The NFL draft has been the main vehicle in which NFL franchises use to drive their teams towards success for multiple years. We always see teams select great quarterbacks towards the top of the draft, and sometimes even get lucky and steal a franchise quarterback in later rounds. These great quarterbacks that are drafted set up teams to be very successful. There are also a lot of franchises that swing for the fences when looking for a quarterback in the draft, and strike out, leaving their team years to get back to a stage where they are competitive once again.
Sometimes teams are extremely good at drafting franchise quarterbacks. The Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning, and achieved an elite status throughout Peyton’s tenure with the team. As soon as Manning was done with the team, the Colts made a smooth transition into their next franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck. There is also the other side of the coin, which shows us franchises that struggle with finding an even decent quarterback to help their franchise be reasonable. Some of those franchises will make an appearance on this list, perhaps more than once. The Cleveland Browns have not had a franchise quarterback or even a quality quarterback during the entire 21st century. Without a great passer leading their team, the Browns have failed to achieve much respect from opponents. It just goes to show that to be a viable team to compete for a Super Bowl championship; the quarterback position needs to be held down by someone who is an excellent leader that can produce at any given time for his team.
It will be interesting to see which quarterbacks are selected during the 2016 NFL Draft, and whether they can lead their new teams to victory in the future. Who are the biggest QB busts of the last 15 NFL drafts?
15 2001 - Quincy Carter
Quincy Carter was given many chances to be a capable starter in the league, but never excelled in any of his four seasons in the league. He had opportunities to start in all four years of his career. Carter was selected in the second round of the 2001 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys, who wanted to find their next superstar quarterback after the Troy Aikman era. In his first two seasons, Carter started 15 games, but did not achieve much success in those starts.
Finally in the 2003 NFL season he won the starting job for the Cowboys. In all 16 games he only threw 17 touchdowns and a dreadful 21 interceptions. After one season with the Jets in 2004, Carter never again got another gig in the NFL.
14 2002 - Joey Harrington
Joey Harrington enjoyed an extremely successful career at the University of Oregon. Unfortunately he did not perform up to standards for the laughable Detroit Lions franchise of the early 2000s. The 2002 NFL draft had a bunch of busts to choose from, but Harrington seemed to under-perform the most of these quarterbacks. Harrington was the Detroit Lions starter for four seasons, and never once led his team to the playoffs.
Harrington also started one season for the Miami Dolphins and one season for the Atlanta Falcons. For his career, Harrington threw 79 touchdowns and 85 INTs. Throwing more interceptions than touchdowns is never a good recipe for success.
13 2003 - Kyle Boller
Kyle Boller was given something that every quarterback dreams of coming into the league. The Ravens had a stellar defense that had a multitude of studs on their roster. Boller never adapted to the NFL, and his numbers throughout his career were lackluster. The Ravens only had Kyle Boller as their starter for all 16 games once, and after his career with the Ravens he spent time with the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders. Kyle Boller threw 48 touchdowns and 54 interceptions in his career. A common trend among these busts at the quarterback position is their inability to throw the ball to the right team.
12 2004 - J.P. Losman
The 2004 NFL draft was filled with star studded quarterbacks. Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger highlighted an excellent quarterback class, but not every quarterback taken in the first round had exponential success in the NFL. J.P. Losman came from the small school of Tulane, but was expected to be a big piece in helping the Buffalo Bills regain the success they had in the 1990s. Losman lacked a receiver core to help him develop into an elite quarterback. He only started a full season in 2006, and struggled with injuries throughout most of his career. J.P. Losman record 33 touchdowns and 34 interceptions during his eight years in the NFL.
11 2005 - Charlie Frye
Charlie Frye was a third round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns. Being drafted in the third round often gives a player the ability to avoid the bust tag, but he was only the fourth quarterback selected in the 2005 NFL draft. With the Cleveland Browns' abysmal track record of quarterback play, Frye was leaned on to start. Frye started for 13 games in the 2006 season, but the team did not have much success with him under center. For his career, Charlie Frye threw 17 and 29 interceptions, which is extremely mediocre no matter whom you ask.
10 2006 - Matt Leinart
Matt Leinart was a star during his time at USC, and won a BCS National Championship while attending the university. Many thought he was destined for a great NFL career, but the tides turned for the worse. Leinart had an All Pro wide out in Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, and he still could not provide the Arizona Cardinals with stellar performances on a regular basis. Leinart also struggled with injuries throughout his career. When Kurt Warner took over the starter’s role and caught fire, the end seemed near for the young quarterback. During his career, Leinart threw for 15 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
9 2007 - JaMarcus Russell
JaMarcus Russell is arguably one of the biggest busts at any positions in NFL draft history. He had some of the best physical traits coming out of LSU, but failed to translate his physical gifts to playing elite level football in the NFL. The Raiders' first pick often times looked out of shape and unmotivated to improve his play while in the league. The Raiders chose to sit Russell his first year in the NFL, but this did not help Russell absorb the level of play in the league. JaMarcus Russell threw 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in only three seasons with the Raiders.
