The Biggest Bust in Every NFL Team's Draft History

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystApril 26, 2021

The Biggest Bust in Every NFL Team's Draft History

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The 2021 NFL draft is less than one week away. It's a time of great optimism for many teams. The Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers will be kicking off the festivities Thursday in Cleveland by hopefully drafting signal-callers who will lead their teams for years to come.

    However, it's also a time of considerable trepidation. With all of that hope comes more than a little fear. Sure, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence may look like a star in the making, but he wouldn't be the first No. 1 overall draft pick to fall flat.

    For every Peyton Manning, there's a JaMarcus Russell

    And for every Patrick Mahomes (taken 10th overall), there's a Mitchell Trubisky (taken No. 2).

    For every superstar, there's a bust.

    Some teams have swung and missed more than others, but every squad has whiffed more than once in the first round. Every team has a misfire that stands above the rest as the worst in franchise history, a bust the franchise and its fanbase would really like to forget.

    But it's more fun to take a stroll down memory lane and remind them.     

Arizona Cardinals: Edge Andre Wadsworth

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    MARK A. DUNCAN/Associated Press

    No. 3 overall pick, 1998

    The 1998 NFL draft is known mostly for the two quarterbacks taken at the top. One (Peyton Manning) was just inducted into the Hall of Fame. The other will be mentioned later in this piece.

    However, the Arizona Cardinals were originally slotted to draft second overall before trading back one slot with the (then) San Diego Chargers. They may have dodged the proverbial bullet that was selecting Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf.

    But in doing so, the Redbirds stepped right into the path of the oncoming train that was Florida State edge-rusher Andre Wadsworth.

    As a senior in Tallahassee in 1997, Wadsworth was both the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and the conference Player of the Year. Per Bob McGinn of The Athletic, multiple veteran personnel men compared Wadsworth to Hall of Famer Bruce Smith.

    But Wadsworth held out for a bigger contract until just before his rookie season started and never sniffed the success he had in college in the NFL. After three injury-plagued seasons, two microfracture surgeries on his knees and eight total sacks, Wadsworth was released by the Cardinals and never played again.

    Adding insult to injury was the player who was drafted one pick after Wadsworth: The Raiders took a cornerback out of Michigan named Charles Woodson, who went on to become a Hall of Famer.

Atlanta Falcons: CB Bruce Pickens

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    No. 3 overall pick, 1991

    Back in 1991, the Atlanta Falcons had one of the game's most electrifying young cornerbacks in Deion Sanders. With the third overall pick in that year's draft, Atlanta attempted to build a duo at the position that would strike fear into the hearts of opponents.

    Given the theme of this article, you can guess how that turned out.

    A 5'10", 192-pounder with 4.48 speed, Bruce Pickens was regarded as the No. 2 cornerback in the class by Ourlads Scouting Services (via Timothy Smith of the New York Times). But even then, the risk in drafting Pickens seemed to be written on the wall.

    "A junior-college transfer who hasn't been exposed to top passing offenses and is somewhat raw in overall development but has the best physical skill of the DBs this year," Ourlads said. "Very athletic."

    Sure enough, while Pickens' athleticism was always there, his coverage skills never developed. After 27 games and two interceptions with Atlanta, he was traded to the Green Bay Packers.

    By the end of the 1995 season, he was out of the league altogether.  

Baltimore Ravens: QB Kyle Boller

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    Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    No. 19 overall pick, 2003

    As Childs Walker wrote for the Baltimore Sun, back in 2003, no one was more pleased with the selection of quarterback Kyle Boller at 19th overall than head coach Brian Billick.

    "Kyle Boller is someone, as you look across the board at every measurement you have, he is the complete package," Billick said.

    The good feelings didn't last long.

    This is another instance where the warning signs were there. Yes, at 6'3", 220 pounds, Boller had prototypical size for an NFL quarterback and a cannon for a right arm. But over four years at the University of California, he only completed 47.3 percent of his whopping 1,301 passing attempts.

    That is, as they say, ungood.

    Boller started nine games as a rookie and all 16 games for the Ravens in 2004, going 14-11. But that was in spite of his play more than because of it. By the time his career ended in Oakland in 2011, he had thrown six more interceptions than touchdowns and had a career passer rating of 69.5.   

Buffalo Bills: OT Mike Williams

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    Brett Carlsen/Associated Press

    No. 4 overall pick, 2002

    The Buffalo Bills made the AFC Championship Game last year in part because general manager Brandon Beane has made good use of the team's draft picks in recent years.

    That wasn't always the case in Western New York.

