There are men, playing for your favorite team, making millions, that you know just absolutely suck. The game of football is a tough game. It’s a mix of strength and knowledge, that all players to play at the highest level. Players have overcome so much diversity to get to the NFL, battling against other players their whole lives. Finally, after dominating the game of football at their respected position, they arrive to the NFL with the highest expectations. They work their whole lives for this moment, but they just can’t perform at that same high level anymore.
Playing in the NFL is like no other sport. The transition from college football to the NFL may be the largest gap between collegiate sports and professional sports. Defenses control the game, not the offense. Guys are smarter, older, and a lot stronger. The best of the best has made it and dominated, while others have struggled to stay as a starter.
Some guys just can’t keep up with the pace of the NFL, and struggle to maintain a long career. The game takes a leap, and not every player takes that leap. There are many players in the NFL, and some struggle, but are good enough to be starters. This may drive fans and coaches crazy, but they are good enough to plug in as a starter to help the team. These players may be some of the worst in the game, but still manage to make a paycheck of a starting NFL player.
Here Are The Worst Starting NFL Player At Every Position:
15 Ted Ginn Jr.- New Orleans Saints (Punt Returner)
Age takes a toll, and it took one on Tedd Ginn Jr. The punt return specialist has struggled to take it up a notch and take one to the house. Last season, Ginn Jr. only was able to accumulate 202 punt return yards, as well as an average of 7.0 yards per carry. His longest return on the season was for only 19 yards. Ginn Jr. still performs at a high level as a wide receiver, but has seemed to have lost his step as a punt returner.
We haven’t seen Ginn Jr. take back a punt return to the end zone since 2014, and it may not be another few years, if ever, that we see him returning punts for touchdowns ever again. The punt return position is for younger players with a lot of speed. Ginn Jr. still has the hands, and enough speed to outrun linebackers, but his days on special teams are over.
14 Lucky Whitehead- New York Jets (Kick Returner)
The former FAU alumni has not been able to take his superstar status from Boca Raton into the NFL. Lucky Whitehead has struggled heavily trying to make a career in the NFL as a kick return specialist. He has struggled so much that the Dallas Cowboys were willing to release Whitehead when he was falsely accused of shoplifting.
Whitehead has struggled to take the lanes to get deep into opponent’s territories. Whitehead has a tendency to run straight into defenders, instead of running away from them. Whitehead also doesn’t have the ability to make defenders miss. His talent was enough for the New York Jets to pick him up, but not enough to keep his job in Dallas. His inability to be explosive on “America’s Team” contributed to him being released.
13 Ryan Quigley - Minnesota Vikings (Punter)
Punters may be one of the most under-appreciated positions in football. It seems like you’re just giving kicking a ball to the opponent, but the better accuracy and leg power you have, the deeper you can pin opponents into their own territory. Punters are also the last person that can make a tackle if returners make their way past defenders.
The former Arizona Cardinals punter struggled to get it going in 2016. He averaged 41.6 yards per punt, and only managed to put 13 punts inside the 20. The inability to help perform at a high level helped his departure to Minnesota. Quigley used to be one of the more dominant performers as a punter in the NFL, but took a big step backwards in the 2016 season. Quigley may need to take some extra reps this offseason to help get his performance back to his pre-2016 campaign.
12 Roberto Aguayo - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Kicker)
The star kicker from Florida State University who was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was the highest drafted kicker in NFL Draft history. After one season, Aguayo is known as the worst kicker in the league. A huge disappointment from Aguayo’s rookie season lead the Bucs to sign Nick Folk. Folk was signed to bring in competition for Aguayo, who may be in danger of losing the starting position.
Aguayo finished his rookie season kicking at 71 percent, missing nine field goals on the season. Aguayo’s longest field goal of the season was a short, 43-yard field goal. With a team that’s looking to make a run in the playoffs, they don’t have time to mess around with a kicker who struggles to hit field goals. As a playoff competitor, the last of their worries should be their kicker missing nine field goals in a season. Nick Folk will come in, and have a good shot of sending Aguayo to the bench.
11 Duke Ihenacho - New York Giants (Safety)
One of the most dangerous defenses in the league, signed the worst safety in the league. Duke Ihenacho signed with the New York Giants after finishing his season with the Washington Redskins. Ihenacho has a slim chance of being a start in New York with Landon Collins as the starter, but Ihenacho’s performance in Washington showed how poor of a starter he is.
