For the avid NFL fan, the fact that the NFL draft is not an exact science is no surprise. A player’s draft status in not an indicator of their future performance. Highly regarded prospects become legendary busts, while players drafted in the later rounds become hall of famers. It’s easy to look back and second guess the draft “experts” – after all, hindsight is 20/20. But at draft time, there was a general consensus of the potential and caliber of player these five NFL Draft Busts had from scouts and former players knowledgeable about the game.
These are our top 5 draft busts:
5. Akili Smith
With the third overall pick in the 1999 draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Smith, who started just 17 games in his four years with the Bengals. In 2001 he managed to start in just 2 games. He was cut in 2002, picked up and cut by the Packers in 2003, finishing off his career by being cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005.
4. Brian Bosworth
The Seattle Seahawks acquired Bosworth in the NFL supplemental draft after interest was lost by many NFL teams because of Bosworth’s proven use of steroids while a player for Oklahoma State. Despite this, he was a two-time winner of the Butkus award, and made for an attractive roll of the dice. Perhaps the most over-hyped player in the history of college sports, he collected a measly 4 sacks in 3 seasons. Bosworth’s highlight reel front piece is him getting run over by a train on Monday Night Football by Bo Jackson.
3. Tony Mandarich
A huge linebacker drafted out of Michigan State by the Green Bay Packers, Mandarich was thought to be another no-miss draft pick. Selected overall at number 2,, he lasted a short 3 years and then was cut by the Packers. Speculation as to why he did not live up to the projected expectations began with a suspected use of steroids at the college level, as he lost considerable weight in his first year as a pro. Adding salt to the wound for the Packers was that a division rival, the Detroit Lions, drafted a running back – one Barry Sanders – with the 3rd overall pick.
2. Jamarcus Russell
Russell was the overall number 1 pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2007. His signing price tag was a $61 million contract, $32 million of it guaranteed. Russell’s huge physique combined with a rocket arm had the experts making him a can’t-miss pick. The results didn’t match the hype. His record as a starter was a disappointing 7-18. The professional level criticism was he did not have the necessary dedication and work ethic to be a top star quarterback in the NFL. The Raiders threw up the white flag, releasing him on May 6, 2010.
1. Ryan Leaf
The second overall draft pick by the San Diego Chargers in 1998, Leaf’s promise turned into a nightmare after having a 14 to 36 TD to interception ratio in his first year. Adding to the Charger’s woes was Leaf’s tendency to have temper tantrums when in front of the cameras and at interview sessions with the media. What boggles the mind is that Leaf was considered at the time to have a better skill set than one Peyton Manning. The final price to acquire Leaf was heavy. Then General Manager Bobby Beathard used his first round number 3 pick, a second round pick, the Chargers first round pick in 1999, and 2 roster players, giving them to the Arizona Cardinals for the right to get Leaf.