We are at the end of another football season. It’s time to hibernate again until training camp begins in the summer – but make sure to wake up for a late April snack and enjoy the NFL Draft. Young men from across the country gather in hopes of becoming the next big superstar in the NFL. What fans forget is that draft position is only a number.It’s the unseen work ethic in the gym, film room, and practice field, that makes or breaks these players.
Still though, if a highly-touted prospect gets selected in the top rounds, and performs well-below standards, he’s considered a bust. While the exact criteria for a bust is debated by experts, most people widely accept whether or not someone lives up to their standards. Most of the time, these guys have short careers, then fizzle out of the NFL into the oblivion of reality, quietly contemplating what they could have done differently.
But, second chances are hard to come by in the NFL, and most of these busts end up in obscurity. That is until now! Strap up for the 30 of the most recent NFL busts (since 2000) and let’s see what they are doing today.
Honorable Mentions: Tim Tebow (2010), Blaine Gabbert (2011), Derrick Harvey (2008), and Roberto Aguayo (2016)
We will start of our list with some honorable mentions; players who just missed the cut on and off the field.
The man who turned water into Gatorade; God’s gift to football, Tim Tebow takes home our first honorary award. While considered a bust, he did win one playoff game, so we can’t burn him at the stake. Right now, the former Heisman winner is trying his hand at baseball and continuing to work as college football analyst for ESPN.
Next up, Blaine Gabbert. The former Mizzou quarterback would have appeared higher on our list, but he had a resurgent season in 2017, after the Cardinals turned to the veteran toward the end of the season. Turned out that he was even playing on a torn ACL.
Another Jaguars pick that didn’t pan out was former National Championship winning defensive end, Derrick Harvey. In 2008, Jacksonville took Harvey with the 8th pick of the draft, only to have him stumble out of the league with single-digit career sack totals in 2012. Still technically a fee agent, we doubt that Harvey will be on the field ever again.
Finally, one of the most recent draft busts, former second-round pick, kicker out of Florida State, Roberto Aguayo. After busting in just his rookie year, Aguayo was fighting for his job throughout 2017, but never held down a roster spot. There is no doubt he’s got the leg power, but if he wants to have a future in the NFL, he’ll need to improve his accuracy.
30. Jonathan Baldwin (2011)
Back in 2011, the Kansas City had high hopes for Baldwin coming into the draft. At 6’4″, 228 lbs., and a sub-4.50 40-yard dash, the former Pitt Panther receiver’s measurables were at the top of the draft class. The Chiefs snatched Baldwin off the board with the 26th-overall pick. But, through his short career, the Aliquippa native fell short of his projected value, sizzling out of the league in 2014.
While it’s unclear what Baldwin is up to in the present day, his name has circulated in the news recently.
Stories from the 2011 draft recently surfaced, and Baldwin’s career could have gone a bit differently.When Falcons GM, Thomas Dimitroff, traded everything but the kitchen sink to grab Julio Jones in the NFL draft, his former boss, Bill Belichick, advised against it. According to Michael Holley’s book, “War Room,” the Patriots’ skipper wanted Atlanta to take Baldwin over Jones. For all the success that Belichick has had, I think Falcons fans are glad they didn’t take his advice.
29. Vince Young (2006)
Many experts question whether or not Young should be considered a bust, but the reality is that he never live up to the expectations of a top 3 pick. The Rose Bowl hero had some highlights in his short-lived NFL Tenure, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, and being nominated to two Pro Bowls, but personal and financial issues troubled the quarterback.
‘InVinceable’ filed for bankruptcy in 2014 and his football legacy will always be tarnished by his off-the-field issues. So, where is Young now? In 2017, he attempted to make a comeback in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but they cut the former Longhorn after he injured his hamstring in training camp. In a recent interview with, Young laments, “I wish I would’ve just shut up and just played football.”
28. Jason Smith (2009)
The Rams have had a history of taking busts in the first round. Let’s zero in on one disappointing pick in particular, offensive tackle, Jason Smith. St. Louis took the former Baylor Bear with the second-overall pick in the 2009 draft, hoping they found their franchise tackle. Unfortunately, Smith was riddled by injury his rookie year, suffering a severe concussion that he never seemed to recover from. By 2013, he was out of the NFL altogether.