    When a team drafts an offensive lineman inside of the top five, that lineman is supposed to be a safe bet, a blocker who will be a fixture for years (usually at left tackle).

    Mike Williams had played right tackle at Texas, but it was for a southpaw quarterback in Chris Simms. The belief was that a move to the left side wouldn't pose a major hurdle, and the Bills bought into that, picking the 6'6", 370-pound mountain of a lineman fourth overall.

    Instead, Williams was a turnstile on the left side. And mediocre at right tackle. And not especially good at guard. He lasted four years in Buffalo, left the league altogether for several years and finished with one season in Washington.     

    What makes this pick hurt that much more is Buffalo drafted Williams three spots ahead of Bryant McKinnie, who would go on to make the Pro Bowl with the Minnesota Vikings and win a Super Bowl with Baltimore.    

Carolina Panthers: WR Rae Carruth

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    Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press

    No. 27 overall pick, 1997

    When the Carolina Panthers drafted wide receiver Rae Carruth with the 27th overall pick in 1997, they believed they were getting a game-breaking talent. Carruth had topped 1,000 receiving yards, averaged at least 19 yards per reception and scored at least eight touchdowns each of his last two years at Colorado.

    Instead, the team got the most infamous player in franchise history.

    His on-field production was unremarkable. He caught 44 passes for 545 yards and four scores as a rookie before playing in just two games in 1998.

    In 1999, Carruth was charged with conspiracy to murder his girlfriend, Cherica Adams, who was pregnant with their child. After posting a $3 million bond, Carruth fled prosecution before being arrested in Tennessee in December. He was suspended indefinitely by the NFL and waived by Carolina.

    Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, using an instrument with intent to destroy an unborn child and discharging a firearm into occupied property and sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison.

    He was released from prison in 2018.    

Chicago Bears: RB Curtis Enis

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    FRED JEWELL/Associated Press

    No. 5 overall pick, 1998

    Some Chicago Bears fans may be expecting to see quarterback Mitchell Trubisky here. But while the second overall pick in 2017 was a major disappointment, he led the Bears to the playoffs twice and helmed a 12-4 season in 2018.

    There have been worse picks.

    The top five selections of the 1998 draft were the ultimate in feast or famine. Two went on to be enshrined in Canton. The other three are all included in this article.

    In both 1996 and 1997 at Penn State, Curtis Enis topped 1,200 yards on the ground, averaged at least 5.4 yards per carry and scored at least 13 rushing touchdowns. He was named a consensus All-American and the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Year in his final campaign with the Nittany Lions.

    But after holding out for much of the offseason, Enis managed just 497 rushing yards before his first professional season was cut short by a knee injury. He rebounded with over 1,200 yards from scrimmage in 1999, but even then, he only managed five touchdowns.

    The following year, with his already less than impressive speed sapped by injuries, Enis carried the ball just 36 times for 84 yards.

    Those were the final carries of his career.     

Cincinnati Bengals: QB Akili Smith

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    AL BEHRMAN/Associated Press

    No. 3 overall pick, 1999

    It's hard to choose a worst pick in Cincinnati Bengals history if you only include those from the 1990s. Drafting Houston quarterback David Klingler sixth overall in 1992 was a fiasco. Selecting Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter with the first pick in the 1995 draft—a pick obtained from the expansion Panthers at the cost of Cincinnati's first two selections that year—was even worse.

    But those pale next to the unmitigated catastrophe that was drafting Oregon quarterback Akili Smith third overall in 1999.

    It's not just that Smith was awful in the pros, although he was. When he finally did see the field after holding out as a rookie, he was out of his depth. In 17 starts over four seasons in Cincinnati, he won three games and threw five touchdowns against 13 picks with a passer rating of 52.8.

    It gets worse.

    In 1999, New Orleans Saints head coach Mike Ditka was so enamored with Texas running back Ricky Williams that he traded the team's entire draft class in 1999 and a first- and third-round selection in 2000 to Washington.

    Per Adam Stites of SB Nation, Ditka made a similar offer to Cincinnati: all of New Orleans picks in 1999, the Saints' first picks in 2000 and 2001 and a 2002 second-rounder.

    The Bengals turned down the deal.

    Considering not only how badly Smith flopped but also what the Bengals missed out on by standing pat, this may be the single worst pick in NFL history.  

Cleveland Browns: QB Johnny Manziel

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    No. 22 overall pick, 2014

    Since their return to the NFL in 1999, the Cleveland Browns have committed a litany of gaffes in the first round at the game's most important position.

