Every NFL Team's Worst Draft Pick of the Past 5 Years

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2022

Every NFL Team's Worst Draft Pick of the Past 5 Years

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    We should probably wait a few years to fully evaluate NFL draft picks. That said, you can immediately spot some players who won't make it at the pro level.

    At times, teams make poor decisions with their draft selections, and the player has to go elsewhere for better opportunities. In other cases, players suffer injuries or run into trouble away from the field, which ruins their careers. 

    Let's examine each team's worst draft pick from the past five years.

    We focused on early-round picks because clubs expect those players to start or become contributors within a short period. For example, a top-25 pick that served as a backup is more disappointing than a fourth-rounder who never played a snap. 

    Furthermore, we only took a player's time with his first team into account. If the club traded a top pick after one or two years, that squad didn't get good value (production) from that selection. Usually, in this scenario, the general manager realizes a mistake and moves on or turns over the roster with a new regime. Either way, that counts as a big draft miss. 

    Our selections below fall from the 2017 to 2021 drafts.

Arizona Cardinals: QB Josh Rosen

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    Draft position: No. 10 in 2018

    In a top-heavy quarterback class, Josh Rosen fell to the Arizona Cardinals at No. 10. As the fourth passer selected, he came into the league with extra motivation.

    "There were nine mistakes made ahead of me, and I'm going to make sure, over the next decade or so, that they know they made a mistake," Rosen said on draft night.

    After the Cardinals trotted out quarterbacks Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton in an 8-8 year, they wiped the slate clean with Rosen and a new coaching staff under Steve Wilks.

    Within a year, Arizona moved on from Rosen, who threw for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with a 55.2 percent completion rate. The Cardinals fired Wilks, too, opting to draft quarterback Kyler Murray and hire head coach Kliff Kingsbury instead.

    The Cardinals made the right move, and Rosen still hasn't proved anyone wrong.

    Since his one-year stint in Arizona, Rosen has bounced around the league, landing with the Miami Dolphins (via trade), Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons, throwing for one touchdown and seven interceptions since 2019. Last season with the Falcons, he had the same number of completions and interceptions (two).

    The nine teams that passed on Rosen had the right assessment, and Arizona made the mistake before a swift correction. 

Atlanta Falcons: OT Kaleb McGary

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    Draft position: No. 31 in 2019

    Kaleb McGary has at least another season to play up to his first-round pedigree with the Atlanta Falcons. For now, he may be a long shot to earn a second contract with the team. The club has to make a decision in the coming weeks on his fifth-year option set at $13.2 million.

    The Falcons' previous regime under former general manager Thomas Dimitroff moved up from the second round to pick McGary with the No. 31 pick in the 2019 draft. He had a slow start to his first offseason because of a cardiac ablation procedure, but he took over the starting right tackle job from Ty Sambrailo after sharing snaps with him in Week 1. 

    McGary has struggled through three seasons at right tackle. In 2021, he played well in the second half of the season as a run-blocker but gave up nine sacks through 986 snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

    General manager Terry Fontenot didn't trade up to draft McGary, so he doesn't have a vested interest in keeping a player who's underperformed at a premium position. Barring a fourth-year turnaround, the Washington product will likely hit the free-agent market next offseason.

Baltimore Ravens: TE Hayden Hurst

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    Draft position: No. 25 in 2018

    Hayden Hurst landed in a tough spot with the Baltimore Ravens. Though the team selected him in the first round, he immediately had to compete for snaps with Mark Andrews at tight end. 

    On top of that, Hurst underwent a procedure for a foot stress fracture that sidelined him through the first month of the 2018 season. From the start, he played catch-up behind Andrews, who came into the league as a more productive pass-catcher out of college.

    Between 2018 and 2019, quarterback Lamar Jackson developed a stronger rapport with Andrews than Hurst, which limited the latter's role. 

    During the 2020 offseason, the Ravens traded Hurst and a fourth-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons. Though he posted career highs with his second team (56 receptions for 571 yards and six touchdowns), 2021 first-rounder Kyle Pitts passed him on the depth chart last year. 

    In March, Hurst signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, and he'll have a third chance to put a stronghold on a featured role at tight end.

Buffalo Bills: DE A.J. Epenesa

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    Draft position: No. 54 in 2020 

    The Buffalo Bills traded their 2020 first-rounder to the Minnesota Vikings in a deal to acquire wideout Stefon Diggs. As a result, the team made its first selection in the second round that year, taking A.J. Epenesa.