Playing in only 45 games, Smith’s name is synonymous with the mediocrity of the Rams organization prior to the Sean McVay era.
While he’s still listed as a free agent, Smith won’t be setting the edge anytime soon. But, when it comes to recent Rams draft busts, you’ll see that Smith isn’t the only offensive linemen on our list.
27. Peter Warrick (2000)
From collegiate star to the indoor football league, Peter Warrick’s career went downhill quick. During his days at Florida State, Warrick lit up the highlight reel, even coming in sixth in the Heisman voting in 1999. In 2000, the Bengals took the speedster with the 4th overall pick, yet he never succeeded in the NFL, and bounced around the lower tiers of football until 2011.
Nowadays, with his disappointing career behind him, Warrick is trying to help young football players take the proper steps to the next level.
According to thesportsdrop.com, Warrick is coaching the wide receivers at Creekside High School in Georgia, helping these students transition to the collegiate level. Hopefully, he will be able to leave a positive legacy with these kids, since he left a mediocre legacy in the NFL.
26. Rashaun Woods (2004)
Former 49ers first round pick, wide receiver Rashaun Woods, went from hero to zero in a matter of months. After being named First-Team All-American two consecutive years at Oklahoma State, San Francisco decided they needed a deep threat, and took Woods with the 31st pick of the 2004 draft. During his rookie campaign, the former Sooner only brought in 7 receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown. After injuring his thumb the following year, Woods’ career stat line would remain unchanged, and he was out of the NFL within three seasons.
Woods didn’t let his football knowledge go to waste though, and worked a as a high school commentator and assistant coach until 2013. Now, he is the head coach at John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City, even bringing home a state championship in 2017, defeating 3A-rival Beggs, 14-7, in December.
25. Rolando McClain (2010)
When McClain’s on the field, there is no doubting that he is a beast of a linebacker. At Alabama, the former Butkus Award winner led the Crimson Tide defense to a national championship in 2009. With unprecedented size and speed, McClain looked to be a household name in the NFL, and Oakland selected him with the 8th overall pick in 2010. After several locker room spats and off-the-field incidents, the Raiders waived McClain in 2013, and he retired a month later as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
The first-rounder made a comeback in 2014 with the Cowboys, yet after a few years in Dallas, McClain’s off-the-field issues caught back up to him as he failed several drug test, resulting in an indefinite suspension.
He had gotten hooked on codeine from “sizzurp” or “purple drank,” and couldn’t fight his addiction. After being arrested again in May 2017, it doesn’t look like McClain will be on the field anytime soon.
24. R. Jay Soward (2000)
The Jaguars missed big with R. Jay Soward, and it wasn’t for his talent on the gridiron. The former USC Trojan was a highly-touted NFL prospect known for his speed and explosive ability. With Tom Coughlin leading the team down in Jacksonville, they thought they had a steal taking Soward at the end of the first-round! But, the Jags overlooked his diva attitude and history with drug addiction. Soward all but gave on the team, refusing to come to practices, relapsing in treatment centers, and fizzling out of the NFL after one year.
After brief stints in both the IFL and AFL, Soward regrets his playing days, knowing he could have done more.
Now, Soward lives a normal life, but in an unlikely turn, was part of another controversy in 2015. Fellow NFL bust, ex-Rams running back, Lawrence Phillips, was suspected in killing his cell mate, Soward’s cousin, Damion. The former wide receiver said his family was “traumatized” over the events. A sad event, and rare for two NFL busts to be involved in a scandal decades after their playing days.
23. Brady Quinn (2007)
Is it even fair to include Cleveland on this list? Every quarterback they have ever drafted since their franchise revival has been a bust. Either way, let’s take a look at former Notre Dame QB, and top NFL bust, Brady Quinn. Cleveland took the Maxwell Award winner with the 22nd overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft. Due to lack of opportunity in his early years, and poor play, Quinn was traded to the Broncos in 2010, where he would begin his career as journeyman, playing with six more teams in five years.
Today, with his dashing looks, Quinn has made a career as an analyst for FOX.
