Everybody just wants a do-over sometimes; you, me, Hillary Clinton this year, and of course every NFL general manager who ever picked a bust with their high draft picks, which is all of them. There are many factors that go into a bust being bad, worse, or just plain terrible. The obvious one is just how poorly your selected player performs, and how long, or short their stay is with your team, and in the league. Another more painful side effect of selecting a player who becomes a bust is watching a different player, who you could have had instead, develop into a legitimate star. You also must take into account the value of the draft pick (or sometimes picks) you used to acquire the bust. Unfortunately drafting busts is a part of the natural order of the NFL, sometimes it is unfortunate injuries, sometimes it is poor performance, sometimes it is breaking the law or drug problems that cause players to stumble out of the league, and sometimes it is all of the above. Then again, a lot of times it is just because you drafted a quarterback. The question is though, what if you could have a do-over. Here is the pick each team could have made instead of making that one huge mistake, and how it could have turned their fortunes around instead of haunting the team for many years to come.
32 Arizona Cardinals: Rod Woodson
Biggest Bust: Kelly Stouffer
As we will see through the course of this treatise, quarterbacks are the most common form of busts. It is because everyone is always desperate for a good one, or at least a better one than the guy they have. Yet at the same time there are never really more than 10-15 players in the world who are qualified to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. As a result, half the league usually has someone who isn’t good enough to play, and most drafts are filled with even more unqualified quarterbacks. One of the biggest busts for the then St. Louis Cardinals, was the sixth overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft, when they selected Kelly Stouffer out of Colorado State. Stouffer never played a down for the Cardinals as he refused to agree to contract and held out for his entire rookie season. The Cardinals ended up trading him away to the Seahawks where he played for a few years, throwing for just 2300 yards with a 54 QB rating. If the Cardinals absolutely needed a QB they could have had Jim Harbaugh who had a decent career, but they really should have grabbed Rod Woodson who was chosen four picks later and ended up in the Hall of Fame.
31 Atlanta Falcons: Neil Smith
Biggest Bust: Aundrey Bruce
Despite having the number one pick in the 1988 NFL Draft in which five Hall of Famers and 21 other Pro-Bowlers were selected in the first two rounds, the Atlanta Falcons selected All-American Aundray Bruce out of Auburn. Bruce had six sacks and two interceptions his rookie year but never improved and ended up starting only two games for the Falcons while finishing with 16 sacks over four seasons. Having just drafted a QB the previous year in Chris Miller, the Falcons could have given him some help by taking lineman Paul Gruber who went number four, or Hall of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown who went number six. But since they were going for defense, their best bet would have been to just take Neil Smith, a six time Pro-Bowler with 104.5 career sacks in his decade long career, who went to the Chiefs with the very next pick.
30 Baltimore Ravens: Rex Grossman
Biggest Bust: Kyle Boller
The Ravens have been pretty solid at drafting over the years. Their two biggest busts were both on occasions where they had two first round picks. In 2003 they selected Kyle Boller but they had already grabbed Terrell Suggs a few picks earlier. In 2000 they chose Travis Taylor but five picks earlier had claimed Jamal Lewis, so neither bust ruined their first round that year. Of the two, Kyle Boller was probably a bigger bust when you take into account who they could have had. After Boller, there were 12 Pro-Bowlers that the Ravens could have had, but if they were hell bent on a quarterback they could have had Rex Grossman who was selected three picks later. Now Grossman was never that great himself, but he was good enough to help get a great defense to the Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears. As the great Ravens defenses of the 2000s showed, all they needed was serviceable QB play for a chance to go all the way and they could have gotten that with Grossman instead of Boller.
29 Buffalo Bills: Bryant McKinnie
Biggest Bust: Mike Williams
They certainly had the right idea when the Buffalo Bills drafted offensive tackle Mike Williams with the number four overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. They had just acquired Drew Bledsoe from the Patriots and looking to protect him was a smart choice. Unfortunately who they chose to protect him was the wrong choice. As an All-American for the Texas Longhorns he played right tackle but was protecting a left-handed QB so the Bills figured he could be a left tackle protecting a right handed QB. There was a true left tackle in the draft who was just as highly regarded as Williams who the Bills could have, and in hindsight, should have taken. That was Bryant McKinnie from the Miami Hurricanes. Ultimately Williams lasted 59 unimpressive games over his six years career while McKinnie played in 179 games in over a decade long career.