    Epenesa has yet to find his groove in a consistent role. He's played fewer than 38 percent of the defensive snaps for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, recording 28 tackles, five for loss, 2.5 sacks and 21 quarterback pressures

    Most concerning for Epenesa, the Bills doubled dipped at defensive end in the first two rounds of last year's draft, taking Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham with the 30th and 61st picks, respectively. 

    Rousseau moved into a starting role, lining up with the first unit in every game last season. Through eight appearances, Basham played 39 percent of the defensive snaps, logging 18 tackles, four for loss, 2.5 sacks and six pressures

    Even though Buffalo hasn't re-signed defensive end Mario Addison or Jerry Hughes, the front office signed Von Miller to a six-year, $120 million deal, which clearly indicates he'll have a big role on the edge.

    Miller and Rousseau will likely open the 2022 season in starting positions, with Basham pushing for snaps behind them. Epenesa may continue to play in a limited capacity, but Buffalo likely expected more from its top 2020 selection. 

Carolina Panthers: OT Greg Little

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    Draft position: No. 37 in 2019

    Greg Little started in a handful of games as a true freshman at Ole Miss. He played left tackle through three collegiate terms and stirred up a lot of buzz before going to the pros. In 2018, the standout offensive lineman earned All-SEC first team and All-American second-team honors. 

    During a 2019 preseason game against the New England Patriots, Little suffered a concussion and lingering effects from the injury sidelined him for an extended period. After he was cleared to return, the once-promising tackle went down with an ankle injury. The Panthers eventually placed him on injured reserve.

    Little only suited up for four games through his rookie campaign. In the following season, the Panthers hired head coach Matt Rhule, who replaced Ron Rivera, and acquired left tackle Russell Okung from the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for guard Trai Turner, which clouded Little's pathway to a starting role.

    According to WFNZ's Kyle Bailey, Carolina considered moving Little to guard, but he played tackle through another injury-riddled year with ankle issues and again finished the season on injured reserve.

    Last offseason, the Panthers traded Little to the Miami Dolphins for a 2022 conditional seventh-round pick. He's yet to play a snap for his new team.

Chicago Bears: TE Adam Shaheen

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    Draft Position: No. 45 in 2017

    As a collegian, Adam Shaheen was a playmaker at Ashland University (Ohio), hauling in 127 passes for 1,670 yards and 26 touchdowns, but he didn't showcase much of his pass-catching skill set with the Chicago Bears. 

    In three seasons with the Bears, Shaheen caught 26 passes for 249 yards and four touchdowns. The team placed him on injured reserve twice with foot injuries between 2018 and 2019, which factored into his lack of production. With multiple healthy scratches mixed in, he only played 14 games in that two-year span.

    During the 2020 offseason, the Bears traded Shaheen to the Miami Dolphins, and they signed him to a two-year extension a few months later.

    Though Shaheen hasn't moved the needle in the passing game with the Dolphins, logging just 24 receptions for 260 yards and three touchdowns, he remains on the roster with a chance to carve out a blocking role under new head coach Mike McDaniel.

Cincinnati Bengals: WR John Ross

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    Draft position: No. 9 in 2017

    At the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, John Ross recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.22 seconds) in the event's history. He surged up draft boards as a result, and the Cincinnati Bengals selected him inside the top 10. 

    After the combine, though, Ross underwent surgery on his shoulder. The Bengals brought him along slowly through his first training camp. In the final week of the 2017 preseason, he suffered a knee injury that kept him out for Week 1 of the regular season. 

    In Week 2, Ross had a disappointing debut. He lost a fumble on his only carry and didn't catch a pass. He ultimately sat out for most of his rookie year because of knee and shoulder injuries along with a healthy scratch.

    Ross never found his footing with the Bengals—even after the team parted ways with former head coach Marvin Lewis following the 2018 campaign. He had an inefficient, injury-plagued four-year tenure in Cincinnati, hauling in 51 passes for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 41.5 percent catch rate.

    Needless to say, the Bengals declined the fifth-year option in Ross' contract. In 2021, he signed with the New York Giants but made minimal contributions through the regular season, recording just 11 receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown.

Cleveland Browns: QB DeShone Kizer

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    Draft position: No. 52 in 2017

    DeShone Kizer has the stain of the Cleveland Browns' 0-16 season on his resume, which isn't all his fault. However, that's still the most notable memory of his short-lived NFL career.

