32 Biggest Draft Busts In NFL History

Mike - June 5, 2019

32 Biggest Draft Busts In NFL History

Mike - June 5, 2019

It may be one of the most anticipated major sporting events of the year, and it’s undoubtedly produced some of the biggest stars in the NFL both today and of all-time.

But the NFL draft is also a massive crapshoot, one where franchises potentially set themselves back years by going all-in on a player who doesn’t deliver. There have been some absolutely future-crushing picks in the draft through the years, and each team who made them paid the price dearly for their mistakes.

We broke down the most destructive of such instances. Here are the 32 worst NFL draft busts of all-time:

32. Tim Couch – 1st overall to Browns in 1999:

Couch kicks off our list of the biggest NFL draft busts because he is undoubtedly considered a massive bust. But it’s not all his fault, as the deck was stacked against him from the get-go. Drafted first overall in 1999 after the Browns’ three-year hiatus as a team, Couch was tasked with almost singlehandedly resurrecting a once-proud franchise as an expansion franchise. Quite the turn of events and they were not prepared to succeed in any way.

Problem was, he didn’t have the protection necessary to do that and became the victim of many injuries. So many, in fact, that his career was limited to only five seasons. While he did lead the Browns to an unlikely playoff push in 2002, he was never fully able to recreate the success he found during his record-setting career at Kentucky. We’ll never know if he could have due to the Browns’ inability to set him up for success.

31. Blair Thomas – 2nd overall to Jets in 1990:

Thomas arrived in New York with the hype of being the second overall pick following a decorated career at Penn State. He was decent enough as a rookie, leading all first-year running backs with a 5.0 yards-per-carry average. Thomas only scored one touchdown all year, however. He upped his yardage in his second season in 1991, but his yards-per-carry average dipped significantly.

From there, Thomas would go on to suffer several injuries that significantly limited his upside. He never played another full season for New York. He would go on to play three more partial seasons with Dallas, New England, and Carolina, but only played 2, 4, and 7 games in said seasons, respectively. Thomas was out of the NFL by 1995. Thomas ranks as one of the biggest running back busts in NFL draft history because Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, was drafted by the Cowboys with the 17th pick of the same draft.

30. Todd Blackledge – 7th overall to Chiefs in 1983:

Blackledge, like Thomas and others on this list, came out of Penn State amid much hype in the historic 1983 draft class. He was taken in the top 10 behind Hall of Famer John Elway but before two more Hall of Famers in Dan Marino and Jim Kelly.

We all know how the careers of those three legends turned out. As for Blackledge, he was 15-14 as a starter, amassing only 5,286 total yards with 29 touchdowns and 38 interceptions. He spent much of his time with the Chiefs as a backup and his final two years in the same role in Pittsburgh. After selecting Blackledge at No. 7 and seeing it blow up in their face, Kansas City was so jaded that they did not select another quarterback in the first round until their fateful trade up for Patrick Mahomes 34 years later in 2017.

29. Ki-Jana Carter – 1st overall to Bengals in 1995:

Yet another Penn State product, Carter was a rare running back selected with the first pick of the NFL draft. The Bengals traded with Carolina for the rights to select him, but it did not pay off. In fact, his career essentially stopped before it ever started.

Carter tore a knee ligament in the third carry of his first preseason game and missed his entire rookie year. He never seemed to fully recover and live up to his draft status. He played only 59 games in seven seasons. Carter amassed 1,144 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 319 attempts, hardly numbers worthy of the top pick. He missed time in 1997 with a torn rotator cuff, the entire 1998 season with a broken wrist, and the entire 1999 season with a dislocated kneecap. He played for the Redskins and Saints before flaming out of the NFL in 2002 when Green Bay cut him before the season.

28. Rick Mirer – 2nd overall to Seahawks in 1993:

Mirer came into the NFL with the hype of a prominent career at Notre Dame. The Seahawks made him their perceived starter at great cost. It did not pay off, as Mirer compiled a 20-31 record with a dismal 65.2 passer rating in Seattle.

He was eventually traded to the Chicago Bears prior to the 1997 season as a result. For some reason, Chicago gave up a first-round pick for the storied bust. That stint played out just about as badly as his first one in Seattle. Mirer only started three games that year and requested his release from the team prior to the 1998 season. He signed with Green Bay but never played a down. Mirer also played for the Jets, 49ers, Raiders, and Lions, but each stay failed to work out well.

