Congratulations have to go to Myles Garrett, the no. 1 pick in the 2017 draft.
Expectations have to be tempered — from the fans to team executives — as the young defensive end won’t single-handedly get this sad-sack franchise turned around in a hurry. However, he will be counted on to make their defence better.
And we have to ask, with the weight of expectations, will be a boon, or a bust? Stay tuned.
There were several other interesting selections which may or may not work out. Chicago traded up to pick project QB Mitch Trubisky at no. 2. Kansas City did likewise, using the 10th pick to draft pivot Patrick Mahomes II.
As for the rest of the first round, Indianapolis rolled the dice on injured safety Malik Hooker at no. 15, while Cleveland also gambled with their second pick in the first round, taking safety Jabrill Peppers, whose greatest talent might only be returning punts.
These players will all be put under the microscope, heading into their first NFL seasons.
They are either oh so close to stardom or being relegated to the dust heap but they have time.
The following players, at least one from each team picked in the first round of a draft, ran out of it, fast.
32. Arizona Cardinals – QB Matt Leinart
From the start of this millenium until about 2007, the Arizona Cardinals were not a good football team, nor were they very bad. After a seventh straight losing season in 2005 (they went 5-11), the Cards needed a successor to aging QB Kurt Warner and at no. 10, USC stud Matt Leinart fell into their lap. A big guy (6’5″) Leinart seemed to be the prototypical NFL QB, albeit with a bit of a weak arm (even though he tossed 99 TD passes in three seasons with the Trojans). That small fact didn’t deter Arizona’s brass from taking him, but would be proven later. Leinart started 11 of his 12 games in 2006, but found NFL defences a lot tougher, throwing for 11 TDs but 12 interceptions. For the next three seasons he was primarily backup to Warner. In 2010, he was supposed to be the no. 1 after Warner retired, but lost the starting job to Derek Anderson and was released. He didn’t play at all in 2010 and two seasons later he was out of football. His final rating was a dismal 70.2.
31. Atlanta Falcons – DE Jamaal Anderson
Let’s just say that the 2007 NFL draft was as interesting for some of the future start players drafted as it was for a few busts. It was the year Oakland took JaMarcus Russell no. 1 overall, and we all know how that turned out (spoiler alert). But, Calvin Johnson went no. 2, followed by Adrian Peterson at no. 7, Ted Ginn at no. 9 and Darrelle Revis at no. 14. With the eighth pick, the Falcons believed they were getting a great edge rusher in Arkansas DE Anderson, as recorded 17.5 QB sacks in his time with the Razorbacks, with those sacks going for minus 128 yards. He also recorded 130 tackles, with 84 solos. He had 32 stops for losses of 167 yards, 35 quarterback pressures, 8 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 20 starts. He earned the starting job in Atlanta that season, but in 60 games over four seasons (47 starts) he registered a pedestrian 83 tackles, two forced fumbles and 10 pass defences.
30. Baltimore Ravens – QB Kyle Boller
Before Joe Flacco came rolling around in Baltimore, there was Kyle Boller calling plays for the Ravens. He didn’t do a totally bad job of it, but neither was he very great. After being drafted 19th overall in 2003 out of California, Boller was strictly half-assed in the pros. In five seasons with Baltimore, he threw just one more TD pass than he did interceptions (45-44) and logged a sub-par 71.9 rating. He had a tendency to fumble the ball a lot and wasn’t very mobile, getting sacked 102 times in 53 games. The Ravens fashioned a winning record in three of his five seasons there, but he never did start a playoff game and it seemed as if the team won despite his presence behind center.
29. Buffalo Bills – QB J.P. Losman
There is a reason the Bills haven’t made the playoffs in 17 seasons, and much of it has had to do with the offence, or rather the lack of it. Sure, they have employed the likes of Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Fitzpatrick since last making it in 1999, but for every Bledsoe or Fitzpatrick there has been a Rob Johnson, Trent Edwards, E.J. Manuel or J.P. Losman. Speaking of the latter, the Bills, who had picked wide receiver Lee Evans at no. 13 in the 2004 draft, dealt themselves back into the first round to take Tulane pivot Losman at no. 22. In hindsight, the fact that Losman was drafted in the very same first round that saw Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger as the only other QBs picked is galling. Losman had one decent season in five with Buffalo, but still finished with an overall record of 10-23 as a starter, with 33 TD passes and 34 interceptions. He was sacked 103 times in 42 games with the Bills and recorded a 75.6 rating.
