All-Time Worst NFL Draft Picks

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1. Ryan Leaf (number one overall) – There’s busts, and then there’s Ryan Leaf. He was considered the top or second-best quarterback in the 1998 NFL Draft. The Indianapolis Colts went with Peyton Manning and the Chargers took Leaf. Since then, the Colts have been a perennial playoff machine and Super Bowl winner. The Chargers had to start over again by drafting Philip Rivers several years later. Leaf’s career passing numbers: 317 of 655, 3,666 yards, 14 touchdowns, 36 interceptions. Manning’s total from just his rookie year: 326-575, 3,739 yards, 26 touchdowns, 28 interceptions.
Washington Redskins v Oakland Raiders
Washington Redskins v Oakland Raiders
2. JaMarcus Russell (number 1 overall) – Russell was called a can’t-miss prospect by some and touted as having one of the best arms ever. He turned into a round mound of prescription drug abuse and despite getting paid tens of millions of dollars; wound up arrested multiple times and was out of the league in just 3 years. Russell’s career stats: 354-680, 4,083 yards, 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions.
NFL Preseason - St. Louis Rams vs Detroit Lions - August 29, 2005
NFL Preseason - St. Louis Rams vs Detroit Lions - August 29, 2005
3. Charles Rogers (number 2 overall) – Finally, we get to the Detroit Lions under Matt Millen. The former player was completely inept at drafting, running a team, basically anything requiring higher though in the brain. Rogers got mixed up with drugs and couldn’t stay healthy. He had the size, speed, but never had the brain. Detroit passed on Andre Johnson, Troy Polamalu, Jordan Gross, and Terrell Suggs to draft Rogers. Rogers career line: 36 catches, 440 yards, 4 touchdowns.
(Photos by George Rose/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers v Los Angeles Rams
4. Tony Mandarich (number 2 overall) – Sports Illustrated labeled him The Incredible Bulk and some draftniks touted him as the greatest offensive line prospect ever. Between being hyped up on steroids and carrying syringes in his underwear, Mandarich was The Incredible Bust. He couldn’t stay healthy and only had a manageable career later on with the Indianapolis Colts.
(Photos by George Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
Tim Couch hands off to William Green
5. Tim Couch (number 1 overall) – The Cleveland Browns were coming back to the league and needed an impact with their first pick. They went with Couch who put up video game numbers in an all-out passing attack at Kentucky. The problem was Couch couldn’t run a pro-system, had below-average arm strength, and had no one to help him when the Browns picked him up. His pick set the team back years and the team still hasn’t emerged as a contender since then.
(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Heath Shuler Redskins
6. Heath Shuler (number 4 overall) – For a quarterback, he made a heckuva politician. Shuler was a star quarterback at Tennessee and selected fourth overall by Washington. The Redskins passed on Willie McGinest, Trent Dilfer, Bryant Young, and Aaron Glenn to select Shuler. The Skins quarterback posted career numbers of: 292-593, 3,691 yards, 15 touchdowns, 33 interceptions
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Photo by: Andy Lyons /Allsport via Getty Images)
Akili Smith #11
7. Akili Smith (Number 3 overall) – Akili was the classic one-year wonder at Oregon. He put up eye-popping numbers and had good measurables, but was in no way a pro quarterback. He was a bust the minute he stepped on the field the first time. He was the quintessential reason why Cincinnati is referred to as the “Bungles.” Akili’s career line: 215-461, 2,212 yards, 5 touchdowns, 13 interceptions.
Photo by: Andy Lyons /Allsport via Getty Images)
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans
8. Adam “Pacman” Jones (number 6 overall) – Pacman had more red flags around him than Beijing. He was a walking trouble-maker who would eventually earn the scorn of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He had undeniable talent, but he had undeniable issues that no team, not even the Cowboys, could keep from blowing up. Pacman’s career line: 160 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles.
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Indianapolis Colts Logo
Indianapolis Colts Logo
9. Art Schilcter (number 4 overall) – He had a squeaky clean image at Ohio State despite being spotted with gamblers. Not surprisingly, Schlicter ran into problems as soon as he got to the league. He has massive gambling issues and was more interested in padding his gambling rather than learning the playbook. He’s been in jail more than he’s been on the field in the NFL. Schlicter’s career line: 3 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 1,006 yards passing.
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