27. Dan Wilkinson – 1st overall to Bengals in 1994:

The infamously nicknamed “Big Daddy” came into the storied 1994 draft class amid much promise, and for good reason. The hulking prospect weighed 315 pounds while bench-pressing 225 pounds 34 times and running an alarming 4.72-second 40-yard dash. But those measurables failed to register into actual on-field success. He was drafted by the Bengals and immediately held out before becoming the highest-paid player in franchise history. By 1997, however, he was on the outs in Cincinnati after calling the city ‘racist.’

Wilkinson went on to play for the Redskins, Lions, and Dolphins, with his last year coming in 2006. He had a decently lengthy career but not one that justified his pre-draft hype. The pick’s failure was compounded by the fact that Cincinnati could have drafted Marshall Faulk with the pick, thereby potentially avoiding the Ki-Jana Carter disaster the following year.

David Maxwell/Getty Images

26: Courtney Brown – 1st overall by Browns in 2000:

Chosen with the first pick the year after Cleveland selected the aforementioned Tim Couch, Brown was an even bigger bust than the failed quarterback. Another size-speed freak, Brown bench-pressed 225 pounds 26 times and ran a 4.52 second 40 at nearly 6’5” and 271 pounds. Like ‘Big Daddy’ Wilkinson, however, those numbers did not translate onto the field.

Brown amassed only 17 sacks in five seasons with the Browns, often struggling to stay healthy. He ended his career with a two-sack season with the Denver Broncos in 2005. Brown is often called the biggest draft bust in Cleveland history, and that’s saying a lot.

25. Mike Mamula – 7th overall to Eagles in 1995:

Mamula may be the most cautionary tale of combine success not translating onto the field in draft history. He compiled 26 reps of 225 pounds on the bench, more than Tony Boselli, the top offensive lineman taken that year. A 4.58 40 time had scouts’ jaws agape. Mamula also scored a 49 out of 50 in the Wonderlic Test, which is the second-highest score ever for an NFL athlete. Mamula also recorded a 38.5″ vertical jump, and a standing broad jump of 10’5″. He played five years for the Eagles and had decent enough numbers, racking up 31.5 sacks during that time.

But the fact the Eagles traded the No. 12 pick for him, a pick that eventually was used to select Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, makes him a surefire bust to a large degree. The Eagles also gave up two second-round picks in addition to the Sapp pick, adding insult to this injury.

24. Heath Shuler – 3rd overall to Redskins in 1994:

Shuler’s career got off to a rocky start after he was selected with the third pick of the 1994 draft. He immediately held out until receiving a seven-year, $19.25 million contract. But that deal soon proved to be a foolish waste of money, as fellow 1994 draftee Gus Frerotte soon outplayed Shuler.

The big difference was that Frerotte had been taken in the seventh round of the draft. Shuler was eventually benched in his third year in Washington. He was later traded to the New Orleans Saints for a fifth-round pick in the 1997 and a third-round pick in 1998. While in New Orleans, he suffered a foot injury requiring two surgeries. Shuler then signed with the Oakland Raiders in 1999, but reinjured his foot and was cut in training camp. He had a successful career in the United States House of Representatives from 2007-2013, but his NFL career was a massive bust.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

23. Corey Coleman -15th overall to Browns in 2016:

The jury is technically still out on Coleman, as he could surface on an NFL field this season. However, his career as the 15th pick in 2016 has been an unmitigated disaster up until this point. He showed flashes of potential during his rookie year but was ultimately limited by a broken hand.

The same hand limited him the following year, requiring surgery. He came back at the end of the 2017 season but ultimately dropped a pass in the final game to cement the Browns’ dismal 0-16 season that year. Coleman bounced around from the Buffalo Bills to the New England Patriots to finally the New York Giants. Perhaps the biggest factor in his bust status was that the Browns traded the No. 2 pick in 2016 to select him, where they could have selected promising quarterback Carson Wentz.

22. Brady Quinn – 22nd overall to Browns in 2007:

Quinn was a hyped QB at Notre Dame but made a noted fall in the first round of the 2007 draft. When he finally arrived in Cleveland, he found himself third on the depth chart behind Derek Anderson and Charlie Frye. When Anderson was injured that year, Quinn made his debut late in the season. He went only 3-of-8 passing and failed to lead the Browns to a score.