28 Carolina Panthers: Trevor Pryce
Biggest Bust: Rae Carruth
After a great career at the University of Colorado, where he was an All-American wide receiver in 1996, Rae Carruth was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft. Things looked promising for Carruth as he had a decent rookie season. An injury in the first game derailed his second season, but that was not ultimately what led to him being such a disappointing draft pick. During his third season, Carruth was involved in a shooting of woman he had been dating. When she died, Carruth tried to escape the law, and was found hiding in the trunk of a car in Tennessee. He was ultimately charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Needless to say anyone else would have been a better choice. If they could re-pick, their best bet would be the player who came right after Carruth, Trevor Pryce, who played fourteen seasons and made four Pro-Bowls as a defensive tackle with the Ravens.
27 Chicago Bears: Troy Polamalu
Biggest Bust: Michael Haynes
The Chicago Bears had two selections in the 2003 NFL Draft. With their second selection the grabbed Rex Grossman who turned out to be a decent starter and even went to Super Bowl XLI with the Bears in 2007. The player they took first in 2003 was Michael Haynes. Haynes was a defensive end out of Penn State who had a few great years with the Nittany Lions which included being named the Big 10 Defensive player of the Year in 2002. Once in Chicago, Haynes only had 5.5 sacks over his three seasons with the team. The obvious re-draft for the Bears in 2003 would have been to stick with defense and grab the guy who went two spots later to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Troy Polamalu.
26 Cincinnati Bengals: Daunte Culpepper
Biggest Bust: Akili Smith
Besides being a relatively standard flop as a quarterback which included holding out to start the season, playing just 22 games over four seasons, and throwing only five touchdowns with 13 interceptions during his career, Akili Smith was also a bust because of what the Bengals could have had. The New Orleans Saints had their eyes on the number three pick that year and at one point there was an offer that included NINE draft picks in the 1999 and 2000 drafts. The Saints did not even want Smith either; they were looking to draft Ricky Williams who they ended up getting anyway. If the Bengals could have a do-over they would have taken the trade, grabbed Daunte Culpepper at number five, and would have probably had the Saints top five draft pick the following year with which they could have grabbed LaVar Arrington, Brian Urlacher, or Jamal Lewis.
25 Cleveland Browns: Donovan McNabb
Biggest Bust: Tim Couch
Ahh the Cleveland Browns. They have taken drafting busts and made it into an art form in the past few decades. Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden, Brady Quinn, and Tim Couch are just the quarterbacks. There is also Trent Richardson, Barkevious Mingo, William Green, and Justin Gilbert. Based on the years and years of failed draft picks the Browns definitely make people wonder if it is the player, or the team they are selected by, that determines if someone becomes a bust or not. Could it be that no matter who the Browns drafted through the years, any alternate choice would have ended up with the exact same results? Or could one do-over positively affect the entire history of Browns? What if making the right choice in the very first pick of the new Browns era that began in 1999 changed everything? What if instead of Tim Couch the Browns selected Donovon McNabb who went number two that year. That probably would have helped them avoid the first pick the following year which would have forced them to take LaVar Arrington in 2000 instead of Courtney Brown. Perhaps that slightly better outlook could have convinced Bill Belichick to return to Cleveland rather than take over in New England. From there they could have had a few more wins in 2001 earning them the fifth pick and LaDanian Tomlinson. Before you know it they would have been attracting big name free agents and finding late first round gems like Ed Reed in 2002, Charles Tillman in 2003, Vince Wilfork in 2004 and even traded McNabb to move up and draft Aaron Rodgers in 2005. They could have been a dynasty like the NFL has never seen. Or... that might have just sent Couch to the Eagles and eventually to the Hall of Fame while turning McNabb into one of the biggest busts ever.
