There’s never such thing as a sure Draft pick, especially in the NFL. The projections, numbers, measures, and 40-yard dash times are a good indicator of success, but it doesn’t always translate to the big leagues.
Also, there are plenty of intangibles that scouts are just unable to take into consideration when leaning towards drafting a player; so more often than not, they end up taking the wrong guy with a very high pick.
Needless to say, the league has seen hundreds of Draft busts since its dawn and that trend seems to be getting worse by the year. That’s why today, we’re going to let you know about 25 of the worst Draft busts in NFL history.
25. Roberto Aguayo
K, 59th pick (2016), Tampa Bay Buccaneers
How odd is it to find a kicker on this list? Well, just imagine how bad was the Roberto Aguayo pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who actually traded up to get him in the second round of the Draft.
Aguayo was the most accurate kicker in NCAA history and considering how much kickers have struggled nowadays in the NFL, he looked like a can’t-miss kind of talent. He ended up being cut after missing 9 field goals and 2 extra-point attempts during his rookie season.
24. Johnny Manziel
QB, 22nd pick (2014), Cleveland Browns
Johnny Manziel looked like he was ready to be the league’s biggest superstar ever. Sadly for him, he started living off that rockstar lifestyle before proving his worth in the NFL. Now, he’s never likely going to make a comeback.
Manziel was the ultimate dual-threat and brought back hope to the Cleveland Browns but his struggles with alcohol and drugs derailed one of the most promising careers ever. He played in the AAF and XFL but didn’t find much success.
23. Amobi Okoye
DT, 10th pick (2007), Houston Texans
Amobi Okoye hadn’t played any kind of organized football until his sophomore year in high school but still was the youngest first-round pick in NFL history. That’s the kind of physical specimen he was and just how great scouts thought he’d be.
Sadly for him, the Nigerian youngster was never able to establish himself in the league and develop his raw talent. The Texans cut him loose after just 3 years in the league and he later tried his luck with the Bears, Buccaneers, and Cowboys before retiring in the CFL.
22. Matt Leinart
QB, 10th pick (2006), Arizona Cardinals
Matt Leinart was a beast in college and considered the best prospect in the nation before he decided to come back to USC. Perhaps that was the biggest mistake he ever made, as he was never able to go back to his 2005 level.
Leinart developed into nothing more than a career backup, which is something you wouldn’t expect out of a 10th overall pick. He completed just 57.1% of his passes with 15 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
21. Dee Milliner
CB, 9th pick (2013), New York Jets
Dee Milliner had it all to become a defensive nightmare for years to come in the NFL. However, a lingering shoulder injury took a major toll on his game right before the Draft and he was never able to fully bounce-back.
Milliner lost his starting job just 3 games into his rookie season and missed 27 games throughout his brief career, forcing the Jets to release him in 2016 with just 3 career interceptions.
20. Jake Locker
QB, 8th pick (2011), Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker was pretty talented. He had a great arm and would’ve had a decent career in the NFL if it wasn’t for injuries. He started 23 games over his four-year career with the Titans before eventually being benched.
Locker retired after the 2014 campaign claiming he no longer felt the desire to play after putting together a mediocre 9-14 career record with 27 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions.
19. Troy Williamson
WR, 7th pick (2005), Minnesota Vikings
Troy Williamson was a questionable pick from the get-go. He wasn’t exactly a highly coveted prospect and everybody thought the Vikings were reaching when they took him 7th overall. Obviously, he didn’t prove his doubters wrong.
Williamson never topped the 500-yard mark on his career and only managed to score three touchdowns before being traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s been out of the league since 2009.
18. Vernon Gholston
DE, 6th pick (2008), New York Jets
Vernon Gholston looked like a physical beast in college. He then impressed NFL scouts during the combine with his speed, strength, and athletic traits. However, he was out of the league in no time as one of the biggest busts ever.
Gholston was supposed to become an elite pass rusher but he struggled to keep up with his peers and never even recorded a career sack. He managed to get just 42 tackles over five starts with the Jets before being cut.