The following year, Anderson was benched following a disappointing start to the season. Quinn was named the starter as a result and lost his first start to the Denver Broncos. He rallied back to defeat the Buffalo Bills in his next start but suffered a broken finger. He tried to play through it but was ultimately sidelined for the rest of the season due to surgery. Quinn bounced back to start for the Browns in 2009 but was benched in favor of Anderson at halftime of the third game of the season. From there, Quinn played for Denver, Kansas City, Seattle, the Jets, St. Louis, and Miami before flaming out of the NFL in 2014.

21. Johnny Manziel – 22nd overall to Browns in 2014:

Yet another Browns draft disaster on our list, Manziel may be the most infamous of the Cleveland draft busts. After winning the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M in 2013, Manziel was taken with the 22nd pick of the first round in the 2014 draft. He proceeded to become more known for his hard-partying ways than his actual football performance. Manziel completed only 18 of 35 passes for 176 yards and two interceptions, carrying nine times for 29 yards and one touchdown in his rookie season.

Manziel was given a second chance in 2015 but tanked once again, eventually being passed over for the lesser-known Austin Davis when started Josh McCown was injured. He had been named the rest-of-season starter on November 17, but was demoted to third string when video of him partying in Texas surfaced. He was ruled out of the last game of the 2015 season due to a concussion, but reports surfaced he had left the team to party in Las Vegas instead. Amid a domestic violence investigation, the Browns cut Manziel on March 11, 2016. He resurfaced in the Canadian Football League, but ‘Johnny Football’s’ two-year NFL career was a disaster.

20. Sam Bradford – 1st overall to Rams in 2010:

Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford has some of the best success in terms of pure football performance on this list. In fact, he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010. However, it’s his injury history, draft position, and sheer cost that make him a huge bust at the end of the day. Often injured at Oklahoma, that continued into his NFL career in a big way.

After playing only seven combined games from 2013-2014, Bradford was traded to Philadelphia. He started 14 games and played well enough to command a first and fourth-round pick from the Vikings when their starting QB Teddy Bridgewater went down the following year. Despite solid enough numbers, he never led Minnesota to the playoffs and was injured the following year. Before the 2018 season, Bradford signed what looks like one of the worst contracts in NFL history with a potential $20 million, two-year deal with Arizona. After three horrific starts, he flamed out of the NFL. True, he wasn’t terrible, but elite players such as Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Eric Berry, Russell Okung, Joe Haden, and Earl Thomas were all selected after him in the 2010 draft.

Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

19. Troy Williamson – 7th overall to Vikings in 2005:

Williamson is simply one of the biggest wide receiver busts in NFL history. Perhaps he was doomed from the start, as he was drafted to replace legend Randy Moss when he was traded to Oakland. The Vikings took Williamson at No. 7 and watched it blow up in their face.

Williamson racked up a mere 87 receptions for 1,131 yards and four touchdowns in five seasons with Minnesota and Jacksonville. By comparison, that’s only 153 total touchdowns less than Hall of Famer Moss compiled during his historic career. Ouch.

Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

18. Joey Harrington – 3rd overall to Lions in 2002:

It’s still debatable as to how much Harrington’s bust status is due to his own poor play and how much of it is due to Detroit’s woeful offensive line and front office decisions during his tenure. But make no mistake- he was a bust nonetheless. Harrington came into the NFL as a much-ballyhooed quarterback out of Oregon and proceeded to put up dismal stats of 12 touchdowns to 16 interceptions with a 50.1 completion percentage. The Lions finished the year with a subpar 3-13 record. He compiled an 18-37 record in Detroit.

He was eventually benched in 2005 and traded to Miami in 2006. There, he racked up a 5-6 record with Miami in 11 games. He was traded to Atlanta the following year and signed with the Saints in 2008 before flaming out of the league in September 2009. It’s debatable if Harrington’s bust status was due to myriad factors mentioned before, and Detroit coach Steve Mariucci’s West Coast offense may not have been beneficial to his skillset. Regardless, he just never put it together in the NFL.

17: Trent Richardson – 3rd overall to Browns in 2012:

The list of Browns busts rolls on, this time with former Alabama Crimson Tide running back Richardson. He was an integral part of two BCS National Title-winning teams at Alabama and showed incredible promise after Cleveland selected him with the third pick of the 2012 draft. He racked up 950 yards in his first season with 11 touchdowns, but only maintained a 3.6 yard-per-carry average.

