Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, and Russell Wilson are only four of the quarterbacks who have hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy since the 2010 NFL regular season. New York Giants superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the faces of the NFL, and Antonio Brown, who entered the league in 2010, will go down as one of the greatest sixth-round draft picks in history. Some out there believe that the Giants never should have spent a second overall pick on Saquon Barkley, but those who have watched the rookie running back during the 2018 campaign cannot deny that he appears to have the physical tools and skills to be as good, if not better than advertised.
For every one of those players who has enjoyed individual and team successes during the current decade, there have been a plethora of disappointing QBs, RBs and WRs enter into and depart from the NFL since 2010. Some, simply put, weren't good enough to play at the highest level for any significant period of time. Others were their own worst enemies in one way or another. Then, there are the players who shouldn’t have been drafted where they were in that particular class. Different players disappoint clubs in different ways, but several of the players mentioned in this piece still have time to turn things around before 2020 rolls around.
30 QB: Sam Bradford
The best accomplishment of Sam Bradford’s career involves him making over $130 million since entering the league via the first pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. Bradford did win Rookie of the Year honors for that season, but his body betrayed him far too often for him to become a long-term answer for the St. Louis Rams, Philadelphia Eagles or Minnesota Vikings. The Arizona Cardinals brought him in earlier this year, but he lost his spot on the depth chart in Week 3 and, ultimately, his place with the Cardinals in November. Somebody will probably pick him up because that’s the way the NFL works. That team shouldn’t expect much from the disappointing QB.
29 RB: Kareem Hunt
Kareem Hunt proved to be an excellent value draft pick taken in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, as he showed superstar potential featuring in an offense perfect for his skills. He’s a disappointment for off-the-field reasons, though, as an incident that occurred in February 2018 cost him his job on the final day of November after video emerged showing the incident in question. The Chiefs cut him and explained that he lied to the organization about that incident. As of Christmastime 2018, Hunt’s career is in serious jeopardy, as it appears no team wants to touch him before the end of the season.
28 WR: Corey Coleman
The Cleveland Browns admittedly over-drafted Corey Coleman by selecting the wide receiver 15th overall in 2016, but the team couldn’t have imagined he would struggle with catching the football or doing much of anything positive during games. Cleveland traded him to the Buffalo Bills in August 2018, but he didn’t make Buffalo’s final roster. After having a cup of coffee with the New England Patriots, Coleman found a home with the New York Giants as a kick returner. Perhaps he will have a future in the league playing on special teams units rather than as a member of the Big Blue offense.
27 QB: Jake Locker
Speaking of draft busts, here is one of the biggest QB busts of the 2010s. Before the Tennessee Titans swung and missed on Bishop Sankey, the team spent the eighth overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft on Jake Locker. By 2014, Locker was so underwhelming that the club drafted Zach Mettenberger, who eventually replaced him that season and was ultimately replaced quite easily by Marcus Mariota. Apparently, Locker read the writing on the wall, as he surprisingly announced in March 2015 that he was retiring because he simply did not want to play anymore. At least he got paid and also got out from football relatively healthy. All the best to you, Mr. Locker.
26 RB: Bishop Sankey
If only former Tennessee Titans running back Bishop Sankey was as good in real life as he was in Madden 16. Tennessee selected Sankey in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and he rushed for 569 yards and a pair of touchdowns his debut season. He earned only three starts his second campaign, however, and the Titans released him ahead of the start of the 2016 regular season. The last we saw of him in the NFL, he tore his ACL as a member of the Minnesota Vikings during a preseason game. He is currently scheduled to play in the Alliance of American Football. We’re sure dozens of people are excited to catch him in action.
25 WR: Jonathan Baldwin
We wouldn’t blame you for forgetting that Jonathan Baldwin was once a member of the NFL. We only know thanks to the Internet. The Kansas City Chiefs selected Baldwin in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and he registered a total of ten starts for the club before it parted ways with him following the 2012 season. Baldwin attempted to catch on with the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions, but he learned it wasn’t meant to be with either of those organizations. His last regular season appearance was in 2013. He is largely remembered as one of the biggest draft busts in Chiefs history.