    In 2017, the Browns had three first-round picks, and they used those selections to acquire defensive end Myles Garrett, safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku. Quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson heard their names called for other teams within the top 12 picks. 

    The Browns selected DeShone Kizer in the second round to address their quarterback situation after Cody Kessler, Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown split starts for the club through the 2016 campaign.

    On one of the worst teams in NFL history, Kizer threw for 11 touchdowns and a league-leading 22 interceptions with a 53.6 percent completion rate. In March 2018, the Browns traded him to the Green Bay Packers and moved on with Baker Mayfield, whom the club took No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft.

    As a backup, Kizer appeared in three games for the Packers, completing 20 of 42 passes for 187 yards and two interceptions. After Green Bay waived him in August 2019, he landed on the Las Vegas Raiders' and Tennessee Titans' practice squads but didn't play a regular-season snap with either team.

Dallas Cowboys: DE Taco Charlton

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    Draft Position: No. 28 in 2017

    Taco Charlton's contributions were few and far between before he quickly flamed out with the Dallas Cowboys.

    As a rookie, Charlton filled a backup position behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford then moved up to a starting role at the beginning of the 2018 season. Midway through the campaign, he went down with a shoulder injury and never regained his first-string job, finishing the year with 27 tackles, five for loss, a sack and 10 pressures

    Going into the 2019 term, former Cowboys defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli had a "man talk" with Charlton. 

    "It was a lot," Charlton said. "I can't really get into that talk and what that was, some of it had nothing to do on the football field. So that's a different talk. To say my side of it, ain't time for that."

    Apparently, Charlton didn't respond well to Marinelli's coaching style. The Cowboys listed him inactive for the first two weeks of the 2019 season and released him in September. The Miami Dolphins claimed the former first-rounder off waivers.

    Charlton flashed a bit of his potential with the Dolphins, recording five sacks in 10 games, which included five starts, but Miami waived him a week after the 2020 draft. He's logged 25 tackles, one for loss, 2.5 sacks and nine pressures over the past two years with the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Denver Broncos: WR Carlos Henderson

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    Draft Position: No. 82 in 2017

    Outside the Denver Broncos fanbase, most people who watch the NFL probably don't remember Carlos Henderson because he's played zero regular-season snaps.

    During the 2017 offseason, Henderson underwent thumb surgery. Before the start of the following campaign, the Broncos placed him on injured reserve while he recovered from the procedure. From there, the Louisiana Tech product went through some legal and personal issues.

    In January 2018, law enforcement in Monroe, Louisiana arrested Henderson for marijuana possession. Months later, Denver placed him on the Reserve-Did Not Report list as he tended to family and personal matters. In the same year, the league suspended the wideout for one game because he violated the policy on substances of abuse.

    The Broncos waived Henderson and then added him to the practice squad before they released him in September 2018. He resurfaced on Washington's practice squad for a brief period but didn't stick to the roster.

    Back in January, Henderson signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League. At 27 years old, he's unlikely to make a comeback to the NFL.

Detroit Lions: CB Teez Tabor

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    Draft Position: No. 53 in 2017 

    Former Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn drafted Teez Tabor for Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff, but the 6'0", 201-pound cornerback played a physical style that also fit well with Matt Patricia, who took over the head-coaching position in 2018. 

    In Patricia's first year with the Lions, Tabor appeared in 12 contests and started in four of those outings, but he finished the season in a backup role because of his poor performances. While on the field for 38 percent of the defensive snaps, the Florida product allowed a 63 percent completion rate, three touchdowns and a 143.3 passer rating in coverage that year. 

    Detroit released Tabor as part of its late-summer cuts before the 2019 campaign. He signed with the San Francisco 49ers' and Chicago Bears' practice squads but didn't play in a game for either team.

    In 2021, Tabor suited up for six contests (one start), logging eight tackles with the Atlanta Falcons, who re-signed him in 2022. Tabor will likely have to settle for a special teams role to make the roster.

Green Bay Packers: QB Jordan Love

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    Draft Position: No. 26 in 2020

    An optimist can look at this selection as the pick that ticked off quarterback Aaron Rodgers and fueled him to back-to-back MVP seasons. However, in reality, the Green Bay Packers simply misjudged the timing of their star quarterback's decline and missed a chance to support him with a pro-ready playmaker.