17. Justin Blackmon
WR, 5th pick (2012), Jacksonville Jaguars
Justin Blackmon had it all to succeed. He was fast, strong, big, and had great hands, as he proved during his rookie season when he posted an 856-yard campaign. However, drugs and alcohol killed his career right before his eyes.
Blackmon served a couple of suspensions during his sophomore season and has been out of the NFL ever since. He was later arrested and the NFL denied his reinstatement in 2016, so he’s unlikely to ever make a comeback.
16. Curtis Enis
RB, 5th pick (1998), Chicago Bears
Penn State University has a long history of producing running backs that completely crushed it in college and then went on to become major busts at the next level, and Curtis Enis is a prime example of that trend.
Enis broke out during his rookie season and looked poised for stardom but regressed terribly next year, averaging roughly 2.3 yards per carry. He’d be out of the league after just 3 years due to a degenerative condition on his knee.
15. Mark Sánchez
QB, 5th pick (2009), New York Jets
Mark Sánchez looked like a stud in USC and had a nice start to his career with the Jets, but his inaccuracy, proneness to mistakes, constant turnovers, and epic meltdowns in clutch situations granted him a spot on this list after being taken 5th overall.
Sánchez mightily regressed on his third year and thus far, he’s completed just 56.6% of his pass attempts and had an 86:69 touchdown-to-turnover ratio. He’ll always be remembered for that infamous ‘Butt Fumble’.
14. Mike Williams
OT, 4th pick (2002), Buffalo Bills
Mike Williams had the upper-body strength, lateral quickness, awareness, and instincts to become the league’s next elite pass-protector. He looked like he could even play at guard if needed.
However, he never took his NFL career seriously, was slow, out of shape, and looked careless on every single snap. He was often a liability in the passing game and was out of the league just 3 years after being drafted. He attempted a comeback in 2009 but failed.
13. Aaron Curry
LB, 4th pick (2009), Seattle Seahawks
Everybody wanted Aaron Curry back in 2009. Not a single soul trashed the Seahawks for getting a linebacker as high as 4th overall, as he looked like the real deal with all the physical tools to become a disruptive presence.
However, the Seahawks’ scheme pretty much killed his NFL career. He failed to adapt and was traded for a conditional fifth-rounder entering his third season. He retired after 4 years and ironically, he’s now a defensive assistant at Seattle.
12. Cedric Benson
RB, 4th pick (2005), Chicago Bears
Cedric Benson put quite an impressive resume during his tenure at Texas. He was a unanimous top-5 pick during the 2005 class, so it’s hard to blame the Bears for this pick. Still, his repeated DUI charges forced the team to release him early on his career.
Benson would be a somewhat productive running back with the Cincinnati Bengals later but he was never able to live up to the hype surrounding him as a Longhorn, and he was out of the league after seven seasons.
11. Bruce Pickens
CB, 3rd pick (1991), Atlanta Falcons
Bruce Pickens looked like a pretty promising cornerback back in the day after a successful stint with Nebraska. However, it seemed like the Atlanta Falcons weren’t the right place to develop his talent, considering they already had Deion Sanders.
Needless to say, Pickens was often outplayed and made just 8 starts with the franchise before being passed around the league without many noticeable accomplishments. He retired with just 2 interceptions.
10. Dion Jordan
DE, 3rd pick (2013), Miami Dolphins
Dion Jordan was a beast in college. He had all the physical tools to become an elite pass-rusher at the next level, but off-court issues and attitude problems derailed his career right before it even started.
He’d end up making just one start for the Miami Dolphins before joining the Seattle Seahawks and later Oakland Raiders. Thus far, he’s managed to get just 10.5 sacks since entering the league six seasons ago.
9. Akili Smith
QB, 3rd pick (1999), Cincinnati Bengals
When you take a quarterback with the 3rd overall pick, you’d expect him to turn your franchise around. However, Akili Smith was only able to throw 5 touchdown passes to 13 interceptions throughout his brief and failed stint in the league
Several scouts were wary about how his game would translate to the NFL after his past in Oregon. He won just 3 of his 17 starts and ended up proving them right. He then tried his luck with Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe and retired in the CFL.