24 QB: Blaine Gabbert
One really has to hand it to the Jacksonville Jaguars for missing on quarterbacks in the 2010s. The Jags selected Blaine Gabbert with the tenth pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, a decision that ended poorly for the team since he couldn’t complete even 54 percent of his throws to those wearing Jacksonville jerseys during games. Jacksonville gave up on him ahead of the 2014 NFL Draft, when the club selected yet another signal-caller spotlighted here. Outside of some bright moments with the San Francisco 49ers, Gabbert has barely looked like a journeyman, let alone a franchise QB, during his NFL career.
23 RB: Jahvid Best
Fans of the Detroit Lions have gotten rather used to the team taking disappointing running backs. In 2010, the Lions used a late first-round pick on Jahvid Best. Best’s career was over by the end of November 2012 because of issues stemming from the concussions that he sustained during his playing days. As a player, Best was little more than average at absolute best (pun intended), a ball-carrier who averaged 3.7 yards per carry over his three seasons. After leaving the NFL, Best turned to track and field, and he even participated in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. He also plays in the American Flag Football League.
22 WR: Arrelious Benn
In fairness, Arrelious Benn is probably only a disappointing wide receiver in your eyes if you are a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the franchise that took him with a second-round draft pick in 2010. Benn found the end zone five times in three seasons with Tampa Bay, but the team traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles in March 2013. A torn ACL he sustained that summer cost him what should have been his first season with his new team. He managed to hang around the NFL through the 2017 campaign, but he is currently a free agent and a player not linked with a single club heading into the winter months.
21 QB: Christian Ponder
When you go back and look at the quarterbacks the Minnesota Vikings played in the 2010s and also remember what happened with Teddy Bridgewater, it’s easy to see why they paid Kirk Cousins over $80 million in guaranteed cash. Christian Ponder was worth neither anything resembling that type of money nor the first-round pick Minnesota spent to get him in 2011. By the end of the 2013 campaign, most around the league realized that the Vikings were ready to draft his successor, and he fell to third on the depth chart after the team acquired Teddy Bridgewater in 2014. It was thought Ponder could play for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2016 regular season, but that never happened. He’s out of the league today.
20 RB: David Wilson
Unfortunately for David Wilson, fans never truly got to see what he had in his arsenal as a member of the New York Giants, the team that drafted him in the first round back in 2012. Wilson played in a total of 21 games with that franchise, and he averaged 4.4 yards per run during his career up through Week 5 of the 2013 campaign, a season that ended prematurely because of spinal stenosis. In the summer of 2014, Wilson was advised by doctors to stop playing football because of that neck problem. He never featured for the Giants or any other club before pursuing a career in track and field.
19 WR: Greg Little
Wide receiver Greg Little certainly looked the part after the Cleveland Browns drafted him in 2011, as he possessed the size and athleticism to compete against just about any defensive back in the league. It turns out such attributes mean little for a player at the position if he can’t catch the football. Little’s drops became unbearable for the Browns by the spring of 2014 when the team decided that he was not going to be worth the trouble. That was the right call. While he has tried to extend his career through the current year, he last played in the regular season back in 2014 with the Cincinnati Bengals.
18 QB: Brandon Weeden
Years after the fact, the Cleveland Browns using the 22nd overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft on Brandon Weeden when the quarterback was closer to 30 years old than to 25 is laughable, as Weeden matched 26 interceptions with 23 touchdown passes during a two-year Cleveland career that ended even before the Browns drafted Johnny Manziel (more on him later). Weeden is still in the NFL, as he is a backup for the Houston Texans. Cleveland, meanwhile, may finally have a franchise QB in rookie Baker Mayfield. Browns fans deserve a top-tier signal-caller for all they’ve gone through since 1999.
17 RB: Ryan Williams
Five games and three starts were probably not what the Arizona Cardinals had in mind when the team drafted running back Ryan Williams with a second-round pick in 2011. Injury problems ended his rookie year prematurely, and the Cardinals released him following the 2013 campaign, during which he didn’t feature once for the club. Williams landed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, but he registered zero offensive statistics during his one and only season with the team. The harsh reality is that Williams probably isn’t even a “what if” story at this point. Rather, he’s merely a disappointing RB and an Arizona draft bust.
