Draft busts are a dime a dozen in the National Football League and every single team in the league has fallen victim to them - some teams more than others, of course.
Obviously the higher in the draft you go, the bigger a bust a player can be if he doesn't perform well. On the flip side, there are some players who have been taken in later rounds that were unmitigated disasters, even falling below the expectations of a later-round pick.
A franchise like the Cleveland Browns has regularly had nightmare drafts, while the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens have drafted well since 2000. Despite the success of those two organizations, both of them have experienced mistakes in the drafting process.
Sometimes you can spot a guy who's likely to be a bust, but the team takes a chance on him anyway. In other cases, it isn't so obvious that a player will implode upon getting to the NFL. No matter how it's done, a bust is not only painful to take but can also set a franchise back for years to come.
Adding insult to injury, some teams had a chance to take great players instead of the bust they ended up taking. The San Diego Chargers were guilty of trading down to make their biggest mistake, while the New Orleans Saints sold the house in what was ultimately a gigantic blunder in 2003.
Those are just some of the depressing stories we'll be taking a look at as we review every NFL team's worst draft pick since 2000.
32 Arizona Cardinals: Wendell Bryant
The Arizona Cardinals selected Bryant out of Wisconsin as the no. 12 overall pick in the 2002 draft and never got close to the return they had hoped for. The defensive tackle ended up playing in 29 games for Arizona over three seasons, recording just 1.5 sacks in total. Bryant battled drug and alcohol issues over the course of his short career and was later suspended in 2005 by the league for his third violation of the substance abuse policy.
The Cardinals would cut ties with Bryant after his disappointing career and he never played another snap in the NFL again. Bryant attempted to make a comeback years later, but his efforts were unsuccessful. The move to draft Bryant becomes even more frustrating for Cardinals fans when you consider a guy like Ed Reed was taken after him.
31 Atlanta Falcons: Jamaal Anderson
Anderson was considered a bit raw when coming out of Arkansas, but that wasn’t enough to stop the Falcons from drafting him with the no. 8 overall pick in the 2007 draft. The defensive end went on to play in 60 games for Atlanta over four seasons and totaled just 4.5 sacks with the team.
After the 2010 season, the Falcons let Anderson go and he spent time with the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals the next two seasons. Anderson never played another game after the 2012 season. What hurts the most for Falcons fans is that Anderson was chosen ahead of Hall of Fame-caliber players like Patrick Willis and Darrelle Revis, both of whom could have been defensive anchors for the Falcons for years to come.
30 Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Boller
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has a great history in the draft, but Boller is not a great example of such. The former Cal quarterback was taken no. 19 in the 2003 draft and played five dreadful seasons for the Ravens. Three of his five campaigns in Baltimore were marred by more interceptions than touchdowns and he was unable to surpass 3,000 yards in any season.
The saving grace of that year was that the Ravens selected Terrell Suggs earlier in the draft, so it wasn’t all bad. Still, Boller was pegged as a franchise quarterback by Newsome and never amounted to much. After his career with the Ravens was done following the 2007 season, Boller would resurface in 2009 with the St. Louis Rams and spent the next two seasons after that with the Oakland Raiders. As you can probably guess, neither of those situations worked out for Boller.
29 Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams
It isn’t often the Bills get a top-five pick in the draft, so when Buffalo finally got one in 2002, the team selected Williams with the no. 4 overall pick. The offensive tackle out of the University of Texas was an immediate cause for concern for the franchise. Williams had poor work ethic and was forced to change his position numerous times.
In 2006, the Bills ended Williams’ run in Buffalo by cutting him. Williams was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars shortly thereafter but never played in a game for the franchise. Williams actually played pretty well for the Washington Redskins when he was signed in 2009 and received a contract extension. It was later discovered Williams had a blood clot near his heart and was forced to miss the 2010 season. The Redskins cut him the following year.
28 Carolina Panthers: Dwayne Jarrett
The Panthers drafted Jarrett no. 45 overall in the 2007 draft to be the no. 2 receiver across from Steve Smith in a receiving corps in desperate need of help. Jarrett was a star at USC and left the school as the all-time leader in receptions, while also being the Pac-10 all-time leader in touchdowns. Not only did Jarrett’s college career not translate to the NFL, it failed miserably.
Jarrett started in just three games in four seasons with the team, compiling just 35 receptions for 428 yards and one touchdown in 32 games played. The troubled wide receiver was also busted for DWI twice in three years and was later cut by the team following his second offense. Jarrett never played another snap in the NFL following his stint with the Panthers.
