Top 10 All-Time NFL Draft Busts

It happens every year, a player gets all the love throughout the draft process, and then once he takes the field, it looks like he’s never played a game in his life.

The team “bust” has long been associated with players who don’t work out after being drafted high, and today we take a look at the “Top 10 All-Time NFL Draft Busts.”

Feel free to leave a comment or add your own to our list!

10. Matt Jones, Wide Receiver Jacksonville Jaguars

Jones was known a lot more for his issues off the field than on them. Taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft by the Jaguars, the team felt they had a great talent, but instead got a lazy receiver who finished his Jaguar career with just 15 starts in four seasons. Worse yet, he was arrested at gunpoint for felony drug charges in 2008, and his NFL career went into the abyss after that.

9. Peter Warrick Wide Receiver Cincinnati Bengals

He looked like he was going to be the player to turn the Bengals around when they drafted him 4th overall in 2000, but instead, all Warrick ended up being was a headache. He caught 207 passes for over 3,500 yards and 32 touchdowns at Florida State, and was a two-time All-American. He never adjusted to the pro game, and wound up leaving after six lackluster seasons. He did have one solid season in 2003, catching 79 passes for 819 yards with 7 scores, but don’t be fooled, he was a bust.

8. Joey Harrington Quarterback Detroit Lions

Lions fans still curse the day that the Lions picked Harrington with the third overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft. He does have the distinction of having the worst average in yards per attempt per pass since 1970 at 5.8 yards per pass. “Blue-Skies” never could figure out where the pressure was coming from, and things got worse when the team went to the west coast offense. He also played with Miami and Atlanta, but wasn’t very good there either.

7. David Klingler Quarterback Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals took Klingler with the 6th overall pick in 1992, and while there was no talent around him with the woeful Bengals, he didn’t add to that either. In 33 games as a pro, he was sacked 83 times and only passed for 4,000 yards in his career, a thousand yards less than he did in one season as a junior in college. The most amazing thing about Klingler was his post NFL career, which saw him become Dr. Klingler – a Biblical Studies professor at the Houston extension of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

6. Aundray Bruce Defensive End Atlanta Falcons

Talk about a fish out of water. The Falcons had the first pick in what ended up being a bad draft class in 1988, and felt Bruce would revamp their defense. Instead, he was terrible, as after a decent rookie year, he was basically a role player, and never made anywhere near the plays the Falcons felt he would as the next Lawrence Taylor. He also got in trouble with the law, charged with two paternity suits and was arrested for pulling a BB gun on a pizza delivery man.

5. Lawrence Phillips Running Back St. Louis Rams

You knew this one was coming, a guy who had issues in college, and then got a ton of money to come and play in the pros. Phillips was great in college, but then there was the whole 1995 charge of him being arrested for assaulting his then girlfriend. The Rams made him the feature back, trading Jerome Bettis, and giving Phillips the keys to the car. Instead, he ran it into the ground, eventually making coach Dick Vermill cry and then being released. Phillips is in prison today, convicted for numerous accounts of assault.

4. Brian Bosworth Linebacker Seattle Seahawks

The most hyped player in NFL history, the Hawks took Bosworth in the supplemental draft, and instead of living up to the hype, he fell face first into the ground. He will be most remembered for the guy that Bo Jackson ran over on Monday Night Football at the Kingdome, and for his awful movies that most couldn’t sit all the way through. Two NFL seasons with injuries and lack of production, “Boz” was gone about as fast as he came in.

3. Ki-Jana Carter Running Back Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals final player on the list, rounding out with all 3 major skill spots – WR, QB and now RB. Carter played three seasons after being picked #1 overall, and tore a ligament in his knee on his third carry of his first preseason game of his rookie year, and never fully recovered. He signed a $19.2 million contract with a $7.125 signing bonus over seven seasons, but never even came close to living up to the contract. He finished with just one 100-yard game and 747 yards rushing with the Bengals.

2. Ryan Leaf Quarterback San Diego Chargers

To think that some felt that Leaf should have been picked before Peyton Manning. Wow. Leaf was the ultimate bust, a bad relationship with the media, and even worse play on the field, Leaf even had issues with general manager Bobby Beathard and safety Rodney Harrison. In his short and forgettable NFL career, Leaf threw 36 INTs to just 14 TDs and lead the Chargers to 15 losess in 2000 before being waived in 2001. Leaf showed his worth in college, but just like all the players on the list, his bark was a lot better than his bite.

1. JaMarcus Russell Quarterback Oakland Raiders

At the end of the day, was there any doubt? He lost four games in his college career, and walked and talked his way into being the first overall pick of Oakland in 2007. He missed all of his first camp, and never caught up, and by the end ate his way out of the league. He had just seven wins with the Raiders over his 3 seasons, and weighed about 300 pounds when he showed up for the 2010 season. Russell was was cut and tested positive to codeine syrup more than once. He’s talking about a comeback, but as of this has no takers.

2 Comments on "Top 10 All-Time NFL Draft Busts"

  1. You can’t leave Tony Mandarich off this list! He had an SI cover before the draft, and the most hyped O-lineman at the draft EVER. I think its hard to include anyone picked outside the top 10 in their draft on this list, with so many flops available with picks that should be a sure thing.

  2. Also, you could certainly argue Bengals QB draftee Akili Smith to continue their streak at skill positions. Unfortunate that Ki-Jana-Carter destroyed his knee before his first season, its actually a bit unfair to crush him over that.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.