Ihenacho has been in the league since 2012, yet has still not received his first interception as a safety. Ihenacho shows that he is a strong hitter and can help in the run game, but struggles in coverage. With a division that requires covering Dez Bryant and Alshon Jeffrey, things are only going to get worse for the new Giants safety. His inability to make plays on the ball will lead him to being burned down the field by the many top receivers in the NFC East. His poor performance will lead him to less playing time than he received with the Redskins.
10 Vontae Davis - Indianapolis Colts (Cornerback)
Vontae Davis has seemed to have lost a step after finishing his 2016 season with only one interception, and 10 passes defended. A year after finishing 59 overall in the NFL Network’s Top 100 players, Davis seems to be seeing his way off the field with his poor play. The Colts secondary was ranked 29th in the NFL. Davis got some help from his defensive line, but not enough to help make him make his 2016 season look like a good performance.
Vontae Davis was constantly battling injuries throughout the 2016 season, which may had led to his poor play. But the Colts may have been better without him on the field. Davis struggled to defend against the pass, and make tackles after the catch. Injuries may have played a part in the poor season of Davis, but for now, he is the worst cornerback in the NFL.
9 Jake Ryan - Green Bay Packers (Inside Linebacker)
The Packers struggled all over the defensive side of the ball, including a weak link at the inside linebacker position. Jake Ryan finished his season with 82 combined tackles, but was unable to get a sack or interception throughout the season. Ryan has some good games in 2016, including his 12 tackles in a loss to the Colts. Ryan helps the inside of the defense makes tackles, but doesn’t show the explosiveness to truly make an impact, or change the game. More experience may lead his game to improve, but for now, he struggles to play at the highest level for a team that was a win away from the Super Bowl.
Green Bay ranked fairly well against the run in 2016, but would like to see Ryan make those extra steps to help become a bigger impact on the defensive side. With Clay Matthews production level declining, the Packers are in need of a playmaker from the linebacker position.
8 Vincent Rey - Cincinnati Bengals (Outside Linebacker)
One of the captains for the Cincinnati Bengals may need to concentrate on his game play, rather than being a leader for this team. With the way many teams play in the NFL, outside linebackers tend to become the players that accumulate the most sacks on teams. Vincent Rey struggled to get to the quarterback at all this past season. Rey did finish with one interception and 86 combined tackles, but his play will need to improve to help stop quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco from dominating against the Bengals defense.
His story may be interesting, an undrafted free agent from Duke, to the leader of the Bengals, but his story won’t help improve his game. His inability to get to the quarterback keeps him from being on an elite level in this league. The Bengals may want to change the defensive scheme up to help Rey get to the quarterbacks, or find a new outside linebacker in the future drafts.
7 Jamie Meder - Cleveland Browns (Defensive End)
Jamie Meder has struggled as a defensive end in this league since his start in 2014. His struggles lead to the Cleveland Browns selected Myles Garrett with the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft. Meder’s game struggles all around, from playing against the run to getting to the quarterback. Meder finished the 2016 season with 48 combined tackles and one sack.
With a team that is trying to build up and make an impact on the league, they need a defensive end with better performances than one sack in a season. Myles Garrett should help improve the Browns defensive end position, but also may cost Meder a job. With Carl Nassib also making an impact, Meder’s time as a starter for the Browns are closing in on him.
6 Xavier Cooper - Cleveland Browns (Defensive Tackle)
With talking about the worst starting players at each position in football, it’s expected to see many players pop up from the worst teams in the NFL. Here we see again another Cleveland Browns player. This one is defensive tackle, Xavier Cooper. The fact that Cooper still has a position in the NFL is embarrassing on its own. Cooper finished the 2016 season with only 20 combined tackles and no sacks. His best game came on the first game of the season where he had four tackles.
Cooper has the body type to be a dominant force in the NFL, but seems to struggle to get to the ball and make the plays needed. Cooper has potential, but with no strong veterans to help him improve, it seems unlikely that we will see Cooper live up to his potential.