27 Chicago Bears: Cedric Benson
After being drafted no. 4 overall in the 2005 draft, Benson missed the team’s entire training camp that year due to a contract holdout that spanned 36 days. As a result, Benson was unable to win the starting running back job, which instead went to Thomas Jones, who held the position for two seasons. Some reports even suggested he was hated by his teammates so much that they tried to injure him in practice.
Benson dealt with numerous injuries during his time in Chicago and played in just 35 games over three seasons. He never amassed over 1,000 total yards in any season with the Bears and was arrested twice, ultimately leading to his release in 2008. Even in the one year, he was able to start for Chicago in 2007, Benson was a major disappointment with 3.4 yards per carry. A change of scenery helped Benson to three 1,000-yard seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, however, it was too late to save him from being labeled as one of the biggest draft busts in Bears history.
26 Cincinnati Bengals: Travis Dorsch
Whenever a team takes a kicker or punter in the fourth round of a draft like the Bengals did in 2002, it’s always a risk. Dorsch was a risk that didn’t pay off despite his successful collegiate career as a kicker and punter that saw him become the first Big Ten player in history to receive all-conference honors at his position.
Dorsch didn’t see his first game until late in 2002 after an injury to the team’s starting punter and had two of his five punts returned for touchdowns in that game against the Panthers. It turned out to be the only game Dorsch would play for the Bengals and his NFL career ended after just one contest. There have been a lot of busts at kicker and punter over the course of NFL history, but Dorsch remains one of the biggest busts ever at the position.
25 Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson
Richardson’s status as a bust remains the shining example of why NFL teams don’t take running backs early the draft. The Browns selected Richardson no. 3 overall in 2012 out of Alabama. The disappointing back did compile over 1,300 yards in his rookie campaign, however, he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry.
After just two games into his sophomore season, Richardson was traded by the Browns to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick, which later turned out to be another major bust in the form of quarterback Johnny Manziel. Richardson’s numbers in Indy were worse than what he did with the Browns even though he had an elite quarterback to take the pressure off, and the Colts let him walk after the 2014 season. Richardson has worked out for many teams since then but has never played another game in the NFL.
24 Dallas Cowboys: Dwayne Goodrich
The move by the Cowboys to select Goodrich in the second round of the 2000 draft with the first of the team’s five picks that year was surprising, to say the least. The cornerback out of Tennessee was never considered a great college player and he proved his lack of talent at the NFL level. Goodrich played in 16 games for the Cowboys over two seasons, making one start. He recorded just eight tackles and no interceptions in that time.
The troubled corner was sentenced to 12 years in prison for vehicular homicide and failure to stop and render aid after being involved in a hit-and-run accident that killed two people in 2003. He has since been released on parole and has cleaned up his life. Regardless, he never made it back to the NFL and is one of many black eyes from the Cowboys’ 2000 draft class.
23 Denver Broncos: Maurice Clarett
There were a ton of red flags with Clarett after his messy divorce from Ohio State, but Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan still drafted the former star collegiate running back in the third round of the 2005 draft. What he got was not the Ohio State star, but a player who was out of shape and had personal issues.
Clarett signed an incentive-based contract with Denver but was released just a month later after it was clear he couldn’t cut it in the NFL, and he never played in a regular-season game. The former Buckeye back would later be arrested on robbery charges and was ultimately sentenced to over three years of prison time. Clarett’s most recent run-in with the law happened in 2016 when he plead guilty to a DUI charge.
22 Detroit Lions: Mike Williams
Williams was just one of several mistakes general manager Matt Millen made during his tenure in Detroit. As the third receiver selected in three years by the Lions, Williams fell on draft day in 2005 and was subsequently picked by Millen with the no. 10 overall pick. Williams was coming off a season in which he didn’t play after trying to leave USC early and was overweight upon joining the Lions.
Williams caught 37 passes in two seasons with the Lions, including just eight in his sophomore campaign. In 2007, the Lions dealt Williams and Josh McCown to the Oakland Raiders for a fourth-round pick to try and salvage their mistake. Williams did nothing in Oakland for one season before moving on to the Seattle Seahawks after being out of the league for two seasons. Williams was actually productive for the Seahawks in 2010 with 65 receptions for 751 yards and two touchdowns, but it didn’t last as he reverted back to his old ways in 2011, his last season in the NFL.
21 Green Bay Packers: Jamal Reynolds
The only thing that makes Reynolds a worse pick as the no. 10 overall selection in the 2001 draft is how much the Packers gave up to get him. In order to move up to take Reynolds, the Packers traded Matt Hasselbeck and the no. 17 overall selection to the Seattle Seahawks. Hasselbeck turned into a starter that took the Seahawks to a Super Bowl and that no. 17 pick turned out to be Steve Hutchinson, a seven-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman.
