Every year, NFL teams chase a franchise quarterback. Whether it be through free agency, trades or the draft, teams tend to pay a higher price than they should in hopes of landing that coveted franchise QB. The best option is usually through the draft, but even then, a team has to be in the right spot at the right time. When you're QB needy but find yourself with the first overall pick in a draft class thin at the position, it's better to take the best player available, rather than reach for a QB. History suggests that trying to take a QB too early leads to poor consquences. The biggest reason is that when someone reaches for a QB, a raw, undeveloped player is suddenly expected to be a finished product.
On the flip side, sometimes a QB is simply overhyped and have all the tangibles to be a franchise QB. However once they get to the NFL level, any weakness they have is quickly exposed. Every year has that one QB everyone points to as the bust of the draft.
Here, we will examine every NFL draft's biggest quarterback bust since 2000. It's fitting since landing quarterbacks in the draft has become all the more important in this modern passing era of the NFL. We should point out some years will have players that went in later rounds and are essentially on this list by default.
17 2000: Giovanni Carmazzi
Here's a default for you. It's normal for third round picks to never see much NFL action, and this was the case with Giovanni Carmazzi, who the San Francisco 49ers took with their third round selection. Carmazzi was the second QB taken in this class, and went well after Chad Pennington, who was the only first round QB that year. The former Hofstra star never played a game with the Niners, losing his roster spot to Tim Rattay, the Niners' seventh round pick.
Carmazzi soon found himself playign in NFL Europe and eventually played a couple of years in the CFL. What makes this pick more painful for the 49ers is there was a young kid available whose dream was to play for the 49ers. That kid was Tom Brady, who went to New England in the sixth round.
16 2001: Chris Weinke
No QB drafted after the first round had much of a career in the NFL. First overall pick Michael Vick didn't lead the Falcons to as much playoff success as many would have liked, but he came as advertised. He was a dynamic player for several years and made the Falcons relevant. The standout of the class was Drew Brees, who went to the Chargers early in the second round. The class thins out from there.
While there were several options here, we decided to go with Chris Weinke, given that he won the 2000 Heisman Trophy, but couldn't become a consistent starter at the NFL level. Weinke mostly served as a backup to Jake Delhomme in Carolina before finishing his career in San Francisco. His career totals were 3,904 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, while throwing 26 interceptions.
15 2002: David Carr
You don't have to look far to find this draft's biggest bust. To be fair, I think the situation just wasn't right for David Carr. Carr was drafted first overall to the expansion Houston Texans, expected to be the face of the franchise for the next decade. However, when has a young QB ever been able to lead an expansion team to success?
Carr took a beating in Houston, suffering 73 sacks in his rookie season. Despite his rocket for an arm, Carr's career dwindled in Houston as the team just didn't have the talent to put their young QB in a position to succeed. Eventually Carr served as a backup to several teams and even won a Super Bowl with the Giants. His total career numbers were 14,452 yards, 65 touchdowns and 71 interceptions.
14 2003: Rex Grossman
Carson Palmer didn't lead the Bengals to the promised land as the first overall pick, but he did have success with the team and has enjoyed a good career. Rex Grossman however, proved to be a hinderance to his team. Grossman had his moments of brilliance and his moments of failure, leading to many calling him "Good Rex/Bad Rex". The Chicago Bears made the Super Bowl a few years after drafting Grossman 22nd overall, but anyone watching the Bears that season knew it was Chicago's defense that got them to the Super Bowl.
Like many QBs on this list, Grossman ended his career with more interceptions than touchdowns, throwing 60 picks to 56 touchdowns. The Bears simply found themselves in a situation where they picked the wrong year to draft a quarterback.
13 2004: J.P. Losman
After the Drew Bledsoe experiment failed in Buffalo, the Bills were looking to land themselves a franchise QB to compete with Tom Brady in the AFC East. Fortunately for them, the 2004 class was filled with blue chip QBs, including Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. Sadly though, the Bills didn't land any of these guys. By the time the Bills were on the clock, all three of the aforementioned QBs had been taken so they settled for J.P. Losman out of Tulane.
