Top 15 Biggest NFL Draft Slides of All Time

With the 2014 NFL regular season over and the playoffs underway and most fantasy leagues over and done with, fans will begin to discuss the draft (especially those people whose teams didn't make the playoffs). The NFL draft is one of those events in the sporting world that is not a game, but is followed with the same careful analysis as the playoffs. It may be four months away, but analysts and casual fans alike have all started to pontificate what certain teams need, which free agents could offset draft needs, and which players will be drafted earliest.

Obviously at this point these hypotheses are little more than idle talk, but many people offer valuable and interesting insight regardless. One of the biggest and most discussed aspects in any draft are draft slides. While each person and their confused mother can come up with a definition for draft slide, there are two fundamental criteria; at least one of which must be met in order for a player to have slid in the draft. The player must be a highly projected (at least first round, usually early first round) pick whose draft stock diminishes due to a bad Pro Day, or off field incident, or that high projected athlete must simply not be picked until later than predicted on the day of the draft.

A draft bust is a player who is projected to be drafted early, is drafted early, but goes on to have a poor overall pro career. A steal, with Tom Brady being a notable example, is a late round pick who goes on to have an outstanding career. This is not new information, but among some fans, there is a serious lack of clarity regarding what constitutes the basic differences among these terms. Without further rambling and clarification; here is our list of the NFL's 15 most notorious draft slides of all time. Criteria to determine the list membership and ranking will be the overall notoriety of the player, combined with how far they slid in the draft itself.

15 15. Johnny Manziel

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

This one is highly debatable but who says starting off a list with some debate is a bad thing? Johnny Football was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. The reason his membership on this list is debatable is that Manziel's potential for the NFL was highly debated prior to the 2014 draft. Some analysts argued that his skills and instincts would naturally transfer to the big show, but others said he should never have even declared for the draft.

14 14. Matt Leinart

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Another Heisman winning quarterback, Leinart won it back in 2004 while playing for USC. Despite 6'5 and 225 lbs being essentially a prototype build for a modern day quarterback, Leinart could never really pull it together in the NFL. Aa of right now, he is a free agent, but after eight rough seasons, a losing record, a poor touchdown to interception ratio and completion rating, it looks very unlikely he will ever see the field again.

13 13. Rey Maualuga

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The Bengals' linebacker was a highly sought prospect out of high school and had a great career at USC. Between 2005 and 2008, Maualuga developed into one of the best young linebackers in the country under Pete Carroll's coaching. In his draft year, 2009, Maualuga was believed to be one of the most promising defensive players in the class. Some analysts predicted he would be taken in the top ten while others said in the teens, but it was almost unthought of that he would go 38th overall, in the second round.

12 12. Brady Quinn

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Another Cleveland Browns quarterback who was taken 22nd overall... Brady Quinn is now a free agent who occasionally sits in as an analyst for NCAA games. Back in 2007, he looked like the best quarterback entering the draft, having had a couple of successful years with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

11 11. Mario Manningham

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The former Michigan Wolverines wide receiver had four years of relative success in the NFL, catching for over 2500 yards in four seasons with 19 touchdowns. He played a few seasons for the New York Giants and a couple for the 49ers, winning a Super Bowl with the Giants, but never making an impact beyond being the number three wide out.

Upon declaring for the draft, there were some serious reasons for a slide for Manningham. While his speed and hands were seen as reliable, his character was in question along with his overall intelligence. He was known to have been caught having used marijuana at least once in college but his 6 out of 50 Wonderlic score scared those teams away who would have selected him in the first round despite the drug issue.

10 10. Ray Lewis

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Ray Lewis ranks among the top linebackers of all time. He carried the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory back in 2013, despite a serious arm injury. He is known as one of the most intense men ever to play the game, which is saying something. He had three years with the Miami Hurricanes and declared for the draft in early 1996.

9 9. Dez Bryant

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His "catch" against the Green Bay Packers in this weekend's divisional game may be the current talk of the league, but Dez Bryant is still among the best receivers in the league. Prior to his time in the NFL, he was one of the best receivers in the NCAA, playing for Oklahoma State.

8 8. Warren Sapp

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The delightful loud-mouth from the NFL Network comes in as number eight for our list. Sapp was one of the most feared defensive linemen in the league for a number of years and prior to that he was an intimidating mangler for the University of Miami.

7 7. Aaron Hernandez

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Anybody who had a crystal ball back in 2010 could have told the world why Hernandez should slide in the draft, but even prior to the murders he allegedly carried out, there was writing on the wall. Hernandez admitted to having failed a drug test while at the University of Florida, but multiple drug tests were rumored. Furthermore, there was plenty of speculation prior to his being drafted with regard to whether or not he was still living, as the kids say, "the thug life." As it would turn out, yes, yes he was.

6 6. Thurman Thomas

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

5 5. Randy Moss

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In his two years with the Marshall Thundering Herd, Randy Moss scored 54 touchdown passes and just over 3,500 yards. To call him unbelievable as a freshman and sophomore, would be a massive understatement. Unfortunately, as his later NFL career would prove, he was an interesting character and not the most ideal NFL player in terms of behavior.

4 4. Drew Brees

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

3 3. Aaron Rodgers

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

2 2. Dan Marino

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

1 1. Vontaze Burfict

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

This one warrants a slight disclaimer. By putting the Bengals' linebacker and 2013 league tackle leader at the number one position, ahead of Rodgers and Marino, we are not saying he is a bigger star than those two were or are. Rather, he is number one because of how much he slid.

Burfict was a great linebacker in his sophomore year and there were rumors of his intention to declare for the draft even before the start of his junior season. Unfortunately, problems started to come out of the woodwork. Burfict failed a drug test, and was widely believed to be a liability on and off the field. He went from a possible top ten pick to undrafted to a star linebacker.

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Top 15 Biggest NFL Draft Slides of All Time