Context is always important when it comes to evaluating draft picks. It’s not just about the player’s performances in isolation but who else the franchise could have selected. The 49ers picked up Thomas with the third-overall pick in 2017. But he was one of their worst selections of the last decade. He starred at Stanford University but failed to deliver in San Francisco.
Analysts held him up as the second-best defensive tackle in the draft. Unfortunately, his production was poor as he achieved just six sacks in 48 games for the Niners. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson were still on the board when the Niners made their move. This one stings because San Fran made a terrible error (via Bleacher Report).
Before November 2021, Ruggs’ inclusion on this list would have raised eyebrows. After a tough rookie season, Ruggs became the Raiders’ most important attacking outlet. He established a great relationship with QB Derek Carr. Ruggs ran for 469 receiving yards with a pair of touchdowns and 24 receptions in seven games. In short, he was on track to have his first 1,000-yard season.
Then he drunkenly smashed his Corvette into another vehicle. His victim died in the ensuing blaze and Ruggs’ life also went up in flames. The Raiders cut their star after law enforcement arrested him. He faces up to 50 years in jail on multiple charges. It’s a massive tragedy because of the loss of life and the waste of potential, and now he must live with the consequences of his actions (via AL.com).
Some analysts think that Hackenberg is the worst second-round quarterback pick of the last decade. There’s nothing wrong with drafting a backup quarterback late in the day. But there’s a problem in making a high selection when that player never plays once. The Jets are masters of ineptitude but this was special even by their standards (via USA Today).
Nobody knows why Mike Mccagnan thought that this was the right thing to do. Hackenberg often didn’t even make the game-day roster because he was out of his depth. Yes, he was decent at Penn State but didn’t have the all-around game to cut it in the NFL. In the end, he made a fortune that he did not come close to earning playing. That’s why he’s probably a winner in this case.
The draft is always a gamble. For every Peyton Manning, there’s a Ryan Leaf. Meanwhile, some of the league’s greatest talents only emerge in the ensuing years. Tom Brady is a shining example. But Gabbert stung the Jaguars for a couple of reasons. The quarterback was a No. 10 pick in 2011. They drafted him after he starred for the University of Missouri (via Slate).
Jacksonville traded up six places to land the signal-caller. This proved to be a massive mistake because he was trash. He maintained a shoddy 53.3 passing percentage rate. Furthermore, he threw 24 interceptions with just 22 touchdowns. The team won just five of his 27 games as a starter. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans drafted future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt with the next pick.
Conley’s short NFL career serves as a warning to every college football player. It doesn’t matter if an athlete has talent if they’re in the wrong setting. That’s exactly the case for Conley after the Raiders drafted him. Conley was the No. 24 pick in the 2017 draft. As a result, he carried big expectations but never came close to achieving them (via USA Today).
To be fair, the cornerback faced terrible luck. He suffered injuries at bad times and also didn’t fit the zone-heavy scheme. It came to a head after Jon Gruden was appointed coach. Conley never had a bad attitude. It’s just unfortunate that the coach and the player weren’t compatible. The former Ohio State star didn’t force the Raiders to spend a first-round pick on him.
Peyton Manning retired after winning a second Super Bowl ring in 2016. This left the Broncos in a hole because they lacked a franchise quarterback. They turned to Lynch as they traded up to pick him at the end of the first round. Lynch barely played for the team over the next couple of seasons. But he appeared to have an affinity for the number four (via SBNation).
That’s because he only played four games with four touchdowns and four interceptions. John Elway is a Denver icon but not even his diehard fans can defend this pick. The Broncos wasted too much to acquire the former Memphis star. After leaving Denver, he joined the Steelers as a backup. In 2022, he made the move into indoor football with the USFL.
Haskins won multiple honors with the Buckeyes before he declared for the NFL Draft. Then the Redskins used a first-round pick on the quarterback. It was one of the worst decisions of the decade because he was a bust. Haskins was inconsistent on the field and had a bad attitude to boot. In his final game for the franchise, he posted a 36.9 quarterback rating.
Finally, Washington cut ties with the signal-caller out of frustration. He went to Pittsburgh where he spent time as a backup until his tragic early death in 2022. It’s a shame because this is a tale of wasted potential. Haskins still had so much to give. The NFL never saw the best of the college star before his untimely passing (via NBC Sports).
