Many men around the world are brought up being taught the basics of football and how to play. Many of these guys dedicate their lives learning the game and performing against different players from different areas. Many players become so good that colleges start to look at them and recruit them to play at their school. As some of those players play at the highest level at their university, they may declare to go into the NFL Draft.
Expectations are high for many as these players, as a game that was once for fun, is now a job that requires performing at the highest level. High draft picks are supposed to become starters for their team in year one, or year two. Some of these players don’t ever make it to the starting lineup, or don’t perform to what the expectations were for them.
We have seen many players come from college who are either constantly injured or always in trouble. Other players just simply cannot stay out of trouble. Seeing how this has happened, has caused many NFL teams to be cautious with their draft picks and what they do before the draft, to make sure they get the worth of their draft pick. With the competition constantly improving, teams look for the best possible candidate for their team. In the past five years, we have seen many of these draft picks do nothing to help their team, and go down as some of the worst draft picks in NFL history.
Here are The 20 Biggest NFL Draft Busts Of The Past 5 Years:
20 Justin Gilbert - 8th Overall, 2014
In 2014, Justin Gilbert was ranked as one of the highest cornerbacks in the draft. The Cleveland Browns elected him with the 8th overall pick in that draft. His time in Cleveland was short, where after two seasons he had one touchdown, before he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his time with the Steelers, he didn’t start one game. The former first-round draft pick was a backup cornerback, there for insurance in case of injuries. It seems that the Browns constantly fall into the same problems drafting guys that don’t perform well, and this happened once again.
Gilbert ran into a problem that many had this offseason, violating the NFL Drug Substance Policy. Gilbert’s incident caused him to be suspended for the whole season, which may affect the chances of him being signed this offseason. Gilbert is still in great shape, which may help him get another chance in the future But for now, Gilbert is jobless after being drafted within the top ten of the 2014 NFL Draft.
19 Matt Elam - 32nd Overall, 2012
Matt Elam just saw himself fall into the first round, as the Baltimore Ravens selected him as the 32nd overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. Elam has seen his share of problems in the NFL, as he missed the whole 2015 season due to biceps tear. In 2017, Elam was arrested not one but twice. Right after the season finished, he was arrested for possession of cannabis with intent to sell. Elam was then arrested for battery and grand theft after issues with his girlfriend in Delray Beach, Florida.
Elam was unable to stay out of trouble, but when on the field, was unable to get in a rhythm. Throughout his four-year career, he has only had 8 passes deflected and one interception. Elam was a star at the University of Florida, but was unable to do his duties in the NFL. The Ravens looking to find their replacement for Ed Reed, fell short with drafting Matt Elam.
18 Greg Robinson - 2nd Overall, 2014
The former second overall draft pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, has yet to see success in the NFL. Greg Robinson had some weaknesses at Auburn, who had a funky way of blocking due to a different type of run style. Ever since Robinson has come into the league, he has the lowest starting left tackle grade in the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams tried rebuilding by grabbing the highly athletic offensive tackle, but it seemed to be more of a struggle for them rather than it being worth much. Robinson was one of the highest penalized players on the offense, which on top of his poor play, added a downside to him as a player.
After another struggling season, the Rams decided to trade their former number 2 overall pick to the Detroit Lions, in exchange for a 2018 sixth round pick. Robinson’s time in Los Angeles reflected based on his performance.
17 Myles Jack - 5th Overall, 2016
The whole Myles Jack draft situation in 2016 seemed to show that he was almost guaranteed to be a bust. And after one season in the NFL, he hasn’t proved otherwise. Jack was projected to be a top-5 draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, but due to a knee injury, wasn’t drafted until the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Jack’s rookie season, he finished with 24 combined tackles and 0.5 sacks. Jack who was considered to be one of the top draft choices, proved why he wasn’t selected until later on in the draft.
Jack still has time to prove his worth, but it doesn’t seem likely that the former linebacker from UCLA is going to become a star in the NFL. The Jaguars are building a defense loaded with talent, but Myles Jack seems to be one of the weaker parts of this up and coming defense.
