You’ve read the articles before: 20 Draft Busts of All-Time or Worst Quarterbacks in Every NFL Team’s History, but what exactly constitutes a draft bust? Simply, it’s when a highly rated player who usually gets selected early, does not live up to expectations. The definition is very shaky. Take Vince Young for example. Most people would classify him as a bust, and for good reason, but he did make two Pro Bowls in his career and had success in his early years. He even had a winning record as a starter, but he just couldn’t stay consistent and many questioned if he had the internal capacity for life in the NFL.
Today, we will look at where some of these draft busts are doing present day, specifically QBs and WRs. Some of them bounced around the league for a few years before they fizzled out, others just straight up retired because they couldn’t handle the ridicule. This decade, the passing game has become a priority for teams, and so we see QBs and wide receivers drafted early every year, even if they’re not the highest ranked prospects on a big board. It’s just too tempting to pass up on a potential franchise QB or an instant game breaker at receiver. We’ll dive into the the 15 biggest QB and WR busts since 2010, and let you know what they are up to.
15. Brock Osweiler, QB: New Denver Starter?
Brock isn’t done just yet, but the former Arizona State Sun Devil will be known as a bust when it’s all said and done. Osweiler was taken in the second-round of the 2012 draft by the Denver Broncos. After the starter, Peyton Manning, went out with an injury in 2015, Osweiler filled in, playing somewhat average. But, he played well enough for Houston to give him a 4-year/$72-million contract. Unfortunately for the Texans, Osweiler played like absolute garbage in 2016.
Good news for Houston though is that the Cleveland Browns took on Osweiler’s contract in an odd trade that occurred in the offseason. What it boiled down to was that Houston just gave Cleveland a second-round pick to take on Osweiler’s contract. He was eventually released by the Browns, and has actually gotten the starting job back for the time being after some horrendous outings by Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch nursing an injury. Good luck, Broncos!
14. Ryan Broyles, WR: College Analyst
The former Oklahoma Sooner was supposed to be the next great receiver in the NFL. During his time in college, Broyles recorded 23 100-yard games. For comparison, Corey Davis holds the record at 27. The Lions thought they found Calvin Johnson’s compliment, and took Broyles in the second-round of the 2012 draft. He played well his rookie year, but eventually was released, per his request, in 2015.
Broyles finished his career with 32 recpetions for 420 yards and two touchdowns. Recently, Broyles has made his way back to Norman, OK, and has been helping out as an analyst for Sooners TV. Broyles said he’s not “sour” about his NFL experience, and is really enjoying his life now. We may never know what he could have been, but at least he has a positive outlook on the whole situation.
13. Jimmy Clausen, QB: Flag Football Player
I think the name Jimmy Clausen leaves a bad taste in the mouth of all Carolina fans. The former Norte Dame standout QB was selected 48th-overall in 2010 by the Panthers, and was supposed to take over the offense. He did anything but that. Clausen finished off his rookie year starting ten games, only throwing three touchdowns as compared to his nine interceptions. Mel Kiper Jr., the draft expert, even said “If Jimmy Clausen is not a successful quarterback in the NFL, I’m done. That’s it. I’m out.” He gave himself a timeline of eight years, and Clausen hasn’t played since 2015, so thank god in 2018 we will never have to hear Kiper again… if he’s a man of his word.
Currently, Clausen helps out with Notre Dame coverage on Saturdays and has even been seen throwing the pigskin in T.O.’s flag football league. Clausen is definitely one of the top quarterback busts since 2010.
12. Titus Young Sr., WR: Serving Time
Young’s story is one for the ages. He was selected in the second-round in 2011 by the Detroit Lions. The former Boise State receiver started off quiet in the locker room, and was even producing well on the field. But behavioral issues caused Young’s downfall. He ended up punching an opposing safety, sucker punching a teammate, and was deliberately lining up in the wrong position. The Lions finally released Young in the middle of the 2012 season. The Rams picked him up, but released him ten days later due to his troubled nature.
Young’s family has cried out to the league for help before, and had even checked him into a mental institution in 2013. On April 10, 2017, Young was sentenced to four years in prison stemming from a street fight in L.A. in 2016. He was charged with felony battery and assault with a deadly weapon. A bust for sure, but the guy definitely needs help.