That was the peak of his NFL career, however. He played only two games for the Browns in the 2013 season before being traded to the Colts for a heist-like first round pick. He averaged 2.9 and 3.3 yards per carry with Indianapolis before being released after missing the team’s two final playoff games in a season they reached the AFC Championship game. Richardson was then signed by Oakland in March 2015 but released before the season. He resurfaced with the Baltimore Ravens in 2016 but was again released before the season, completing his status as one of the biggest running backs busts.

16: Justin Gilbert – 8th overall to Browns in 2014:

As much as Richardson was a bust for the Browns, once-touted cornerback Gilbert may have been even worse. After earning unanimous All-American and first-team All-Big 12 status in his final year at Oklahoma State in 2013, Gilbert was taken with the lofty eighth selection in the 2014 draft. He started slowly his rookie year but did show some promise.

He was eventually traded to Pittsburgh in 2016 for the low, low price of a sixth-round selection in 2018. Gilbert saw only 11 defensive snaps in the first 10 weeks of the 2016 season. The team released him in February of 2017 before he got suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy that summer. He has not resurfaced in the league as of this writing.

15: Andre Ware – 7th overall to Lions in 1990:

Ware had a stellar college career, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1989. But his NFL career began with trouble. Detroit Lions head coach Wayne Fontes overrode the decision of their scouting director to select Ware, forcing the scouting director to resign the next day. It turned out to be the wrong decision. Ware started a paltry six games in Detroit over four years with the organization.

He basically only played when the Lions were losing by a ton. His failure to adapt to NFL-style offense from the run and shoot at the University of Houston made him one of the NFL’s most cautionary tales. He spent time with the Los Angeles Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars but never saw any success before flaming out. He has served as half of the Houston Texans’ radio broadcast team since 2002.

14: Jake Locker – 8th overall to Titans in 2011:

Like Ware before him, Locker is a cautionary tale of the uncertain quarterback position in the NFL. Ballyhooed at Washington for his dual-threat skills, Locker was predicted to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft if he declared. But he chose to return to college for his senior year instead, and the top pick honors went to fellow bust Sam Bradford instead.

Locker did himself no favors with his play in the 2010 season. His often-inaccurate passing downgraded his once-invincible draft grade. The Titans took him with the eighth overall pick in 2011 as a result. He passed for four scores and rushed for another in his rookie season, mainly backing up vet Matt Hasselbeck. Locker had some solid results in his second year. He passed for 2,176 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing 41 times for 291 yards and another touchdown.

Injuries soon cramped his career, however. A hip and foot injury cut into his 2013 season, and he was placed on injured reserve after being benched for rookie Zach Mettenberger in 2014. Locker retired in March 2015, stating he no longer wanted to play the game. Quite the downfall for a prospect once billed as a can’t-miss QB.

13: EJ Manuel – 16th overall to Bills in 2013:

Manuel’s NFL career was seemingly doomed from the start like many on this list. Fans and experts alike were left with their mouths wide open when the Bills used a first-round selection on the former Florida State QB in 2013.

His play on the field supported their surprise. Manuel’s rookie season was actually his best, as he completed 180 passes for 1,972 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

But it was all downhill from there, as Manuel failed to throw for more than five touchdowns in a single season the rest of his career. He finished his disappointing career with 343 completions for 3,767 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. After four years with Buffalo, Manuel spent 2017 in Oakland, starting one game. He did resurface with Kansas City this year but retired from football on May 3.

Photo by James P. McCoy

12: JP Losman – 22nd overall to Bills in 2004:

The lesser-known Losman still stands as an infamous bust in NFL draft history after going in the first round of the talented 2004 draft. If you remember, this draft featured future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Philip Rivers at the top of the first round. Towards the bottom of the first round, Buffalo decided to trade a first round pick, a second round pick, and a fifth-round pick to move back into the first round to select him.

He showed some flashes on the field, namely in the second half of the 2006 season. However, Losman flamed out after the 2008 season. He resurfaced with the Oakland Raiders in 2009, Seattle in 2010, and Miami in 2011, but never mounted any significant victories. There are worse on0field busts than Losman, but the sheer level of talent in the draft he was selected in and the price Buffalo paid to get him makes him a bust.

Pioneer Press: Chris Polydoroff

11: Christian Ponder – 12th overall to Vikings in 2011:

The league was shocked when Ponder was drafted 12th overall by Minnesota in 2011. After Cam Newton, Jake Locker, and even Blaine Gabbert were taken, Ponder at 12 was viewed as a massive reach. His on-field performance supported that theory. He was solid enough for a rookie with 1,853 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Ponder actually improved with 2,935 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions in his second year.

