Football is probably the hardest sport to make a team out of. Unlike basketball where the five players on the court play offense and defense, in the NFL they have 11 players on the field for offense and then a different set of 11 players on the field for defense. Not only that, but they also can have up to 53 players on a roster at one time for susbstituions and sudden injuries.
It is also difficult to make an NFL roster because of all the positions. On offense you have linemen, quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends, and fullbacks. On defense you have linemen, defensive backs, cornerbacks, and safeties. Then there is special teams that include kickers, punters, and return men. In addition to all of these positions teams have to hire coaching staffs as well.
When going into an offseason, teams have many decisions to make. They first must make the obvious changes that they need work on from the previous season. If a team’s quarterback got sacked over 40 times in the previous season, then they would need a offensive linemen to fix that problem. If a team allowed over 400 goal yards a game, they need to make some changes on defense.
Whether it’s through the NFL Draft, trades or free agency pickups, NFL teams must determine what players best fit their system in order to be successful for a playoff run and eventually become Super Bowl contenders. Some teams have made the right choices, like the Seattle Seahawks who changed their defense around through the draft in a couple years and some teams just can not get right like the Cleveland Browns who have not made the playoffs since 2002.
Here are the players we believe to be the worst in their franchise’s history.
Arizona Cardinals – Clyde Duncan, WR
The St.Louis Cardinals, at the time, needed some help on offense so they selected WR Clyde Duncan with the 17th overall pick in the 1984 draft. The Cardinals might as well say they didn’t have a first round pick this draft because thats how ineffective Duncan was. In two seasons with the Cardinals, Duncan had four receptions for 39 yards and one lone TD. Following Duncan’s departure in 1985, the Cardinals did not make the playoffs for the next 13 seasons.
Atlanta Falcons – Aundray Bruce, OLB
After a five year playoff drought, the Atlanta Falcons decided they needed some help on defense. In 1988, with the first overall pick, the Falcons selected OLB Aundray Bruce. In four seasons with the Falcons, Bruce had 16 sacks and three interceptions, which is not bad but nowhere close to first overall pick standards. Bruce was then sent to the Oakland Raiders for the rest of his career where he did not improve at all. The good thing is the Falcons went to the playoffs in 1991, meaning Bruce did not push them back too far by being a bust.
Baltimore Ravens – Kyle Boller, QB
In 2003, the Ravens had one of the best defenses in league history, showing why in 2000 by beating the New York Giants for their first Super Bowl Championship. With the defense on lock, they needed to work on their offense. With the 19th pick in the 2003 draft, they chose QB Kyle Boller. In five seasons (53 games) with the Ravens, Boller started in 42 and had a total of 45 TDs and 44 INTs. The Ravens only made the playoffs once during those five seasons. After cutting tides with the Ravens, Boller was in the league for only three more seasons and started in only five games during that span.
Buffalo Bills – J.P. Losman, QB
In 2004, the Buffalo Bills needed a QB for the future and selected J.P Losman with the 22nd overall pick. In his rookie season, Losman only played in four games. In his third season, the Bills gave Losman a chance, starting and playing him in all 16 games. Losman threw 19 TDs and 14 INTs for 3,051 yards, which was not enough to get them into the playoffs. Things got much worse from there and in his five seasons with the Bills, Losman threw 33 TDs and 34 INTs. The Bills wasted a pick on Losman and have not been to the playoffs since 1999.
Carolina Panthers – Dwayne Jarrett, WR
In 2007, the Panthers drafted WR Dwayne Jarrett to help take the load off of star receiver Steve Smith. Jarrett was not what the Panthers expected and failed to make an impact with the team at all. In four seasons with the Panthers, Jarrett had 35 receptions for 428 yards and one lonely TD. After the Panthers released Jarrett in 2011, he was not picked up by another NFL team.
Chicago Bears – Cade McNown, QB
The Chicago Bears drafted QB Cade McNown in 1999, their highest drafted QB since Jim McMahon in 1982, who went fifth overall. McMahon had a decent career with a career rating of 78.2 and they expected the same out of McNown. In McNown’s rookie season, Shane Matthews was announced as the starter. However, Matthews suffered a hamstring injury, giving McNown the starting job after all. Well, things went poorly as McNown threw 16 TDs and 19 INTs for 3,111 yards over the next year and a half. After his second season, the Bears let him go. McNown went to the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers in two seasons and did not play a single game. After just four seasons in the NFL, McNown was out of the league.
