NFL

25 NFL Stars Who Never Reached Their Full Potential

Darren - September 24, 2021
NFL

25 NFL Stars Who Never Reached Their Full Potential

Darren - September 24, 2021
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Carson Wentz

One of the strangest stories in recent NFL history, Wentz’s career imploded after a great start. In hindsight, the Eagles should never have handed him a massive contract after one good season. But they made that bold step and paid the price. His decline was bizarre because his output dropped. Meanwhile, his mistakes rose when he should have been in his prime.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

It’s bizarre because Wentz lost his passing accuracy. Yes, there were major issues with his surrounding cast in Philadelphia but that’s not the full reason (via Sky Sports). He achieved success before with mediocre support. In the end, the Eagles cut their losses and traded him to the Colts. Perhaps he’ll reignite his career in Indianapolis but there’s no doubt his potential was wasted in Philly.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Michael Vick

Vick was a brilliant quarterback for Atlanta but he should have achieved so much more. However, he lost some of the best years of his career because of his lawbreaking. The former Falcons star was the ringleader of a dogfighting operation and served time in jail. Obviously, this wasn’t conducive to a successful NFL career. But to his credit, Vick returned to the league after his release.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He also performed to a high standard for the Philadelphia Eagles. But he never reached his full potential because of his antics outside of football (via The Guardian). Vick’s influence on the sport shouldn’t be understated. His ability as a rushing quarterback revolutionized many coaching strategies. Unfortunately, he let himself down and this cost him the opportunity to become an all-time great.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

7. Joe Theismann

Theismann had a similar situation to Alex Smith. The Washington legend also suffered a horrific broken leg that cut his career short. Unlike Smith, there’s no denying his prowess on the field. He won a Super Bowl with the Redskins and an MVP award in 1983. But there’s still a feeling that he never reached his full potential. Lawrence Taylor broke his leg in a game against the Giants.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

To be fair, Theismann was in the twilight of his career anyway. But another couple of years of football could have sealed his place in Canton. He missed out on election to the Hall of Fame despite all of his accolades. The franchise legend is in a rare position because he achieved and contributed to a lot of iconic moments. However, he fell short of that top tier that he could have reached.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. DeShaun Watson

The Houston Texans have had a miserable few seasons but one thing they did right was draft Watson. A genuine franchise quarterback, it looked like Watson would lead them forward to greatness. Then, they started trading all of his weapons and he wanted to leave. But the Texans star became embroiled in multiple sexual harassment scandals. Now he’s in danger of becoming the NFL’s most unwanted man.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

It’s the most Houston story ever. Watson’s influence on the franchise was profound but he left them in an unenviable position. Nobody wanted to risk trading for him while he was under an active investigation. Meanwhile, the Texans didn’t want to play him because of the same situation (via Sporting News). It was unfortunate that such a great player created a situation where he was stuck on the sidelines and disgraced.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Tua Tagovailoa

Miami fans were very excited to see Tagovailoa play for their franchise. But they didn’t see him until later in his rookie season because Ryan Fitzpatrick started. Then, he displayed a lot of rookie nerves when he finally usurped the veteran. The Dolphins benched him twice because of his mistakes.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Tagovailoa faced a summer of rumors that the Dolphins wanted to trade him. However, he started his sophomore year as their undisputed first-choice QB. Things didn’t get any easier for the former Alabama star. After making a number of mistakes on opening day, he fractured his ribs the following week (via ESPN). There’s no doubting his potential but the NFL is passing him by.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. Aldon Smith

Smith had an unbelievably high ceiling. He achieved 14 sacks for the Niners in his rookie year but never started a game that year. As a sophomore, he went even further. This time Smith broke the franchise record for most sacks in a season with 19. It looked like they had a future Hall of Famer on their hands but it wasn’t to be. Smith’s personal issues cost him his career and broke the hearts of fans.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

In 2012, police arrested him for a DUI. Nobody condones that kind of behavior but people make mistakes. Unfortunately, this wasn’t just a one-off. The Raiders gave him a second chance but Smith committed domestic violence. Then, he became involved in a domestic battery case and that ended his career (via NBC News). Fans saw his potential but he didn’t have the discipline to make the most of it.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Ray Rice

Rice’s situation was similar to Aldon Smith’s. He proved himself as one of the NFL’s top running backs and was a three-time Pro Bowler. Meanwhile, he helped the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2012. Rice holds a number of franchise records. Unfortunately, he blew his NFL career by knocking his girlfriend out cold and dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

This instantly made him unsignable. He had the potential to be a franchise icon and appeared to be a lock for the Hall of Fame. But Rice ruined his image with one punch. Nobody wants to touch a woman-beater as he soon discovered. It didn’t help that he couldn’t deny the incident (via ABC News). The video went viral after cameras captured the incident. It’s a shame that such a talented athlete did this to himself.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. Cam Newton

There’s no denying that Newton didn’t live up to his full potential. The former MVP was outstanding in his first few seasons for the Panthers. He set a number of rookie records but couldn’t sustain his brilliance. Injuries wrecked his career and left him on the sidelines. It’s a shame because he had the potential to be one of the greatest rushing quarterbacks of all time.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He played for the Patriots in 2020 and fans saw how his body betrayed him. Meanwhile, he made some poor decisions off the field that caused the team management to lose faith in him. They cut him and replaced him with rookie Mac Jones (via Boston Globe). Newton could have been a truly special QB but he never sustained in his place in the top-tier. Nobody saw this coming after his stunning 2015 season.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. Andrew Luck

We’re not saying that Luck wasn’t a great player because he was elite. However, he also retired at the age of 29 and was never able to show his full potential. Many quarterbacks blossom in their thirties because their brain catches up with their arm. Unfortunately, Luck suffered so many injuries that he was unable to take the step toward the Hall of Fame level of greatness. And that was a real tragedy.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He was still a four-time Pro Bowler and led the league in passing touchdowns in 2014. However, Luck absorbed a ludicrous number of hits during his seven seasons in the NFL. The Colts had a genuine franchise quarterback on their hands. But they threw him away because they didn’t protect him. The Ringer reported that he was hit or sacked 352 times across his career.

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