Every NFL Team's Biggest Draft Mistake (That Still Stings To This Day)

This is the night were NFL general managers get fired. All of these decisions should have cost them their jobs as well. The draft is where teams are supposed to build their franchises. Get some of the top prospects to fix their teams. This year we had what could be a very loaded first round from guys like Baker Mayfield, Saquon Barkley, Josh Rosen, and all the way to Lamar Jackson. They could all be defining players, or they could all be busts. There are obviously some of the most famous busts on this list. Players who just could not live up to their hype.

There are some real head shakers. From a kicker who was the most accurate in the history of college who went to the least accurate kicker in the NFL to Heisman trophy winners who just did not translate. Players whose off the field situations got the best of them from drug abuse to jail time. Then there were quality players who just did not play very well in the league. They had a lot of talent but for some reason or another, they just could not reach the level of the draft pick that they were selected at. For so many of them, there were Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers who were taken after them, showing just how bad the decision to take them was. So here is the list of every single NFL team's worst draft pick of all time, the ones that still hurt today.

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32 Arizona Cardinals: Andre Wadsworth

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Wadsworth was not the player he was expected to be when he came into the league. His career started by him holding out until he gets the contract he felt he deserved. The day before the season-opener, he finally signed for 4 years and a 5th-year player option. Its value was that of the first 2 draft picks, that 5th year never got activated. He only played 3 seasons before his knee injuries cost him his career but he was not even that good in those three seasons. By the way, Charles Woodson was drafted immediately after him.

31 Atlanta Falcons: Aundray Bruce

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Aundray Bruce was an outside linebacker from the University of Auburn. He spent a mere 4 seasons with the Falcons before signing with the Raiders. In those 4 seasons, he had 16 sacks and 3 interceptions.

The issue with Bruce is not so much his play but rather the 15 Pro Bowlers and two Hall of Famers taken after him considering he was taken number 1 overall.

Those two Hall of Famers were Michael Irvin and Randall McDaniel. His selection will haunt Falcons fans for a long time.

30 Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Boller

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Only one time in his career did Boller start all 16 games of the season. That season came in 2004, just his second in the league. He had a few different issues while he was with them. He was fairly injury prone and had to miss plenty of time due to it. He also was heavy in turnovers. He threw more interceptions (54) than touchdowns (48). It is a good thing they found a franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco in 2007.

29 Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams


They missed out of Bryant McKinnie in this draft, who went 7th overall and was also a Pro Bowler. Williams started his career at right tackle. Several games later he was moved to the left tackle. He was a disappointment at both.

They started to train him at guard but he did not do well there and lost his starting job to an undrafted free agent, Jason Peters.

He played defensive tackle in a few goal-line situations but was eventually released in 2006.

28 Carolina Panthers: Rae Carruth

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He had a lot of off the field issues but his trouble starts on the field. He stayed there for 3 seasons but only had 20 starts. In those starts, he got 4 touchdowns and 804 yards. His real issue came by way of criminal justice.

Aside from his off-field issues, Carruth never even looked like he was going to be the no.1 receiver the Panthers had envisioned him to be. It seems like Steve Smith has been the only consistent no.1 receiver in all of the franchise's history.

27 Chicago Bears: Curtis Enis

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Curtis began his career by missing a month of training camp and two exhibition games after being drafted 5th. He was able to make one start before tearing a ligament in his left knee. This would be a reoccurring theme in his career. Enis was either injured and off the field, or healthy and unproductive. In his 3 years, he had 1,497 yards with 4 touchdowns. Those are good numbers for a season but not for 3. He was a bust for sure.

26 Cincinnati Bengals: Ki-Jana Carter

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After being selected number 1 in the 1995 draft, he missed his first season due to a knee injury which he received in the third carry of his first preseason game which he never fully recovered from. I

n ’97 he tore his rotator cuff in his left shoulder and missed the season.

In 1998 he broke his left wrist and missed the season. In 1999 he missed another season by dislocating his kneecap in a game versus the Bengals. Safe to say he was a bust.

25 Cleveland Browns: Tim Couch

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Couch is highly considered to be one of the worst 1st overall draft picks of all-time. He did play for the Browns for five seasons. In those five seasons, he threw for 11,131 yards with 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions. He played in 62 games and started 59 of those. Most of his starts in the final season came because of injured players around him. Couch and a good year in 2001 but it was not good enough considering Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper, both quarterbacks

24 Dallas Cowboys: Bobby Carpenter

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The Cowboys do not have many misses when it comes to the draft. But Bobby Carpenter never really played well on the Cowboys defense. In four years he could never secure a starting job on the team. He moved from outside linebacker on either side to nickel linebacker and played plenty of special teams. He was referred to by teammates as “Barbie Carpenter” as was reveal on the fourth episode of the 2008 season of Hard Knocks. He just never had it in him to be a good player.