28. Carolina Panthers – DB Rashard Anderson
By the time the 23rd pick in the 2000 draft rolled around for the Carolina Panthers decision, much of the available high end talent was already gone. Yet, there was something about Jackson State defensive back Rashard Anderson that the Panthers liked. And after rewarding him with a five-year, $6 million contract with a $2.83 million signing bonus, Anderson actually put in some decent work in 27 games (nine starts) over the next two seasons. He had 59 tackles and an interception. But, like so many young men with too much money and things to waste it on, he got caught up using drugs and was suspended for a season in May 2002 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. It was extended for another year when he didn’t meet requirements for reinstatement and following the 2003 campaign he was released.
27. Chicago Bears – QB Cade McNown
The 1999 draft will go down in history as year of the quarterback bust. There were five college pivots drafted in the first 12 selections and three of them, including Tim Couch (spoiler alert), Akili Smith (ditto) and Cade McNown all became answers to trivia questions later. McNown was a stud at UCLA for his last two of four seasons, tossing for 6,586 yards and 49 touchdowns (against 17 INTs) to put himself at the top of the ’99 draft class. With the 12th pick then, the Bears, who were in dire need of a top notch starter, traded up to take McNown. His pro career, however, was all too brief and less than ordinary. He made just 15 starts in 25 games over two seasons and threw more interceptions (19) than touchdown passes (15). After failed stints in Miami and San Francisco, where he never played at all, he was out of the NFL by 2002.
26. Cincinnati Bengals – QB Akili Smith
When it comes to drafting high-end college talent, NFL scouts have too often been dazzled by the one-year wonders. As mentioned above, Akili Smith was one of three star college signal-callers taken in the first round who fizzled fast. In 1998 with Oregon, Smith’s performance was off the chart in his only great season as a starter. He completed 215 of 371 passes for 3,763 yards, 32 TDs and just eight INTs. Taken third overall by QB hungry Cincinnati, Smith decided to act the diva and miss most of training camp in a contract dispute with Cincinnati but in the end signed for seven years and $56 million, including a huge $10.8 million signing bonus. He would never be worth the dough in part of four seasons with the Bengals and gained a reputation as less than diligent about learning the playbook. He finished with a 3-14 record in 22 games, passing for 2,212 yards, five TDs and 13 interceptions.
25. Cleveland Browns – QB Tim Couch
Little wonder the quarterback carousel in Cleveland has been going full steam since the Browns re-entered the NFL in 1999. As we mentioned above, that 1999 draft produced three absolute duds at QB, the first being Tim Couch at no. 1. Since he left in 2003, the Browns have utilized 22 different starters, including such luminaries as Johnny Manziel, Thad Lewis, Seneca Wallace, Brady Quinn, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye and Kelly Holcomb. And we say “luminaries” with tongue planted firmly in cheek. As for Couch, he established the loser culture in Cleveland by being one of the worst first overall picks in the history of the league. While much of the Browns lack of success overall can’t be attributed to Couch — they have drafted badly pretty much every year since coming back in — he would win only 22 of 59 starts in his career and would finish with a TD/Interception ratio of 64:67.
24. Dallas Cowboys – TE David LaFleur
The famous shoes of Jay Novacek proved to be too big to fill for David LaFleur. Novacek retired after the 1995 season, having caught 339 passes in six seasons with Big D, along with winning three Super Bowls. In 1997, the ‘Boys were desperate to fill his position and to their great fortune, 6’7″ LSU standout LaFleur fell into their lap. He was an outstanding pass blocker, so much so that even though he only had 21 receptions for 263 yards as a sophomore, he was still voted all-SEC with the Tigers. After future star Tony Gonzalez (who the Cowboys coveted) went off the board at no. 13 to Kansas City in ’97, LaFleur was the next best option and Dallas traded up to 22nd from 25th with Philadelphia to take him. However, in four seasons with Big D, LaFleur never had one season of more than 200 receiving yards and didn’t catch a pass that went for over 25 yards. He was cut after four seasons, ending his career with 85 receptions for 729 yards and 12 touchdowns.
23. Denver Broncos – DE Jarvis Moss
The Denver Broncos have drafted some clinkers over the years, none worse, though, than Florida Gators star defensive end Jarvis Moss in 2007. Moss was on a high coming into that draft, having won a national title with the Gators and then declaring for the draft, where the Broncos were so enamored of him that they traded up several spots to do so at no. 17 (flipping their 21st pick to Jacksonville, which took Reggie Nelson). With Denver, Moss was so ineffective at defensive end — he had 23 tackles and one forced fumble in 34 games — he was converted to linebacker and considered retirement at one point. He was cut by Denver in 2010, played parts of two seasons with Oakland and was gone from the NFL after the 2011 season.