24 Dallas Cowboys: DeMeco Ryans
Biggest Bust: Bobby Carpenter
After a solid career at Ohio State, which included two years with second team All-Big 10 honors, Bobby Carpenter was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys with the 18th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. His career with the Cowboys lasted four years but he never really made a mark and was traded to the St. Louis Rams in 2010 before playing a few games with the Dolphins that season. There were ten Pro-Bowlers selected within the next 20 picks of the 2006 draft so the Cowboys had a pretty good chance of getting someone better without even trying that hard. If they really wanted a linebacker like Carpenter however, they could have chosen linebacker DeMeco Ryans who was selected with the 33rd overall pick and subsequently was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 and has made two Pro-Bowls in his career so far.
23 Denver Broncos: Chris Spielman
Biggest Bust: Ted Gregory
When you are officially listed as the same height as the coach but in reality you are shorter than the coach, then when the time comes to actually meet the coach, things might just get awkward. That is what happened when the Denver Broncos drafted Ted Gregory with the 26th overall pick in the 1988 NFL Draft out of Syracuse. It seems crazy in this day and age of combines, pro days, and precise measurements of everything from hand size to three-cone drill times that a team would not meet it top prospects before choosing him. But for the Broncos the first time they met him is the moment coach Dan Reeves realized they had not quite gotten what they thought they were getting. Now a couple inches of height is probably not what doomed him. Taking a guy who was already injured however, was their bigger problem, especially when he was re-injured in training camp. Ultimately Gregory never played for the Broncos but spent a year in New Orleans before knee problems ended his career for good. A better choice for the Broncos defense that year would have been Chris Spielman who was taken three pick later and ended up in four Pro-Bowls
22 Detroit Lions: Andre Johnson
Biggest Bust: Charles Rodgers
In one of the cleanest and clearest cases of ‘you should have taken the other guy,” the Detroit Lions drafted Charles Rodgers with the number two pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. The Houston Texans used the very next pick, the number three overall, to also draft a wide receiver. To say the Lions took the wrong one is an understatement. Rodgers is considered a pretty clear bust simply based on his performance, but also with the help of injuries, work ethic, and some drug suspensions for good measure. After being named a consensus All-American and winning the Belitnikoff Award as the best wide receiver in college football, Rodgers looked like a pretty sure bet. But his three seasons and 15 games with only 26 receptions and 440 yards pretty emphatically refuted that. Meanwhile the very next player who they SHOULD have taken, played for 14 seasons, had over 1000 receptions for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns, and was in seven Pro-Bowls for good measure. That player was Andre Johnson. The poor choice also denied the world an endless supply of Johnson & Johnson references once the Lions drafted Calvin four years later.
21 Green Bay Packers: Derrick Thomas
Biggest Bust: Tony Mandarich
The biggest draft bust in Green Bay Packers history is also one of the most famous busts in NFL history. That is when the Packers selected Tony Mandarich with the second overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. Based on his huge size, his unbelievable speed and quickness, and his extraordinary strength, Mandarich was thought to be the best tackle prospect ever. It seemed an easy choice to take the Michigan State star and have an anchor on the offensive line for the next decade. It turns out he was mostly just a steroid case and once he hit the pros he did not live up the hype. So who should they have chosen? The next two picks were Hall of Famers, Barry Sanders and Derrick Thomas. Although the Packers suffered a few down years over the next couple seasons, once they found Brett Favre in 1992 they became permanent contenders. They did eventually end up with a great running back in Edgar Bennett, so choosing Derrick Thomas would have been the best outcome. With Brett Favre running the offense and Derrick Thomas (and later Reggie White) on defense, who knows how many more Super Bowls the Packers could have won.