8 2008 - Brian Brohm
Brian Brohm was an outstanding collegiate quarterback at Louisville, but he was essentially drafted in a position where he wouldn’t be able to exceed in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers selected Brohm in the second round. Aaron Rodgers was the team’s bright young star quarterback of the future, and Brohm was selected to be his back up. The 2008 NFL draft had a pair of good quarterbacks selected in the first round (Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco), making it difficult to pinpoint who indeed was a bust in this quarterback draft class. Brian Brohm in his short three year NFL tenure started only two games, and threw zero touchdowns and five interceptions.
7 2009 - Josh Freeman
Josh Freeman never reached his full potential while playing in the NFL. He was supposed to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back to the glory years of the early 2000s. He never could elevate the Buccaneer offense to the level it needed to beat the dominant New Orleans Saints in their own division. Josh Freeman after five years with the Buccaneers, moved on to play briefly with the Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts. He was recently waived by the Colts. During his below average NFL life, Josh Freeman threw 81 touchdowns and 68 interceptions. It will be interesting to see if any other teams are willing to give Freeman another chance in the NFL.
6 2010 - Jimmy Clausen
Jimmy Clausen was highly touted coming out of Notre Dame. The fighting Irish did not have a lot of success while Clausen was under center, but scouts saw a ton of upside in Clausen’s game. Clausen fell mightily in the draft, after expecting to hear his name fairly early. He was finally selected in the second round by the Carolina Panthers. Jimmy Clausen failed to overcome his draft day slip, and soon proved that many teams were correct in passing on him.
Jimmy Clausen last played for the Baltimore Ravens during the 2015 NFL season. He has thrown for seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his brief NFL career that may not last much longer.
5 2011 - Christian Ponder
The Minnesota Vikings crazily reached for Christian Ponder early in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. The 2011 NFL draft was filled with busts at QB, but Ponder was given the best chance to succeed. The Vikings did not have incredibly talented wide receivers, but they did have a solid defensive core. Ponder seemed to come up short in big moments for the Vikings during his time with the team. The Vikings seemed to have found a quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who can help the team progress moving forward. Christian Ponder has thrown 38 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in his five NFL seasons.
4 2012 - Brandon Weeden
Brandon Weeden was already twenty eight years old when being drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Browns. Many thought that Weeden would be much more mature coming into the NFL, and this would allow Weeden to achieve success more easily than other rookie quarterbacks coming into the league. This was far from the truth, and Weeden struggled greatly throughout his career in the NFL. After his failed job in Cleveland, Weeden moved on to back up for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans. Brandon Weeden has thrown for 31 touchdowns and 30 interceptions so far in his four years in the NFL.
3 2013 - E.J. Manuel
E.J. manual was the first quarterback selected in the 2013 NFL draft. That year's class had a notoriously bad quarterback crop, and E.J. Manuel highlighted that dreadful year of quarterbacks. Many were left scratching their heads when the Buffalo Bills reached to select Manuel in the first round, and it is apparent that the Bills' gutsy risk has not paid off. Tyrod Taylor, a career back up, beat out Manuel for the starting job last season.
Manuel has thrown for 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions so far in his career. It is doubtful that Manuel will ever be able to attain another starting job in the NFL.
2 2014 - Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel has been a newsworthy story ever since he stepped foot in an NFL locker room. He is one of the most immature players that has ever entered the league, and has gotten so out of control that his father is even making the case that he needs help. Manziel hasn't been much better on the field. The former Cleveland Browns quarterback could not even earn the starting job coming into the 2015 NFL season, and did not impress when he got on the field for his team. During Manziel’s brief stint in the league so far he has thrown for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
1 2015 NFL Draft - Sean Mannion
There is no clear bust in this draft so far, so it is difficult to label any of the quarterbacks in this draft class a bust yet. Sean Mannion was drafted in the third round by the St. Louis Rams. The Rams struggled tremendously at the quarterback position with Nick Foles and Case Keenum at the helm, but Mannion never could prove to his coaches he was worthy of getting playing time. This is the reasoning for qualifying Mannion as the most bust worthy quarterback in this draft class.
With the Rams now on the clock for the first overall pick, presumably to select a quarterback, it's unlikely Mannion will ever start a game in L.A.