Ranking the Worst NFL Draft-Day Trades Since 2000

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2021

Ranking the Worst NFL Draft-Day Trades Since 2000

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Good intentions are the backbone of any trade during the NFL draft.

    However, reality often brings disappointment.

    Every franchise has made a bad deal. But when a draft-day transaction doesn't work out, it can become a long-term problemespecially when a quarterback is involved. Several such mistakes from the last 20 years are etched in our football brains.

    Like, say, trading up for Mitchell Trubisky instead of targeting Patrick Mahomes or even interviewing Deshaun Watson. That oversight will haunt the Chicago Bears for, well, forever.

    Chicago isn't alone, though.

    The list is subjective but considers the cost of the trade, the player's subsequent value and players who were drafted later.

Dishonorable Mentions

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    2009: Broncos Trade 1st-Rounder for Alphonso Smith

    As a matter of principle, when an 8-8 team offers a future first-round selection for a second-rounder, you take it. The Seattle Seahawks sent the No. 37 pick in the 2009 draft to the Denver Broncos for their top choice in the 2010 draft. Smith lasted one season as a backup in Denver, while Seattle used that first-rounder on Earl Thomas, a three-time All-Pro safety who played a key role on the Super Bowl-winning 2013 team.


    2016: 49ers Whiff on Josh Garnett, Miss Chris Jones

    In the 2016 draft, the San Francisco 49ers packaged the No. 37 selection with a fourth- and sixth-rounder for the No. 28 pick. They used it on Stanford guard Josh Garnett, who lasted only three years in San Francisco because of a few injury-plagued seasons. The Kansas City Chiefs spent the No. 37 pick on defensive tackle Chris Jones, who made two Pro Bowls in his first five seasons and won a Super Bowl in 2019.


    2018: Cardinals Strike Out on Josh Rosen

    The sting has faded because the Arizona Cardinals corrected this mistake one year later with Kyler Murray. However, the Cardinals dealt the No. 15 selection with a third- and fifth-rounder to the Oakland Raiders for No. 10. Rosen went 3-10 as a rookie starter, throwing 14 interceptions and fumbling 10 times.

8. Broncos Deal 3 Picks for Tim Tebow

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    David Duprey/Associated Press

    Despite his accomplishments at Florida, Tim Tebow wasn't considered one of the top quarterbacks in the 2010 draft class because of his inaccurate arm.

    However, the Denver Broncos ignored that concern.

    The Broncos first traded down twice and up once to select wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who went on to make four Pro Bowlsgood! But then they sent a second-, third- and fourth-rounder to the Baltimore Ravens for the No. 25 pickbad!

    Tebow served as the backup to Kyle Orton in 2010 and had a miraculous run in 2011 with a total of six game-winning drives (including one in the playoffs). The Broncos averaged only 19.3 points per game that season, though, and they replaced Tebow with Peyton Manning the following offseason.

    Meanwhile, Baltimore used the third- and fourth-round picks on tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, respectively, both of whom were important players on the Super Bowl-winning 2012 team.

7. Miami Takes a Swing on Dion Jordan, Whiffs Badly

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    In hindsight, 2013 was a bad draft year. Few teams actually made a good pick early in the first round.

    For instance, take the Miami Dolphins, who climbed to No. 3 for Dion Jordan by sending their first- and second-round picks to the Raiders.

    Jordan mustered three sacks in a rotational role and also missed six games in 2014 and the entire 2015 season due to violations of the league's substance abuse policy.

    Oakland ended up with cornerback D.J. Hayden and offensive tackle Menelik Watson. Neither one starred, but they at least contributed as part-time starters.

6. Browns Jump Vikings for Trent Richardson

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Following a standout career for Alabama, Trent Richardson looked like the next great NFL running back. As a result, the Cleveland Browns showed off their impatience.

    The Browns sent the Minnesota Vikings the No. 4 selection with a fourth-, fifth- and seventh-rounder for the No. 3 pick. They added Richardson, who trudged to an inefficient 3.5 yards per carry over 17 appearances with Cleveland.

    On the bright side, the Browns somehow managed to offload him to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick...which ultimately turned into Johnny Manziel. So, not exactly redeeming.