20 Houston Texans: Aaron Rodgers
Biggest Bust: Travis Johnson
Looking at their situation this year, the Houston Texans could be a favorite for the Super Bowl if they had a chance to change just one draft pick from early in their history. In the 2005 NFL Draft, the Texans selected Travis Johnson with the 16th overall pick. Travis was star defensive end at Florida State but only managed two sacks in four seasons in Houston. At the time the Texans had David Carr who was coming off his best, but final good year, at quarterback. Unfortunately, the Texans had a chance to choose a different quarterback to develop behind Carr, or be there in case he was injured or, as happened, his performance began to falter. That QB was of course Aaron Rodgers who went eight pick later. You can only imagine what the current Texans defense with the league’s best defensive player, JJ Watt, and the league’s best quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, could have done in the league in the past few years if they had that pick to do over.
19 Indianapolis Colts: Troy Vincent
Biggest Bust: Steve Emtman
In the annals of draft busts no team had ever had the first AND second overall picks in the NFL Draft and somehow came away with as little as the Indianapolis Colts did in 1992. With their first overall pick they selected Washington’s Steve Emtman, a unanimous All-American and winner of the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award in 1991, who lead the Huskies to an undefeated National Championship season. With the second pick the Colts grabbed another All-American linebacker, Quentin Coryatt out of Texas A&M. What looked like a potentially fearsome defense for the next decade barely made it on the field. The bigger bust was probably Emtman who played only 18 games in three seasons with the Colts compared to Coryatt’s six years with the team. If they are only allowed to re-draft one of the picks, the Colts could have stuck with defense and gone with Troy Vincent (#23) who went the five Pro-Bowls as an Eagle.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars: J.J. Watt
Biggest Bust: Blaine Gabbert
One of the clearest instances of taking the wrong guy when the right guy was next happened when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Missouri in the 2012 NFL Draft with the 10th overall pick. Gabbert lasted for three seasons in Jacksonville, and played 28 games, passing for a little over 4300 yards with 22 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. The very next selection however was the player who is considered by many to be the best defensive player in the NFL at the moment, J.J. Watt. Besides being an obvious bust for the Jaguars performance-wise, the pick was extra painful because of what they missed out on. While the Jaguars were selecting another quarterback just three years later, Watt had already won an NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award and was about to win two more.
17 Kansas City Chiefs: Dan Marino
Biggest Bust: Todd Blackledge
Although he is a great color man on college football broadcasts nowadays, and he was a great college quarterback at Penn State, Todd Blackledge was not the best draft choice for the Kansas City Chiefs. After a great career at Penn State where he lead the Nittany Lions to the National Championship in 1982 he was selected in one of the great all time quarterback drafts in 1983 with the seventh overall pick by the Chiefs. He did not do much during his career, passing for a total of 5200 yards over six seasons. The main reason this was such a bust for the Chiefs had more to do with the fact that they did not draft TWO Hall of Fame QBs who were selected later in the first round, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Even Blackledge was surprised he went before Marino who ended up falling to the bottom of the first round. With Kelly heading to the USFL to avoid playing in Buffalo, Marino would probably had been the better choice for the Chiefs.
16 Los Angeles Rams: Marvin Harrison
Biggest Bust: Lawrence Phillips
Character issues are always a thing front office types worry about. Usually it ends up that the guy smoked a bit of weed or acted like an immature college kid from time to time. On other occasions it turns out to be based on legitimate problems that the player never overcomes. It is extra disappointing when the player is able to perform but still cannot get past them. Lawrence Phillips was a star running back at Nebraska who helped them win two National Championships but was also arrested a number of times for assault. The Los Angeles Rams drafted him with the sixth pick in the 1996 NFL Draft anyway. His stats clearly showed that he was a bust because of his character issues. In two years with the Rams he rushed for 1200 yards, 12 touchdowns, and spent 23 days in jail. He was out of the league soon after and in jail for good in 2008. The Rams did not even need a running back in 1996 as they had Jerome Bettis already. Perhaps their best bet would have been to grab Hall Of Famer Marvin Harrison who was taken 13 picks later by the Colts.
