Aaron Curry and the 10 Biggest NFL Busts of the Last Decade

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaFeatured Columnist IVOctober 13, 2011

Aaron Curry and the 10 Biggest NFL Busts of the Last Decade

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    Another day, another NFL bust shipped off. 

    The Seattle Seahawks traded Aaron Curry, whom they chose fourth overall in the 2009 NFL draft to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a draft pick in 2012 and 2013. 

    This came after Curry was said to have cleaned out his locker at the Seahawks' training facility.

    After being drafted fourth, Curry became the highest paid non-quarterback rookie in NFL history as he signed a six-year, $60 million contract with $34 million being guaranteed. The Seahawks felt he was worth that price since he was the consensus pick as the best linebacker in the draft. 

    He was also the highest chosen linebacker in an NFL draft since Penn State's LaVarr Arrington was selected second by the Redskins in 2000. 

    In the two-and-a-half years Curry was in Seattle, he gave the Seahawks 5.5 sacks and 126 tackles (with 26 assists) and four forced fumbles. 

    Aaron Curry isn't the first player to be a bust, and we know for sure he won't be the last. 

    But how does he rank amongst some of the other notable first-round busts from the past decade?

Vernon Gholston

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    "Great, all of the highlights of the Jets' No. 1 pick seem to be of him breezing by Miami's No. 1 pick with an easy path to our second round pick."

    -Thomas Galicia (me) in a Myspace comment to his cousin on draft day 2008. 

    Seeing those highlights of Vernon Gholston beating Jake Long and getting to Chad Henne while he was at Ohio State and the two highly-touted first and second rounders were at Michigan gave me some cause for concern. 

    As a Dolphins fan, my fears were assuaged as I saw Gholston suit up for the Jets and found that this was someone who couldn't beat a tackling dummy once he suited up in white and green. 

    Despite spending most of his career with one of the best defenses of the last three years, Gholston's impact with Gang Green was minimal. 

    Gholston only started five games with the Jets, which is weird because a No. 6 pick should usually be able to win the starting job on the opening day of his rookie training camp. He also only amassed 16 tackles and 18 tackles in his three seasons in New York. 

    All for the low low price of the No.6 pick in a draft that also included the likes of Sedrick Ellis and Jerod Mayo. 

    Also included in the low price: zero sacks, zero forced fumbles. 

    Currently Gholston is looking for work after being signed, then waived by the Chicago Bears during the offseason. 

Peter Warrick

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    With the fourth pick in the 2000 NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals thought that they were getting a true game breaking wide receiver when they chose Peter Warrick out of Florida State University. 

    And why not? Warrick was one of the most dynamic and most explosive players to come from FSU, a school that has given the NFL their fair share of dynamic and explosive playmakers. 

    But Cincinnati didn't bank on Warrick taking as much from the team while providing so little, something that the manager at a Dilliards Department Store in Tallahassee could've warned them about with him. 

    Warrick would go on to make 264 receptions for 2,811 yards and score 18 touchdowns in five years with the Bengals. 

    However, after getting hurt during the 2004 season, Warrick would be replaced for good by T.J. Houshmandzadeh as the No. 2 receiver to line up along side the former Chad Johnson. This meant the end of Warrick's career in Cincinnati, as he would be released by the Bengals, then picked up by Seattle. 

    However, Warrick would return to Cincinnati this year as a member of the Commandos, an Ultimate Indoor Football League team. 

    Yet he never played a single game with them. 

    If you find yourself going from No. 4 pick overall in the draft to not even being able to crack the regular roster of an Arena Football League-knockoff team, I think its safe to say you're a bust. 

Matt Leinart

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    Seven years ago while a senior at USC, I thought this guy would be at the very least a decent NFL quarterback with the Jets who was on the cover of magazines while competing with Derek Jeter for the attention of the hottest NYC socialites and appearing at awards shows. I also thought I would completely hate this guy.  

