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25 Recent NFL Busts: Who Should Teams Have Drafted Instead?

The 2018 NFL entry draft had the highest ratings of any draft day in history with an average of 5.5 million viewers. The NFL draft provides hope to all fans that this will be the season their team drafts the next Peyton Manning and not the next Ryan Leaf. Fans are also scouting out potential picks for the upcoming fantasy season. As for the players and their families, this might be the best day of their lives and also might be the highlight of their careers.

When a team has a first-round pick on draft day, they hope they draft the right player, develop them properly and have them become the face of the franchise for the next decade. Unfortunately, it happens more often that the player will never meet the potential seen in college and will be labeled an NFL draft bust. Making the transition from College to the NFL and facing the media everyday could be very demanding for a young athlete.

We have complied a list of the 25 most recent draft bust and who should have been drafted instead. Our list takes into consideration athletes who couldn’t handle the pressure of being a professional athlete, had multiple injuries during their career, experienced substance abuse issues or were poorly developed by the team that drafted them. Regardless of the situation, these players could not cut it in the NFL and we will tell you who they should have drafted.

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25 Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III - Should have drafted Doug Martin 

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2012 off-season the Washington Redskins gave up three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams to secure the second overall pick which was used to select the former Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. Griffin started his career with a terrific rookie season throwing for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. However, less than two seasons later, Griffin was replaced by Kirk Cousins who was drafted in the 4th round of the same draft year. The Redskins should have drafted Doug Martin as they had five different RB starters during the 2011 season. The combination of Cousins and Martin could have led to years of success for the franchise.

24 Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson - Should have drafted Harrison Smith

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The Cleveland Browns had the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL entry draft. With the first two picks the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins took Quarterbacks leaving the Browns the top RB in the draft, Trent Richardson. Richardson was coming off his junior year at Alabama where he recorded 1,679 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. It appeared to be an obvious pick but in hindsight the Browns should have pick Pro-Bowl Safety Harrison Smith. Following the 2011 season Safety Mike Adams left to free agency opening up a need in the secondary but the Browns elected to sign undrafted rookie Tashaun Gipson instead. Smith would have been the best choice as he has become one of the best Safety’s in the NFL.

23 Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon - Should have drafted Alshon Jeffery

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 NFL entry draft delivered one of the worst Wide Receiver draft classes of all-time. Four WR’s were drafted in the first round that year and only one is currently signed on an NFL roster. The biggest disappointment of the draft class was Justin Blackmon taken 5th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Blackmon had two great seasons at Oklahoma State collecting more than 100 receptions and at least 18 TDs in each season. Just into his second NFL season, Blackmon was suspended and has not played a game since. The Jaguars should have drafted Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl Champion WR Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery would have been the offensive weapon the Jaguars have been searching for, for years.

22 Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claiborne - Should have drafted Stephon Gilmore

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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During the 2011 NFL season the Dallas Cowboys were 7-4 going into Week 13 but finished the season 1-4 losing to the eventual Division Champion and Super Bowl Champion New York Giants twice in the final 5 weeks. The Cowboys needed to upgrade their secondary and used the 6th pick to get the Cornerback they wanted. They had a choice of three first round caliber CB’s and decided to take Morris Claiborne. Claiborne had a disappointing five seasons with the Cowboys totaling a combined 151 tackles and 4 interceptions. The Cowboys should have drafted Pro-Bowler Stephon Gilmore, in the same five years Gilmore has compiled 244 tackles and 16 interceptions. These are the numbers that should be produced by a top 10 draft pick.

21 Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden - Should have drafted Russell Wilson 

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns have been cursed when drafting Quarterbacks since their re-entry into the league in 1999. Notable names like Tim Couch and Brady Quinn are mentioned when talking about the Browns first-round QB fails. The 2012 NFL entry draft saw the Cleveland Browns add another name to that list when they drafted Brandon Weeden with the 22nd pick. When the 4th round of the draft was finished in 2012, a total of eight QB’s where selected, five have been named to a Pro-Bowl, three have Super Bowl Championships and all except Weeden are still on an NFL roster going into the 2018 season. The Browns should have drafted Russell Wilson which could have led to the turnaround of the franchise.

20 Miami Dolphins: Dion Jordan - Should have drafted Ezekiel Ansah

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
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Following the 2012 season the Miami Dolphins had the opportunity to add an elite young athlete to their roster with the 2013 third overall pick. The Dolphins offense was young and ready to become a force in the NFL, whereas their defense need to add youth when they released veterans Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby. With the 3rd pick the Dolphins selected All-American Dion Jordan, the first of three Defensive Ends taken in the top six. Jordan played in just two seasons with the Dolphins registering 39 tackles and 3 sacks before being suspended. Jordan was eventually released by the team prior to the 2017 season. They should have drafted Ezekiel Ansah who was taken two picks after Jordan. Ansah has played five seasons with the Lions totaling 207 tackles and 44 sacks. This is the type of production the Dolphins needed.