15 Miami Dolphins: Tarik Glenn
Biggest Bust: Yatil Green
Although it was not due to his performance, sometimes a player ends up a bust because his body just cannot stay healthy. That was what happened with Yatil Green, who been the leading receiver for the Miami Hurricanes in 1996. He was selected by the Dolphins with the 15th overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft and proceeded to tear his ACL and injure his quadriceps muscle on the first day of training camp. When he returned the following year he tore the same ACL again in training camp. Eventually he finished his career with the Dolphins with 18 receptions, 234 receiving yards and unfortunately, 10 knee surgeries and never really had a chance. The Dolphins could have used some help on the offensive line so if they had a chance, grabbing three time Pro-Bowler Tarik Glenn would have been a much better choice instead.
14 Minnesota Vikings: Derrick Brooks
Biggest Bust: Derrick Alexander
Although not seen as one of the VERY worst busts in Minnesota Vikings history, Derrick Alexander is certainly considered a disappointment. Although most people wonder why they did not just take Warren Sapp who was chosen with the very next pick after him, one could also make the case that in choosing Alexander, the Vikings made a simple mistake in grabbing the wrong defensive player named Derrick from Florida State. Alexander had been a star for the Seminoles, being named to most of the All-American teams in his sophomore and junior years and helping Florida State to the national title. Florida State’s other Derrick was Derrick Brooks. He was a two time consensus All-American and also a key part of their National Championship. Based on their NFL careers, six years and 20 sacks for Alexander versus 11 Pro-Bowls, 25 interceptions, 24 forced fumbles, 1715 tackles and seven defensive touchdowns, you cannot help but wonder, did the Vikings really mean to grab Derrick Brooks instead of Derrick Alexander and just make a mistake? Okay, probably not.. but should they have taken Brooks instead of Alexander? Yes, definitely.
13 New England Patriots: Dan Marino
Biggest Bust: Tony Eason
When you draft a quarterback who takes you to the Super Bowl it is usually a choice you are comfortable with and do not really want to re-do it. But when two quarterbacks who were chosen after your guy end up as Pro-Bowlers you might start to reconsider. And when the team you lost to in the Super Bowl had only one loss that season, and it was to the Hall of Fame QB you had passed on in favor of your guy who had no completions in the Super Bowl, then you know for sure you made the wrong choice. Tony Eason was chosen with the 15th overall pick in the legendary 1983 QB draft by the New England Patriots, but they could have had Ken O’Brien who had a pretty decent career with the Jets, or Dan Marino who dropped 12 more spots to the Dolphins and became one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
12 New Orleans Saints: Kellen Winslow
Biggest Bust: Russell Erxleben
I do not care how good he is, or how bad you need him, you do not select a kicker with your first round pick in the draft, especially if it is a top 15 pick. For some reason however, the New Orleans Saints decide to select one with their 11th overall pick in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft. Russell Erxleben was a three time All-American kicker at Texas so he was good, but seriously, he was a kicker and this was the 11th overall pick! The bigger problem with Erxleben is that he was an actual bust too. He had a botched snap that he recovered and threw a pick six with in his rookie season, he missed time with injuries, and he also missed a game winning kick to open his second season. He was eventually replaced by seven time Pro-Bowler Morten Anderson who is the NFL’s all-time leading scorer but who was still not selected until the fourth round. If the Saints did have a re-do they could have chosen almost anyone, including Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow who was chosen two picks later.
11 New York Giants: Mel Renfro
Biggest Bust: Joe Don Looney
Joe Don Looney’s college career started at the University of Texas where he dropped out after receiving four Fs and one D during his first semester. He then went to TCU which kicked him out themselves soon after. He spent a year at Cameron Junior College which won the Junior College National Championship. He finally ended up at the University of Oklahoma where he became an All-American in 1962 but was kicked off the team the following year for punching and assistant coach. Despite all of this, in the 1964 NFL Draft the New York Giants selected Joe Don Looney with the 12th overall pick in the first round. He never played however as he was traded to the Baltimore Colts after 23 days. If they had a re-do the Giants could have drafted Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Renfro instead, who went five picks later to the Dallas Cowboys.