The Jets made Milliner the ninth overall pick in 2013. He bullishly claimed that he was the best cornerback in the NFL but that’s not true. He was arguably the franchise’s worst draft selection of the last decade. Milliner only feature four times in his final two seasons because he was garbage. Injuries curtailed his prospects while he had an overinflated sense of self-worth.
After the Jets declined to pick up their fifth-year option, he left the NFL. Nobody wanted to touch him because of his horrible injury record. The former Crimson Tide star was a two-time BCS champion. But he couldn’t bring his college form into the professional game. It’s a shame because he had a lot of physical talent. In the end, his body let him down (via Bleacher Report).
McDowell never even stepped onto the field for the Seahawks. The second-round pick impressed NFL scouts during his time with Michigan State. Seattle drafted him. But he spent more time in police precincts than on the practice field. First, there was the infamous ATV incident that placed him on the injury reserve list. Then there were multiple drunken arrests with various charges added in.
In short, McDowell is a garbage human being and the Seahawks waived him. After he spent 11 months behind bars, he received his release from jail. Then the Browns signed him because they have no morals when it comes to problematic signings. Police arrested McDowell again for allegedly beating a police officer while naked. Yes, all that made McDowell one of the worst draft selections of the last decade (via Beacon-Journal).
It’s almost unfair that some players carry a bust tag when it wasn’t that they didn’t try. That’s the case for White, whose body broke down after the Bears drafted him. They made him the seventh-overall pick in 2015 after a brilliant campaign with West Virginia. It appeared as though he was an instant NFL starter because he had all of the attributes to succeed (via NBC Sports).
Instead, he went down as one of the worst busts of the decades. White’s injury record was cruel because he lost his rookie year to a fractured leg. Then he suffered a broken leg in his second year and an ankle sprain. White broke down after a single game in his third season. Finally, he had a few games in Year Four but he was no longer the same athlete. It’s a real shame because luck wasn’t on his side.
Jordan is one of the worst busts of the last decade and also in history. Miami fans still shudder when they hear his name because he was so bad for them. The former Oregon standout should have been a franchise building block. But instead, he was a disaster of a pick because he spent more time suspended than on the field. It’s a shame but it’s the truth.
The defensive end suffered multiple suspensions because he took violated the NFL’s drug policy. He missed the entire 2015 season after a third test failure. It infuriated the fanbase and his coaches because they had such high expectations for him. In the end, he went to Seattle, where he had a brief renaissance before another suspension after testing positive for Adderall (via Sports Illustrated).
It’s a sad reality, but Darnold is a first-round bust. The Jets used the third overall pick of 2018 on the former USC quarterback. Many people forget how young he was when he made his debut. To put it in perspective, a rookie Joe Burrow was older than Darnold when the bust was already in his third season. Meanwhile, Darnold suffered from a lack of weapons and an awful front office (via NBC Sports).
Peyton Manning called Adam Gase a ‘quarterback guru.’ But the former Jets’ coach ruined the confidence of his young star. Darnold infamously “saw ghosts” in one game against the Patriots. However, his stat line doesn’t help him. He had a career interception rate of 3.2 in 2021. Meanwhile, he threw 54 touchdowns and 53 interceptions by the end of that season. Finally, the Jets offloaded their bust to the Panthers.
Manziel won the Heisman Trophy following a great career with Texas A&M. However, he swiftly became an incredibly polarizing figure. Some people thought that he was a future NFL Hall of Famer. Others believed that he was undersized and was too arrogant to succeed. Unfortunately for the Browns, the latter verdict sums up Manziel’s time in the NFL.
He was a complete disaster from beginning to end for Cleveland. They made him a first-round pick in 2014 but he failed to deliver on the field. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns as a turnover machine. Meanwhile, he had even more concerning problems off the field. There were domestic abuse allegations as well as issues with substance abuse. That’s why he’s one of the worst draft busts of the last decade (via Republic World).
Wilson is arguably the worst draft bust of the last decade. He’s also easily the biggest blip in Titans’ franchise recruitment history. The offensive tackle barely saw the field for Tennessee after they signed him in 2020 due to breaching NFL health regulations. Then there was a high-profile arrest after a drunken high-speed pursuit (via USA Today).
His single appearance came in Week 12 in a win over the Colts. But the Titans had enough and traded him to the Dolphins. They swapped seventh-round picks in return for the former Georgia star. However, Wilson failed to report to workouts and they waived him. He cost the Titans millions of dollars in cap money and time. In sum, he was a complete disaster.