    The team's first pick as an expansion franchise in 1999 (Tim Couch) never stood a chance as a starter behind one of the worst lines in league history. Brady Quinn (2007) won just three of 12 starts over three seasons before washing out in Cleveland. Brandon Weeden (2012) was 5-15 in his 20 starts for the Browns, with 23 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

    But those errors are nothing compared to the mess that came two years after the Browns drafted Weeden.

    There wasn't a more polarizing prospect in the 2014 class than Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Supporters loved his improvisational style and moxie. Detractors bemoaned his mechanics and lack of discipline.

    But after Manziel reportedly texted then-quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains during the draft and said, "I want to wreck this league together," the Browns moved up four spots to draft him 22nd overall.

    The selection turned out to be a disaster. His performance was mostly dreadful, and after two wins in eight starts over two seasons, Johnny Football was out of the NFL.        

Dallas Cowboys: CB Rod Hill

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    No. 25 overall pick, 1982

    Compared to some other NFL franchises, the Dallas Cowboys have done well over the years.

    But they have had some significant misses, whether it was player like defensive lineman Scott Appleton back in the old AFL-NFL days, defensive lineman Kevin Brooks (who was taken one pick after a small-school wideout named Jerry Rice in 1985) or more recent whiffs like Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter in 2006 and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne in 2012.

    The biggest of those no-nos came back in 1982, when Dallas used the 25th overall pick on Rod Hill, a cornerback out of Kentucky State University who logged as many starts as a Dallas Cowboy as I have.

    Mind you, Hill did see some playing time as a nickel corner and punt returner, even notching a pair of interceptions in his second (and final) season in Dallas.

    But even in a relatively weak class, Hill was one of the '82 draft's most puzzling reaches, especially since he came off the board half a round before Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett.   

Denver Broncos: DT Ted Gregory

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    No. 26 overall pick, 1988

    Ted Gregory is an object lesson in the importance of due diligence before the NFL draft.

    In 1988, the Broncos took the defensive tackle out of Syracuse with the 26th overall pick. And to be fair, Gregory had been named a consensus All-American the year before.

    But there were a couple of problems. The first was that Gregory had suffered a significant knee injury during his final season in college. The second, as Jeff Pearlman pointed out for Deadspin, was that the Broncos didn't meet their newest player until after the draft.

    And when head coach Dan Reeves met Gregory for the first time, he realized that Gregory's listed height of 6'1" was, um, generous.

    "'I'm taller than he is!' Reeves announced—noting that Gregory was not 6-foot-1, as listed but closer to 5-foot-9," wrote Pearlman, who listed Gregory as the eight-worst player in NFL history in 2010.

    Gregory's knee gave out again in training camp, and he was traded to the New Orleans Saints without ever playing a down for the Broncos. He lasted all of three games with his new team.   

Detroit Lions: WR Charles Rogers

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    ED BETZ/Associated Press

    No. 2 overall pick, 2003

    Given their status as one of the handful of NFL teams to never appear in the Super Bowl, it's no surprise that the Detroit Lions have swung and missed on more than a few early draft picks.

    Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington (No. 3 overall, 2002) struggled mightily on bad Lions teams at the turn of the 21st century. Washington edge-rusher Reggie Rogers (No. 7 overall, 1987) was convicted of vehicular homicide in 1990 after a car he was driving was involved in a collision that killed three teenagers two years prior.

    Then there's the tenure of former Lions GM Matt Millen and his affinity for the wide receiver position.

    Beginning with Michigan State's Charles Rogers at No. 2 overall in 2003 (the year after Harrington was drafted), Millen used three top-10 picks in four years on receivers. Not one of those pass-catchers (Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams) came close to living up to their draft slots.

    Rogers was the earliest player drafted of the lot, just behind USC quarterback Carson Palmer and just ahead of Miami wideout Andre Johnson.

    Johnson went on to be named to seven Pro Bowls and recorded over 14,000 career receiving yards. Rogers had 36 catches for 440 yards and four scores over three professional seasons.

    No wonder Harrington was so bad.

Green Bay Packers: OT Tony Mandarich

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    Bill Waugh/Associated Press

    No. 2 overall pick, 1989

    There may not ever have been an offensive lineman who received more predraft hype than Michigan State's Tony Mandarich.

    The Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year in both 1987 and 1988, he was considered a can't-miss star in the making and one of the best OL prospects ever. As Bob McGinn wrote for The Athletic, Mandarich didn't back away from that assertion prior to the draft:

    "Yeah, they'll test me. But when they get drilled, they'll find I'm for real and that I won’t back down. Football isn't a passive game. Whether it's Lawrence Taylor rushing or anyone else, they'll know there's a new kid in town … some have said I'm the best ever. If that's true, I should make All-Pro, not just start, my first year. In fact, it's my goal to make All-Pro every year."