As for Reynolds, he played in just 18 games for the Packers and never made a single start at defensive end. He only recorded three sacks in that time and Green Bay tried to trade him in 2004 to the Colts, but the deal was voided when Reynolds failed a physical.
20 Houston Texans: Bennie Joppru
The Texans took a chance on Joppru with the no. 41 overall pick in 2003 and took him before Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten. Not only did Joppru never come close to the player Witten was, he barely got on the field to try. His first season ended before it started with a groin injury and the same happened in his sophomore season.
In his third year with the team in 2005, Joppru suffered a torn ACL. He finally made it on the field in 2006, but the team released him just five weeks into the regular season. If you go to look up Joppru’s stats, you won’t see any. The tight end never recorded a single offensive stat during his short and injury-plagued career, which was over after a brief stint with the Seahawks.
19 Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Gonzalez
The Colts took a wide receiver in the first round of the 2007 draft (32nd overall) with the selection of Gonzalez, who played five seasons in Indy. After playing in 29 games over his first two seasons as a pretty productive player, Gonzalez was slowed mightily by injuries over the course of the next three and was never the same again.
He played in just 11 games in total from 2009 to 2011 and caught five passes for 67 yards. In all, Gonzalez corralled 99 passes for 1,307 yards for the Colts and was later released in 2012. Donald Brown comes in a close second as far as Colts draft busts are concerned, but he at least contributed to the Colts for five seasons despite not living up to his first-round draft status. While it’s close here, Gonzalez takes the cake.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars: R. Jay Soward
The Jaguars decided Soward was their man and took him with the 29th overall pick in the 2000 draft. Soward became widely disliked by his teammates rather quickly as he had to be picked up by a limo every day for practice. From there, it was all downhill for the troubled receiver.
It wasn’t long before Soward got himself into trouble. He received multiple suspensions from the league for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy and never filed for reinstatement after his last suspension. Soward caught just 14 balls for 154 yards and a touchdown in his only season in Jacksonville. While his NFL career was over, Soward went on to play in the Canadian Football League from 2004 to 2006 and won a Grey Cup for his efforts.
17 Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Sims
The defensive tackle was taken with the no. 6 overall selection by the Chiefs in 2002 and was taken before other talented tackles like Albert Haynesworth and John Henderson. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, taking Sims proved to be a huge mistake. He made 36 starts for KC in five seasons with the team and totaled five sacks in that span, with zero sacks in his last two seasons with the Chiefs.
Instead of being the star interior lineman the Chiefs were hoping for, Sims was below-average at his position, which is not what you’d expect from such a high pick. In 2007, the Chiefs traded Sims to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he spent the last four seasons of his career and played even worse than he did in Kansas City.
16 Los Angeles Rams: Jason Smith
Since the Rams just moved back to Los Angeles in 2016 and are playing there for the first time since 1994, we have to look back at the St. Louis version of the Rams’ drafts. Smith is the biggest bust to date, as the offensive tackle played like a backup after being drafted by the Rams with the no. 2 overall selection in 2009.
Smith played mostly right tackle in his first season (he was drafted as a left tackle) and had his rookie season cut short due to a concussion. The following season Smith was beaten out for the left tackle job by then-rookie Rodger Saffold, and his Rams career ended in 2012 when he was traded to the New York Jets after starting in 26 of his 29 games played for St. Louis. Smith played in 16 games (no starts) in his only season in New York and never played another snap in the NFL following the 2012 season.
15 Miami Dolphins: Jamar Fletcher
The Dolphins reached for Fletcher in the first round of the 2001 draft with the no. 26 overall selection, despite having two Pro Bowl corners in Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain already on the roster. What makes this pick even worse is the fact that the Dolphins passed on future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, who was taken six picks later by the San Diego Chargers and could have made Dolphins fans forget all about Dan Marino.
Fletcher started in six games for Miami over the course of his three seasons with the team. He recorded two interceptions and 48 tackles in a grand total of 41 games. Fletcher played another five seasons after leaving the Dolphins, spending time with the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals. He made six starts combined for those four teams.
14 Minnesota Vikings: Troy Williamson
After trading Randy Moss away, the Vikings needed to replace their superstar wideout and attempted to do so by taking Williamson with their first pick of the 2005 draft and seventh overall. The South Carolina product never amounted to the impact player the Vikings thought they were getting. Little did Minnesota know it could have had guys like Roddy White or Vincent Jackson, two receivers taken after Williamson who both had stellar careers.