    In other words, I thought Matt Leinart would have Mark Sanchez's career; I just didn't know Mark Sanchez would have that career.  

    But instead, the Jets kept their faith in Pennington despite his injury problems and wound up drafting D'Brickashaw Ferguson. In retrospect, great move Jets. (Don't ever tell anyone I complimented them; that's between me and the rest of you readers.)

    Leinart was drafted by the Cardinals 10th overall in 2006, and like most sane people, decided the best way to make a first impression in the NFL was with a prolonged holdout (ever notice how many times the words "first round draft bust" seem to coincide with "prolonged holdout their rookie year?" Thank God for the new rookie scale; it might just mean less busts). 

    Leinart would wind up being the final member of his draft class to sign a contract: a six-year, $51 million deal. 

    It would only be a few weeks later, after Week 4 of the 2006 season actually, that Leinart would become the starting quarterback due to poor play by Kurt Warner

    In his first start against Kansas City, Leinart would go 26-of-38 for 288 yards, two touchdowns and one pick, thus cementing himself the starting job with the Cardinals. 

    Later that season, he would set a rookie record for passing yards (since broken by Cam Newton) by throwing for 405 against Minnesota. 

    But then, Dennis Green was out as Cardinals head coach, and in came Ken Wiesenhunt. 

    Wiesenhunt originally pegged Leinart as his starter for Week 1 in 2007, but after a few offensive drive stalls, Warner would come back in. 

    Leinart would then sit on the bench in Arizona, as Warner would lead the Cards to two division titles and a Super Bowl appearance before calling it quits after the 2009 season. 

    Normally, this would mean it's Leinart's time to shine. However, instead of shining, he would lose out on the starting job to Derek Anderson, then get released by the Cardinals.

    He has signed on as a backup in Houston. 

Charles Rogers

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    Just a fair warning, you're going to see a lot of wide receivers on this list. 

    Yet only one of them are part of the wide receivers selected by the Lions during the Matt Millen era. 

    Part of this is because Roy Williams isn't great, but isn't a bust; he is what he is, while Mike Williams has redeemed himself in Seattle. 

    But then there's good old Charlie Rogers. 

    Rogers was highly touted going into the 2003 draft, as he was compared to Randy Moss. While at Michigan State, he won the 2002 Fred Biletnikoff award for best receiver in the nation and set a school record for career touchdown receptions with 27. 

    But even before being drafted, there were rumors of personal problems surrounding Rogers. This didn't stop the Lions from drafting him second overall. 

    While in his first season with Detroit, Rogers would catch 22 passes for three touchdowns in his first five games. However, he would break his collarbone while practicing a speed drill with teammate Dre Bly. 

    The following season in the third play of the season, Rogers would again break his collarbone. 

    Then in 2005, the NFL would suspend Rogers for four games for his third violation of the NFL's drug policy. The Lions would file a grievance that claimed Rogers violated his contract by failing said drug tests. It would later be reported that each year in Michigan State, Rogers failed drug tests. 

    He would only play five more games upon returning from his suspension and catch 14 passes for 197 yards. The next season, Rogers was released by Detroit and hasn't played in the league since.

    By the way, chosen right after Charles Rogers was Andre Johnson. Considering that even in college I thought Johnson was the better wide receiver, I could only imagine when trying to pick between the two what Millen's discussions on the pick were like. 

    "We need a wide receiver; that Andre Johnson kid looks great!"

    "Yeah, but he went to Miami, so I'm sure he's going to be nothing but trouble. Now Charles Rogers, he went to Michigan State, so you know his head is screwed on correctly! He's our pick."

    And now Lions fans have collectively face-palmed due to Millen's incompetence. No guarantee it would've happened, but what would an Andre Johnson-Calvin Johnson receiving duo look like?

Reggie Williams

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    Drafted ninth overall in 2004 out of the University of Washington (and the third wide receiver taken after Larry Fitzgerald and Roy Williams), Jacksonville expected big things from Reggie Williams. 