11. Blaine Gabbert, QB: Backup In Arizona
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been able to acquire some solid talent in recent years but one position where they can’t seem to find stability is at QB. David Garrard had some good years for them, but by 2011, the Jags realized they needed a true franchise QB. After Cam Newton went off the board first overall, the Jags elected to draft Blaine Gabbert 10th overall and it turned out to be a huge mistake. Some went so far as to say back at that draft that Gabbert’s game would translate to the NFL better than Newton and thus would be the more successful player. Boy, were they wrong.
Gabbert often saw himself benched in Jacksonville in favor of Chad Henne and the Jags gave up on him after just three seasons. Since then, Gabbert has stuck around, first as a backup for two seasons in San Francisco, then getting the starting job from Colin Kaepernick. He landed a job with the Cardinals this offseason, backing up Carson Palmer. For the Cardinals’ sake, let’s hope they never have to throw Gabbert into game action.
10. Arrelious Benn, WR: Jacksonville Jaguars
Benn is not the worst of the busts, but he has sure played well below his expectations in the NFL. The former University of Illinois receiver was taken in the second-round of the 2010 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Benn never played up to his potential, amassing 65 receptions for 990 yards and 6 TDs, over eight seasons in the league. While he has dealt with his fair share of injury issues, Benn will be no more than a special teams guy.
Again though, the 2007 Big Ten Freshmen of the Year is still getting a game check every week as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, so he must have been doing something right. His play definitely does not warrant the Bucs wasting a second-round pick on him, and that’s why he makes our bust list.
9. Robert Griffin III, QB: Free Agent
RGIII is in the same category as Vince Young when it comes to the question, ‘is this guy really a bust’? Advocates for the former Baylor quarterback will say things like, “but he made the Pro Bowl in 2012,” and “he won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.” The other side will say that while he was good for one year, and his knee injury limited his best weapon, his speed.
One simple fact will blow both arguments out of the water though. A mere five years after being taken second-overall by the Washington Redskins, RGIII is not an NFL roster. Right now, Griffin is sitting at homes, twiddling his thumbs wondering, “what if”? If that doesn’t scream QB bust, I don’t know what does!
8. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR: Free Agent
Green-Beckham was supposed to be the next big thing. He came out of high school as one of the nation’s top WR recruits, but got into legal troubles early in his career. He was charged with possession of marijuana twice, and was alleged to have pushed a woman down a flight of stairs. He was dismissed from the University of Missouri football team, and joined the Oklahoma Sooners shortly after.
The Titans selected Green-Beckham in the second-round of the 2015 draft, and his career looked like it was off to a great start. He had 549 yards and four touchdowns his rookie campaign, even hauling in his first two catches for touchdowns. Green-Beckham was then traded to the Eagles, where his career fizzled into oblivion. He was cut in the 2017 preseason and has been a hopeful free agent since.
7. Christian Ponder, QB: Free Agent
Inconsistency plagued Ponder through his NFL career. After the Vikings started horribly in 2011 with McNabb under center, the rookie QB out of Florida State finally got to start a game mid-October. The Vikings finished that year 3-13, but Ponder continued to grow as a quarterback.
The following year, Ponder was poised to breakout. He turned Minnesota’s franchise around and they won 10 games, making the playoffs. The future was looking bright in the Twin Cities, but over the next few years, Ponder had some nagging injuries and suffered from piss poor play on the field. He isn’t even on a roster in 2017. Rumor had it that Seattle was considering signing him in the offseason, but went with Austin Davis as a backup instead. Definitely a bust as a 12th overall pick!
6. Justin Blackmon, WR: Still Suspended
Kids, don’t do drugs. But if you do, just don’t be an idiot like Justin Blackmon. The Oklahoma State Cowboy was taken 5th overall in the 2012 draft, and if you watched him at all in college, he was poised to be the next great receiver. Despite being arrested for DUI prior to the season, he played well his rookie year.
Then, he was suspended in 2013 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In his first two games back, he went over 100-yards receiving. But, he was popped again for violation of the drug policy. In 2014, he was arrested for possession of marijuana. In 2015, Blackmon was denied reinstatement to the NFL, and was arrested again for DUI in December of 2015. What a sad, sad story for such a great talent. Now, the NFL may reinstate him next season, but he’s clearly one of our biggest receiver busts.
5. Tim Tebow, QB: Minor League Baseball Player
We will get this out of the way first, yes, Tim Tebow won a playoff game, but he is also a God awful quarterback. Anyone who studies football knows he has horrible mechanics, and had been scraping by on pure athletic ability his whole life. I’m not doubting his college skills; I believe he was one of the best college quarterbacks of all-time, but on the same note, I think he is one of the biggest NFL draft busts of all-time.
