It’s easy to second guess a team’s draft decisions in hindsight. But in the moment, coaches and GM’s make their choices based on how they think their selection will benefit the team long term. It’s an old cliché, but teams are very much built through the draft. As important as it is to pick up players in free agency, the draft gives teams a chance to get a real difference maker under contract for next to nothing. Imagine the incredible value of finding a franchise quarterback in the draft, then paying him almost nothing on his rookie contract. However, there’s no exact formula to finding a difference maker in the draft and, too often, highly ranked choices bomb.
It’s hard to pinpoint why certain athletes can’t make the transition from college ball to the pros. Sometimes it’s a matter of work ethic and other times it’s just a matter of collegiate success not guaranteeing success in a faster paced pro league. But missing out on a pick can hurt a franchise for years. Especially when the team is picking in the top ten. Teams usually find themselves picking higher than the rest because their previous squad was a good deal weaker than the rest of the league the previous year. The draft offers them an opportunity to better themselves with premier talent, mainly in the first round.
While every team expects to find someone who can eventually play at an elite level, that isn’t a realistic expectation for all players brought into the league – even first rounders. In fact most first round picks would be lucky to be remembered as “good” players once they retire. The hard truth is plenty of first round selections will bust. The teams that can avoid drafting these players, as well as multiple other contributors in the later rounds, are the ones that are in a position to compete year in and year out. This is a list of those picks that failed to make the cut.
15 The Raiders Give up Multiple Draft Picks for Aged Veterans
14 Teddy Bridgewater Goes After Johnny Manziel
13 The Dolphins Pick Dion Jordan 3rd Overall
12 2010 Halfback Class
11 The Jets Draft a Kicker in Round 2
10 Justin Blackmon Can’t Stay on the Field
9 Dallas Misses on Bobby Carpenter
8 Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers
7 Vernon Gholston Makes No Impact in the Pros
6 Cleveland Give Up a Second Rounder for Josh Gordon
5 2011 Draft QB’s Flop
4 …The 2006 Group Wasn’t Much Better
3 The RGIII Trade
2 Matt Millen Draft Classes
1 Oakland Takes JaMarcus Russell 1st Overall
Expected to save the Raiders franchise, JaMarcus Russell set the team back a number of years in their search for a franchise quarterback. Jason Campbell and Carson Palmer were tasked with fixing the mess Russell couldn’t, but had about just as much success in doing so as he did. During his time with the Raiders, Russell played in only 31 games amassing a 7-18 record while committing 38 turnovers. The silver and black finally look to be getting back on track with Derek Carr (ironically the brother of another draft bust), but Russell’s historic flop will continue to haunt him and the Raiders franchise for many years to come.
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