    What the Jaguars got instead was 189 catches for 2,322 yards and 18 touchdowns (with 10 of them coming in 2007, which broke a Jaguars team record) in five seasons. 

    Williams would then be released by Jacksonville after the 2008 season and was out of football in 2009. He attempted a comeback with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, but that lasted a good two months. 

    Those two months were from April 16 to June 18. 

    Williams would then find a home with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL.

    But he's nowhere near being the worst Jaguars' wide receiver flop. That honor goes to...

Matt Jones

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    Highly touted first-round draft pick, praised for his athletic ability, along with being moved to a position he's never played in his career and a litany of personal problems. 

    That spells bust, but the other way to spell bust is M-A-T-T J-O-N-E-S. 

    Jones was chosen 21st overall by the Jaguars in 2005. While he played quarterback at Arkansas, he was moved to wide receiver with the Jags due to his freakish size, speed and athleticism. 

    Think about it, a white, football playing LeBron James. Only problem is, Jones also enjoyed something white-and green stuff he liked that too.

    I'm not talking about money; I'm talking about a couple of destructive things you can buy with money: cocaine and marijuana. 

    While with the Jaguars in 2008, Jones was arrested at gunpoint for felony possession of a controlled substance in Fayetteville, Ark. The police had found six grams of a substance that would turn out to be cocaine and a jar that contained marijuana residue. 

    When officers questioned Jones, he acknowledged that the white substance was in fact cocaine. 

    Of course, his dad would still dispute the allegations, telling a local television station

    We want to make it clear that Matt was not in possession of any drugs, but that there were drugs in the vehicle and were located in the closest proximity to Matt.

    Never mind the facts that he not only admitted to it, but he also was seen cutting up the yayo with a Foot Locker Gift Card, according to police. 

    Jones would be suspended by the NFL for three games after agreeing to enter into a Substance Abuse Treatment program. 

    The Jaguars would cut Jones after that, but he found a new home in Cincinnati. 

    However, prior to signing with the Bengals, Jones was arrested yet again, this time for violating his probation after they found alcohol in his system. 

    The Bengals would release Jones in 2010 during their final cuts. 

    He has since retired from the NFL. 

Troy Williamson

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    Being chosen seventh overall in the draft is more than enough pressure. 

    Now imagine that not only are you the seventh pick in the draft, but when you get to your team, you're told to perform like someone who will likely go down as one of the top receivers of the decade. 

    Someone who your team essentially traded for you. 

    That's Troy Williamson in a nutshell, and if you like draft busts, he certainly didn't disappoint. 

    Williamson was chosen seventh in the 2005 draft, a draft pick Minnesota required from Oakland in exchange for Randy Moss. 

    So Minnesota needed a receiver, and Williamson was considered the best available. 

    However, it would turn out that Williamson had a problem with depth perception, at least according to him. This was his explanation for why he would drop 11 balls in 2006, which was second in the NFL. 

    For his career in Minnesota, Williamson would finish with 79 catches for 1,067 yards and three touchdowns. Yes, I said career, not season; that was over the course of three seasons. 

    Minnesota would trade him after the 2007 season to Jacksonville for a sixth round pick. 

    But there is one thing Williamson would share with Randy Moss (and likely a host of other past and present Vikings): contempt for former Vikings coach Brad Childress, which included challenging him to a fight

    We can meet on the 50-yard line and we can go at it.

    That would likely make his predecessor proud. 

Maurice Clarett

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    I'm on the fence when it comes to including Maurice Clarett as a bust. 

    Part of it is the fact that I somewhat agreed with his stance that he should've been allowed to enter the draft when he originally wanted to. When you're ready to go pro, you should be able to do just that. It would actually be a boon to college football, for there would actually be more real student-athletes and not just "Student-Athletes." This would also mean much less scandals.  