16 Dion Jordan - 3rd Overall, 2013
If you search up Dion Jordan’s track record, it is an absolute disaster. The third overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, may be one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. But before the draft, Jordan may have showed signs that his career would be problematic. In February of 2013, Jordan underwent surgery to repair his torn labrum. His injury led to other injuries, and then suspensions just got thrown at him.
Jordan has been suspended up to 15 months at a time for violating the NFL substance policy. In his only full season, he finished with two sacks and 26 tackles. Expectations were high for Jordan, but due to his inability to stay on a clean slate, we have barely been able to see him on the field. In March 2017, Jordan was released by the Miami Dolphins, the team that originally drafted him. He was then later signed by the Seattle Seahawks.
Jordan is allowed to play after his long suspensions, but is dealing with a knee injury that could keep him out of the Seahawks season opener. A freak of nature, but a failure in the NFL.
15 Kendall Wright - 20th Overall, 2012
Unlike many of the players on this list, Kendall Wright has performed at a high level in the NFL. The problem is, he has been extremely inconsistent. The Tennessee Titans were struggling to find a top wide receiver, but Wright was never able to succeed with the team for the long term. His best season came in 2013, where he had 1,079 receiving yards and two touchdown catches.
Wright was not awful whatsoever, he was a solid number three wide receiver for most teams, but the Titans needed more than that from the former first round draft pick. The past two seasons, Wright finished with less than 500 yards. With the Titans trying to find a wide receiver to help take Marcus Mariota and this Titans team to the next level, they moved on from Wright.
This past offseason, Wright signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears. It’s up to Mitchell Trubisky or Mike Glennon on how Wright’s career may go.
14 Brandon Weeden - 22nd Overall, 2012
Many may feel that Brandon Weeden is an older quarterback who is taking back up roles due to age. Weeden was only drafted five years ago in the 2012 NFL Draft, as a first round pick who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. Weeden has showed signs to be halfway decent on some teams, and on other teams he shows no purpose in playing.
Weeden’s short career has been a roller coaster. He has played for the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, and now the Houston Texans. The best anyone has seen Weeden performed was at the end of the 2015 season, when Weeden went to play for the Texans and threw for three touchdowns and 305 yards. Many thought Weeden should have played in the playoff game, but the Texans didn’t seem confident enough to let him go. Weeden now stays in the background of a quarterback battle in Houston.
13 Laquon Treadwell - 23rd Overall, 2016
It may be unfair to consider Laquon Treadwell a bust yet, but with a serious injury in 2016, many may not know what to expect of him come 2017. Treadwell has had reoccurring leg injuries, which sat him most of the 2016 season. Just recently, Treadwell also suffered another leg injury, in which he claimed did not happen during a fight.
Treadwell’s injuries may help other players have an opportunity to dominate in the upcoming season. For Treadwell, it seems that his injuries will only continue and get worse. Injuries are tough, and completely unavoidable, but for Treadwell it may seem that it’s going to continue. The Vikings are in need of a top wide receiver to help Sam Bradford throw the ball around, but it seems unlikely that Treadwell will be much of a factor.
12 Dante Fowler Jr. - 3rd Overall, 2015
Dante Fowler Jr. was an absolute beast playing in Gainesville, but hasn’t been able to show that same production across the state in Jacksonville. The former top-five draft pick has struggled to perform, and stay out of issues. Before his rookie season came, he tore his ACL which took him away from football for the 2015 season. With an expected star comeback, he was only able to come up with four sacks and 32 combined tackles.
Fowler Jr. showed production, but not enough to live up to his expectations. With a star-studded defense building around him, it may help Fowler Jr. grow as a player. This offseason, Fowler Jr. was arrested for misdemeanor battery and criminal mischief. The incident may cause Fowler Jr. to be suspended, which will delay his opportunity to prove his worth.
11 Justin Blackmon - 5th Overall, 2012
There’s a trend going on, and it’s that the Jacksonville Jaguars tend to draft very poorly. The Jaguars seem to do a poor job at doing a background check on players, because many of them to tend sustain many injuries or tend to be suspended for long periods of time. And that is the situation of Justin Blackmon, who has been suspended indefinitely since 2013 due to abusing the NFL’s policy for substance abuse. It’s been nearly four years since we have seen Blackmon play a snap in the NFL, and it seems unlikely that we will ever see him back in action.