    The Packers traded up for Jordan Love, who, because of his draft position, stood in line to succeed Rodgers.

    Instead, Rodgers went on to have two All-Pro seasons, throwing for 85 touchdowns and nine interceptions, leading the league in QBR for the 2020 and 2021 campaigns.

    In March, Green Bay signed Rodgers to a new four-year deal and made him the highest-paid player in NFL history, which eclipses the remaining years of Love's rookie contract.

    The Packers will shelve Love and stay on course with Rodgers because of the latter's exceptional play over the past two years, but the right decision doesn't make their draft-day move for the young signal-caller look any better.

    In 2021, Love started in place of Rodgers once and threw for 190 yards, a touchdown and an interception with a 55.9 percent completion rate. He's unlikely to start another game in Green Bay while Rodgers is healthy.

Houston Texans: OL Martinas Rankin

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    Draft Position: No. 80 in 2018

    Yes, there were injuries, but the Houston Texans deserve some of the blame for Martinas Rankin's career getting off to a slow start.

    During the 2018 offseason, Rankin underwent foot surgery, which kept him out of action through training camp. Yet he suited up for all 16 games through his rookie term and started in four outings at left tackle.

    Rankin looked a step too slow on the outside, and former head coach Bill O'Brien said he saw the Mississippi State product as a guard rather than a tackle. Apparently, his transition didn't pan out well through summer practices because the Texans traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs for running back Carlos Hyde before the 2019 season.

    Between the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, Rankin started in six games for the Chiefs at guard and tackle. After stretches of inactivity on injured reserve, the physically unable to perform list and the reserve/COVID-19 list over the past two years, Kansas City released him in June of 2021. He remained a free agent through the 2021 term, which indicates his NFL career may come to early an end.

Indianapolis Colts: Edge Ben Banogu

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    Draft Position: No. 49 in 2019

    Though Ben Banogu holds a spot on the Indianapolis Colts roster, he doesn't have much of a shot to climb the depth chart.

    Banogu had three years to contribute on the edge and logged just 19 tackles, three for loss, 2.5 sacks and 11 pressures through 34 games. He's gone inactive as a healthy scratch for several weeks over the past two campaigns. 

    Last year, the Colts drafted edge-rushers Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo in the first and second rounds, respectively. Indianapolis also acquired pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who has experience in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's scheme, and re-signed Tyquan Lewis.

    Even if Banogu makes the final roster, he's unlikely to make much of an impact in a reserve role. After suiting up for all 16 outings in 2019, the TCU product has played just 168 defensive snaps since 2020.

Jacksonville Jaguars: CB CJ Henderson

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    Draft Position: No. 9 in 2020

    At 23 years old, CJ Henderson has a chance to develop into a solid NFL starter, but he's a blemish on the Jacksonville Jaguars' draft record.

    Former Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell drafted Henderson, and new front-office executive Trent Baalke shipped him out as the team went through changes under former head coach Urban Meyer last season.

    Under the Baalke-Meyer regime, the Jaguars dealt Henderson to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for tight end Dan Arnold and a third-round pick.

    Henderson struggled in coverage through 10 games with the Jaguars, allowing five touchdowns and a passer rating of 110.2 or higher in both campaigns. He hasn't fared any better in Carolina.

    For the 2021 campaign, Henderson started in five out of 10 contests with the Panthers, giving up a 75.9 percent completion rate, two touchdowns and a 121.6 passer rating in coverage.

    Carolina re-signed Donte Jackson, and 2021 first-rounder Jaycee Horn will return from a foot injury, which raises questions about Henderson's role. Unless one of them makes a move to the slot position, the former top-10 pick from the 2020 class may need another change of scenery to play a significant number of snaps.

Kansas City Chiefs: Edge Breeland Speaks

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    Draft Position: No. 46 in 2018

    Breeland Speaks came into the league with a basic pass-rushing move set. Head coach Andy Reid wanted to see him expand his capabilities on the edge (h/t ESPN's Adam Teicher).

    "I've got about one or two (pass-rush moves)," Speaks said. "Like coach said, there's definitely going to be some stuff I'm going to be working on."

    Without much polish as a pass-rusher, Speaks played 16 games, starting in four, through his rookie campaign. He recorded 24 tackles, three for loss, 1.5 sacks and 13 pressures.

    Before the 2019 campaign, the Chiefs placed Speaks on injured reserve with a knee injury. Late in the term, while sidelined, he served a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on substances of abuse. The team reinstated him, and he returned to injured reserve.