16 WR: A.J. Jenkins
The San Francisco 49ers clearly had second thoughts about using a first-round pick on wide receiver A.J. Jenkins in 2012. Jenkins appeared in only three games that season, and he was targeted with a single pass during that campaign. Jenkins was then traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in August 2013, and he played for that organization for a pair of seasons before he was never seen again during meaningful contests. In total, he recorded 17 receptions and zero touchdowns during a rather forgettable career. He will go down as an all-time San Francisco draft bust, and he is arguably the worst pick made by the Niners in the 2010s.
15 QB: EJ Manuel
Years from now, fans of the Buffalo Bills will sit grandchildren on their laps and tell stories of the time when they believed EJ Manuel could be a franchise quarterback. It was dark days in the kingdom, indeed. The 16th pick from the 2013 NFL Draft struggled with completing passes to teammates, which seems like a rather vital part of playing the sport’s most important position, and the Bills bringing Rex Ryan in as head coach did nothing to help Manuel develop. His last job in the NFL was serving as a backup to Derek Carr with the Oakland Raiders. At least he’s better than Nathan Peterman.
14 RB: Isaiah Pead
Fans of the Los Angeles Rams should be grateful for the team’s current backfield because things weren’t always so bright during the 2010s. The then-St. Louis Rams grabbed Isaiah Pead in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and he rushed for a grand total of 78 yards over four years as a member of that organization. Along with earning a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, he also sustained a torn ACL during his St. Louis tenure. He earned himself eight carries with the Miami Dolphins during the 2016 campaign, but a serious car accident that November cost him part of his left leg. He’s attempting to make the 2020 Paralympic Games as a sprinter.
13 WR: Kevin White
The good news for Kevin White is that the Chicago Bears wide receiver taken with the seventh pick of the 2015 NFL Draft who has dealt with multiple injury woes as a pro remains in the NFL as a member of the Bears. The bad news is that it has actually become newsworthy when he is active any given Sunday. Unless he experiences some kind of renaissance during the holiday season or in the playoffs, the Bears are practically guaranteed to move on from him. Earlier this year, the team declined the fifth-year option attached to his rookie contract. That hasn’t been proven to be a mistake so far.
12 QB: Blake Bortles
Unless you accidentally stumbled upon this piece while looking for WWE spoilers, you probably know all about the ups and downs experienced by quarterback Blake Bortles since the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted him with the third pick in 2014. In fairness to Bortles, who was benched in favor of former Cleveland Browns QB Cody Kessler, he was always a project for the future in 2014, and the Jaguars probably played him before he was ready for the starting role. There was a brief period of time in late 2017 when Bortles seemed to be finding his feet in the league. It turns out that false hope actually isn’t better than no hope at all.
11 RB: Montee Ball
A litany of personal issues ended Montee Ball’s NFL career in 2016. The 2013 second-round draft pick managed to flash some signs of promise his rookie season with the Denver Broncos, during which he averaged 4.7 yards per carry. He ended the 2014 campaign on injured reserve, though, and the Broncos released him in early September 2015. While the New England Patriots acquired his rights in 2015, he never played a regular season down for that team. Since his career ended, Ball has been about his battles against personal demons. The hope is that he has found peace outside of the NFL.
10 WR: Kelvin Benjamin
Kelvin Benjamin looked well worth the first-round draft pick spent by the Carolina Panthers his rookie season, during which he tallied 73 receptions and nine touchdown grabs. He missed the 2015 campaign after going down with a torn ACL in August of that year, though, and the Carolina Panthers traded him to the Buffalo Bills in October 2017 even though he was the team’s leading receiver the season before that transaction. Benjamin has somewhat flopped with the Bills, and he is scheduled to hit free agency in March 2019. Perhaps another change of scenery will allow him to remove his name from these types of lists.
9 QB: Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel, the former Johnny Football, entered the NFL via the 2014 draft when the Cleveland Browns selected him, and the hoped-to-be Cleveland savior gave fans some reasons to believe in him during the 2015 campaign before personal issues ended his time with that team and halted his NFL career. Manziel played in the Canadian Football League in 2018, and he is currently scheduled to return to the CFL for a second season. He has spoken openly about his own failures, both personally and professionally, but that truthfulness doesn’t erase that he may not be good enough to make it at the highest level. It would be surprising if he ever played in the NFL again.