    Instead of being an all-time great, he went down as one of the most spectacular busts in league history. 

    According to McGinn, Mandarich revealed that he used steroids and human growth hormone at the collegiate level, and "fearing detection in the pros, [he] got off performance-enhancing drugs only to become hooked on painkillers and alcohol throughout his four seasons in Green Bay."   

    In 1990, he allowed a staggering 12.5 sacks at right tackle. The 1991 season was better but barely.

    By the 1992 season, he was finished in Titletown and entrenched as the biggest bust in Packers history.

Houston Texans: DL Travis Johnson

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    No. 16 overall pick, 2005

    The Houston Texans have only been an NFL franchise since 2002. But that hasn't stopped them from making several head-scratching picks in the first round.

    Florida State defensive lineman Travis Johnson is the worst of the lot.

    Back in 2005, Sports Illustrated ranked Johnson as the No. 1 defensive tackle available in the draft. That would all be well and good had the 2005 class not been an exceptionally weak one at the position.

    To Johnson's credit, he at least had a couple of OK years as a lane-clogging run-stuffer, racking up 71 tackles as a starter in 2007 and 2008. But the disruptive force the Texans thought were getting never materialized. In four seasons with Houston before being traded to the Chargers for a box of stale Pop-Tarts, Johnson notched all of two sacks.

    Many fans may point to quarterback David Carr or defensive tackle Amobi Okoye as bigger busts. But Carr was thrown to the wolves behind a woeful offensive line, and Okoye at least did something early in his career.

    Johnson, on the other hand, was almost invisible.    

Indianapolis Colts: QB Jeff George

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    ReplayBot|HeaderEdit|Replay|/Associated Press

    No. 1 overall pick, 1990

    This one is an easy call.

    When the Indianapolis Colts used the first pick in the 1990 draft on Illinois quarterback Jeff George, it was supposed to be a franchise-defining moment. George was the first Gatorade National Player of the Year at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis. In 1989 at Illinois, George topped 2,700 passing yards and posted a passer rating of 134.9.

    The Colts were so enamored with the rocket-armed passer that they traded two draft picks (including a first-rounder in 1991), offensive tackle Chris Hinton and wide receiver Andre Rison to Atlanta for rights to the first selection. Then they gave George a six-year, $15 million contract that was (at the time) the biggest deal ever given to a first-year player.

    Things rapidly went downhill from there.

    Over his four years with the Colts, George completed just 57 percent of his passes. He never topped even 3,000 yards in a season, threw 41 touchdown passes against 46 interceptions, posted a passer rating of 72 and won just 14 of 49 starts.

    What makes it even worse is that George went on to have a modicum of success with his second team, making his first career playoff appearance as a member of the Falcons.       

Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Blaine Gabbert

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    No. 10 overall pick, 2011

    For a team that has only existed since 1995, the Jacksonville Jaguars have assembled quite the collection of awful first-round picks.

    Since the dawn of the 21st century, they have wasted Round 1 picks on the likes of wide receivers Reggie Williams (2004), Matt Jones (2005) and Justin Blackmon (2012), offensive lineman Luke Joeckel (2013) and quarterback Blake Bortles (2014)

    But the selection of quarterback Blaine Gabbert 10th overall in the 2011 draft tops them all for a couple of reasons.

    For starters, the Jaguars traded up to get Gabbert, sending their first two picks to Washington for the right to move up six spots and draft an overmatched, inaccurate passer who completed 53.3 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns, 24 interceptions and recorded a 5-22 record over three dismal seasons in Jacksonville.

    But wait, it gets worse.

    With Jacksonville's original pick at No. 16, Washington drafted edge-rusher Ryan Kerrigan, who has 95.5 career sacks and four Pro Bowls to his name. One pick after the Jaguars took Gabbert, the Texans drafted a defensive lineman out of Wisconsin named J.J. Watt.

    Maybe you have heard of him.   

    Oh, well. At least Jaguars fans will always have this.

Kansas City Chiefs: QB Todd Blackledge

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    Susan Ragan/Associated Press

    No. 7 overall pick, 1983

    When the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes 10th overall in 2017, it changed the fortunes of the franchise. Three years later, the Chiefs hoisted their first Lombardi Trophy in roughly half a century.

    That also marked the first time the Chiefs had drafted a quarterback in Round 1 since 1983, the year of the biggest mistake in franchise history.

