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The Draft is not always a guarantee of strengthening for the teams which benefit from the first choices. Some young talents supposed to change the future of a franchise sometimes only manage to drag it even further to the bottom.
Some of these busts have gone down in history. Whether it was disappointing performance or appalling behavior, these top picks made Draft history in the worst possible way.
1. Ryan Leaf – 2nd overall pick in 1998
Career stats: 10 games (starting 9), 48.4% of passes completed, 14 touchdowns, 36 steals., 50.0 evaluation.
In 1998, the Colts had a choice between Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning. They made the right choice, but at the time there was debate. Leaf had, according to some Scouts, a bigger arm and greater potential. So the Chargers weren’t too unhappy not to get Manning back. Unfortunately for them, Leaf didn’t have the tenth in No.18’s career.
But if only Leaf’s problems had stopped at his disastrous stats (2 touchdowns for 15 interceptions for his rookie season) …
Quarterback Ryan Leaf goes wild by touchdownactu
That was his response to a reporter from the San Diego Union Tribune during his rookie season. It’s not just reporters who would have been the target of the quarterback. His teammates were also exasperated by his behavior. Leaf then missed his second season with an injury, which did not stop him from arguing with his coaches. He also allegedly lied about an injury to go… play golf. After being cut by San Diego, his career did not take off, in particular because he refused to have his injured wrist operated on.
Even after his career, Leaf continued to be talked about. Often seen drunk in bars, he is currently addicted to drugs to the point of robbing houses to fill the gap. He is currently sleeping in prison.
2. JaMarcus Russell – 1st overall choice in 2007
Career stats: 31 games (25 starting), 52.1% of passes completed, 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 70 sacks, 65.2 evaluation, 15 fumbles lost
If JaMarcus Russell has not had as many problems as Leaf, it is through his performance-to-salary ratio that he will forever remain as one of the biggest busts in the history of the league.
After a holdout, he signed for 6 years and $ 68 million, including $ 31.5 million guaranteed. Yield: 3 seasons and an evaluation of 65.2 and 15 fumbles lost. It is mainly because of examples like him that a salary grid for rookies was introduced last year.
If Russell never reached his potential, it’s because he didn’t work for it. Russell is literally a « big » bust. Over the seasons, “Captain Skittles” has swelled to resemble one of his linemen.
After being cut in 2009, he was arrested in possession of codeine syrup, an illegal substance. Last season he attempted a comeback, but no one took the bait.
In the end, its ability to sack itself will therefore remain one of its biggest highlights.
JaMarcus Russell sack himself by touchdownactu
3. Tony Mandarich – 2nd overall pick in 1989
Career stats: 86 games (47 starting)
Monstrous in college, Mandarich was announced as one of the best lineman in history after a trick where he blew up the counters. The problem ? He was force-fed steroids.
“I was taking Winstrol V, equipoise, Anadrol 50s, testosterone, Anavar, Dianabol,” he confessed to ESPN in the late 2000s.
Enough to make 90’s cyclists look like naturopaths. His response when the Chiefs asked him before the Draft if he was taking steroids? The same as Lance Armstrong.
“I have never tested positive. «
For fear of getting caught, Mandarich quits the steroids just before the combination. But he remains arrogant, claiming in particular that Green Bay is « a village », or that he wants to fight Mike Tyson. His arrogance does not earn him the favors of his teammates. He then becomes addicted to painkillers and douses it with alcohol. Cocktail for failure. The highest paid lineman of the time, he never did better than playing on the Packers special teams before getting cut.
The good story is that Mandarich ended up recovering. After three seasons without football, he returned to the league for three decent seasons with the Colts. But the Packers, them, never received a return worthy of a second choice of the Draft. And at the time, they could have selected Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomes or Deion Sanders, three Hall of Famers chosen just after Mandarich.
4. Brian Bosworth – 1st round of the 1987 Supplementary Draft
Career stats: 3 seasons, 24 games, 4 sacks
The best with a bust is when it likes to open it. For his first season in the league, he announces that he will stop the excellent Bo Jackson before a game against the Raiders. As a result, the number 55 was ridiculed by Jackson who freed him from his path with a big pad before going to register a touchdown …
Like all great busts, Bosworth comes out of college with an exceptional reputation. But he adds his personal touch in the form of a suspension for use of steroids, a complaint for carrying a weapon, recurring criticism of the NCAA (National Communists Against Athletes according to him). Before the Draft, he sends a letter to certain teams to warn them that he won’t come if they drafte him. He even took the league to court for the right to wear the number 44, a jersey normally prohibited for linebackers.
For all that hassle and a huge contract at the time, the Seahawks won just 24 games in three seasons before retiring early, officially over shoulder issues. Bosworth has recorded 4 career sacks, all in his first season.
Much ado and hype about nothing …
5. Charles Rodgers – 2nd overall pick in 2003
Career stats: 3 season, 15 games (9 starting), 36 receptions, 440 yards, 4 touchdowns
Compared to Randy Moss on his arrival in the league, Charles Rodgers quickly showed that he was not the star of the Vikings.
Rodgers started well with 22 receptions in his first 5 games. But a broken collarbone stopped his momentum. He never left. The following season was disrupted by a suspension for positive doping control and the Lions demanding the return of part of his contract in return. His work ethic ended up pushing him out after only his third season. Despite a few tries, no one else wanted to sign him.
The player selected just behind Rodgers in 2003? Andre Johnson. Ouch.
First published: April 2012, updated April 2014.