Cincinnati Bengals – Akili Smith, QB
The Cincinnati Bengals third overall pick in 1999, QB Akili Smith, was one they wish they could take back. Smith played for the Bengals for four seasons, playing in 22 games and starting in 17. Smith threw five TDs and 13 INTs for 2,212 yards for a career QB rating of 52.8. After his fourth season, Smith was released. Although he tried out for numerous teams, he did not make the cut and was not on a NFL roster after 2002. In that draft, the Bengals passed on Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, Champ Bailey, Daunte Culpepper, Jevon Kearse, and Antoine Winfield, who all went before the 23rd overall pick.
Cleveland Browns – Tim Couch, QB
The Cleveland Browns had high hopes with the number one overall pick in 1999. This was a chance for the Browns, and the city of Cleveland, to show that they could be in Super Bowl conversations. Well, those hopes were shattered once their draft pick Tim Couch stepped on the field. In five seasons with the Browns, Couch threw 64 TDs, had 67 INTs, and amassed 11,131 yards. The Browns did make the playoffs in 2002 for the first time in eight years, but that was the last time they have been in the postseason, as they are currently on a 13 year playoff drought.
Dallas Cowboys – Shante Carver, DE
In 1994, the Dallas Cowboys wanted to upgrade their defense by selecting DE Shante Carver. During his four seasons with the Cowboys, Carver recorded only 11.5 sacks in 52 games which is nowhere near the expectation levels which were set. The Cowboys were first overall in defense Carver’s rookie season, but dropped to 22nd the following season. Once released form the Cowboys in 1997, Carver never made a NFL roster again, making him a major bust for the Cowboys.
Denver Broncos- Tim Tebow, QB
Tim Tebow was one of the best college QBs in history, but we all know that college is way different than the NFL and Tebow is a prime example of that. In his second season with the Denver Broncos, Tebow replaced starting QB Kyle Orton and led them to a 7-4 record the rest of the season. In his first playoff game, Tebow threw a game wining TD to Demaryius Thomas to upset the 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers. Although they lost the next round to the New England Patriots, many believed Tebow could be a QB in the NFL. Well everybody except NFL coaching staffs. Despite his season with the Broncos, Tebow only made one NFL roster after that season.
Detroit Lions – Charles Rogers, WR
In 2003, the Detroit lions needed a receiver on offense and went with Charles Rogers with the second overall pick. In three seasons with the Lions, Rogers had 36 catches for 440 yards and four TDs. To make matters worst, the very next pick was Andre Johnson, who was selected by the Houston Texans. After his time with the Lions, Rogers never played for another NFL team again. The Lions made up for this in 2007 when they were in the same exact scenario with the 2nd overall pick and drafted a player by the name of Calvin Johnson.
Green Bay Packers – Tony Mandarich, OT
After ranking 24th out of 28 teams in overall offense at the time, the Green Packers needed help on the offensive end. They decided to start with the offensive line by drafting Tony Mandarich in 1989 with the second overall pick. In his four seasons with the Packers, they were ranked in the bottom half of the league in total offense three out of the four seasons he was there. Mandarich then went to the Indianapolis Colts for three seasons where he finished his career.
Houston Texans – David Carr, QB
The Houston Texans had the opportunity to establish their new franchise with the first overall pick in the 2002 draft. They did what most teams with a bad offense would do and they drafted a QB. The only problem was that they drafted the wrong QB. In five seasons with the Texans, they did not make the playoffs and ranked in the bottom 10 of passing offense four out of five seasons, including being dead last during Carr’s rookie season, proving that Carr was not going to be a franchise QB.
Indianapolis Colts – Steve Emtman, DE
With the first overall pick in 1992, the Indianapolis Colts decided to enhance their defense, despite them being ranked top 10 in total defense and second to last in total offense. The Colts should have picked differently because Steve Emtman was not the help they needed. In three seasons with the Colts, Emtman recorded five sacks and one INT. By 1998, Emtman was out of the NFL and is known as one of the biggest #1 overall busts in history.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Blaine Gabbert, QB
In 2011, after missing out on the postseason for three straight years, the Jaguars needed some changes and decided to go with QB Blaine Gabbert with the 10th overall pick. The Jaguars had the right idea of improving their offense, but just did not plan it the right way. In three seasons with the Jaguars, Gabbert threw 22 TDs and 24 INTs for 4,357 yards in 28 games. After leaving the Jaguars, Gabbert because the backup QB in San Francisco and showed some flashes in 2015. Gabbert was drafted right before J.J. Watt, who was chosen 11th overall by the Houston Texans. That’s gotta hurt.