He’s been up in the booth, dissecting both college and NFL games, giving viewers a veteran’s perspective on the game. Not to mention he’s married to the beautiful gymnast, Alicia Sacramone! We’d say he’s doing pretty well for himself.
22. Matt Leinart (2005)
Although dominant at USC, Matt Leinart never made an impact on the NFL. Arizona selected the former Heisman winner with the tenth-pick of the 2005 Draft. The Cardinals tried to mold Leinart into an NFL quarterback, letting him sit and learn behind Hall of Famer, Kurt Warner. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out, and Leinart will go down as one of the top NFL busts since 2000.
Still though, the Johnny Unitas award winner found his niche as a studio analyst on FOX, just like our previous bust, Brady Quinn. Although out of the game, the two quarterbacks competitive spirit is still alive, as the coworkers engaged in a Twitter spat over the summer, stemming from the infamous “Bush Push.” I guess rivalries never die!
21. Ron Dayne (2000)
You would think that the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher would have a storied NFL career, but it was all downhill after college for Ron Dayne. The former Wisconsin Badger running back was selected 11th-overall in the 2000 Draft by the New York Giants. At 5’10”, 250 lbs. Dayne was a bowling ball, and had the speed to back it up, becoming a member of the “Thunder and Lightning” duo with teammate Tiki Barber.
Success in the NFL is short-lived though. Dayne struggled with then coach, Jim Fassel’s, suggestion to lose weight, and his playing-time slowly diminished, until he was barely receiving any carries out of the backfield.
Today he spends time reliving his glory days in Madison.
20. Rashard Anderson (2000)
Many NFL teams sit pass on players from small schools during the draft, citing their lack of competition throughout college. But, the Carolina Panthers decided to take a chance on small school cornerback, Rashard Anderson, with the 23rd-pick of the 2000 NFL draft. The former Jackson State standout was slated for success in Charlotte, but struggled mightily with addiction.
After two short (yet productive) seasons, in 2002, Anderson was suspended by the NFL for violating their substance abuse policy, which extended through the 2003 season. After reinstatement, the league had moved on from the first-rounder, and he was out of work. While he attempted a comeback in the CFL in 2005 with the Calgary Stampeders, he never played a down up north, and is now widely considered one of Carolina’s top draft busts.
19. Christian Ponder (2011)
The former Florida State QB was supposed to be the hero that fueled the ‘skull chant’ when Minnesota selected with the 12th-pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. While he struggled his rookie season, Ponder made a comeback during his sophomore campaign, actually leading the Vikings to the playoffs. But, his success was brief, and due to a series of injuries and poor play, Ponder was out in Minnesota by 2015.
After bouncing around to a few teams – the most recent one being San Francisco in 2016 – Ponder has moved on from football, but not with a whole heart.
Alongside his wife, ESPN personality, Samantha Ponder, the devout Christian told a crowd at Liberty University that he blames God for his poor play. “When I played well I was like, ‘God’s awesome.’ When I didn’t play well it was almost like I blamed him for not playing well.”
18. Troy Williamson (2005)
Williamson entered the league with a blazing mark of 4.32-sec in the 40-yard dash, but managed to run himself out of the NFL just as quickly. The Vikings were searching for a receiver to take the top of the defense since they parted ways with Moss a few years prior. They took “Alligator” with the seventh-pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, but he couldn’t hold on to the ball, dropping eleven passes in his sophomore campaign. Minnesota dealt the former Gamecock to Jacksonville for a sixth-round pick after three seasons.
After a few more years of mediocrity, the Jags released Williamson in 2010. Today, Williamson makes his rounds the motivational speaking circuit, lecturing audiences about overcoming adversity. Wait, that can’t be right? Yes, the man who once dropped passes, is dropping mics across the country try to flip the script of being a bust!
17. Joey Harrington (2002)
Despite sustaining a seven-year NFL career, Joey Harrington had a measly passer rating of 69.4, making him the seventeenth-biggest bust since 2000. Some experts have claimed that Steve Mariucci’s West Coast Offense played a role in the former third-overall pick’s downfall, but we don’t think that’s the case. Harrington just didn’t have what it took to compete at a professional level, but don’t tell him that.
Seriously, don’t tell him that!