Just think about it, five years after he was drafted in the first round, Tebow was out of the NFL altogether. Currently, God’s gift to sports is commentating and analyzing college football games while he tries to work his way through the Mets farm system in baseball. What can’t this guy do? Oh yeah, play quarterback.
4. A.J. Jenkins, WR: Unknown
We aren’t sure what A.J. Jenkins is up to now, but one thing we do know is that he is not playing on Sundays. The University of Illinois receiver was rated one of the top receivers in the 2012 draft, and was selected in the first-round by the San Francisco 49ers. In his rookie season, Jenkins only had one target, and zero catches. Rumor has it he had a bad attitude off the field, wasn’t taking workouts seriously, and had an extremely poor football IQ. In college, it seemed like he beat the competition on pure athleticism, but as we know, that won’t get you too far in the NFL.
The 49ers traded Jenkins to the Chiefs in his second year where he finally caught his first ball. He finished his NFL career with 17 receptions for 223 yards. What a crazy ride full of disappointment for the former first-rounder.
3. Jake Locker, QB: Gym Owner
Locker is our one bust that actually was a decent quarterback. He finished his career with 27-22 TD-INT ratio and a QB rating of 79, but due to injury, circumstance, and loss of interest, he’s considered a bust. The University of Washington quarterback was taken eighth-overall in 2011 by the Tennessee Titans. He played well in the backup role behind Matt Hasselbeck his rookie year, and eventually won the job in his sophomore campaign. But, then the injuries came. He tore his non-throwing shoulder, missed a few weeks due to a leg injury, and suffered a Lisfranc injury which ended his third season. In 2014, Locker was eventually benched and replaced with then rookie (and also bust) Zach Mettenberger.
Locker called it quits after 2014 for good, citing a lack of desire for football anymore. He went out on his own terms and is now a family man in his home state of Washington, balancing his family time with a gym he owns in the area. Maybe, if he continued playing, he could have been a decent quarterback, but Locker went out as a bust.
2. Jonathan Baldwin, WR: Unknown
Remember when we were talking about A.J. Jenkins being traded to the Chiefs, well, it was for fellow bust wide receiver, Jonathan Baldwin. Out of high school, Baldwin was considered a five-star recruit and excelled at the University of Pittsburgh. He had over 2,000 receiving yards in college, and at 6’4″, 230 lbs., had the body of a number one NFL wideout.
The Chiefs used their first pick in 2011 to take Baldwin off the board. He had a less than stellar rookie season, grabbing one touchdown on 254 receiving years. As mentioned before, Baldwin was traded for Jenkins, and was eventually waived by the 49ers. The following year, the Lions waived Baldwin. We’ll never know what could have been with this big wideout, but he is definitely the biggest WR bust since 2010, as he only spent three seasons in the league. Like Jenkins, no one knows what he’s up to now. Man, these guys are similar.
1. QB: Johnny Manziel – CFL Bound?
What do you get when you mix football talent, ignorance, arrogance, immaturity, money, and drugs? A recipe to make Johnny Manziel. Johnny Football was a beast in college, working his way to a Heisman trophy in 2012, and was eventually selected 22nd overall by the Bad News Browns in 2014. Scouts and coaches combined were torn on what Manziel could achieve in the league. It was like the black/blue, gold/white dress debate, except about a dude. Former NFL coach Barry Switzer even said “I don’t like his antics. I think he’s an arrogant little prick. I’ve said that and I’ll say it again.”
Cut to Manziel’s actual playing career. At first glance, he was alright. But, his frat boy, immature ways got the best of him. He checked into a treatment facility after the 2014 season, but was caught partying in Vegas when he was supposed to be out with a concussion in 2015. The Browns promptly released the party boy in the 2016 offseason, and he is considered our biggest quarterback bust since 2010.
Since leaving the NFL, no team has shown interest in Manziel, causing him to search for a job in the Canadian Football League. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats own his rights, but the league commissioner decided not to register a contract for him this season. The CFL said in a league statement: “Mr. Manziel will be eligible to sign a contract for the 2018 season and, if Mr. Manziel meets certain conditions that have been spelled out by the Commissioner, the CFL will register that contract.”
So assuming Manziel stays out of trouble, you can catch him in some CFL action in 2018.
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