Blackmon has been arrested for marijuana possession and received a DUI. Blackmon is worse than Johnny Manziel may ever be, as he seems to constantly get himself into trouble. It’s still baffling that the Jaguars have kept Blackmon on the roster.
10 Montee Ball - 58th overall, 2013
Montee Ball was one of the most electrifying running backs in the game when he was the star running back at Wisconsin. His best season came in 2011, where he rushed for 1,923 rushing yards and scored 33 touchdowns. Ball was almost untouchable, as his numbers blow away almost every running back year by year in the NFL. Problem is, the NFL is a different ball game, and Ball was unable to play that game.
When playing in the NFL, Ball was unable to even reach 1,000 yards throughout his career. Ball struggled heavily and when trying out for the Green Bay Packers, was 30 pounds overweight. One of the best running backs in college football history, fell down in production level when it came time to shine in the NFL. Ball’s career was short, but will always be known for the amazing things he did for the Badgers.
9 Kevin White - 7th Overall, 2015
Drafted as one of the best wide receivers in the 2015 NFL Draft, expectations are through the roof for the former West Virginia receiver. Kevin White has been unable to stay healthy since he was drafted. He was held out of his rookie campaign, and most of his 2016 season. In his two-year career, White has still been unable to see the end zone, or make much of an impact. White’s injuries seem to be taking his career away, forcing him to ride the bench more than put on the pads.
White was great in West Virginia, but like many, injuries take over. Injuries have ruined his career, and may cause him to take a back seat as the quarterback battle unravels in the Windy City.
8 Morris Claiborne - 6th Overall, 2012
The former LSU cornerback has showed that he can play in the NFL with a good 2016 season, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Morris Claiborne has struggled throughout his career since being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2012 staying healthy. Claiborne has been injured every season since he was drafted, and it doesn’t seem like that trend will come to an end.
When healthy, Claiborne hasn’t been much of a factor until the 2016 season, where he dealt with a concussion and a groin injury. Throughout his career, Claiborne has 27 pass deflections and four interceptions. His numbers have been good enough to be a starter, but he was expected to be a star cornerback for the Cowboys. Unfortunately, he was not, which led to the breakup between Claiborne and the Cowboys.
7 E.J. Manuel - 16th overall, 2013
The Florida State alumni was supposed to take the Buffalo Bills to a place they haven’t been to in a very long time, but instead, EJ Manuel was unable to even maintain the starting quarterback position. Manuel’s inconsistency in college continued in the NFL, which resulted in him being benched and Kyle Orton to start for the Bills. Orton became the starter until he retired, which is when Manuel had his chance to regain the starting position back.
In a competition with Tyrod Taylor, Manuel was unable to perform well enough to get his starting role back. Ever since then, the former Seminole has been a backup. Even having an opportunity in the 2016 season to start, he was benched after going 9-20 for 86 yards. Manuel who was looked at as a top-five quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft, has been unable to compete at the professional level. Manuel was signed this offseason by the Oakland Raiders to play the backup position behind Derek Carr.
6 Trent Richardson - 3rd Overall, 2012
Here comes the trend of former Alabama Crimson Tide players that fail to succeed in the NFL. Richardson was drafted third overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, considered the best running back in the draft. Richardson only had one standout year at Alabama which was his final season, where he rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns. The fact that he only performed at such a high level for only one year may have proven that he may have not been ready to play in the NFL. In the NFL, bigger running backs don’t have as much success. Defenders are better tacklers and are tougher, as opposed to defenders in college who may struggle going up against a big 230 pound back.
In his rookie season, he performed fairly well rushing for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns. After that, it went downhill for Richardson. Richardson struggled to get it going, which led him switching teams to the Colts and then being signed by the Raiders and Ravens. He never played for either team, due to his inability to perform at a high level.