23 Denver Broncos: Maurice Clarett

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A circus surrounded his entire career. Well, his entire preseason. Well, his entire training camp. He was taken in the 3rd round. He had not played in two years due to a dismissal from The Ohio State University. He still signed a 4-year deal that was heavily incentive laden.

He was just a disappointment. He had many incidents with his coaches which led to his release a month after his signing.

He did not sign with any other teams and has had a terrible post-NFL life as well.

22 Detroit Lions: Charles Rodgers

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He was compared to Randy Moss and drafted 2nd overall. He did not even come close to that comparison. Substance abuse and poor play forced him to miss a lot of games. Not to mention his injuries. He missed the 2004 season due to a broken collarbone and went home due to depression. Then in 2005, he was suspended four games for his 3rd substance abuse violation. In 2006 under the new head coach he was fired due to the coach saying he had a lack of work ethic. He didn’t play again.

21 Green Bay Packers: Tony Mandarich

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He was the 2nd overall pick 1989. That draft had a fantastic top-5 that included the likes of Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders. Pretty sour for the Packers the got the one guy in the list who did not make the Hall of Fame.

Mandarich was a flameout from the very beginning.

He only started 15 games in 4 seasons. He played much better with the Colts once he cleaned up his act, but he never came close to meeting expectations.

20 Houston Texans: David Carr

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Perhaps the expectations on him were too high. Taken 1st overall to an expansion team, they expected him to shoulder this new franchise into being a great team. That never happened. Even though starting almost every game except when injured, he never really paid off as a first overall pick. During his time, he threw 59 touchdowns with 65 interceptions, only throwing more touchdowns than interceptions twice. It was not a great draft for quarterbacks. There were 10 Pro Bowlers who were drafted in the first round, and he was not among them.

19 Indianapolis Colts: Steve Emtman

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Steve Emtman was the first overall pick in the 1992 NFL draft. He was not able to live up to that 1st overall expectation. He played 3 separate seasons with the Colts. Each season he finished on the injured reserve list. The first season he blew out his left knee. The next season he got an injury no NFL had previously returned from, tearing their patellar tendon in his right knee. He beat the odds and came back. In his first play back, he ruptured a disc in his neck.

18 Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Harvey

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This could go to Blaine Gabbert, but I think Derrick Harvey is a worse selection. Taken two spots sooner and three years earlier, he played just 3 seasons in Duval County. He started his career thereby breaking a record for the Jags.

He currently holds the record for the longest holdout with 38 days, previously held by Byron Leftwich who held out for 19 days.

He was not injury prone. He did not have off-field issues that were shown to the public. He just never had it in him to be great in the league or even good. In his three seasons, he had 8 sacks total. Not numbers you want from a top-10 pick.

17 Kansas City Chiefs: Todd Blackledge

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He was taken 7th overall and the Chiefs had much better options to choose from. John Elway might have already been off the board but there were great quarterbacks still available who were taken in the first round. Guys like Jim Kelly (14th), Ken O’Brien (24th), and Dan Marino (27th). Each at least made the Pro Bowl and two of them made it all the way to the Hall of Fame. He played with the Chiefs for five years. In that time he threw more interceptions than touchdowns. A common theme for the quarterbacks who are busts in the draft.

16 Los Angeles Chargers: Ryan Leaf


Ryan Leaf is widely considered to be one of the biggest busts of all time. He played for a franchise who also had future Hall of Famer Drew Brees and a perennial Pro Bowler in Philip Rivers. He stayed for three years, but that was three years too many. Not to mention the amount that the Chargers gave up for him. They traded their future for this bust. There were nine Pro Bowlers taken after him in the first round and two Hall of Famers.

15 Los Angeles Rams: Lawrence Phillips

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Character was the biggest issue with Lawrence Phillips. They certainly believed in him because the Rams traded away Jerome Bettis who as a running back himself went on to have 3 more Pro Bowls and was on the Steelers team in ’05 who won the Super Bowl.

His off-field issues got the best of him.

Phillips ended up getting several more chances on other teams, but he was always his own worst enemy.

14 Miami Dolphins: Dion Jordan

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He was taken 3rd overall in the 2013 NFL draft which had some of the best left tackles taken in recent years. He was the outlier at defensive tackle and never did well. There were 10 Pro Bowlers after him and two of those played at his position. His rookie season was his best season because it is the only one where he played all 16 games. In 2014, he was suspended a total of 6 games due to violating the substance abuse policy. Then in 2015, he failed a 3rd test and was suspended the whole season. He did not play a down in 2016.

13 Minnesota Vikings: Dimitrius Underwood

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He had too many issues. He rose up a lot a draft boards due to workouts. He made it all the way to the 29th pick in the first round in 1999. He had a lot of mental issues that led to his problems in the league. On August 1st, he signed his 5-year deal. The next day, he walked out of training camp after the first practice and went AWOL. He later returned but was eventually cut altogether. He never played a down in the NFL.