    The 1983 draft will forever be known for the Hall of Fame quarterbacks it produced. Six quarterbacks were selected in Round 1, and three of them went on to be enshrined in Canton.

    Todd Blackledge was not one of those Hall of Famers.

    The Davey O' Brien Award winner after leading Penn State to a national championship in 1982, Blackledge was a coveted prospect to be sure. But he never sniffed the success that he enjoyed in college.

    Over seven professional seasons with Kansas City and Pittsburgh, Blackledge started just 29 games, completing just 48.1 percent his passes with 29 touchdowns, 38 picks and a passer rating that barely cleared 60.

    Jim Kelly and Dan Marino (both of whom were drafted after Blackledge) went on to have Hall of Fame careers.    

Las Vegas Raiders: QB JaMarcus Russell

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    No. 1 overall pick, 2007

    Back in 2007, JaMarcus Russell was one of the more ballyhooed quarterback prospects in several years. Via Sports Illustrated, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay gushed about the 6'6" signal-caller with the big arm after watching his pro day at LSU.

    "I can't remember being in such awe of a quarterback in my decade of attending combines and pro days," McShay said. "Russell's passing session was the most impressive of all the pro days I’ve been to."

    Colleague Mel Kiper Jr. went one further.

    "Three years from now, you could be looking at a guy that’s certainly one of the elite top five quarterbacks in this league," he said.

    Three years later, Russell was out of the NFL entirely.

    To be fair, it wasn't considered a huge reach when the Raiders drafted Russell first overall and gave him $32 million in guarantees. But the red flags started soon thereafter. That contract came after a holdout that dragged into the regular season. Russell attempted just 66 passes as a rookie, and while he showed at least marginal improvement in Year 2, the bottom fell out in 2009.

    He showed up for training camp weighing over 300 pounds. His level of play was beyond dismal. He completed just 48.8 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and 11 picks. He was benched midseason and released by the Raiders the following spring.

    He never played in the NFL again.            

Los Angeles Chargers: QB Ryan Leaf

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    Kent Horner/Associated Press

    No. 2 overall pick, 1998

    The 1998 draft will forever be defined by the two quarterbacks taken at the top by the Colts and Chargers.

    One of those quarterbacks (Peyton Manning) went on to win two Super Bowls and get inducted into the Hall of Fame. The other (Ryan Leaf), um, did not.

    In fairness to the Chargers, most pundits were glowing about Leaf after he threw for almost 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns at Washington State in 1997. As ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. recently recalled, he was regrettably on board the Leaf train back in 1998. At the time, he wrote:

    "Physically, he always has had what it takes to be one of the first players selected. However, it was his attention to detail last summer and willingness to put in the time on the practice field that pushed him over the top in terms of developing into a complete QB. Leaf is the type who can single-handedly put a team in the win column, which at the pro level is the ultimate sign of greatness."

    Instead of greatness, the Chargers got a quarterback who threw a whopping 33 interceptions in 18 starts over three injury-marred seasons and had a passer rating of just 48.8. The Chargers bailed on Leaf following the 2000 campaign, and after a failed comeback with the Cowboys the next season, his pro career came to an unceremonious end.    

Los Angeles Rams: OT Jason Smith

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    No. 2 overall pick, 2009

    The two decades and change that the (now, again) Los Angeles Rams spent in St. Louis were the team's best...and worst. There were two Super Bowls. The franchise's only championship. A storybook Hall of Fame quarterback. And "The Greatest Show on Turf."

    There were also some staggeringly bad draft picks.

    By 2009, the heyday was over. The Rams were coming off a 2-14 season and a dismal 5-27 stretch over the past two seasons. Seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace was showing his age and entering what would be the last year of his own Hall of Fame career.

    The Rams looked to "replace" Pace in the 2009 draft, taking Baylor tackle Jason Smith second overall. And as Jeff Eisenberg wrote for Yahoo Sports in 2019, then-Rams general manager Billy Devaney still isn't sure what happened.

    “To this day, there are times that Jason Smith pops into my head and I think, ‘What did we not see? How did we screw this up?’ ” Devaney said. “When he arrived in St. Louis, he was not the guy who was at Baylor that all his coaches and everyone swore by. We did not get the same Jason Smith.”

    After three injury-marred years in St. Louis and one in New York, Smith's NFL career ended.

Miami Dolphins: Edge Eric Kumerow

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    Doug Murray/Associated Press

    No. 16 overall pick, 1988

    With the 16th overall pick in the 1987 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins attempted to boost the pass rush with the addition of Boston College edge-rusher John Bosa.