Losman's tenure in Buffalo produced a lot of mediocrity, as he ended his career 10-23 as a starter. The 22nd overall pick failed in comparison to his QB counterparts from that round, so it's easy to single him out as the biggest QB bust of the draft.
12 2005: Jason Campbell
It's easy to call Alex Smith a bust considering the 49ers passed on local product Aaron Rodgers, who has since become an elite QB in the NFL. However, for all of Alex Smith's shortcomings, the fact is he's still a solid NFL starter all these years later, so 'bust' is a bit of a harsh term to describe him.
Three QBs were selected in the first round in 2005. Smith, Rodgers and Jason Campbell. Campbell went 25th overall to Washington, just one pick after Green Bay selected the heir apparent to Favre.
Campbell's DC tenure would be shrouded in injuries and inconsistent play. All things considered, Campbell actually lasted in the NFL for eight seasons, but needless to say, he wasn't worthy of a first round pick.
11 2006: Matt Leinart
Matt Leinart was the 10th overall pick in 2006 and if Titans' management had gotten their way, he would have gone to Tennessee third overall. Instead Vince Young went to Tenneessee due to the wishes of late owner Bud Adams. While VY could be considered a bust as well, as least he made it to a Pro Bowl and finished his career with a winning record as a starter.
Leinart went to the Cardinals and eventually lost his starting job to a rejuvenated Kurt Warner. When Warner retired following the 2009 season, Leinart couldn't seize the moment and the Cardinals eventually had a QB caroussel with Leinart, John Skelton, and others splitting starts.
He would eventually finish his career with stints in Houston, Oakland and Buffalo.
10 2007: JaMarcus Russell
No surprise here. Not only is JaMarcus Russell the biggest QB bust of the 2007 draft, he is also the biggest bust of the draft, period. No wait, he's also the biggest bust in NFL history. After an electrifying performance for LSU in the Sugar Bowl, the hype around Russell ballooned and many felt he was going to change the quarterback position in the NFL.
Instead, Russell began his NFL career by holding out for more money and eventually showing up to training camp out of shape. Russell played three forgettable seasons in Oakland where reports abounded about his laziness, immaturity and lack of football IQ.
He was released after the 2009 season and despite several comeback attempts, no team has been willing to give him a shot.
9 2008: Chad Henne
The 2008 NFL Draft had only one quarterback taken in the first round; Matt Ryan. In case you haven't heard, he's kind of a big deal right now. Perhaps the most QB needy team of that draft, the Miami Dolphins, passed on Ryan with the first overall pick, feeling they could grab their long term answer later in the draft. Their solution? They took Chad Henne out of Michigan with their second round pick.
After sitting behind Chad Pennington for a year, Henne got a chance to be the starter in Miami and it soon became apparent that the Dolphins had made a terrible mistake by passing on Ryan. Henne was the team's starter for two seasons but it's become apparant he's a career backup.
He's currently backing Blake Bortles in Jacksonville, which is a far cry from what the Dolphins thought he would be.
8 2009: Josh Freeman
Josh Freeman is sort of the forgotten QB of this draft class. The Jets trading up for Mark Sanchez instantly put a ton of hype on the USC product, but the Bucs stood pat and let Josh Freeman land in their arms. Obviously Matthew Stafford isn't the bust of this draft, so it's a toss up between Sanchez and Freeman.
While Sanchez's career is going to be best known for the butt fumble, he's actually had his good moments, so Josh Freeman lands on this list. Freeman had a promising start to his career, and even led the Bucs to a 10-6 season in 2010. But his carrer took a huge nosedive in 2013. Freeman missed the team photo and he wasn't voted as a captain. His season then got off to a disastrou start, completing only 46% of his passes in an 0-3 start. The Bucs cut him and Freeman has since had failed stints in Minnesota and Indianapolis.
7 2010: Sam Bradford
People may have been expecting Tim Tebow here, but considering Sam Bradford was given the largest guaranteed contract for a rookie in NFL history ($100 million, with $50 million guaranteed) and the fact he couldn't lead the Rams to a single playoff berth lands him here. Bradford's career has been marred by injuries and when he is on the field, he's a game manager at best. He's never shown the ability to will his team to a victory. He's fine as a backup or a stop-gap starter but it's got to be scary for Vikings fans that Bradford may enter the 2017 season as their starter.