    Kansas City waived Speaks with its final roster cuts in 2020. He bounced around practice squads across the league in Las Vegas, New York (Giants), Dallas (twice) and Buffalo, but he hasn't appeared in a regular-season game since his rookie year. 

Las Vegas Raiders: S Obi Melifonwu

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    Draft Position: No. 56 in 2017

    Obi Melifonwu put together an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, which raised his draft stock.

    Melifonwu had an opportunity to team up with 2016 first-rounder Karl Joseph at safety with the then-Oakland Raiders, but he suffered significant injuries early in his career. 

    Before the 2017 season, Melifonwu underwent knee surgery, and the Raiders placed him on injured reserve. Active for five games in his first season, he started in one outing against the New England Patriots at cornerback and quarterback Tom Brady picked on him throughout the contest. In December 2017, he underwent hip surgery, ending his rookie campaign.

    Melifonwu recovered slowly from hip surgery, and the Raiders waived him with an injury designation in August 2018. In the following campaign, he had a short run with the Patriots, recording three tackles in two games. 

    Last year, Melifonwu signed with the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, but he didn't suit up with either team. In total, the 28-year-old has played 54 defensive snaps in his career. Between injuries and inactivity, don't expect him on an NFL roster anytime soon. 

Los Angeles Chargers: OT Trey Pipkins

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    Draft Position: No. 91 in 2019

    The Los Angeles Chargers have likely accepted Trey Pipkins as a backup tackle. He's had opportunities to claim a first-string role on the right side but filled in behind Sam Tevi, Bryan Bulaga and Storm Norton over the last three seasons. 

    Pipkins had a solid outing in Week 17 against the Denver Broncos last season, but that's not a big enough sample size to move up the depth chart. Through three years, he's started in 10 out of 38 contests. 

    The Chargers have 2021 first-rounder Rashawn Slater on the left side, but they must fill a void at right tackle. Norton allowed nine sacks over 1,078 offensive snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus

    If Los Angeles doesn't select a tackle early in the 2022 draft, Pipkins may have one more shot to claim a starting spot in a contract year. As of right now, he's struggled to make the jump from a Division II program (Sioux Falls) to the pros.

Los Angeles Rams: WR Tutu Atwell

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    Draft position: No. 57 in 2021

    Over the past five years, general manager Les Snead has picked productive players in the second and third rounds. Most of them held starting positions or key rotational roles.

    Going into his second season, Tutu Atwell isn't likely to make a significant impact in the passing game. He'll probably earn his keep on special teams, which isn't good value for the 57th overall pick.

    As the 2021 Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl LVI MVP, Cooper Kupp established himself as one of the league's top wide receivers. Van Jefferson made significant strides over his first two campaigns, hauling in 50 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns last season. The front office signed Allen Robinson II to a three-year, $46.5 million deal in free agency.

    At best, Atwell will open the 2022 season fourth on the wide receiver depth chart for the next couple of years. By the way, he's also behind tight end Tyler Higbee, who built a solid rapport with quarterback Matthew Stafford, catching 61 passes for 560 yards and five touchdowns in 2021,

    Last season, Atwell played 10 offensive snaps, with 37 total including special teams. The Los Angeles Rams' talent at wideout will bury him on the depth chart.

Miami Dolphins: OL Austin Jackson

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    Draft position: No. 18 in 2020

    The Miami Dolphins may have prematurely thrust Austin Jackson into a starting position.

    As a rookie, Jackson struggled at left tackle and battled a foot injury that sidelined him for three weeks early in the 2020 season. During the following offseason, the Dolphins tried to quickly correct a mistake they made at a premium position.

    They selected Liam Eichenberg in the second round of the 2021 draft, inserted him in the left tackle spot for most of the season and moved Jackson to left guard.

    Jackson played in every game through the 2021 term, but he didn't show much improvement, committing 12 penalties through 1,096 offensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

    Under new head coach Mike McDaniel, whom the club hired to replace Brian Flores, the Dolphins added two offensive linemen in tackle Terron Armstead and guard Connor Williams. Both have lined up on the left side for most of their pro careers, which means Jackson will have to change positions again or settle for a backup role for the foreseeable future.

    Even if Jackson earns a first-string job for the upcoming season, he could continue to struggle outside of his natural position at left tackle.