19 Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo - Should have drafted Jamie Collins

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2013 NFL entry draft the Cleveland Browns were picking in the top 10 for the ninth time in 15 years. The Browns selected Barkevious Mingo, the Linebacker from LSU and saw decent production in the rookies first season recording 42 tackles and 5 sacks. Two seasons later Mingo’s production plummeted to just 18 tackles and zero sacks. Prior to the start of the 2016 season the Browns traded the Linebacker to the New England Patriots in exchange for a fifth rounder. The Browns should have selected Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl Champion Jamie Collins. Ironically Collins was traded from New England to Cleveland during the 2016 season for a third round pick.

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18 New York Jets: Dee Milliner - Should have drafted Xavier Rhodes

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
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During the 2012 NFL season the New York Jets had a respectable secondary finishing second in the league in passing yardage allowed and tenth in passing TDs allowed. The Jets already had Cornerback Antonio Cromartie on their roster and used the ninth pick in the 2013 NFL draft to select CB Dee Milliner. Milliner had a great rookie season with 56 tackles with 15 passes defended, and 3 interceptions in just 13 games. During the 2014 season Milliner suffered a torn Achilles in Week 6 shutting him down for the season. He has only played in 2 games since the injury, missing most of the 2016 season and all of the 2017 season before he was finally released. The Jets should have drafted two-time Pro-Bowler Xavier Rhodes which would have provided the Jets with the best secondary in the league at the time.

17 Buffalo Bills: E.J. Manuel - Should have drafted DeAndre Hopkins

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the 2012 NFL season the Buffalo Bills decided that Ryan Fitzpatrick was not going to be their QB for the following season and they needed to search for their future franchise Quarterback. Fitzpatrick led the league in interceptions during the 2011 season but had a better 2012 with 16 interceptions, it was not enough to keep his job with the Bills. The Bills had the 16th pick selecting QB E.J. Manuel and immediately named him the starter for the upcoming season. Manuel started in just 10 games his rookie season only throwing for 1,972 yards and 11 TD’s. He would start in just 7 more games over the next 3 seasons before the Bills released him. If the Bills would have continued with Fitzpatrick at QB, who was serviceable in the four seasons after his release, the Bills could have drafted WR DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has been a top WR in the NFL for the last 5 years, something the Bills have yet to find.

16 Indianapolis Colts: Bjoern Werner - Should have drafted Le’Veon Bell

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
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The Indianapolis Colt went from a 2-14 team in 2011 to an 11-5 team in 2012, all thanks to their 2012 first overall pick Andrew Luck. The Colts were looking for their 2013 to have a similar impact and elected to use it on Linebacker Bjoern Werner. During the first two seasons of his career Werner recorded 69 tackles, 6.5 sacks and started in all but one game. During the 2015 season Werner’s playing time was significantly reduced to just 10 games, making 13 tackles. He was released by the Colts during the 2016 off-season and never played in the NFL again announcing his retirement in January 2017. The Colts should have drafted RB Le’Veon Bell instead of trading for RB Trent Richardson. Richardson lasted just one more year after the trade, Le’Veon Bell has become the best RB in the NFL.

15 Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam - Should have drafted Darius Slay 

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens had the final pick in the first-round of the 2013 NFL entry draft. The team needed to replace the production of veteran Safety Ed Reed and retiring Linebacker Ray Lewis for the upcoming season. The Ravens selected Safety Matt Elam as there was more of a need at that position than Linebacker. Elam started his rookie campaign starting in 15 of the 16 games and had a respectable 77 tackles. Elam was arrested in 2017 on two separate occasions for possession of marijuana and oxycodone, and battery and theft. If the Ravens would have not focused so much on drafting a Safety, they should have drafted CB Darius Slay. Slay finished the 2017 season with 60 tackles, 8 interceptions and named to his first Pro-Bowl.

14 Los Angeles Rams: Greg Robinson - Should have drafted Taylor Lewan

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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During the 2014 NFL entry draft the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams had two first-round selections. The second overall pick was courtesy of the Washington Redskins in the Robert Griffin II trade two years previous. With the second pick the Rams selected Offensive Tackle Greg Robinson to protect the left side of the line (the blind side), the most important position for a linemen. By the 2016 season Robinson was benched and later that season moved to the less important right tackle position. The following year the Rams traded Robinson to the Detroit Lions for a sixth-round pick. The Rams should have used the pick to select OT Taylor Lewan who has been named to the Pro-Bowl in 2016 and 2017.

