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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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