In his career, Bradford has suffered multiple torn ACLs. He's managed to stay healthy these last couple of seasons, but everything about him screams average, which isn't exactly how you want to describe a former first overall pick.
6 2011: Blaine Gabbert
The 2011 draft saw multiple teams reach for QBs far earlier than they should have. Cam Newton proved to be a worthy first overall pick, but the QBs taken after him all floundered. Jake Locker only played for four seasons, spending much of that time on the injury list. Christian Ponder was expected to be a third rounder, but somehow went 12th overall to Minnesota.
However, coming into the 2011 draft, many actually argued that Blaine Gabbert deserved to be the first overall pick, considering his Missouri Tigers ran a "pro style" offense in comparison to what Newton ran at Auburn. Gabbert went to the Jaguars 10th overall and showed there was a reason the Panthers passed on him. Gabbert's completed just 56% of his passes in his career, with 38 touchdowns to 37 interceptions.
5 2012: Robert Griffin III
Robert Grfffin III sure didn't look like a bust a few seasons ago. In fact, RG3 had one of the most prolific rookie seasons by a QB in history, throwing for 3,200 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also added 815 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. It seemed like Washington had done the right thing to trade up to get him, even though it meant giving up three first round picks to do it.
However, Griffin tore his ACL and MCL in a playoff game against Seattle and he hasn't been the same since. He can't stay healthy and eventually he lost his starting job to Kirk Cousins in Washington. The Browns signed RG3 last offseason, and the injury woes continued in Cleveland. You have to wonder how many years Griffin has left in the NFL.
4 2013: EJ Manuel
Everyone knew the 2013 draft was not going to be a class that would produce superstars. It was a class that was filled with many solid players, but nobody that would change the face of a franchise. The Bills didn't seem to think so, as they provided the biggest reach of the draft by taking EJ Manuel with their first round pick. Manuel was projected to be a third round pick, so it's a mystery why the Bills felt they had to get Manuel that early.
The move has proven to be a bad one. After a couple of years under Doug Marrone, the Bills quickly moved on from Manuel as their starter, instead starting the likes of Kyle Orton. Tyrod Taylor won the starting job from Manuel in 2015 and has yet to relinquish it. With a new coach in Sean McDermott starting in Buffalo, we'll see if Manuel can revive his career.
3 2014: Johnny Manziel
Blake Bortles was a strong consideration for this spot, but his 2015 season provides hope he can be a solid NFL quarterback, despite the step back he took in 2016. Johnny Manziel on the other hand, is already out of the NFL, as no team elected to sign him once the Browns released him last year. Manziel has battled substance abuse problems in his career and has seemingly been more interested in partying than becoming a great football player.
His tenure in Cleveland included being late for team meetings, missing rehab sessions and overall a poor work ethic. It's no surprise then that when he got into games, he looked lost. His total career numbers stand at seven touchdowns, seven interceptions, 1,675 yards and one rushing touchdown. No team is expected to give him a look any time soon.
2 2015: Bryce Petty
Now we're getting to the point where it's still too early to tell who is going to be a bust from this draft class. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were the most hyped prospects coming into that draft and so far, both have proven to be worthy picks. Winston and Mariota both came close to leading their teams to playoff berths this past season.
While Bryce Petty was just a fourth round pick, it's quite telling that he didn't see more playing time this past season, despite the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick was a disaster for most of the season for the Jets.
Petty finally got some starts late in the season and in four starts and six total games, threw for 809 yards, but just three touchdowns to seven interceptions.
1 2016: Jared Goff
Is it fair to call a player a bust after just one season? Of course not, but we're left with little choice here as somebody has to take this spot. It sure isn't Carson Wentz, who managed to win the starting job in Philly and showed encouraging signs for next season. So we have to go with the first QB selected last year in Jared Goff. As we know, the Rams gave up a lot to get the first overall pick, including ponying up their 2017 first rounder (5th pick overall) to land Goff.
The Rams wanted to make a splash before their move to L.A., but Goff didn't win the starting job out of camp, unable to beat out competition like Case Keenum and Sean Mannion. Goff got seven starts to close the season, but failed to win a game and didn't show many encouraging signs for next year.
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