NFL Draft: Biggest Busts Ever

April 18, 2024

There have been some monumental disappointments to come out of the first round of the NFL Draft in recent years. We take a look at our list at some of the biggest draft busts of all-time.

With the NFL Draft fast approaching, identifies some of the biggest draft busts in National Football League history.

QB JaMarcus Russell – After being selected No. 1 in 2007 by the Oakland Raiders, Russell threw for 23 interceptions and just 4,083 yards in his short three-year career.

OL Tony Mandarich – Once dubbed “The Incredible Bulk” by Sports Illustrated, Mandarich’s NFL career failed to take off. The Michigan State grad started just 47 games through six season and was never voted an All-Pro.

QB Ryan Leaf – The former Washington State gunslinger compiled a 14/36 touchdown to interception ratio in his short NFL career. Unfortunately, the Chargers took Leaf before the likes of Charles Woodson, Randy Moss, Matt Hasselbeck, among others.

WR Charles Rogers – The Lions are very fond of using their draft picks on busts. Their top bust of all time has to be Michigan State wide-receiver Charles Rogers. Rogers, a former No. 2 overall pick, collected 36 receptions and four touchdowns in three NFL seasons.


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OLB Vernon Gholston – Gholston, a 2007 Big Ten defensive lineman of the year, was never able to transition into the NFL. After a three year stint with the New York Jets from 2008-2010, Gholston’s NFL career was over. During his time in New York, the No. 6 pick failed to record any sacks.

QB Andre Ware – Ware, a 7th overall selection by the Lions in the 1990 NFL Draft, had an absolute dismal career that included 1,112 passing yards and five touchdowns.

RB Ki-Jana Carter – Like the Lions, Cincinnati has had its own poor early round NFL Draft selections. Their worst of all time may be running back Ki-Jana Carter. Carter, a Penn State grad and No. 1 overall pick, never surpassed 1,150 total yards in his seven-year career.

QB Matt Leinart – Leinart was drafted No. 10 back in 2006 by the Arizona Cardinals. Since then, his career in the National Football League has been completely irrelevant.

QB Tim Couch – Couch never panned out after being drafted No. 1 by the Cleveland Browns in the 1999 NFL draft. It’s safe to say the former Kentucky Wildcat started the downslide that has plagued Cleveland for the past decade.

QB Akili Smith – A No. 3 overall pick by the Bengals, Smith’s short-lived NFL career was downright atrocious. His career stat-line includes five touchdowns, 13 interception and a 3-14 overall record as a starter.

*Article from GSI archives, originally written by Sam Kwiatkowski


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