Kansas City Chiefs – Todd Blackledge, QB
The Kansas City Chiefs had missed out on the postseason for 11 straight years and had the 11th overall pick in the 1983 draft. The Chiefs selected QB Todd Blackledge to lead their offense for the upcoming seasons. In 1986, the Chiefs did make the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons, despite little help from Blackledge. In five seasons with the Chiefs, Blackledge played in 40 games and threw 26 TDs and 32 INTs for 4,510 yards. After leaving the Chiefs, Blackledge was picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers but only played in six games, none of which eh started. By 1990, Blackledge was out of the league.
Miami Dolphins – John Avery, RB
In his brief time with the Miami Dolphins, RB John Avery, who was drafted 29th overall in 1998, played in only 17 games and started in none. Avery rushed for 503 yards and had three total TDs with the Dolphins before being let go. Avery only played in the NFL for three seasons and with three different teams.
Minnesota Vikings – Troy Williamson, WR
With the departure of Randy Moss in 2005, the Minnesota Vikings needed to fill that void quickly and they did so with the pick they received for Randy Moss from the Raiders. In the 2005 draft, they selected WR Troy Williamson with the 7th overall pick, who was known as a speedster out of South Carolina. In three seasons with the Vikings, Williamson did not even come close to what Moss was, catching 79 passes for 1,067 yards and three TDs in 39 games. The Vikings traded Williamson to the Jaguars where he was ineffective for two more seasons.
New England Patriots – Chad Jackson, WR
From 2002 to 2005, the New England Patriots had won three Super Bowl Championships in four seasons. They were the best team at the time and just needed some role players to keep them on top. In 2006, they drafted Chad Jackson 36th overall to add some more offense to the team. In his two seasons with the Patriots, Jackson had 13 receptions for 152 yards and three TDs. It is actually good that Jackson had a terrible time in New England because this led to them acquiring Randy Moss, going 16-0 and making it to the Super Bowl, although they lost to the New York Giants.
New Orleans Saints – Johnathan Sullivan, DT
The New Orleans Saints needed some serious help on defense and went with DT Johnathan Sullivan with the 6th overall pick in the 2003 draft. In 36 game with the Saints in three seasons, Sullivan accumulated 77 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The following season, Sullivan went to the New England Patriots where he did not play a single game, ending his short career. Sullivan was drafted over Kevin Williams, Terrell Suggs, Marcus Trufant, Troy Polamalu, Nnamdi Asomugha, Charles Tillman, Rashean Mathis, E.J. Henderson, Lance Briggs, and Robert Mathis to make matters much worse.
New York Giants – Cedric Jones, DE
To improve their defense, the New York Giants drafted DE Cedric Jones fifth overall in the 1996 draft. In his first two seasons in the NFL, Jones did not record a single sack. Over his next three seasons with the Giants, Jones had 15 sacks but it was too little too late. His last game with the Giants would be his last game in the NFL. In that ’96 draft, Jones was drafted higher than Marvin Harrison, Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins, Tedy Bruschi, Terrell Owens, and Zach Thomas.
New York Jets – Vernon Gholston, LB
In 2008, the New York Jets drafted Vernon Gholston sixth overall to improve their defense. In three seasons with the Jets, Gholston played in 35 games but only started in five. Gholston only recorded 42 tackles with Jets and was a huge disappointment to their franchise. Gholston was signed in training camp by the St.Louis Rams and Chicago Bears, although they cut him before the season started, ending his career early. Gholston had a tryout with the Washington Redskins in 2015 but did not make the cut once again.
Oakland Raiders – JaMarcus Russell, QB
JaMarcus Russell is considered to be one of the biggest busts in NFL history after coming off of an incredible collegiate career. In 2007, the Oakland Raiders selected Russell first overall in the 2007 draft, a decision that would haunt them for years to come. In only three seasons in the NFL, all with the Raiders, Russell played in 31 games and threw 18 TDs and 23 INTs for 4,083 yards. The Raiders have not made the playoffs since 2002. In the 2007 Draft, the next 15 picks included Adrain Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis, and Lawrence Timmons.
