NFL

Buyer Beware: 30 Biggest NFL Draft Busts Of The Last Decade

Darren - April 11, 2022
NFL

Buyer Beware: 30 Biggest NFL Draft Busts Of The Last Decade

Darren - April 11, 2022

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

23. Sam Montgomery

Most of the players on this list were first or second-round picks. They carried a lot of weight on their shoulders but couldn’t deliver. However, Montgomery was a third-rounder. Despite this, he earned the status of a draft bust because he only survived a month with the Texans. It’s remarkable how efficiently he blew up his career in Houston because he was a moron.

Mandatory Credit: Fansided

The Texans cut Montgomery after he violated team rules on a field trip. It’s unlikely that Montgomery was ever going to become a world-beater. But he blew his opportunity of an NFL career because he never even played a game. Rumors suggest that it was related to a marijuana incident. If that’s the case, a joint sent him to the XFL (via Fox Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

22. Jake Locker

The Titans have a pair of alumni on this list from the last decade. They made Locker the eighth pick of the 2010 NFL Draft after a great career with the Huskies. Sure, his numbers dropped in his senior year as he prioritized his media degree. That was a warning sign for watching scouts because he didn’t demonstrate full commitment. Yes, he had the raw ability, but did he have the mindset?

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

The on-field results say no. The highly-picked quarterback departed Tennessee after just four seasons because he fell out of love with football (via Sportscasting). He suffered injuries and a losing record and simply lost interest in the game. Locker could have millions more if he stayed in the league, even as a backup. In the end, he wanted more from life because he didn’t feel fulfilled.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

21. Dominique Easley

Easley was another first-round disaster. The defensive lineman was great for the Gators but he suffered a major setback. He had amazing potential but then a pair of ACL tears set him back. These injuries didn’t scare off Bill Belichick. It would have been a masterstroke if it worked out. But the No. 29 of 2014 pick didn’t live up to the franchise’s hopes.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Easley wound up on the injury list twice during his short tenure with the Patriots. It was frustrating because he was a phenomenal athlete before his body failed him. Finally, after achieving bust status he went to the Rams. Then he endured a staggering fourth ACL tear and sat out again. He had one of the unluckiest injury records of the last decade (via 247 Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

20. Robert Griffin III

In a mirror universe, Griffin is still tearing up the NFC East with Washington. Sadly, that’s not the reality in our world because Griffin’s decline was stark. He was brilliant in 2012 after the Redskins drafted the former Baylor signal-caller. His performances earned him the Rookie of the Year Award as well as a place in the Pro Bowl. Meanwhile, Washington even made the postseason.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

But this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Griffin tore multiple ligaments in his knee toward the end of his rookie season and his career never recovered. The team rushed him back and his stats plummeted. Eventually, Griffin lost his place as a starter and never bounced back. It’s crucial to protect quarterbacks and to give them time to recover. Otherwise, a generational talent will become a dud (via CBS Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

19. Taco Charlton

It’s not Charlton’s fault that the Cowboys took a gamble on him. But fans can’t forget that T.J. Watt was waiting in the wings. They could have selected him in 2017 but ‘America’s Team’ went in a different direction. Instead of selecting a future Defensive Player of the Year candidate, they made one of their worst picks of the last decade (via Fansided).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

His rookie season was average at best as he racked up three sacks and 19 tackles. Then he regressed the following season to the despair of his coaches. Meanwhile, Watt was the image of consistency for Pittsburgh. Only Aaron Donald played better than him in the entire NFL. Finally, the Cowboys cut ties with Charlton and waived him after two miserable seasons.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

18. Josh Rosen

It wasn’t meant to be this way for Rosen as NFL writers raved about him in 2018. He was the first true freshman to start for UCLA. Everybody thought that he was destined for the top. That’s why the Cardinals moved up for the quarterback in the draft. They made him the 10th overall pick and won acclaim for their decisiveness. Many people believed that he was an NFL-ready passer (via AZ.Central).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for the Bruins’ standout. Rosen was unlucky because the Cardinals chucked him into a starting position that he wasn’t ready for. Next season, they drafted Kyler Murray and Rosen departed for Miami. He played for four teams in four years without putting his stamp on any of them. It’s a shame but he’s one of the biggest flops of the last decade.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

17. Bjoern Werner

There have been some brilliant international NFL players over the years. Unfortunately, Werner wasn’t one of these. The Berlin native moved to Connecticut as an exchange student before winning a football scholarship to FSU. He starred for the Seminoles and even won the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award. This attracted the attention of NFL scouts.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Then the Colts made him a first-round pick in 2013. Unfortunately, that’s where the happy story ends because it didn’t go well for him. Yes, he played a lot of football but injuries wreaked havoc. Werner claimed that he was never healthy from the moment he made the step up. In the end, he went down as one of the worst first-round picks of the last decade (via Sports Illustrated).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

16. Justin Blackmon

Blackmon is one of the most frustrating figures on this list. The Jaguars selected him in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft with the fifth-overall pick. They put a lot of faith in him after his performances for OSU. But he was a massive bust because of his off-field issues. Few athletes over the last decade had as many problems with alcohol and drugs (via Orlando Sentinel).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

He had two DUI arrests and a suspension before he even stepped onto the field in teal. But that wasn’t the end of the matter because Blackmon didn’t learn the error of his ways. He racked up DUI arrests and abused drugs until the Jaguars gave up on him. On paper, Blackmon was the best receiver in his class. Sadly, things didn’t work out the way fans expected for this highly promising receiver.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

15. Matt Elam

Elam had the thankless task of filling Ed Reed’s shoes in 2013. The legendary safety was one of the greatest to ever play football and his team were the reigning Super Bowl champions. It was a big ask for Elam to replace him but he didn’t even come close. Baltimore used the final first-round draft pick to bring the Flordia Gator safety to Maryland. It was all downhill from here (via Yahoo!)

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

First, injuries didn’t help him. A torn bicep cost Elam the entire 2015 season. That was extremely unfortunate but his performances on the field didn’t help. In three seasons he managed just 131 tackles. Then, he ran into serious legal problems with a pair of high-profile arrests. Finally, the Ravens gave up on him. Elam moved North to the CFL where he continues to play.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

14. Solomon Thomas

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

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).

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

13. Henry Ruggs III

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

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).

Mandatory Credit: N.Y. Post

12. Christian Hackenberg

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

11. Blaine Gabbert

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

10. Gareon Conley

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

9. Paxton Lynch

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Dwayne Haskins

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

7. Dee Milliner

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

6. Malik McDowell

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

5. Kevin White

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today 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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

4. Dion Jordan

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Sam Darnold

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY 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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

2. Johnny Manziel

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.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. Isiah Wilson

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).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

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.

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