Williamson played in 39 games for the Vikings in three seasons with the team. He caught 79 balls for 1,067 yards and was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars following his last season with the Vikings in 2007. After two more disappointing seasons with the Jags in which he played in just 10 games and caught eight passes, Williamson’s career in the NFL was finished.
13 New England Patriots: Chad Jackson
It isn’t often that the Patriots get it wrong, but the organization did so with Jackson, a wide receiver who was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft. Jackson had the potential to be a star in New England and the Patriots traded a second- and third-round pick to move up to take him after a great career for the Florida Gators.
Jackson averaged less than one catch per game in 14 games played for the Patriots, amassing only 152 yards and three touchdowns, all of which came in his rookie season. After spending the 2007 season mostly on the bench, Jackson moved on to play for the Broncos in 2008, recording just one catch. By the way, one of the picks the Patriots traded for Jackson turned out to be Greg Jennings, who turned in three seasons of 1,100 yards or more for Green Bay.
12 New Orleans Saints: Jonathan Sullivan
The Saints had to make a lot of things happen in order to take the defensive tackle with the sixth overall pick in the 2003 draft. After trading running back Ricky Williams to the Dolphins for a pair of first-rounders, the Saints squandered those picks by turning around and trading them to move up for Sullivan.
What the Saints got in return was a disaster. Sullivan spent three seasons with the Saints and had 1.5 sacks and 77 tackles, while only starting in 16 of the 36 games he played for the Saints. At the time the move was puzzling because the Saints needed to rebuild and two first-round picks were a great way to start. Instead, the Saints set the franchise back by going hard after Sullivan when it made absolutely no sense to do so.
11 New York Giants: Ron Dayne
The Giants didn’t have a need at running back in 2000 with Tiki Barber already on the roster, however, the team went ahead and drafted Dayne out of Wisconsin with the no. 11 overall pick. After a solid rookie season in which he racked up 770 rushing yards, Dayne became an afterthought in the Giants offense in the seasons that followed.
Not only did his numbers get worse in each of the next three seasons, Dayne also gained a ton of weight and was a shell of his former self that won a Heisman Trophy in college. After the Giants cut ties with Dayne following the 2004 season, he played with the Broncos in 2005 and with the Texans in 2006 and 2007. Dayne actually had his best season as a pro in Houston in 2007 when he compiled a career-high 885 yards from scrimmage. That wasn’t enough to convince Dayne to play on, as he retired following his best season in the NFL.
10 New York Jets: Vernon Gholston
The Jets have swung and missed a lot since 2000, but Gholston remains the biggest whiff. Gholston came out of Ohio State as a defensive monster and the talented pass-rusher broke the single-season record for sacks by a Buckeye player in 2007. In 2008, he was off to the NFL as the no. 6 pick of the Jets.
The elite pass-rusher Gholston was in college never came to fruition in the NFL. Not only could he not get to the quarterback on a regular basis, he couldn’t get to the quarterback at all. Gholston failed to record a single sack with the Jets in three seasons and 45 games played. Gang Green let Gholston go in 2011, officially cementing him as one of the biggest draft busts in team history. He never played another NFL snap.
9 Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell
The no. 1 overall selection in the 2007 draft is one of the biggest busts in NFL history, let alone one of the biggest in Raiders history. Russell was supposed to be a star upon entering the league and everyone and their mother had him at the top of draft boards. Russell was best remembered for his all-time great performance against Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.
We never saw that Russell in the NFL. A career debut marred by a rookie season holdout, weight problems and laziness began sinking Russell from the start. Once he did get on the field, Russell completed 52 percent of his passes to the tune of 4,083 yards and 18 touchdowns to 23 picks, with an astounding 25 fumbles (15 lost) in 31 career games. Russell played his last snap in the NFL in 2009 and has since attempted to make a comeback, however, he fell well short of being successful in that endeavor.
8 Philadelphia Eagles: Freddie Mitchell
The Eagles needed a shot in the arm on offense in 2001 and decided to take Freddie Mitchell with the 25th overall pick in the draft. Mitchell never became that offensive boost Philly needed and instead, he brought in just 90 passes for 1,263 yards and five touchdowns in four seasons with the Eagles.
To make matters worse for Mitchell, he admitted to the press that he didn’t know any of the Patriots corners names before playing against them in Super Bowl XXXIX. He tallied just one catch in that contest and, as they say, the rest is history. That ended up being Mitchell’s last game in the NFL. Want to feel worse about it, Eagles fans? Reggie Wayne was taken just five picks later in the same draft and might be on his way to Canton in the near future.