In 2015, the overly-optimistic “Joey Sunshine” admitted that he thinks that he had a successful NFL career.
16. Jamal Reynolds (2001)
Seems like we have a lot of former Seminoles in the bust column. One of the biggest flops was unanimous All-American defensive end, Jamal Reynolds. Number 99 jumped into the top ten of the 2001 draft when the Green Bay Packers traded with Seattle for the 10th overall pick. With his size and speed, Reynolds should have flourished in defensive coordinator Ed Donatell’s defensive scheme.
After a series of mishaps, including competition from unknown edge rusher, ‘K.G.B’, injuries, and a trade to the Colts which was botched due to a failed physical, Reynolds fizzled out of the NFL by 2004. According to the Journey Sentinel, “Reynolds is an avid hunter and fisherman. Deer, turkey, duck, and wild hogs are among his pursuits on land, but he also enjoys fishing for Redfish and Snook with his father, brothers and nephews.” I’d say he’s enjoying his retirement.
15. Jake Locker (2011)
Another member of the sub-par 2011 quarterback class, Jake Locker. The former Washington Husky was snatched up by the Tennessee Titans with the 8th overall pick, and never lived up to expectations. From a combination of inconsistent play, season-ending injuries, and lack of passion for the game, this Titan was toppled in 2014, as he retired from football forever.
At least Locker was honest with himself. His lack of love for the NFL outweighed his lust for a fat paycheck.
According to the Seattle Times, the quarterback just wanted to spend some more time with his family and remodel his house.
14. Trent Richardson (2012)
Who could forget the monster of a man, former Alabama running back, Trent Richardson. Coming off a historic college career at Alabama, which included two BCS National Championships, the Bad News Browns selected Richardson with the 3rd overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. As busts go, his rookie year started off slow, but he was productive overall.
Cleveland knew something that the rest of the NFL didn’t, and traded Richardson to the Colts the following year. The 5’9″ running back’s first carry in Indianapolis resulted in a touchdown! But, he soon began a mediocre run, playing second fiddle in the backfield. Nowadays, Richardson is plotting an NFL comeback, working his way through the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and maybe, just maybe, he can head further south and compete at a high level in the NFL once again.
13. Aaron Curry (2009)
You would think the fourth-overall pick would succeed in a top tier defense, right? In the Emerald City, that’s not the case. The Seahawks 2009 first-round draft pick, Aaron Curry, sgined a six year, $60-million deal, with $34-million guaranteed, which is the most ever for a non-quarterback rookie. While he was slowly creating his legacy, increasing his tackle totals in his first two years, Curry lost his starting position to fellow linebacker, K.J. Wright, at the start of the 2011 season.
With Seattle’s defense running on all cylinders, Curry’s role was obsolete, and they traded him to the Oakland Raiders, where he was hampered by injury, slowly ending his career. After his time in the NFL, Curry didn’t put his football prowess to waste. An assistant coach at a local school in Charlotte, the Wake Forest alum is molding future NFL busts.
12. The Curse of Mike Williams (2002, 2005, and Maybe 2017)
It can’t be a coincidence that the name Mike Williams is synonymous with distaste in the NFL. In 2002, the Bills selected offensive lineman, Mike Williams, out of the University of Texas. During his limited time in Buffalo, Williams was unsatisfactory, and they shipped him off to Jacksonville after the 2005 season. He made a brief comeback with the Redskins, but failed to produce.
Our next Mike Williams couldn’t make it as a receiver in the league. The Lions 2005 first-round pick struggled to find his role in the offense, and soon found himself at the bottom of the depth chart. Seattle gave Williams a chance in 2010 after two-years removed from the game, but it never panned out. Currently, Williams, like many of his fellow busts, took his talents to coaching at Van Nuys High School in LA.
Lastly, will the Chargers 7th overall pick in 2017 be the next worst Mike Williams? The former Clemson receiver did come out and say he will be the best Mike Williams in the NFL. Then again, that shouldn’t be too hard!
11. Greg Robinson (2014)
It’s hard to gauge the collegiate success of an offensive lineman. On one hand, there are several measurable factors that typically translate to NFL success, but with the broad range of ability on the opposing d-line, it’s hard to judge true o-lineman’s true skill set. Let’s take offensive tackle, Greg Robinson, for example. The Rams picked up the former Auburn with the second-overall pick in the 2014 draft, but showing up to your first training camp overweight is not the best way to start an NFL career.