However, things all went downhill from there. Ponder only threw for 1,648 yards with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2013. He was then rendered a third-string quarterback in 2014, throwing for only 222 yards with no touchdowns. He signed with Oakland before the 2015 season but was cut following the preseason. Denver signed him but he never played a game for them. Ponder served as a backup for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 before his NFL career ended.

10: Charles Rogers – 2nd overall to Lions in 2003:

Rogers may be the biggest wide receiver draft bust in NFL history. Selected 2nd overall in 2003 – one pick before legendary Houston Texans star Andre Johnson – Rogers had blazing speed and controversy to match. He showed flashes of greatness with three touchdowns in his first five games in 2003, but broke his collarbone and missed the rest of the year. Rogers played only one game the following season before suffering the same injury and missing the rest of the year once again.

He was suspended for four games in 2005 for a violation of the NFL substance abuse policy, a punishment that led to him having to repay the Lions $8.5 million in bonuses they had already given him. He played only nine games in 2005, catching 14 passes for one touchdown. Despite workouts with New England, Tampa, and Miami before the 2006 season, Rogers never saw NFL action again. A colossal bust in every sense.

9: Akili Smith – 3rd overall to Bengals in 1999:

Oregon product Smith was selected as the third of five first-round quarterbacks in the 1999 draft. You could argue he’s the biggest bust in NFL history, but there are a few quarterbacks yet to be named who may top him.

Regardless, Smith was largely unproven coming into the NFL. His 16 out of 50 score in his initial Wonderlic test may have been cause for concern for some. Either way, his play on the field simply didn’t live up to his draft position in any way, shape, or form. Smith ended his entire NFL career wit ha paltry 215 completions for 2,212 yards, five touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. His last year was 2002, where he appeared in one game for the Bengals. He resurfaced with the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe and the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League, but his status as an all-time bust was already set in stone.

Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post

8: Dion Jordan – 3rd overall to Dolphins in 2013:

The Miami Dolphins traded up with the Oakland Raiders to select Jordan in 2013. The fact he was the highest-drafted Oregon Duck since the aforementioned Joey Harrington may have been a sign of things to come. Jordan played all 16 games his rookie year but only amassed 26 tackles and two sacks. The following year he was suspended for a violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy. The suspension was increased by two more games when news arrived he had violated the policy a second time.

Jordan was then suspended for the entire 2015 season for a third violation of the policy. He was reinstated but did not play at all during the 2016 season nonetheless. Miami then released Jordan in March 2017. He resurfaced with Seattle in 2018 but was then suspended in March 2019 for 10 games for taking Adderall. A supremely talented athlete, but one that could not stay out of drug-related trouble. Therefore, a huge bust based on his draft position.

7: Vernon Gholston – 6th overall to Jets in 2008:

Another size-speed workout warrior who came into amidst a ton of hype, Gholston signed a $32 million contract including $21 million guaranteed with the Jets in July 2008.

That turned out to be money wasted. Gholston suited up in 45 games for the Jets but did not register a single sack in that time. He was signed and then waived by the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams in 2011 and 2012. One of the biggest draft busts in history, bar none.

6. Robert Griffin III – 2nd overall to Redskins in 2012:

For a minute there, Griffin III looked like he would be the future of the NFL after his breakout 2012 season. But a serious knee injury against Seattle in the playoffs that year proved to be the turning point that proved “RGIII” was a bust.

After 20 touchdowns and five interceptions his rookie season, Griffin’s stats dipped to only 16 touchdowns with 12 interceptions in his injury-plagued second season. It got much worse from there. He threw four touchdowns to six picks in a dismal 2014, failed to play in 2015, and threw two touchdowns to three interceptions for Cleveland in 2016. Finally, he signed with Baltimore as a backup last year and only attempted four passes, completing two with no touchdowns. Quite a precipitous downfall for a player once billed as the future.

5. Jeff George – 1st overall to Colts in 1990:

The oft-criticized George actually had a solid enough NFL career with 2,298 completions for 27,602 yards, 154 touchdowns, and 113 interceptions over 12 years with five teams. Yet it was the sheer price the Indianapolis Colts paid to draft him in 1990 that makes him one of the biggest busts of all-time. They gave up a first rounder, Pro Bowl WR Andre Rison and elite tackle Chris Hinton for the rights to draft George.

He maintained only a 14-35 record with the Colts, making him one of the biggest busts of all-time considering the price they paid for him – and the fact they passed on three future NFL Hall of Famers to pick him up.