Philadelphia Eagles – Freddie Mitchell, WR
The Philadelphia Eagles had just came off of three straight Conference Championship appearances, but lost each time. They need a piece that would get them to the Super Bowl, which in their eyes, was a receiver. The Eagles had added Terrell Owens and needed somebody on the opposite side to help out. Sadly, their 25th overall pick in 2001, Freddie Mitchell, was not the answer. The Eagles did actually make it to the Super Bowl, but came up short to the New England Patriots with no help from Mitchell. By the time the Super Bowl came around, many forgot or did not even know Mitchell was on the team. In his four season career, all with the Eagles, Mitchell had 90 receptions for 1,263 yards and five TDs.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Limas Sweed, WR
With Hines Ward not getting any younger, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to find somebody to replace him. With the 53rd overall pick in the 2008 draft, they chose WR Limas Sweed. Sweed only lasted two seasons in the NFL, both with the Steelers, and had seven receptions for 69 yards and zero TDs in 20 games. The Steelers had an earlier pick in that draft at 23rd overall and chose Rashard Mendenhall with Jordy Nelson and DeSean Jackson still on the board. Sweed was picked over Ray Rice and Jamal Charles.
San Diego Chargers – Ryan Leaf, QB
In 1998, the Indianapolis Colts had the #1 overall pick and had a very tough decision to make between QBs Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. The Colts drafted Manning and the Chargers drafted Leaf. The outcome would produce one of the best QBs ever and one of the biggest NFL busts ever. After a great college career, Leaf did not carry it over into the NFL. In three seasons with the Chargers, Leaf threw 13 TDs and 33 INTs in 21 games. The Chargers shipped him off to the Dallas Cowboys, where he lasted for one season.
San Francisco 49ers – Giovanni Carmazzi, QB
In 2000, the San Francisco 49ers drafted QB Giovanni Carmazzi 65th overall to be a backup, but he was still the second QB picked in the draft. Carmazzi did not play one regular season game in the NFL in two seasons and ended up going to Europe to play football. Not a great NFL career and not one that’s befitting of a franchise like the San Francisco 49ers.
Seattle Seahawks – Aaron Curry, LB
The Seattle Seahawks wanted to improve their defense so they selected Aaron Curry with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft. In two and a half seasons with the Seahawks, Curry had 156 tackles, 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, which is not that great for a top five draft pick. Curry was drafted over B.J. Rali, Brian Orakpo, Malcolm Jenkins, Brian Cushing, Vontae Davis, Clay Matthews, Jarius Bryd, Connor Barwin, and Glover Quin. The Seahawks could have selected a much better player.
St. Louis Rams – Lawrence Phillips, RB
In the 1996 draft, RB Lawrence Phillips was considered one of the best players out there. The St. Louis Rams drafted him sixth overall despite him having legal issues in college and known for being a troubled player. In his two seasons with the Rams, Phillips had 376 carries for 1,265 yards and 12 TDs in 25 games. Phillips encountered some off the field issues which caused the Rams to release him. Phillips only lasted two more seasons in the NFL due to his personal issues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vinny Testaverde, QB
After missing the playoffs for four straight seasons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the opportunity to turn their franchise around with the number one overall pick in 1987. The Bucs management decided to go with QB Vinny Testaverde, which was not the best decision. In six seasons with the Bucs, Testaverde threw for 14,820 yards, 77 TDs and 112 INTs. The Bucs did not make the playoffs until 1997, 10 years after Testaverde was drafted. Despite his run in Tampa Bay, Testaverde played in the NFL for 21 seasons and was solid in his other stops.
Tennessee Titans – Chris Henry, RB
The Tennessee Titans drafted Chris Henry 50th overall in 2007 to help their running game get back on track, but Henry was not the answer. In three seasons with the Titans, Henry rushed 32 times for 122 yards and 2 TDs. Henry went on to play for the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans but played in no games, ending his NFL career in just five seasons. The Titans drafted a RB by the name of Chris Johnson the following season.
Washington Redskins – Heath Shuler, QB
In 1994, the Washington Redskins drafted QB Heath Shuler third overall with hopes that he would be a franchise QB who they could build the team around. Shuler was not exactly what they expected. In third seasons with the Skins, Shuler played in 19 games and threw for 2,403 yards, 13 TDs and 19 INTs. Shuler then went to the New Orleans Saints for two seasons and was out of the NFL after just five of years of play.
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