After a series of poor play, riddled by unnecessary penalties, Los Angeles denied the big man’s fifth-year option at the end of the 2017, then traded him to Detroit.
Perhaps the best name in sports, Jim Bob Cooter, the Lions’ OC, could help Robinson re-write his troubled career? Well, that wasn’t the case, and Detroit released him in November 2017.
10. Robert Griffin III (2012)
Another polarizing figure in recent NFL history, RGIII rounds up our top ten of NFL busts since 2000. Many Washington fans will sit back and justify Griffin’s career, but we aren’t here to make friends. The guy is just too undisciplined. Word has it that the entire locker room was against the former Baylor quarterback since he constantly blamed his linemen, while the rest of the team thought he was just holding on to the ball for too long. Although he did make the playoffs his rookie year, opposing defenses were able to gameplan the following years for the Griffin’s classic triple-option, leaving RGIII high and dry in the nation’s capital.
The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner started a few games with Cleveland, but was released before the beginning of the 2017 season. Surely, Griffin will be vying for a backup role in the coming offseason, but we don’t think any teams will bite!
9. David Terrell (2001)
Why do receivers always have to be divas? Former University of Michigan wideout, David Terrell, was selected by ‘Da Bears’ with the eighth-overall pick in 2001. Despite posting multiple 1,000-yard seasons as a Wolverine, Terrell fell flat in the NFL, only amassing 128 receptions for 1,602 yards and nine TDs over four seasons. That was it! He bounced around from team to team for the next few years, but never made his way back onto the field.
After football, Terrell was arrested in 2013 on drug and battery charges, but was acquitted of all charges. While his son is currently succeeding as a receiver at Howard University, his father is trying to protect his legacy. He’s been on the record tearing apart ex-Chicago QBs, saying “I would have cut off both my balls” to play with Cutler. When the author of Redeye, a Chicago publication, added him to their list of Chicago busts, he called up the author of the article to set the details straight.
8. Vernon Gholston (2008)
You know that big guy at the gym that always talks about the glory days? That’s Vernon Gholston. The former Ohio State defender was the definition of “a man among boys” in college. At 6’3″, 260 lbs., and a 4.58-sec 40-yard dash, the Jets thought they chose the next Adonis of football with the sixth-overall pick of the 2008 draft. Under Rex Ryan’s defense in New York, Gholston never found a home. After only three disappointing seasons which he never recorded a single sack, the Jets released the Buckeye in 2011.
Gholston bounced around the NFL, but eventually found his home in the fitness industry. Currently, he is running a gym in NYC called Anew Wellness, which focuses on both the physical and mental stresses of the day, treating clients through horticulture therapy. Sounds a lot like Ricky Williams’ pot gym, but you never know!
7. Courtney Brown (2000)
Many experts believe that Courtney Brown is the biggest draft bust in Browns’ history. While he’s only the second-biggest Cleveland flop on our list, the debate sometimes leans in Brown’s favor. The former first overall pick of the 2000 draft was slated to be the next Reggie White, but his career ended up a few shades darker, falling into our list as the seventh bust of the last decade.
Although he did record 19 sacks during his abrupt tenure, Brown did not live up to the standards of a top pick. His career collapsed in 2006, and he hasn’t played a snap in the NFL since. In 2012, the former Penn State star was named in the lawsuit against the NFL and has been lauded for doing missionary work in the Dominican Republic.
6. Johnathan Sullivan (2003)
Who could forget the pre-Brees years in NOLA? Aaron Brooks running around like a chicken with his head cut off, fans donning bags over their heads, and the infamous ‘Who Dat?’ chant taking a more serious tone. One product of the Saints down years was defensive tackle, Johnathan Sullivan. In 2003, New Orleans grasped for straws, taking Sullivan with the 6th overall pick in the draft. Only accumulating 77 tackles and 1.5 sacks through his dismal career, Sullivan’s tenure in the Big Easy was cut short, as he was traded to New England, only to wither away into obscurity.