    Minnesota dropped one spot to add Pro Bowl offensive tackle Matt Kalil, and it later added two future backups in wide receiver Jarius Wright and safety Robert Blanton.

5. Patriots Make Vikings Pay for Cordarrelle Patterson

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    After making the playoffs in 2012 behind Adrian Peterson's 2,000-yard rushing season, the Minnesota Vikings aimed to bolster their receiving corps. Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins were the only wideouts who had at least 400 receiving yards that year.

    Minnesota thought Cordarrelle Patterson was the answer, sending a collection of picksa second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-rounderto the New England Patriots for No. 29.

    Patterson thrived as a kick returner but never developed into a reliable pass-catcher. He mustered 132 receptions for 1,316 yards and seven touchdowns in 64 games with Minnesota.

    Adding insult to draft injury, the Patriots added future All-Pro linebacker Jamie Collins and starting cornerback Logan Ryan with two of the picks they received from the Vikings.

4. Ravens Trade Up for Kyle Boller; Pats Stack Their Defense

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    MATTHEW S GUNBY/Associated Press

    Two seasons removed from a Super Bowl title, the Ravens wanted a long-term answer at quarterback. They believed it would be Cal signal-caller Kyle Boller.

    He never lived up to that potential. 

    Boller started 42 games in a five-year stretch with Baltimore but averaged a meager 6.0 yards per attempt and narrowly tossed more touchdowns (45) than interceptions (44).

    Boller cost the Ravens a 2003 second-rounder and 2004 first-rounder, which New England used on safety Eugene Wilson and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, respectively. Both started on two Super Bowl-winning teams, and Wilfork was a five-time Pro Bowler.

3. Jaguars Take Derrick Harvey; Ravens Find Franchise QB

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    Stephen Morton/Associated Press

    Since the Jacksonville Jaguars had David Garrard, they weren't in the market for a quarterback during the 2008 draft. This isn't a criticism for steering clear of Joe Flacco.

    But the Baltimore Ravens bolstered the future of their offense when Jacksonville wanted Derrick Harvey with the No. 8 pick.

    Baltimore acquired a first-rounder, two third-rounders and a fourth-round selection from the Jaguars. Harvey managed eight sacks in a three-year span, and the Jags waived him before the 2011 season.

    Meanwhile, the Ravens flipped the No. 26 and 89 picks that they acquired in the deal to trade up to No. 18. They used that pick on Flacco, who smashed franchise records and earned Super Bowl XLVII MVP.

2. Bears Trade Up for Mitchell Trubisky

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    One quarterback won a national championship and appeared in another. The next QB totaled 99 touchdowns in his last two college years. The third signal-caller went 8-5 in one season as a starter but drove his grandma's 1997 Toyota Camry.


    Jokes aside, it wasn't that simple. But the Bears passed on Deshaun Watsonheck, they never interviewed him or hosted a private workoutand Patrick Mahomes. They chose...poorly.

    Fearing the 49ers might trade the No. 2 pick elsewhere, Chicago general manager Ryan Pace sent the No. 3 pick, 2017 and 2018 third-rounders and a 2017 fourth-rounder to San Francisco for the chance to grab Trubisky.

    In four seasons with Chicago, Trubisky put up decent numbers. He posted a 29-21 record as a starter with two playoff trips, tallying 10,609 passing yards and 64 touchdowns to 37 interceptions.

    However, Trubisky's lack of pocket presence, inability to consistently read a defense and poor footwork hindered him. The Bears declined his fifth-year option and let him walk after the 2020 season.

1. Washington Goes All-in on RG3

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    To draft Robert Griffin III at No. 2 overall in 2012, Washington shipped off three first-round picks and a second-rounder. Because of his minimal production, it's a bad deal. The only solace Washington can take is the St. Louis Rams wasted the return.

    Griffin wasn't a total bust. As a rookie, he accounted for 4,015 yards and 28 touchdowns with only five interceptions while leading Washington to an NFC East title.

    The problem is what happened in the playoffs. Griffin tore the ACL, LCL and meniscus in his right knee, which altered the trajectory of his career. He struggled in 2013 and lost his starting job after an ankle injury in 2014.

    Washington effectively traded four top selections for one effective season from the Heisman Trophy winner.