10 New York Jets: Calais Campbell
Biggest Bust: Vernon Gholston
After a stellar career at THE Ohio State University where he was first team All-Big 10 in 2007 and finished his career with 30.5 tackles for loss and 25.5 sacks, Vernon Gholston was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. The Jets expected him to be a top pass rusher for them at defensive end but he ended up not playing much his rookie year and not being very productive the following two years. Ultimately he ended up with zero sacks during his three year career. There was another defensive lineman who they could have grabbed instead of Gholston who has had 56.5 sacks and counting over the course of his career. Calais Campbell was selected over 40 spots later.
9 Oakland Raiders: Joe Thomas
Biggest Bust: JaMarcus Russell
Despite Raiders coach Lane Kiffen (yes, that Lane Kiffen) not wanting to draft JaMarcus Russell, Al Davis decided that they were going to go ahead and grab the LSU star with the number one pick of the 2007 NFL Draft. Turns out Lane Kiffen, (yes, that Lane Kiffen) was actually right about something. Russell hit all the standard bust benchmarks; he held out for the beginning of the season in a contract dispute, he arrived each year out of shape and overweight, and he performed poorly enough that he drifted down the depth chart over his career until he was simply waived by the Raiders in 2010. The other half of the equation was who the Raiders could have had. In the 13 picks following Russell, there were five players chosen who will probably end up in the Hall of Fame including Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Darelle Revis. There were 12 other eventual Pro-Bowl players chosen in addition to those. The Raiders could have had a monkey make the pick and they would have probably done better, or even Lane Kiffen. If they did have a chance at a do-over and saw how the offensive line helped this year’s Raiders team, perhaps they would have looked that way and drafted Joe Thomas who has made the Pro-Bowl all ten years he has been in the league so far.
8 Philadelphia Eagles: Nnamdi Asomugha
Biggest Bust: Jerome McDougle
Jerome McDougle was first team All-Big East while playing for the undefeated Miami Hurricanes team that won the 2001 National Championship. He was subsequently selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 15th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. The Eagles actually traded up in the draft to grab McDougle, giving up their 30th overall pick and the 62nd overall pick. In his four seasons with the Eagles McDougle finished with just three sacks while missing half of his rookie year and all of his third year with injuries. If the Eagles would have just kept their original 30th pick they could have acquired Nnamdi Asomugha who was chosen with the very next pick and had him for his great first eight seasons instead of for two of his disappointing final seasons. They also could have grabbed Lance Briggs with the 62nd pick, six picks earlier than he ended up being selected.
7 Pittsburgh Steelers: Ted Washington
Biggest Bust: Huey Richardson
When their plan A, plan B, and plan C draft choices were all selected right before their 15th overall pick in the 1991 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers did not have a plan D. With little time to figure out who else they wanted to grab in the first round and not a lot of other options, they went for Huey Richardson out of the University of Florida. Richardson had been a first team All-American in 1990 and had finished his four year career with the Gators totaling 26.5 sacks and 50.5 tackles for loss so he seemed like a decent last minute decision. Unfortunately Richardson did not really fit the Steelers defensive scheme and consequently did not really perform, so he was traded in his second year to the Redskins. If they had prepared a little better and had a plan D, they could have found four time Pro-Bowler Ted Washington who went 10 picks later.
6 San Diego Chargers: Charles Woodson
Biggest Bust: Ryan Leaf
In the annals of all-time most disappointing draft picks, Ryan Leaf is on the proverbial Mount Rushmore of NFL busts. His is the name uttered in hushed tones among anxious general managers and front office types when they have an opportunity to select a highly touted quarterback who made a splash in college and is supposed to be a sure thing. After a great career at Washington St. where he took the Cougars to their first Rose Bowl in over 65 years and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, Leaf was selected with the second overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers after Peyton Manning. The fact that Leaf ended up throwing only two touchdowns and 15 interceptions his rookie year and only played one additional year with the team and three years total in the NFL established Leaf as a huge bust. But the Chargers had the third overall pick that year, and were so desperate for a QB that they gave up Pro-Bowl running back Eric Metcalf, a future first round pick, and their third round pick just to moved up ONE spot to select him, Not only could they have had Charles Woodson if they did not trade their pick, but they could have also had Daunte Culpepper the following year. The Chargers should have just followed the decision of the Heisman voters and selected Charles Woodson. That would have saved them a lot of agony, a lot of ridicule, and most importantly a lot of draft picks.