5 Ereck Flowers - New York Giants (Offensive Lineman)
The New York Giants seem to get things going on defense, but for their offense, it still seems to struggle due to the poor performance of their offensive line. Ereck Flowers, first round pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, has seemed to be a total bust since entering the league. In 2016, he allowed 59 pressures, ranking 2nd worst in the league, and had a 92.7 pass blocking efficiency.
The team may consider moving Flowers over to right tackle, as Flowers has struggled at the blind side position. The Giants can’t afford to let Eli Manning get hit anymore, when they’re trying to make a playoff run. It’s only a matter of time before the Giants go out and get another offensive tackle to replace to poor performances of Ereck Flowers. With a division that is close, and each NFC East team drafting a defensive lineman, the Giants are going to want to find Flowers replacement sooner rather than later.
4 Garrett Celek - San Francisco 49ers (Tight End)
The 49ers are still trying to find their way back to their form that they played in 2012 when they made it to the Super Bowl. Ever since, the 49ers have found themselves back at the bottom of the barrel in the NFL. Ever since Vernon Davis left, the 49ers have been struggling to find a dominant tight end for their quarterback to throw to. Instead of finding a dominant force in the pass game, they may have the worst tight end in the league.
Garrett Celek hasn’t shown anything spectacular to 49ers fans to give them a feeling that they may have the star tight end they need. Throughout his career in San Francisco, Celek has only been able to catch six touchdown passes, which have only game in the past two years. Celek has seen more playing time, but will need to improve in the passing game if he wants to compete with other tight ends on the roster. The 49ers have had success using the tight end position in the past, and would like to find their successor to Vernon Davis.
3 Kendall Wright - Chicago Bears (Wide Receiver)
The Titans have looked for a dominant wide receiver for Marcus Mariota to help the team go to the next level, unfortunately, Kendall Wright was not their man. The Chicago Bears signed Wright this offseason, to give a weapon to Mike Glennon or Mitchell Trubisky, whichever quarterback will become the start Week 1. Wright finished the 2016 season with only 416 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Wright has seen a slow decline in his career since his 1,079 receiving yard season back in 2013.
Wright claimed that the reason for his lack of production in 2016 was because of the Tennessee Titans inability to get Wright on the field enough. Whether this is the truth, it won’t matter for the Titans come 2017. The Titans drafted Corey Davis and signed Eric Decker, helping fill a need that was desperate for the team. Wright’s decline seems that it will continue as his home moves to a team that may not know who their starting quarterback will even be this upcoming season.
2 Theo Riddick - Detroit Lions (Running Back)
The Detroit Lions still struggle to find a running back to help complement Matthew Stafford, and help balance out this offense. The Lions have tried out multiple running backs through the season, but haven’t had much luck finding one that stands out. Theo Riddick is one of the starters that played in the 2016 season, and was not able to show any signs of helping carry this run game who has struggled.
Riddick struggled in 2016 averaging 3.9 yards a carry, and only one touchdown. As a running back taking the carries, Riddick definitely cannot help becoming the man for the Lions. However, Riddick has shown signs that he can be a Lance Dunbar for the Lions. Riddick caught for 371 yards and scored five touchdowns in the passing game. His skill level can help make him a third down back that plays a lot in the pass, or even as a slot receiver, but the Lions will need to continue to find a running back that can help take the workload off of Stafford.
1 Brock Osweiler - Cleveland Browns (Quarterback)
There was a lot of chatter about Brock Osweiler after the 2015 season, after he helped lead the Denver Broncos to the playoffs before Peyton Manning took back over. He showed that he was a serviceable quarterback in 2015, but in 2016, everyone questioned why the Houston Texans signed Osweiler to a four-year $72 million deal.
In 2016, Osweiler threw 15 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions, finishing with a 72.2 passer rating. Even after the huge contract Osweiler signed, the Texans still tested out Tom Savage as the starting quarterback. Osweiler’s inability to throw the long ball, and poor accuracy led to his awful 2016 campaign. The Texans have the pieces to become one of the better teams in the NFL, but first they needed to get rid of Osweiler.
The Houston Texans offered the Cleveland Browns a second-round draft pick just to take Brock Osweiler’s heavy contract. The Browns did, in need of as many draft picks as possible, and a quarterback to take over in Ohio. If Osweiler continues to perform poorly, the Browns may even let Osweiler walk, making the quarterback jobless for good.