4. Lawrence Phillips – 6th overall to Rams in 1996:

Phillips was a truly saddening, frightening case of a man who could never get out of his own way. In pure football terms, the Rams taking Phillips was one of the most costly moves in NFL history. They not only got rid of DT Sean Gilbert to do so but sent Hall of Fame RB Jerome Bettis to the Steelers to make room for Phillips as well. A second Hall of Fame back in Eddie George was still on the draft board that year as well.

On the field, Phillips was simply in a class by himself at the University of Nebraska. He would have almost assuredly won the Heisman in 1995 if not for outside-the-cage incidents. Those followed him in the NFL and beyond. He finished his pro football career (including the NFL, NFL Europe, and the CFL) with 912 carries for 3,982 yards and 42 touchdowns. More importantly, Phillips was arrested and convicted of multiple violent crimes, including running over three teenagers with his car following a dispute over a pick-up football game in 2005. He also was charged with the murder of his cellmate in 2015. Phillips could have been given the death penalty for the crime but committed suicide in January 2016.

3. Tony Mandarich – 2nd overall to Packers in 1989:

Now we’re getting up into the truly rarified air of all-time busts. ‘The Incredible Bulk’ made a big name for himself with his steroid-enhanced Sports Illustrated cover. Green Bay was enamored with Mandarich’s bulk enough to make him the second pick in the 1989 draft.

Just three year into his disastrous NFL career, Mandarich proved that all the PEDs he took couldn’t make him stand up to the rigors of an NFL grind. He fell victim to substance abuse issues that ultimately saw him attend a rehabilitation facility.

After getting sober and admitting his steroid use, Mandarich actually made it back to the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts for three years. He switched his position to guard and actually started all 16 games in the 1997 season. However, the fact he was drafted ahead of great Hall of Famers like Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders makes him one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

2. JaMarcus Russell – 1st overall to Raiders in 2007:

Russell has a case for being the biggest bust in NFL draft history if not for one illustrious name who takes the cake. But Russell was close, don’t get that twisted. The LSU quarterback had Raider brass in love with his big arm following a huge game in the 2006 Allstate Sugar Bowl his junior season. He was taken first overall and had the hype train rolling. Things did not start out well, however. Russell held out through all of the 2007 training camp until September 12, 2007. He agreed to a six-year contract worth up to $68 million, including $31.5 million guaranteed.

But his performance on the field didn’t even come close to matching the contract he held out for. He did not appear in an actual game until December 2007. He closed out his first year with a laughable 36 completions for 376 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions. In his second season, he did show promise. He completed 198 passes for 2,423 yards, 13 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

His third year was when the wheels fell off. As drug use rumors swirled, Russell completed 120 passes for 1,287 yards, three touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He was benched for journeyman Bruce Gradkowski. Russell finished the season with the lowest completion percentage, fewest passing touchdowns, and passing yards, and the lowest quarterback rating, among all qualifying quarterbacks. He reportedly showed up to mini-camp for the 2010 season weighing upward of 300 pounds. The Raiders released him in May 2010, cementing him as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history.

1. Ryan Leaf – 2nd overall to Chargers in 1998:

At last, we’ve reached the mountaintop.

Leaf is undoubtedly the biggest draft bust in NFL history. Yet there was a time when he was legitimately considered neck-to-neck with Peyton Manning for the first pick in the NFL draft.

San Diego needed a new starter at quarterback and held the third pick in ’98. They traded a king’s ransom for the right to select Leaf second overall. It would not pay off. After he immediately irked some by showing up and yawning during his first press conference with the team following a night of partying, that proved to be a sign of things to come.

Leaf started nine games during his rookie season. He then suffered a torn labrum 20 minutes into the Chargers’ first training camp workout and missed all of the 1999 season. He came back and actually had his best NFL season in 2000. But that didn’t mean much. The Chargers finished the season a pathetic 1-15 and cut Leaf in February 2001. The Tampa Bay Bucs signed him and attempted to bring him along slowly, but he required wrist surgery. He did resurface with Dallas in 2001, but the team lost all four games he appeared in.

After his career came to an end in 2001, Leaf soon became addicted to opioid painkillers. He has admitted the drugs ‘took his life to the very bottom.’ He ultimately did get sober and began working as a Program Ambassador for Transcend Recovery Community. He seems to have turned his life around. But in terms of NFL success, he is undoubtedly the biggest bust in the NFL draft’s storied history.