22. Detroit Lions – Tie: QB Andre Ware and WR Charles Rogers
The Lions selection of two horrible duds in the first round of two separate drafts left us with no other choice than to call it a draw. In 1990, they set their sights on QB Andre Ware of Houston, who won both the Heisman Trophy and and who threw for 4,699 yards and 44 touchdowns in three seasons, setting a total of 26 NCAA records in the process. They took him seventh overall, however, his NFL career was totally lacklustre. Ware got in just 14 games (six starts) and threw for all of 1,112 yards and five TDs against eight interceptions. Thirteen years later, the Lions made another gaffe, taking Michigan State star wide receiver Charles Rogers at no. 2. His career, punctuated with injuries and drug policy violations, was even worse than that of Ware’s. He started nine of 15 games over three seasons, catching just 36 passes for 440 yards and four TDs. He was released in 2006 and after a few failed tryouts, wasn’t heard from again.
21. Green Bay Packers – OL Tony Mandarich
In their recent draft history, the Packers have had few whiffs, even though they’ve had just four top 10s since 1990. But, they did make a massive error in judgement in 1989, taking big offensive lineman Tony Mandarich out of Michigan State at no. 2. The “Incredible Bulk” would have the indistinction of being the worst ever non-quarterback to ever bust in NFL history. What didn’t help his prospects of making a list like this is the fact that the four other players drafted in the top five, Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders are all in the Hall of Fame. The tale of the tape for the often-criticized Mandarich was just three unimpressive seasons played on a four-year contract and an early exit from Lambeau.
20. Houston Texans – QB David Carr
Like Tim Couch in 1999, David Carr would have the misfortune of being a new team’s first pick and again like Couch, he went first overall in 2002 to the Texans. After winning the Johnny Unitas award for an all-star season with Fresno State in 2001 (4,839 yards passing, 46 TD, 9 INT), Carr was the de facto no. 1 selection for expansion Houston. But, like the Cleveland Browns of 1999, the Texans didn’t plan well otherwise, leaving Carr a dead duck with a crummy offensive line. In his rookie season of 2002, Carr was sacked a league record 76 times for a total loss of 411 yards in 16 games. In that miserable 4-12 campaign, Carr would throw for 2,592 yards and a TD/INT ration of 9:15. Unfortunately for Carr, that trend would continue, as he was sacked another 173 times in his final four seasons with the Texans. The silver lining for Carr was a championship ring while occupying the back-up role with the New York Giants in 2011.
19. Indianapolis Colts – QB Art Schlichter
Before the Colts bolted for Indy in 1984, the old Baltimore version was a team used to having Hall of Fame caliber quarterbacks like Johnny Unitas and sometime MVPs Bert Jones and Earl Morrall around. Jones, the last of the three to hang around, was gone after the 1981 season (he was NFL MVP in 1976), leaving a void at pivot that someone needed to step into. Ohio State star Art Schlichter fit that bill and the Colts took him fourth overall, one pick ahead of Jim McMahon. The Colts, though, should have paid attention to the fact that Schlichter was already a degenerate gambler. In his rookie season, Schlichter lost the starting job to journeyman Mike Pagel and instead of reading the playbook, he gambled away his signing bonus by the end of that strike-shortened season he had frittered away $700,000 in gambling debts. The league suspended him for the entire 1983 campaign and was reinstated in 1984. His football career, checkered as it was with all the gambling, was nothing to write home about. He passed for a meager 1,006 yards and three TDs (11 INTs) in 13 total NFL games.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR R. Jay Soward
Some guys can’t handle pressure very well. Count former Jaguars first round pick R. Jay Soward in that category. After being picked 29th overall by the fledgling Jags in 2000, Soward had this to say later on, “I think the hardest part for me was dealing with all the pressure after getting drafted,” he recalls. “I didn’t play well my first year so people were on me a lot. I wish I would have went to New Orleans in the second round. I wish I hadn’t ever been a first round draft pick. I felt that New Orleans had a better staff to suit me at that time. I think being with those guys would have changed my future in the NFL.” Soward chafed under head coach Tom Coughlin’s guidance at camp, wearing out his welcome to the point that Coughlin sent a limo at the team’s expense to pick him up every day, just so he would show up. The former USC Trojan, who was also suspended multiple times for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, played all of 13 games with the Jaguars in 2000, catching 14 passes for 154 yards and one TD. He was never heard from again, at least in the NFL.
