco 49ers: WR A.J. Jenkins
Draft Status: 2012, No. 30 Overall
This is arguably the easiest selection of any team. A.J. Jenkins produced absolutely nothing with the San Francisco 49ers.
As a rookie, Jenkins was active for three games. He saw one target and didn't record a catch. San Francisco quickly moved on from him, dealing the Illinois product to the Kansas City Chiefs for wideout Jonathan Baldwin in August 2013.
A change of scenery can help—but not in this case. In Kansas City, Jenkins caught 17 passes for 223 yards in 2013 and 2014.
Clearly, the 49ers reached for Jenkins after a standout senior year at Illinois (90 receptions, 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns). On a positive note, kudos to the front office for realizing its mistake and attempting to flip the wideout before his trade value completely tanked.
Jenkins' ineffective play in Kansas City underscored the 49ers' miscue. He struggled with drops with the Dallas Cowboys during training camp in 2015. He was out of the league after his age-25 season.
Seattle Seahawks: OT Germain Ifedi
Draft Status: 2016, No. 31 Overall
Over the last 10 years, the Seattle Seahawks picked up two offensive linemen who didn't live up to high draft-day expectations.
In 2011, the Seahawks selected guard James Carpenter 25th overall. Through four seasons, he allowed 12 sacks and committed 20 penalties, per STATs (via the Washington Post).
On a positive note, Carpenter finished his tenure in Seattle on a strong note, surrendering just a half-sack during his 2014 contract year.
Germain Ifedi didn't show much growth in his four-year stretch. In addition to 24.5 sacks allowed, he committed at least 10 penalties in three out of four seasons, per STATs.
The Seahawks stuck with Ifedi through his rough patches in pass protection and lapses in technique, which led to infractions. He started in all 60 of his appearances, but the 25-year-old's experience with the first unit didn't yield improved results.
Carpenter has served as a decent starter with the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons since his career beginnings in Seattle.
Ifedi signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason and lists behind Bobby Massie and Charles Leno Jr. at tackle. Barring a move to the interior, he'll transition to a backup role.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Draft Status: 2016, No. 11 Overall
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kept Vernon Hargreaves III on the roster for three-and-half years. He played in just 35 contests because of injuries. After a 16-game rookie slate, the cornerback suffered a hamstring injury and missed seven outings during his second campaign.
In the 2018 season opener, Hargreaves suffered a shoulder injury and landed on injured reserve again. Through three years, he had one interception, and his pass-breakup totals dropped from nine to five to one.
At one point during the 2019 offseason, Hargreaves watched the first-team defense from the sidelines. Head coach Bruce Arians gave a straight-forward reason for keeping the cornerback off the field, per Greg Auman of The Athletic.
"He's got to get his mind right for practice," Arians said.
Midway through the 2019 season, Arians benched Hargreaves for his lack of hustle. Shortly after, the Buccaneers released him. That's a telling departure for a first-round pick.
The Texans claimed Hargreaves off waivers, and he recorded 21 tackles and two pass breakups in six outings. The 24-year-old is unsigned.
Linebacker Mark Barron (No. 7 pick, 2012) and Hargreaves have two of the shortest stints among the Buccaneers' first-rounders over the last decade. The latter's low production and unceremonious exit give him the edge for this unflattering selection.
Tennessee Titans: QB Jake Locker
Draft Status: 2011, No. 8 Overall
Jake Locker should've succeeded Matt Hasselbeck as the lead signal-caller for the Tennessee Titans. Despite his early opportunities under center, injuries played a major factor in his inability to claim the job.
Locker separated his non-throwing shoulder twice in 2012. He battled hip and foot (Lisfranc) injuries in 2013. In 2014, wrist and thumb ailments limited the signal-caller's ability to start—a dislocated shoulder ended his season.
When healthy, Locker's numbers didn't look impressive for a top-10 pick. In 30 games, which included 23 starts, he threw for 4,967 yards, 27 touchdowns and 22 interceptions with a 57.5 percent completion rate.
Partially because of durability issues, Locker's production fell short, and the Titans didn't exercise the fifth-year option on his deal. In March 2015, he retired.
In terms of Locker's talent, we can only imagine what could've been if he shook off the injury bug. The 2011 No. 8 overall pick came and went in four years.
Washington Redskins: QB Robert Griffin III
Draft Status: 2012, No. 2 Overall
The Washington Redskins took a major risk by trading up for Robert Griffin III in 2012. Initially, the transaction seemed to pay off. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year, earned a Pro Bowl invite and led the team to the playoffs.
He then suffered a devastating knee injury against Seattle on Wild Card Weekend.
Griffin's production declined from there. In his second season, former Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan benched the quarterback for the final three games of the season to prevent "further injury." The Baylor product threw for 3,203 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2013.
In Week 2 of the 2014 season, Griffin dislocated his ankle and missed a chunk of the season.
In November 2014, according to ESPN's Steve Young, who talked to Redskins coaches on the staff under Shanahan, Griffin's work habits came into question. At the time, head coach Jay Gruden had to answer those criticisms. His response raised eyebrows:
"He could do more probably, [but] he studies himself and he comes back with ideas the following day. Whether he's here or not, there's a lot of work you can do. There's a lot of different ways to communicate now than it was back in the 80s when Steve played ... I really think he works hard at it. He puts his work in."
Days later, reports swirled about Griffin's hot seat under center. He reclaimed the starting job once his ankle healed, but the coaching staff benched him for Colt McCoy.
Despite giving up three first-round picks and a second-rounder to move up for Griffin, Washington eventually turned to Kirk Cousins, a fourth-rounder in the same draft class, to lead Gruden's offense.
The Redskins traded years of premium draft capital for one good season from RGIII.