7 Pittsburgh Steelers: Limas Sweed
The reviews for Sweed coming out of college were good, so the Steelers took him in the second round of the 2008 draft. In 20 games played during two seasons in Pittsburgh, Sweed caught seven passes for 69 yards and never found pay dirt. After the 2009 season, Sweed admitted he was going through personal issues and it was affecting his play on the field.
In a statement, he promised to get back on track and make an impact for the 2010 season, which was the Steelers’ first without star wideout Santonio Holmes, who had moved on to play for the Jets. Not only did Sweed not fill Holmes’ shoes, he didn’t make the team altogether and never played in the NFL again. If nothing else, Sweed did land himself a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers, although it’s hard to say he actually earned it.
6 San Diego Chargers: Sammy Davis
No, not that Sammy Davis. This one was a cornerback for the Chargers who the team selected at the end of the first round in 2003 after trading down by dealing their no. 15 pick. Davis played in 44 games for San Diego over three seasons and totaled 124 combined tackles and three picks, with none of those picks coming in his final year with the team in 2005.
From there, Davis played for the 49ers and Buccaneers in his last two seasons and recorded zero interceptions in 27 games. Had the Chargers been a little smarter they could have had Troy Polamalu at no. 15 or even Nnamdi Asomugha at no. 30. Instead, they went with Davis and now have to live with passing over two good players for a guy who never amounted to anything.
5 San Francisco 49ers: Gio Carmazzi
There wasn’t a ton of great quarterbacks to choose from in the 2000 NFL Draft, however, the Niners took a chance on Carmazzi in the hopes he could lead them into a new era. That new era never even got off the ground, as Carmazzi never played a single NFL game after San Fran reached for the Hofstra product.
In fact, the quarterback taken by the Niners in the seventh round of the same draft, Tim Rattay, made 16 more starts than Carmazzi did in his Niners tenure. Sadly for the Niners, the organization passed on some guy named Tom Brady, who was taken by the Patriots in the sixth round. Just imagine how different things would have turned out if the Niners had used that third-round pick on a useful player and landed Brady in the later rounds.
4 Seattle Seahawks: Aaron Curry
Upon taking Curry with the no. 4 overall pick in the 2009 draft, the Seahawks gave him the largest rookie contract in NFL history for any position player other than a quarterback. The linebacker racked up $34 million guaranteed, but the expensive investment never paid dividends. Curry played just two full seasons with the Seahawks, recording 5.5 sacks. For a guy who was looked at as a franchise-changing player on defense, that was well below expectations.
Five games into the 2011 season, Curry was on his way out the door in Seattle. The Seahawks traded him to the Oakland Raiders where he was even worse, totaling zero sacks in parts of two seasons with the team. He played in two games for the Raiders in 2012 and never saw the field again.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gaines Adams
Selected by the Bucs with the fourth pick of the 2007 draft, Gaines Adams was supposed to be a franchise-changing pass-rusher at defensive end. His first season made the pick look great, as Adams had six sacks and looked primed for a great career. In his next two seasons and 21 games overall, Adams recorded another 7.5 sacks, including just one in five games in his final season with the Bucs in 2009.
After his slow five-game start in 2009, Adams was dealt to the Bears and took part in 10 games before his NFL career ended following the season. In what is nothing short of tragic, Adams passed away at the age of 26 due to cardiac arrest. Adams had an enlarged heart that wasn’t caught by doctors, leading to his untimely death.
2 Tennessee Titans: Chris Henry
A second-round pick of the Titans in 2007, Tennessee bought into the hype surrounding Henry going into draft day. Henry’s time with the franchise was brief in terms of actual games played. Yes, he did survive three seasons with the Titans, but he totaled just 122 yards on the ground and two touchdowns in 10 games played. Almost all of those yards and both of his touchdowns came in his rookie campaign, though.
In his last two seasons in Tennessee, Henry had one carry for three yards in three games played and was off the team after the 2009 season. He joined the Seahawks in 2010, however, he played in one game and failed to get a carry. Once he struck out in Seattle, Henry’s playing days were over and he has since become a bad memory for Titans fans.
1 Washington Redskins: Devin Thomas
Another product of hype leading up to the draft, Thomas was taken by the Redskins with the no. 34 overall pick. He looked like a solid receiver physically with his big frame, but the Redskins quickly found out he couldn’t run routes or actually catch the ball. He played two full seasons in Washington before being released during the 2010 campaign. On a bright note for the failed wideout, he did get himself a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Giants.
Over his two-plus seasons with the Redskins, Thomas caught 40 passes for 445 yards and three touchdowns. He only had three receptions the rest of his career despite stints with the Panthers and the aforementioned Giants, and Thomas’ disappointing career finally ended after the 2011 season.
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