Minnesota Vikings: CB Mike Hughes

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    Draft Position: No. 30 in 2018

    The Minnesota Vikings made some people scratch their heads with this selection. In the first round of the 2018 draft, they selected Mike Hughes after cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes played well on the boundary through the 2017 season. The latter earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods that year. Mackensie Alexander filled the slot position.

    As a rookie, Hughes returned a few kicks and a couple of punts but also made some plays in coverage, logging three pass breakups and a pick-six. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in October of 2018.

    In the following year, Hughes played in 14 out of 16 contests, recording nine pass breakups and an interception, though he only took the field for 53 percent of the defensive snaps and broke a neck vertebra, which sidelined him for the Vikings' playoff games. 

    Hughes opened the 2020 term in a starting role, but he only appeared in four games because of a neck injury. In May of 2021, the Vikings traded him along with a 2022 seventh-rounder to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2022 sixth-round pick.

    Minnesota drafted Hughes as a luxury, and he didn't deliver while healthy, allowing a completion rate of at least 66.7 percent and a passer rating of 104 or higher in two out of three terms with the team. 

    If Hughes can stay on the field, he could salvage his career, but also, the Vikings fumbled this premium pick with their logjam at cornerback. 

New England Patriots: CB Duke Dawson

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    Draft position: No. 56 in 2018

    Wide receiver N'Keal Harry deserves mention because he hasn't come close to meeting first-round expectations with 57 receptions for 598 yards and four touchdowns through three seasons.

    However, as a Day 2 pick out of Florida, Duke Dawson didn't play a snap with the Patriots. He opened his first season on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury, and New England kept him on the sideline as a healthy scratch for the final two months of the term. 

    Before the 2019 season, the Patriots traded Dawson and a seventh-round pick to the Broncos in exchange for a sixth-round pick.  

    In Denver, Dawson suited up for 26 contests (starting in four), logging 27 tackles and two pass breakups. He spent nearly half of the 2021 season on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from a torn ACL before the Broncos waived and re-signed him. The 26-year-old is currently a free agent.

New Orleans Saints: LB Zack Baun

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    Draft position: No. 74 in 2020

    Two years into his career, Zack Baun has time to carve out a role within the New Orleans Saints defense, though he's already behind 2021 second-rounder Pete Werner on the depth chart. 

    In 2019, Baun recorded 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss as an edge-rusher out of Wisconsin, but the Saints moved him to an off-ball linebacker role. He logged 12 tackles, one tackle for loss and zero pressures through his rookie campaign. 

    Last season, the Saints switched Baun to the weak-side linebacker spot, but that move didn't help boost his production. He finished with 30 tackles and two pressures in primarily a backup role.

    With the increased use of nickel formations across the league, teams usually field two linebackers on most downs, which limits Baun's opportunity to flank inside linebacker Demario Davis on the outside with another young linebacker coming along well. Werner had a decent rookie season, recording 62 tackles and four tackles for loss through 15 outings, which included eight starts.

    Out of his natural position as the third off-ball linebacker in New Orleans, Baun may have to go elsewhere to reach his highest potential. 

New York Giants: CB DeAndre Baker

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    Draft Position: No. 30 in 2019

    The New York Giants waived DeAndre Baker following his rookie season after he faced four counts of robbery with a firearm. Though the Broward County State Attorney's Office dropped those charges after an extortion attempt by the alleged victims' attorney and the 24-year-old resumed his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, we can assess his short stay with Big Blue, which had more low points than highlight moments.

    In his first pro campaign, Baker struggled in coverage, giving up a 61.4 percent completion rate, six touchdowns and a 116.2 passer rating in coverage. Though he started to turn it around late in the season, the Giants didn't have an opportunity to see him work through his growing pains. Moreover, Baker's former teammates described him as a "handful" in an unflattering way, per ESPN's Jordan Raanan.

    In two seasons with the Chiefs, Baker has played 10 games (starting in two) and logged 21 tackles, one tackle for loss, a sack and two pass breakups. He's still in the early stages of development but hasn't measured up to his first-round pedigree.

New York Jets: Edge Jachai Polite

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    Draft Position: No. 68 in 2019

    Typically, early-round draft picks claim roster spots in their rookie seasons. Jachai Polite falls into a small group who didn't make the cut, but the New York Jets' decision to fire general manager Mike Maccagnan shortly after the 2019 draft likely contributed to this rare occurrence. 