    That Bosa's biggest claim to fame in the pros is being the father of a pair of Pro Bowl pass-rushers in Joey and Nick explains how well that worked out. He accrued just seven total sacks in three seasons in Miami.

    Apparently, the Dolphins are a fan of the old saying, "If you don't succeed, try, try again," because they went right back to that well the following year with the selection of Ohio State's Eric Kumerow.

    Somehow, Miami managed to do even worse the second time around.

    Kumerow may have been a force with the Buckeyes, but he was a farce in Miami. Over three seasons, he didn't start a game and registered all of five sacks.

    The brutal part is what could have been. Three Hall of Famers came off the board after that pick: running back Thurman Thomas and offensive linemen Randall McDaniel and Dermontti Dawson.    

Minnesota Vikings: WR Troy Williamson

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    No. 7 overall pick, 2005

    When the Vikings blow a first-round pick, it is often in spectacular fashion. After being drafted 29th overall in 1999, edge-rusher Dimitrius Underwood left the team one day after signing his rookie contract. The Vikings passed on Warren Sapp in 1995 in favor of Derrick Alexander, who had 17.5 sacks in four seasons in the Twin Cities.

    But the Troy Williamson fiasco in 2005 gets the nod here as the best of the worst. Or bust of the worst, as the case may be.

    This bust actually began the month before the draft. On March 2, the Vikings made a trade with the Oakland Raiders that netted them the seventh overall pick. The Raiders, on the other hand, received wide receiver Randy Moss.

    That's right. Williamson was picked to replace arguably the most unguardable pass-catcher the NFL has ever seen.

    Defenses had no such problem with the South Carolina product. His best season in Minnesota came in 2006, when he caught 37 passes for 455 yards. Over three seasons with the Vikings, he caught just 47.3 percent of his targets and scored all of three times.

    For his career, Williamson accrued 1,131 yards.

    Moss passed that number in eight separate seasons.   

New England Patriots: Edge Kenneth Sims

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    No. 1 overall pick, 1982

    In January, edge-rusher Kenneth Sims was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his achievements at the University of Texas.

    It's an honor that makes his professional career look all the more disappointing.

    After he dominated the Southwest Conference so thoroughly that he was the top vote-getter on defense for the 1981 Heisman Trophy, the New England Patriots thought enough of the 6'5", 271-pounder to make him the first overall pick of the 1982 draft. Per Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated, the Pats weren't alone in believing Sims was the top prospect that year.

    "He's one of the most talented defensive linemen since I've been scouting," Washington general manager Bobby Beathard said at the time. "He has the highest grade of any player this year, a grade similar to that of an O.J. Simpson."

    But Sims never amounted to much of anything in the pros. He tallied just 17 sacks over eight seasons, played in all 16 games just once and earned a reputation as a player who wasn't especially fond of practicing.

    He was released in 1990 shortly after being arrested for cocaine possession.          

New Orleans Saints: DT Johnathan Sullivan

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    PAUL SAKUMA/Associated Press

    No. 6 overall pick, 2003

    Until the arrival of Drew Brees, the history of the New Orleans Saints was fraught with futility. It extended to the NFL draft, whether it was mortgaging an entire draft class to take running back Ricky Williams fifth overall in 1999 or using the 11th overall pick in 1979 on kicker Russell Erxleben.

    Yes, that's right. The Saints used the 11th overall pick on a kicker. But he punted too, so that's OK.

    But the worst draft bust in Saints history actually came more recently than either of those picks.

    The New Orleans Saints originally had two picks in the 2003 draft—No. 17 and No. 18. But the team swung a trade with the Arizona Cardinals to move to sixth overall for the rights to Georgia defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan.

    After a holdout, Sullivan inked a seven-year, $19 million contract that included $11.4 million in bonuses. At the time, it was the largest bonus the Saints had ever issued.

    The return on that sizable investment was 78 total tackles and 1.5 sacks over three seasons. New Orleans traded Sullivan to the Patriots in 2006, but he never played a down for the Patriots—or any other NFL team.

New York Giants: EDGE Cedric Jones

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    No. 5 overall pick, 1996

    Sometimes, what makes a draft pick a colossal bust has as much to do with the players who are drafted after that player as the bust themselves.

    That's the case with Oklahoma edge-rusher Cedric Jones, who was the fifth overall pick of the New York Giants in 1996.

    Don't get me wrong, Jones was certainly a bust in his own right. With Simeon Rice already off the board that year, the G-Men reached in a big way for Jones, who piled up half of his 15 career sacks during his lone decent season in 1996.