8. Vince Young
QB, 3rd pick (2006), Tennessee Titans
Vince Young was a beast in college. However, he struggled mightily to put points on the scoreboard in the National Football League, throwing just 12 touchdowns during his rookie year and 9 on his sophomore campaign.
Young was inaccurate and didn’t live up to his reputation as a dual-threat kind of signal-caller. He bounced around the league and eventually retired in the CFL as one of the greatest busts ever.
7. Trent Richardson
RB, 3rd pick (2012), Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson was supposed to be the greatest running back in the league since Adrian Peterson. He was a beast for the Crimson Tide but it seems like the Cleveland Browns just weren’t that high on him after just a season.
They traded him away to the Colts for a 1st round pick and he was never able to prove his worth in the league. He then failed to make the Raiders and Ravens’ first-teams before playing in the CFL and AAF.
6. Jason Smith
OT, 2nd pick (2009), Los Angeles Rams
Jason Smith was the strongest tackle in the 2009 class. He was a physical beast that, even though he was clearly undersized for his position, made up for it with unprecedented power and top-notch lateral speed.
However, Smith was never able to establish himself at the next level, vastly struggling in the running game and being even worse in the pass protection. He was out of the league just 4 years after being the 2nd overall pick.
5. Charles Rogers
WR, 2nd pick (2003), Detroit Lions
Charles Rogers was supposed to become the league’s main star in no time after exceeding all expectations and breaking all kinds of records at Michigan State, but drug abuse, attitude issues, and constant nagging pains and injuries derailed a once-promising career.
Rogers managed to play just 15 games for the Detroit Lions over a 3-year span, logging 36 receptions for 440 yards and 4 touchdowns before being released in 2006. He was never able to come back to the league.
4. Ryan Leaf
QB, 2nd pick (1998), Los Angeles Chargers
Ryan Leaf is one of the worst quarterbacks to ever lace them up in the National Football League. It’s as simple as that. We’re talking about a guy with a 50.0 quarterback rating and a 48.4 completion percentage throughout his career.
Leaf was often compared to Peyton Manning (who went 1st overall in that Draft) but there were simply no similarities between the two, obviously. Leaf retired with 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions and was out of the league just 4 years after being the 2nd overall pick.
3. Tim Couch
QB, 1st pick (1999), Cleveland Browns
Tim Couch did lead the Browns to the playoffs in 2002 but still, he has to be a top-3 bust. He was supposed to be the greatest quarterback in the league coming out of Kentucky after throwing for over 8,000 yards and 75 touchdowns in his final two seasons in college.
Couch was never able to stay healthy and his subpar play deemed the Browns for five seasons (they won just 22 games over that span). Also, he was rumored to used human growth hormones, but they clearly didn’t work out pretty well.
2. Ki-Jana Carter
RB, 1st pick (1995), Cincinnati Bengals
Ki-Jana Carter was a beast in Penn State. He broke through tackles and found the endzone with ease thanks to his strength and ability to change gears and directions. That’s why every team in the nation wanted to wrap their hands around him in 2005.
However, he tore his ACL in just his third preseason carry and was never able to bounce back from that deadly blow. He was slow and he looked wary about getting hit ever since. He retired after seven seasons with just 1,144 rushing yards.
1. JaMarcus Russell
QB, 1st pick (2007), Oakland Raiders
JaMarcus Russell is not only one of the biggest busts in NFL history but in all major sports history. He went 1st overall in 2007 as the true can’t-miss kind of guy thanks to his strong frame, power, size, and accuracy. He only spent 2 seasons as a starter after becoming a missed-throws and turnover machine.
Russell looked slow and out of shape pretty much out of the gate and never managed to make a comeback to the league. He had 15 lost fumbles and 23 interceptions to 18 touchdowns on a 52.1% completion rate.