8 RB: Charles Sims
The 69th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, Charles Sims has barely been a nice running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In four seasons with the Bucs, Sims averaged 3.9 yards per carry, and he scored only two rushing touchdowns over that period. The Bucs were interested in bringing him back for the 2018 campaign, but that plan changed after he went down with a knee injury in August. He and the team eventually agreed to an injury settlement that allowed him to enter free agency. While he has worked out with teams since that setback, he remains unsigned as of the first day of December 2018.
7 WR: Sammy Watkins
Those who have followed the career of wide receiver Sammy Watkins know that the fourth pick of the 2014 NFL Draft hasn’t been an awful player. Watkins was merely taken eight picks before the New York Giants took a guy named Odell Beckham Jr., who would probably look good in Buffalo Bills colors this fall. Watkins’ production decreased each season with the Bills until the team traded him to the Los Angeles Rams in August 2017, and the Rams let him enter free agency even though he caught eight touchdowns during his one campaign with that team. Watkins has done well with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, but one can’t help but wonder how Beckham, and other elite WRs, would perform in that high-powered offense.
6 QB: Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow, drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos back in 2010, won a postseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a walk-off touchdown pass, and nobody will ever be able to take that away from him. Sure, Tebow’s mechanics were awful, his completion percentage was even worse and he was so bad he couldn’t make it with the New York Jets in 2012. He still has that win over Pittsburgh. Tebow is currently a baseball player in the minor league system of the New York Mets, but he recently stated that he believes he could still go in the NFL. Who wouldn’t want to see Tebowing one more time on a Sunday?
5 RB: Ameer Abdullah
We apologize to fans of the Detroit Lions for mentioning yet another disappointing running back in that team’s recent history. The Lions took Ameer Abdullah with a second-round pick in 2015, and the product of Nebraska had himself a solid rookie year with the Lions, as he posted 597 rushing yards, a pair of rushing scores and also a receiving TD. An injured foot forced him to the injured reserve list in September 2016, though, and he failed to cement his status as a starter for the club in 2017. Ahead of the 2018 season, Abdullah lost his spot on the depth chart to both veteran LeGarrette Blount and rookie Kerryon Johnson. The Minnesota Vikings claimed him after the Lions released him in November.
4 WR: Josh Gordon
When healthy, fully committed and not facing a league suspension, Josh Gordon has Hall-of-Fame talent. The 27-year-old who is technically in the middle of his fifth season in the NFL since 2012 has been a troubled individual who struggled with off-field issues, and he has done his part in trying to defeat those problems. Now with the New England Patriots, Gordon seems to be doing well, even if he still doesn’t look like he did during his best days with the Cleveland Browns. The shame is that we may never see Gordon reach what was a historically-high ceiling during the 2013 season.
3 QB: Robert Griffin III
When Robert Griffin III, the second pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, won Rookie of the Year honors as a member of the Washington Redskins, fans of that team never would have imagined that Kirk Cousins would replace RG3 in the starting lineup ahead of the 2015 season. Injuries and also some locker room issues caused Griffin to fall out of favor with the team that drafted him, and he then flopped with the Cleveland Browns during the 2016 season. He found a job as a backup with the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 before rookie Lamar Jackson leapfrogged him on the depth chart. RG3 may never start another NFL game.
2 RB: Trent Richardson
Trent Richardson isn’t the patron saint of running back busts, but the third pick of the 2012 NFL Draft was nevertheless a letdown and a disappointing pro. Richardson rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns his rookie year, but the Browns then traded him to the Indianapolis Colts after the second game of the 2013 season. Cleveland got that decision spot-on, as Richardson averaged under three yards per carry that rest of that year. The Colts let him go in March 2015, and he hasn’t played in a regular season game since. He also may play in the Alliance of American Football next year.
1 WR: Justin Blackmon
Unlike Josh Gordon, Justin Blackmon never came close to either being as good as expected or to conquering off-the-field issues in order to play pro football as a career. The fifth overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft was suspended for four games for violating the league’s policies in 2013, and that was just the first of multiple bans and problems that caused him to remain ineligible up through the fall of 2018. The Jacksonville Jaguars still hold Blackmon’s rights, but there is currently not any indication that he is all that interested in returning to the NFL.