    But what really makes this pick cringe-worthy is the options that were still there on the board at this spot. Wide receiver Marvin Harrison and linebacker Ray Lewis are already in Canton. Offensive tackle Willie Anderson may one day join them. Running back Eddie George and wideout Terry Glenn were both capable producers for years and Pro Bowlers.

    Jones was the first player drafted that year who never made a Pro Bowl.

    Twenty-nine players who did were drafted after Jones that year.

New York Jets: EDGE Vernon Gholston

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    No. 6 overall pick, 2008

    When it comes to first-round flops, the New York Jets rank right at the top among the bottom in NFL history. This is a franchise more than capable of botching multiple picks in Round 1, as they did with Russell "Who?" Carter and Dan "That Name Sounds Made Up" Faurot at No. 10 and No. 15 overall in 1984.

    Even by the standards of that admittedly ugly draft class, ouch.

    Still, even by Gang Green's gangrenous draft standards, the selection of Ohio State edge-rusher Vernon Gholston sixth overall in 2008 is cringe-worthy.

    On the surface, it seemed a reasonable enough selection. Over his last two years in Columbus, Gholston was a force, piling up 30.5 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks.

    Not only did Gholston not carry that success over to New York, but to say his sack production dropped would imply that he actually had some. In three years with the Jets, Gholston tallied three tackles for loss and zero sacks.

    At least Gholston got $18 million in guarantees for all that production he didn't have.

Philadelphia Eagles: EDGE Mike Mamula

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    Corey Perrine/Associated Press

    No. 7 overall pick, 1995

    Mike Mamula is something of an exception on this list. While he was on the field, the former Boston College standout was actually a pretty good player. Mamula piled up a respectable 31.5 sacks, including two seasons with at least eight, over five seasons with the Eagles.

    But no article about draft busts can be complete without him, because the ripples from Philly's move up to draft him seventh overall in 1995 can still be felt across the league.

    Mamula was one of the first prospects to train specifically for the combine, and as ESPN's David Hale wrote, the show he put on is still being talked about. He recorded a 38.5-inch vertical, 26 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, a Wonderlic score of 49 and a 4.58-second 40-yard-dash.

    He was the original workout warrior and the Eagles were so enamored with that showing that they traded up, sending the 12th overall pick and two second-rounders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    The Eagles got a decent player for five years. At No. 12, the Buccaneers selected defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Tampa then used the second-rounders to trade back into Round 1 and pick outside linebacker Derrick Brooks.

    The duo combined for 18 Pro Bowls and two busts that reside in the Hall of Fame.

Pittsburgh Steelers: EDGE Huey Richardson

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    No. 15 overall pick, 1991

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have long been known for their ability to find talent in the NFL draft that fits their brand of football.

    That makes the selection of Florida edge-rusher Huey Richardson 15th overall in 1991 all the more surprising.

    It wasn't exactly a state secret that the Steelers ran a three-man front at the time. As Ed Bouchette reported for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that's what made the Richardson pick so baffling to then director of football development Tom Donahoe.

    "The Huey Richardson pick to me was total insanity," Donahoe said. "It just wasn't going to work and it didn't work. It was a stretch to think he could play outside linebacker because he was not a very fluid athlete. He was very stiff. But, that was what we decided, that was what we did and it obviously didn't work."

    To say it didn't work is an understatement. After five games as a rookie (and no stats on defense), Richardson was traded to Washington for a seventh-round pick. His playing career ended after 11 games with Washington and the New York Jets in 1992.

San Francisco 49ers: QB Jim Druckenmiller

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    L.G. PATTERSON/Associated Press

    No. 26 overall pick, 1997

    There wasn't a team in the NFL that had more stability at quarterback in the 80s and 90s than the San Francisco 49ers. When Joe Montana gives way to Steve Young, your team is going to be OK.

    But by 1997, Montana was gone and Young was aging. So the Niners looked to the future and drafted Virginia Tech's Jim Druckenmiller, who threw for 2,071 yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions as a senior with the Hokies in 1996.

    The belief was that Druckenmiller could learn and develop under Young for a couple of years before taking over the starting job. Instead, he appeared in seven games over two seasons with one start, completing 21 of 52 passes for 239 yards with one touchdown and four picks before general manager Bill Walsh sent him packing.

    Per NBC Sports Bay Area, Young had this to say about Druckenmiller when asked about him in 2020 by Steve Mariucci on NFL Network.

    “I went out the first practice to watch Jim throw," Young quipped about his "challenger," "and I'm like, 'I'm fine. We’re good.’"