While he did pop back into the headlines in 2006 for an arrest stemming from a traffic stop, Sullivan has kept his name out of the media since his playing days.
5. Justin Blackmon (2012)
We’ve finally made it to the top five draft busts since 2000! Let’s take a look went wrong with former Oklahoma Sooner, Justin Blackmon. In college, the undersized receiver was nothing but electric. He lit up the Big 12, taking two Biletnikoff trophies home in the process. No one questioned the Jacksonville organization when they took Blackmon with the fifth pick of the 2012 draft. He finished his rookie year with 64 receptions and 865 yards, leading all NFL rookies in both categories.
But, this is not your typical Disney movie ending. Blackmon struggled with addiction over the next few years, being arrested several times, and failing multiple drug tests, resulting in an indefinite suspension from the league. After years of recovery, Blackmon finally finished his probation in August of 2017, but was not reinstated last season. But, 2018 is a whole new year, and this former bust could pull off the unthinkable, and resurrect his career.
4. David Carr (2002)
Most people should feel bad for Derek Carr. He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, on the wrong team, but that doesn’t excuse him from being a bust! The Fresno State Bulldog was selected with the first-overall pick by the newly formed organization, the Houston Texans, back in 2002. Could a young quarterback from a small school lead a bunch of misfits to the postseason? I don’t think so.
After his mediocre stint with the Texans, Carr sustained a career as a journeyman backup, even bringing home a Super Bowl with the Giants. But, he was supposed to be Houston’s leader; their messiah. Things never worked out, and the Texans are still regretting their selection to this day.
While the more successful younger brother, Derek Carr, is quarterbacking the Raiders, David spends his time partaking in a few TV hits here and there, and dabbling in the high school coaching game.
3. Charles Rogers (2003)
Another Biletnikoff Award winner to make our list, Charles Rogers rounds out the top three busts since 2000. The former Michigan State wide receiver had the size and speed of a top NFL prospect, with some experts even comparing him to Randy Moss. Detroit liked the sound of that, and took Rogers with the second-overall pick of the 2003 NFL draft.
Unlike most of these bust’s stories, Rogers suffered from both on the field injuries, and off the field addiction. Detroit’s savior was suspended several times for failed drug tests, and eventually the Lions released him in 2006. While trying out for other teams, he was out of shape, and out of luck.
In an article by the Detroit Free Press back in April of 2017, Rogers full story was told. They talk about his struggle to cope with his bust status, and love for marijuana, even though it was never the reason he abandoned his career.
2. Johnny Manziel (2014)
The electric Heisman Trophy winner, known simply as “Johnny Football,” never made his mark on the NFL. At Texas A&M, Manziel dazzled viewers with his improvised, impromptu plays, turning the seemingly impossible into possible. Although he experienced success in college, experts thought his douchey personality, along with undersized frame, wouldn’t be a good fit in the NFL.
Boy were they right! The gullible Browns took Manziel with the 22nd pick of the 2014 draft. Whether they were executing a ploy to gain viewership, or they just thought Manziel was worth it, the situation turned disastrous. The frat star continued his partying his ways, drinking himself to the bottom of the depth chart, and eventually off of the roster. While it was rumored he was heading to the CFL in 2017, Manziel never played in Canada, but admitted he was ready to give it another shot in the NFL.
1. JaMarcus Russell (2007)
Ah, man! JaMarcus Russell is number one on the list of draft busts again? Can they just put someone else at the top? The answer is no. The former LSU Tiger is the epitome of a draft bust. I’m pretty sure when you type his name into the internet, nothing but bust articles pop-up. We don’t want to ‘russell’ the feathers of Oakland fans, but your boy is definitely the top bust of since 2000, if not of all time.
The former 2007 first overall pick was supposed to bring the Bay Area hope for the future, but he only brought despair with him from Baton Rouge.
Russell struggled with contract negotiations, struggled with his accuracy, and struggled with his weight. The Raiders released their reluctant top draft pick in 2010.
In 2013, Russell attempted to make a televised comeback to the league, but no GM in their right mind wanted that pariah on their squad. In 2016, Russell even stated he would play for any team for free! Still, no takers. It has been one tough road for Russell, and sadly, it has now come to an end.
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