13 Cleveland Browns: Justin Gilbert - Should have drafted Aaron Donald

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2014 NFL entry draft the Cleveland Browns had two picks in the first round and had many needs for their team. If the Browns would have kept the fourth pick, they could have drafted LB Khalil Mack but they traded down to the 8th spot. With the 8th pick the Browns selected Cornerback Justin Gilbert which was a surprise as the Browns already had Joe Haden and had so many other needs. The Browns should have drafted Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald. Donald was named to four Pro-Bowls in four years, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the year. This should have been the corner stone of the Browns franchise.

12 Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel - Should have drafted Derek Carr

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
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The Cleveland Browns had two first round draft picks heading into the 2014 NFL entry draft, they already wasted the 8th overall pick on Justin Gilbert and needed a franchise Quarterback to carry the team back to the post-season. The Browns used the 22nd overall pick to draft the former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel expecting he would be the future for the team. The Browns did not name him the starter immediately nor did he play for the first 10 weeks of the season. Manziel played in just 5 games starting 2 of them and finished the season with 175 yards and 2 interceptions. Eventually the Browns released Manziel after just two seasons. The Browns could have selected QB Derek Carr who has played in almost every game for the Raiders since entering the NFL and has also been named to the Pro-Bowl for three consecutive years.

11 Philadelphia Eagles: Marcus Smith - Should have drafted DeMarcus Lawrence

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive End Marcus Smith was named All-AAC Defensive Player of the Year while playing at the University of Louisville and was a projected first-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL draft. The Philadelphia Eagles were making the 26th selection and Smith was still available, the Eagles selected Smith thinking they were getting a future Pro-Bowler. But what they actually got was a Linebacker that played in 51 games, never making a start in the NFL totaling 32 tackles and 6.5 sacks. In hindsight the Eagles should have selected DeMarcus Lawrence, although Lawrence did not have a great start to his career, he just finished the 2017 season with 58 tackles and 14.5 sacks.

10 Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr. - Should have drafted Vic Beasley 

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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During the 2015 NFL entry draft it was widely known that Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were going to be selected first and second overall. The Jacksonville Jaguars had the third pick and had every other player available to them to draft. The Jaguars chose DE Dante Fowler from the University of Florida. Fowler tore his ACL on the first day of mini-camp causing him to miss his entire rookie season. Fowler played in every game the next two seasons for the Jaguars but only started one game making 53 tackles and 12 sacks. Five picks after Fowler the Atlanta Falcons draft Vic Beasley, the player that Jacksonville should have drafted. Beasley had a Pro-Bowl year in 2016 with 39 tackles, 15.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles.

9 Chicago Bears: Kevin White - Should have drafted Todd Gurley

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 Chicago Bears finished the season with a record of 5-11 and ended the season 27th in the league in rushing offense. Although their rushing offense was bad, their passing defense was worse finishing 30th in the league. This would lead you to believe the Bears would select a Running Back or Defensive Back with their 7th overall pick. The Bears went off the board and selected WR Kevin White to play opposite Alshon Jeffery. White has played in a total of 5 games in three seasons with the Bears including missing his entire rookie season with a stress fracture in his shin. The Bears ignored their needs at RB and DB leaving players like Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon and Marcus Peters on the draft board. The Bears should have selected Todd Gurley to replace Matt Forte and maybe the Bear would have remained relevant in the NFL.

8 Baltimore Ravens: Breshad Perriman - Should have drafted Landon Collins 

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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During the 2015 off-season the Baltimore Ravens lost one of their key Wide Receivers Torrey Smith as he elected to sign with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency. The Baltimore Ravens needed to replace his production and selected WR Breshad Perriman in the 2015 NFL draft. Perriman was injured for the entire 2015 season but was able to recover and play during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In those two seasons Perriman totaled 43 receptions and 3 touchdowns, mostly during the 2016 season. Nothing near what a first-round pick should be producing. The Ravens still had a need at Safety after the departure of Ed Reed several years previous, they should have drafted two-time Pro-Bowler Landon Collins to fill that hole.