    In other words, if Clarett gets his way, his former head coach, Jim Tressel, would probably still have a job. 

    But instead, he was kept out. Rules are rules. 

    The other part of it is the fact that he was chosen in the third round.

    So why does Clarett make the list? Mainly because of where he went in the draft, when he went to that place in the draft, how ballyhooed he was coming out of college and the fall from grace that would come afterwards. 

    Clarett was drafted with the final pick in the third round by the Denver Broncos. However, after a poor training camp with a team that at the time was known for taking just about any running back and making them a 1,000-yard back, Clarett was released from the Broncos. 

    Despite the attention he got while at Ohio State as well as the fight to get into the NFL, Clarett never played in an NFL game. 

    However, after his career was over, would see a multitude of legal problems. 

    The biggest one came in 2006, after leading police on a chase after making an illegal u-turn that ended with him driving over a police spike strip. 

    Cops were forced to subdue Clarett after he spit at police officers and called them out using racial slurs, and upon searching the car, found a loaded AK-47, two other loaded handguns, a katana and an open bottle of Grey Goose vodka. 

    Clarett allegedly had ties to an Israeli crime organization and may have been in possession to protect himself from the organization, the Jerusalem Groups, as they had "provided Clarett with cash, a BMW, bodyguards, drivers and beachfront lodging in Malibu, Calif., with the understanding that he would be reimbursed and receive 60 percent of Clarett's rookie contract." 

    Clarett took a plea deal and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. 

    He would be released in 2010 and would sign with the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks that year. 

Joey Harrington

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    Another Detroit Lion on this list, but this time, not at wide receiver. 

    Joey Harrington was drafted third in the 2002 NFL draft by the Lions and was expected to lead Detroit through the next decade. 

    However, bad personnel decisions, changes in coaching philosophy, lack of talent around him and working for a team that at the time gainfully employed Matt Millen as the guy in charge of putting talent around Harrington stopped this from happening. 

    Harrington would then get traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2006 in exchange for either a fifth or sixth round pick. The idea was that Harrington would back Culpepper up with the Dolphins.

    However, Harrington would be thrust into the starting job with the Dolphins after Culpepper got hurt during Miami's fifth game of the season against the Patriots. He would go 5-6 with Miami, including a Thanksgiving Day victory over his former team.  

    Harrington would then again get an accidental promotion to the starting job the following season after Michael Vick was arrested. That season would also wind up in disaster, as he went 3-7 in the 10 games he started with the Falcons. 

    So I guess you could say the jury is still out on whether Harrington being a bust was an extension of himself or the organization he was with. 

    The closest thing to a decent situation for him was with the Dolphins in 2006, when he went 5-6. 

    A situation so good that their head coach left back for the college ranks. 

JaMarcus Russell

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    Once again: highly touted No. 1 pick, great athleticism, prolonged holdout, personal problems. 

    The epitome of the bust, and the biggest (both figuratively and literally) bust in not just the last decade, but in NFL history. 

    I give you JaMarcus Russell. 

    The contract: Six years, $61 million (with $32 million guaranteed). The record overall: 7-18. 

    Russell became a running joke during his time with the Raiders. It seemed like he could do nothing right, likely because he couldn't. 

    Completing 52.1 percent of his passes for 4,083 yards, 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions, the Raiders finally cut him lose after the 2009 season. 

    However most first round busts wind up receiving second chances. Russell still hasn't gotten that, most likely because of his arrest in July of 2010 for possession of Codeine, which is used in what's called "Purple Drank."

    Russell would then admit later on that when he was drafted by the Raiders, he had tested positive for codeine.

    In fact, he's such a bust that when Terrelle Pryor was picked up by the Raiders in the Supplemental Draft, they wouldn't allow him to wear No. 2, his number in college, because they didn't want any association with Russell.

    Now that's a bust! When they psuedo-retire your number because you were that bad. 

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