Seattle Seahawks: QB Dan McGwire

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    No. 16 overall pick, 1991

    We've already discussed the 15th overall pick in 1991, and how Huey Richardson was Pittsburgh's biggest draft bust ever. That the Seattle Seahawks followed that up with another all-time bust at No. 16 is…something.

    Not that many fans outside Seattle even know that baseball great Mark McGwire had a brother who was an NFL quarterback. Of course, calling Dan McGwire an NFL quarterback is a bit of stretch—a belief held in the firmest of fashions by then-Seahawks head coach Chuck Knox.

    "The selection of McGwire pretty much epitomizes all that went wrong during the Ken Behring era," Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times wrote. "Coach Chuck Knox apparently wanted to take Brett Favre — or just about anybody else — but Behring insisted on McGwire. Knox was so peeved that he didn't meet with reporters after the pick, as is the custom. McGwire lived down to Knox's expectations — starting just five games in four seasons, completing 74 of 148 career passes for 745 yards, with two touchdowns, six interceptions and a 52.3 rating. Favre, taken with the 33rd pick, had just a little bit more success."

    It's the "what if" of Favre being drafted by Seattle instead of Atlanta that makes McGwire an even bigger flub than edge-rusher Aaron Curry, who was invisible after being drafted fourth overall in 2009.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Bo Jackson

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    No. 1 overall pick, 1986

    In 1986, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used the first overall pick in the draft on the most electrifying player in college football.

    The problem is that electrifying player was Auburn running back Bo Jackson—and he had made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of ever playing a snap for the Buccaneers.

    As Greg Auman reported for the Tampa Bay Times, Jackson had lost his eligibility to play college baseball after accepting a ride on Buccaneers team owner Hugh Culverhouse's jet for a pre-draft visit. The Bucs insisted they cleared the flight with the NCAA first, but Jackson wasn't buying it.

    "I think it was all a plot now, just to get me ineligible from baseball because they saw the season I was having and they thought they were going to lose me to baseball," Jackson said in an ESPN documentary about his exploits. "(Like) 'If we declare him ineligible, then we've got him.' "

    "I told Culverhouse, 'You draft me if you want,'" Jackson continued. "'You're going to waste a draft pick. I promise you that.'"

    He wasn't kidding. Rather than play for Tampa, Jackson signed a deal to play baseball with the Kansas City Royals. He wouldn't enter the NFL until one year later, as a member of the Raiders.

Tennessee Titans: QB Jake Locker

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    James Kenney/Associated Press

    No. 8 overall pick, 2011

    There wasn't a quarterback in the 2011 draft class with a bigger arm than Washington's Jake Locker. He possessed prototypical size and impressive athleticism. But the 6'2", 228-pounder was inconsistent and inaccurate as a Husky, completing less than 55 percent of his passes.

    The Tennessee Titans saw enough in the good category to overlook the bad. So much so, in fact, that the team used the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft to make Locker the second quarterback drafted behind Auburn's Cam Newton.

    Locker was going to be the team's franchise quarterback; the player who would lead the Titans for years.

    But Locker's flaws became that much more exposed at the NFL level. He wasn't awful—Locker passed for just under 5,000 yards in 30 total games (and 23 starts) with 27 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.

    But of those 23 starts, Locker won just nine. When his first contract expired after four seasons, Locker simply walked away from the game, saying that he no longer had the passion needed to play the game at its highest level.

    Of the eight players drafted directly behind Locker in 2011, five have played in at least one Pro Bowl.

Washington Football Team: QB Heath Shuler

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    J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

    No. 3 overall pick, 1994

    The good news for Heath Shuler is that he found success after football, spending six years representing North Carolina as a Democrat in Congress.

    The bad news for the team that drafted Shuler third overall in 1994 is that his playing days involved very little of it.

    Shuler wasn't necessarily a reach. There were pundits who thought he was the best quarterback in his draft class after a standout career at Tennessee that culminated in a runner-up finish in Heisman trophy balloting.

    It didn't take long to realize though that Shuler wasn't cut out to start in the NFL. As a rookie, Shuler completed just 45.3 percent of his passes, posted a passer rating south of 60 and won just one of eight starts.

    By the time his three-year stint in D.C. and one atrocious year with the New Orleans Saints were over, Shuler had thrown 33 interceptions against just 15 touchdowns, completed less than half his passes and posted a passer rating of 54.3.

    The real kick in the teeth came in 1996 when Shuler was benched in favor of Gus Frerotte, who was drafted in the seventh round of that same 1994 draft.

    Frerotte went 9-7 that year and made the Pro Bowl.