12 New England Patriots: Chad Jackson

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Chad Jackson was an unusual move for the Patriots. They moved up in the second round to draft him. He had lightning speed and was a perfect size. He should have been able to be a star catching passes from the GOAT Tom Brady.

He just did not produce on the field. He had 13 catches over 12 games his rookie season.

He didn't have any his second season and was cut at the end of the year. The worst part is Greg Jennings was taken in the spot the Patriots traded out of.

11 New Orleans Saints: Russell Erxleben

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He was a kicker, yet he was taken 11th overall. What else needs to be said? If your team ever takes a kicker this high, just assume he is a bust. In Erxleben's defense, he played as both the placekicker and as a punter. To his detriment, he did not do well, or even okay at either. He was supposed to have a big leg to drill field goals and punt the offense deep in their own territory. He just did not have it in him.

10 New York Giants: Cedric Jones

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Cedric Jones was taken with the 5th overall pick in a very highly skilled draft. There were 14 pro bowlers selected in the first round and 2 Hall of Famers including the great Ray Lewis. He was supposed to be the long-term partner to Michael Strahan and never was that good. In his five seasons playing for the Giants, he had 15 sacks. He was cut from the team in 2000 and never played another down. Definitely the biggest bust for the Giants.

9 New York Jets: Blair Thomas

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Blair Thomas was never the prospect that he was hyped up to be and he definitely did not perform at the level of a number 2 pick.

There were 10 Pro Bowlers taken in the first round with three of them going to the Hall of Fame. Those group of players included Emmitt Smith.

The Jets instead elected to go for the man who played for six seasons. In his four with the Jets, he ran for 2,009 yards with 5 touchdowns.

8 Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell

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JaMarcus Russell is widely considered the greatest draft bust of all time. During his career, he had 25 starts, 53.1% of completed passes, 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 25 fumbles, and a 65.2 passer rating. He was never anything other than a player with potential, only that potential never really came to the surface in the NFL. He tried a few comebacks, most notably in 2016 when he wrote a letter to every NFL team saying he would play the first year for free. It goes without saying that no one signed him.

7 Philadelphia Eagles: Siran Stacy

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Siran had numerous off the field issues. In high school he was involved in a jewelry theft, driving without a license and disorderly conduct. The Eagles assumed his troubles were behind him but they could not have been more wrong. Siran did not last long in the league at all. He played one game his rookie season. He was released at the end of the season. He did not even sign with another team as he began having off-field issues and his career fizzled out.

6 Pittsburgh Steelers: Huey Richardson

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Huey played a mere 5 games for the Steelers. Part of the problem was fit because he did not have the build to play defensive end in the 3-4 scheme.

He could not make the transition very well to inside linebacker either.

After the season the new head coach tried to switch him to an outside linebacker but that did not work either. He recorded 2 tackles in his games and that was the most he could contribute. Huey was a big mistake at 15th.

5 San Francisco 49ers: Jim Druckenmiller

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It seems only fair that the franchise who had two Hall of Famers back to back in Joe Montana and Steve Young. He was supposed to be groomed as Young's successor but when Steve went down with a hand injury he was forced to start in week 2. He played very bad. In the 4th quarter of that game, he went 0-5 on pass attempts with one interception and two near-interceptions. He played in 6 games over 2 seasons and was traded for a conditional pick.

4 Seattle Seahawks: Brian Bosworth

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The Boz does have one career highlight. He is most known for being absolutely run over by Bo Jackson. He was known for his buzzcut and acting ability but not so much his play of the field. He signed, what was at the time, the biggest contract in team history and the biggest rookie contract in NFL history: 10 years, $11 million. He had to retire after two seasons because he had a shoulder injury. He then went on to have somewhat of a career in Hollywood.

3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Roberto Aguayo

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Another time a kicker got taken in the second round and it backfired. He had a very good college career and for some reason, it just did not translate. In college, he went 69-78 on field goal attempts and made every single one of his 198 extra point attempts.

In 2016, he finished with the worst field goal percentage of any kicker who made more than 5 attempts.

From the literal best to the actual worst is how he progressed (or regressed). He has not played for another team yet but he still has time to turn it all around.

2 Tennessee Titans: Adam Jones

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Adam "Pacman" Jones has been a good cornerback for the Cincinnati Bengals, he was just awful for the Titans. He is known mostly for his ability to break up and force fumbles by punching the ball out of the offense's hands. His off-field issues are what really held him back. He was eventually traded to the Cowboys for a 4th round pick. It must really sting for the Titans seeing that Jones somewhat got his act together once he got to Cincinnati.

1 Washington Redskins: Heath Shuler

via nbcwashington.com

Ten Pro Bowlers were taken in the first round and one was Marshall Faulk, the Hall of Famer. Shuler spent a mere three seasons in Washington before being traded to the Saints for a 5th round pick. His time in Washington was not a pretty one. During his career, he threw 33 interceptions with only 15 touchdowns while being sacked 46 times. There is a reason that he is considered a bust. He has had much more success in his personal life than he ever did as an NFL player.

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