    Per ESPN's Matt Miller, Polite's draft stock fell because of poor predraft interviews and an injury that some scouts didn't take seriously, but the Jets took him early in the third round anyway. Once Gang Green hired Joe Douglas to replace Maccagnan, the Florida product didn't have a solid standing with the team.   

    After the Jets waived Polite, the Seattle Seahawks claimed and released him within a few weeks. From there, he signed with the Los Angeles Rams' practice squad but didn't play in a regular-season game for them in 2019. 

    In 2020, Polite took live snaps with the Rams and recorded his first sack in Week 5 against the then-Washington Football Team. He only played 43 defensive snaps for the entire campaign, though. Los Angeles released him in January 2021.  

    In March, Polite resurfaced in the Canadian Football League, signing with the Toronto Argonauts.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

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    Draft Position: No. 57 in 2019

    J.J. Arcega-Whiteside's opportunity to start has probably come and gone.

    The Philadelphia Eagles selected wide receivers in the first round of the last two drafts. DeVonta Smith has established a solid rapport with quarterback Jalen Hurts, catching 64 passes for 916 yards and five touchdowns in 2021. Though Jalen Reagor hasn't produced with consistency, he's started in 24 out of 28 games.

    Meanwhile, Arcega-Whiteside's offensive snap count has dropped every year since he entered the league. In 2021, the Stanford product saw a rise in his role on special teams, though, logging 54 percent of the snaps with that unit. 

    With just 16 receptions for 290 yards and a touchdown in 40 games, Arcega-Whiteside isn't going to move up the Eagles' depth chart anytime soon. Barring a change of scenery to a receiver-needy team, he'll make his money as a core special teamer.

Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Justin Layne

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    Draft position: No. 83 in 2019

    Despite a decent collegiate resume at Michigan State—24 pass breakups and three interceptions through three terms—and the prototypical size (6'2", 192 lbs) to play cornerback at the pro level, Justin Layne hasn't moved up the ranks for a significant role with the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

    In 2019, the Steelers signed cornerback Steven Nelson to pair with Joe Haden on the perimeter, which meant Layne didn't have a legitimate chance to start during his rookie season.

    After the 2020 campaign, Pittsburgh released Nelson, but that move didn't open the door for Layne, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor possessing criminal tools last May. Layne appeared in all 17 games in 2021 but only saw 28 defensive snaps. Instead, James Pierre, Arthur Maulet and Ahkello Witherspoon took advantage of more opportunities on the boundary. 

    Pierre went undrafted out of Florida Atlantic in 2020, and the Steelers added Maulet and Witherspoon (via trade with the Seattle Seahawks) to the roster last offseason, which raises concerns about Layne's standing with the team. 

    In free agency, the Steelers signed Levi Wallace, a probable starter, and retained Witherspoon as well as Maulet. They also have Cameron Sutton, who can line up on the outside or in the slot. Going into a contract year, Layne could be the No. 5 cornerback on the depth chart.

San Francisco 49ers: WR Dante Pettis

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Draft position: No. 44 in 2018

    The San Francisco 49ers had a couple of questionable first-round picks in Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster for the 2017 draft, but both flashed in their rookie terms. The former led the team in tackles for loss (10), and the latter finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year votes.

    You would have to do a deeper game-by-game search to find Dante Pettis' short-lived highlight moments in San Francisco. In his rookie year, he caught 27 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns but finished the campaign on injured reserve with a knee injury. 

    Between 2018 and 2019, Pettis' offensive snap count dropped (from 58 to 41 percent) along with his production. He recorded just 11 receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns through 11 games.

    The Athletic's Matt Barrows put Pettis on the roster bubble after the 49ers selected wideouts Brandon Aiyuk (first round) and Jauan Jennings (seventh round) in the 2020 draft. Unsurprisingly, the team waived Pettis in November of that year, which indicates he didn't have any trade value. 

    Shortly after the 49ers dumped Pettis, the New York Giants claimed him, but he's contributed little to their offense, logging 14 receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns in five contests.

Seattle Seahawks: DL Malik McDowell

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Draft position: No. 35 in 2017

    The Seattle Seahawks selected Malik McDowell in the second round of the 2017 draft, but he didn't play a snap for them. 

    During the summer of his rookie offseason, McDowell suffered injuries in an ATV accident and landed on the non-football injury list. He was also arrested for driving under the influence and disorderly conduct in 2017. 