7 Indianapolis Colt: Phillip Dorsett - Should have drafted David Johnson 

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts finished the 2014 season with the third overall offense in the NFL but only 22nd in rushing offense. With these stats the Colts should have been looking for a RB to support their running game but instead they drafted WR Phillip Dorsett with the 29th overall pick. During Dorsett’s two seasons with the Colts he had 51 receptions, 3 touchdowns and 3 fumbles. Just before the start of the 2017 regular season the Costs traded Dorsett to the New England Patriots for QB Jacoby Brissett due to the injury of QB Andrew Luck. The Colts should have drafted RB David Johnson to fill the need at running back instead of adding an irrelevant receiver.

6 New York Giants: Eli Apple - Should have drafted Deion Jones

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
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Although Eli Apple is not officially a bust at this point, he is one season away from being dropped by the New York Giants and will be lucky to be signed by any team in the NFL. Apple was drafted by the Giants with the 10th overall pick in 2016 and according to all analysis it was a good selection until he started playing. For the past two seasons Apple has ranked anywhere from 70th to 100th in advanced analytic stats for Cornerbacks. Additional he has been known to have a bad attitude on and off the field causing confrontations with coaches and players. The Giants should have drafted LB Deion Jones who has finished the last two seasons with 108 and 138 tackle respectively and was named to the Pro-Bowl in 2017.

5 Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell - Should have drafted Michael Thomas

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings 2015 Wide Receiver personnel was young, fast and inexperienced. The team was led by the unexpected rookie Stefon Diggs who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft. The Vikings were already one of the best defenses in the league allowing only 18.8 points per game, they had the best running back in the league and second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater was showing signs of being an elite NFL QB. With the 23rd overall pick the Vikings unexpectedly drafted WR Laquon Treadwell. Thus far Treadwell has been a complete disappointment with 21 receptions and zero touchdowns in two years. The Vikings should have drafted Michael Thomas to add to their receiving core and they could have also added his 196 receptions and 14 touchdowns.

4 Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch - Should have drafted Dak Prescott

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 Super Bowl Champions were just three months removed from their victory when they were picking 26th overall in the 2016 NFL entry draft. At the end of the 2015 season Quarterback Payton Manning announced his retirement, leaving the Broncos with Brock Osweiler as their only remaining QB. It was obvious the number one priority for the Broncos in the 2016 draft was to get a QB and they used the 26th pick to draft Paxton Lynch. Lynch has lost the starting job for two consecutive seasons and this year will most likely be his third with the Broncos signing QB Case Keenum in the off-season. Lynch has started in just 4 games with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in two years. The Broncos should have drafted Dak Prescott and they would have had the 2016 NFL Rookie of the Year and 2016 Pro-Bowler.

3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Roberto Aguayo - Should have drafted Tyreek Hill

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2015 season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers employed two different kickers to get them through the year. When the 2016 NFL entry draft arrived the Buccaneers saw the need to draft a kicker to avoid using multiple kickers during the upcoming season. The Buccaneers made Roberto Aguayo the highest drafted Kicker in the last 10 years selecting him 59th overall. When a kicker is drafted this high he must be a sure thing and Aguayo was anything but for the Buccaneers in 2016. Aguayo made just 22 field goals, had a made field goal percentage of 71% and only 36% made field goal percentage over 40 yards. One game into the 2017 pre-season Aguayo was released by the Buccaneers and has not played in an NFL game since. The Buccaneers should have drafted WR Tyreek Hill to play opposite Mike Evans and give the Buccaneers a premier combination at WR.

2 Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross - Should have drafted Alvin Kamara

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
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During the 2016 season the Cincinnati Bengals had three different receivers catch more than 50 passes and all three with more than 500 yards. With these weapons at the WR position, you’d think that Bengals would not need to draft a WR with their ninth overall pick but they did, selecting John Ross. Ross recorded the fastest combine 40-dash in history at 4.22 and boosted his pre-draft ranking. Ross only touched the ball one time carrying the ball for 12 yards before fumbling. The Bengals should have drafted RB Alvin Kamara with the 9th pick which was the position they needed to improve more and they could have used their second round pick to draft a WR, which JuJu Smith-Schuster was still available.

1 Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley - Should have drafted Kareem Hunt 

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The Oakland Raiders lost RB Latavius Murray to free agency during the 2017 off-season and signed retire RB Marshawn Lynch to replace him. Lynch sat out the entire 2016 season and the Raiders should have realized he was not prepared to handle a full RB workload. The Raiders used the 24th pick in the NFL draft to select CB Gareon Conley but they should have drafted RB Kareem Hunt to support Lynch in his return to the NFL. Conley played in just two games and made 7 tackles before missing the rest of the season due to injury, whereas Hunt won the 2017 rushing title. The combination of Lynch and Hunt would have been what the Raiders needed to make the playoffs.

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