5 San Francisco 49ers: Aaron Rodgers
Biggest Bust: Alex Smith
The most obvious re-do for the San Francisco 49ers would be the simple decision they made in selecting the first quarterback with the number one overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Everyone knows the story. The 49ers took Alex Smith out of Utah while Aaron Rodgers dropped down the draft board until he fell into the lap of the Green Bay Packers. Smith was not even really a bust however, playing seven seasons with the 49ers including a 13-3 2011 season where he led the team to the NFC Championship Game where they lost in OT. But even though Smith was a decent starter for his time in San Francisco, and he has proven to be an even more dependable player in Kansas City, you still cannot deny that the 49ers should have chosen the other QB in the 2005 Draft, the local boy who played at Cal. But instead they passed on Rodgers and his probably Hall of Fame career and potentially another 49ers dynasty.
4 Seattle Seahawks: Brett Favre
Biggest Bust: Todd McGwire
Four quarterbacks went in the first two rounds of the 1991 NFL Draft. Three of them combined to throw for a total of over 4000 yards and 18 touchdowns in their entire careers, in total. The third threw for over 4000 yards six times and threw 18 or more touchdowns in all but his very first and very last season. The third QB was Brett Favre. The other two were Browning Nagle, Todd Marinovich, and the Seattle Seahawks first round selection who was chosen with the 16th overall pick in the draft, Todd McGwire. McGwire spent four years in Seattle but never played more than seven games and only threw for a total of 745 yards. He had two touchdowns and six interceptions with the Seahawks. Every team that had a chance regrets not choosing Brett Favre, but the Seahawks were one of the few teams that did draft an early round QB that year and decided to go with someone else anyway.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Michael Strahan
Biggest Bust: Eric Curry
The highest drafted defensive end in the 1993 NFL Draft was Eric Curry. After a great career at the University of Alabama where he was a consensus All-American and helped Alabama win the National Championship in 1992 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him with the sixth overall pick. Once in the NFL Curry looked like he might develop into something when he had a decent rookie year with five sacks in 10 games. His sack total went down each ensuing year through his five seasons, until 1997 when he had zero sacks. He then left the Bucs and ended up in Jacksonville for two years before retiring. The sixth defensive end who was selected in 1993 would have been a much better choice. Michael Strahan was selected with the 40th overall pick in the second round and ended his Hall of Fame career with 129 MORE sacks, two more Defensive Player of the Year awards, and one more Super Bowl win than DE that the Buccaneers selected.
2 Tennessee Titans: Antrel Rolle
Biggest Bust: Adam Jones
Although he had a solid rookie year especially as a returner, and a breakout second year as a defensive back, Adam “Pac-Man” Jones’ off the field dramatics convinced the Titans to dump him after just two years. That was probably their one smart move as he proceeded to miss two out of the next three years with a suspension and other off the field problems. Even though Jones was pretty good football-wise and is still a starter for the Bengals, he may not have even been the best cornerback that the Titans could have had anyway. The Titans had selected Jones with the sixth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft but two other Pro-Bowl corners Antrel Rolle & Carlos Rogers were chosen just after Jones with the eighth and ninth overall picks. The Titans should probably have gone with three time Pro-Bowler Antrel Rolle and avoided the drama.
1 Washington Redskins: Willie McGinest
Biggest Bust: Heath Shuler
Our last bust is of course yet another quarterback. In the 1994 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected Heath Shuler with the third overall pick in the draft. Shuler had played college football at the University of Tennessee where he set most of the school’s all time passing records. They did not actually last very long considering he was replaced by Peyton Manning the following year. Shuler’s time in Washington started with a contract holdout but he was still believed to be the QB of the future. His first year he started eight games, seven of which the Redskins lost as he passed for 1658 yards with ten touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Shuler played worse and played less his second year, and was benched by his third. If Washington had looked beyond a QB for their first round pick they could have gotten Willie McGinest who played in two Pro-Bowls and won three Super Bowls who went to the Patriots with the very next pick.
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