    In July of 2018, the Seahawks waived McDowell, and an Oakland County (Michigan) Circuit judge sentenced him to 11 months in jail for multiple crimes.

    Eventually, McDowell worked his way back into the league and signed with the Cleveland Browns last offseason. For the 2021 term, he recorded 33 tackles, seven for loss and three sacks through 15 games, which included 14 starts.

    At 25 years old, McDowell could develop into a quality defender, but in January, law enforcement in Deerfield Beach, Florida, arrested him on charges of aggravated battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and exposing sex organs in public, per TMZ Sports.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB M.J. Stewart

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Draft position: No. 53 in 2018

    Though tight end O.J. Howard had a disappointing five-year stretch with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he at least played through his rookie deal with the fifth-year option. The club waived M.J. Stewart after his second season. 

    A top-60 pick out of North Carolina, Stewart had an opportunity to claim a prominent role in the slot. He flashed in a handful of starts early in his rookie campaign but suffered a foot injury that kept him out for multiple weeks.

    Upon his return, Stewart took on a reserve role and only played one defensive snap for the remainder of the 2018 term. In the following season, he recorded 35 tackles and two pass breakups through 314 defensive snaps. The Buccaneers waived him in August 2020.

    Over the last two years with the Cleveland Browns, Stewart has flashed in spots as primarily a backup, recording 69 tackles, four tackles loss, seven pass breakups and two interceptions. In March, he signed with the Houston Texans.

Tennessee Titans: OT Isaiah Wilson

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Draft position: No. 29 in 2020

    The Tennessee Titans selected Isaiah Wilson following the departure of right tackle Jack Conklin, who signed with the Cleveland Browns in free agency. He didn't fill that void for multiple reasons.

    For starters, Wilson missed significant practice time while on the reserve/COVID-19 list twice before the start of the 2020 season. In September of that year, the Davidson County Sheriff's Office confirmed his arrest on a DUI charge. The Titans suspended him for a game because he violated team rules.  

    In his rookie term, Wilson only played three offensive snaps. In the following offseason, general manager Jon Robinson had strong words for the young tackle.

    "We've tried to exhaust a lot of resources, trying to help him," Robinson said. "But at the end of the day, he's going to have to make a decision on if he wants to do things the way we want it done.

    Days later, Wilson tweeted (since deleted) that he was "done" with the Titans.

    In March 2021, Tennessee traded Wilson and a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for a 2021 seventh-rounder. Miami waived him after he showed up late for his physical and missed voluntary workouts.

    Last September, the New York Giants added Wilson to their practice squad, but he didn't play in the regular season. They released him in January. Currently a free agent, the Georgia product must mature in order to turn his career around.

Washington Commanders: RB Derrius Guice

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    Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

    Draft position: No. 59 pick in 2018

    Derrius Guice landed in a spot with an opportunity to start right away, but he tore his ACL in Washington's first preseason game, which sidelined him for his rookie campaign.

    Guice suffered a hamstring injury during his recovery but suited up for the club's third preseason game in 2019. He had an underwhelming season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, logging three receptions for 20 yards in addition to 10 carries for 18 yards before suffering a meniscus injury. Washington placed him on injured reserve.

    Two months later, Guice returned to action and played four consecutive games, rushing for 129 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 13 win at the Carolina Panthers. After Week 14, Washington placed him on injured reserve again with a sprained MCL. He hasn't taken an NFL snap since.

    In August 2020, Guice was arrested on multiple domestic violence charges, including one count of felony strangulation, three counts of assault and battery and one count of destruction of property. Washington released him. In the same month, two women accused Guice of rape and another woman said he took a partially nude photo of her and showed it to his LSU teammates.

    In March 2021, a 74-year-old woman accused Guice of sexual harassment. The Tigers banned him indefinitely and wiped his statistics from their record books as part of their response into a report detailing systemic failures in the school's handling of sexual assault and misconduct allegations.

    In June, a Virginia judge dropped the assault and battery and destruction of property charges after Guice settled out of court with the woman. The felony had been dropped earlier in 2021. The league suspended him for six games because of the 2020 arrest.

    Because of Guice's track record away from the field, he's unlikely to play in the NFL again. LSU's mishandling of the allegations against him potentially made it more difficult for Washington to properly investigate his life off the field, but there were still enough concerns at the time for teams to be wary.

    He registered 324 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in five appearances with Washington.


    Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.