5 Paxton Lynch - 26th Overall, 2016
What may have been the worst draft pick for the Denver Broncos in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Broncos used their first-round draft pick to select quarterback Paxton Lynch from Memphis. Struggling to find their franchise quarterback, they settled in drafting Lynch. What makes no sense, is that the Broncos don’t seem to be in favor of playing Lynch. The Broncos heavily support Trevor Siemian, who seems to be the starting quarterback of the future for the Broncos. Even though the Broncos claim that there is a competition between Siemian and Lynch, it seems that Siemian has the upper hand.
In his few appearances with the Broncos, he has thrown for two touchdowns and 497 yards. Lynch seems to be a serviceable quarterback, but not one to replace Peyton Manning. The Broncos should have planned better with how they were going about their quarterback situation, as they wasted a first round draft pick on a backup quarterback.
4 Johnny Manziel - 22nd overall, 2014
Remember when Johnny Football took over college football and was supposed to be the next big thing in the NFL? Yea, well that never happened. Johnny Manziel may have been the biggest mistake in Cleveland Browns history to draft. Manziel has been nothing but problematic for the Browns, as he has been unable to stay sober and away from the nightlife scene. Manziel seems to forget that he isn’t in college anymore, and that he can’t go around and party and do any drug he wants whenever he wants.
With social media growing rapidly, anything Manziel did was seen by everyone. His draft stock fell as many teams were concerned with his size and his ability to tune out the distractions around him and worry about football. The Browns thought they had their franchise quarterback, but instead drafted the most embarrassing thing to ever play a snap in the NFL.
Manziel never seemed to have a care in the world, openly getting drunk and posting pictures around, while even flipping off the Washington Redskins sideline during a game. It seemed that every weekend something new came out about Johnny Football, who now is Johnny Jobless.
3 Robert Griffin III - 2nd Overall, 2012
The story behind Robert Griffin III is a sad one, as the former Baylor star is unable to stay healthy as a NFL quarterback. Once one of the most dangerous quarterbacks to face during his rookie season, currently is struggling to find a job with a team. It’s surprising that RGIII is still a free agent, considering he still has talent. But his inability to stay healthy is a huge concern for many teams.
The thin quarterback runs as if he’s a running back, and has a cannon for an arm. When healthy, he’s one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league. After playing in a Wild Care Game that he was not cleared to play by Dr. James Andrew, he re-injured his knee, which cause the downfall of his career. RGIII struggled to stay healthy, which led to his release from the Redskins organization. The Cleveland Browns then signed him, where he then eventually suffered a shoulder injury which kept him away from the field for some time. His numbers declined, and that is why RGIII is still a free agent.
2 Jared Goff - 1st Overall, 2016
The number one overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, was an absolute bust. Yes, the Los Angeles Rams didn’t do the right thing by waiting to start Goff until mid-season, but Goff has to take accountability as well. While playing, he threw for five touchdowns, seven interceptions, and 1,089 yards. His completion percentage was 54.6, struggling to get the ball to his receivers. Goff may be a work in progress, but with so many players in the 2016 NFL Draft that made an immediate impact, it’s a shame that what was supposed to be the top pick, was unable to perform at a high level. Through all the games he started, the Rams were unable to win a single game.
Goff may be the starter for the future and may need more time to progress, but the Rams could have drafted Carson Wentz and had an immediate impact player. Goff may surprise people in 2016, but for now, is known as the biggest bust of the 2016 NFL Draft.
1 Blake Bortles - 3rd Overall, 2014
People from Duval are probably looking at this saying that he isn’t a bust and they trust him, but for a number 3 overall draft pick, how long can you wait for him to succeed? Bortles hasn’t been awful, he’s actually had some decent seasons. His best game in 2015 where he threw for 35 touchdown passes and 4,428 yards. The problem is, Bortles throws way too many interceptions. Throughout his career, he has thrown 51 interceptions. Bortles also hasn’t been able to put his team in a winning position. The best record that the Jaguars had was 5-11 in 2015, but was not good enough to help this team move up in the AFC South.
Bortles has been under heavy scrutiny, as the high draft pick has been unable to help this Jaguars team succeed. Those Jaguars fans expect the team to have a lot of success with constant improvements on defense and the addition of Leonard Fournette, but it seems unlikely that Bortles will be able to help this team win the division. Time is ticking, and Bortles is not getting any better.