17. Kansas City Chiefs – QB Todd Blackledge
In retrospect, Todd Blackledge’s fate as a first round bust was foretold when he was sandwiched between 1983 first overall pick John Elway and 14th overall pick Jim Kelly, both now Hall of Famers. As it was, the Davey O’Brien Award winner as top college quarterback in 1982 and national champion Blackledge was nabbed at no. 7 by the Kansas City Chiefs out of Penn State, also way, way ahead of Pitt star and future Hall of Famer Dan Marino at no. 27. Thus, the weight of expectations on the Ohio native’s broad shoulders was too much to bear. He never caught fire with the Chiefs in five seasons, completing 364 passes for 4,510 yards and 29 TDs (against 38 INTs) in 46 games. He played two more lacklustre seasons with Pittsburgh and was out of the NFL by 1989.
16. Miami Dolphins – WR Randal Hill
The “Thrill” Randal Hill was not, in his all too brief career with the Miami Dolphins in 1991. Randal “Thrill” Hill was drafted 23rd overall by the Fish in 1991, though you would have thought he was first overall based on his diva attitude later. The former Miami Hurricanes wideout missed four weeks of training camp embroiled in a contract dispute, signing a reported $2 million contract just prior to the beginning of the season. He appeared in one game, didn’t catch any passes and was then traded by an unimpressed Miami front office to Phoenix for a first round pick in 1992. Hill was decent for the Cardinals, but never lived up to that first round selection, catching 262 passes for 3,849 yards and 14 TDs in 103 games for three teams (including a mediocre return to Miami for the 1995 and 1996 seasons).
15. Minnesota Vikings – Tie: QB Christian Ponder and WR Troy Williamson
One guy, after being drafted in the first round, didn’t throw the ball as well as he did in college. The other, also drafted high up, could barely catch it. Those two would be 2011 first round pick (12th overall) QB Christian Ponder and 2005 first rounder (seventh overall) Troy Williamson. We’ll start with the latter, Williamson, who got a case of the yips right out of the gate. He tried to blame the dropsies on bad eyesight, but Williamson had a knack for dropping sure TD passes over his brief career. He never caught 50 percent of his targets, career, finishing with 87 receptions on 183 targets and just four total touchdowns in 49 games. Ponder, on the other hand, was a fairly complete pivot with Florida State, completing 61.8 percent of his passes for 6,872 yards and 49 TDs in four seasons with the Seminoles. The Vikes selected him 12th in 2011 and while he apprenticed well under Donovan McNabb that year, he never really took the job by the horns. He played in just 38 games in Minnesota and finished with a record of 14-21-1.
14. New England Patriots – DE Kenneth Sims
New England’s first overall pick in the 1982 proved the theory that practice makes perfect. As in, Kenneth Sims rarely practiced hard and was far from perfect in his disappointing eight-year career. Sims would earn the nickname “Game Day” from Patriots’ teammates after telling them, following a bad practice, that “I’ll be there on game day.” Once “there”, Sims played mostly like an out-of-shape unmotivated defensive lineman. Sims would play 74 games over eight seasons from 1982 to 1989 and his horrible work ethic resulted in just 17 total sacks (the league didn’t measure tackles then). Adding to the team’s frustration over his uninspired play, Sims was arrested for cocaine possession during the summer of 1990 and when he showed up to camp fat and out of shape, they cut him.
13. New Orleans Saints – DT Johnathan Sullivan
The New Orleans Saints were so sure they were going to get a player in defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan in 2003 that they traded the 17th and 18th overall picks they got in the Ricky Williams trade to Arizona for the right pick Sullivan at no. 6. The former Georgia Bulldog would not reward the Saints for their faith in him. He played three seasons with the Saints, playing only 36 games, 16 of them starts. He compiled a grand total of 77 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble during that three-year period. The New England Patriots, who should have known better about lousy defensive linemen (i.e. Kenneth Sims), traded WR Bethel Johnson to New Orleans for Sullivan in June 2006, only to release him in October of the same year.
12. New York Giants – TE Derek Brown
This is not a typo. Drafted 14th overall by the New York Giants in the 1992 draft, Notre Dame tight end Derek Brown would play in 105 NFL games (33 starts), catching 43 passes for 401 yards and one TD. His contribution to the Giants was 11 catches for 87 yards in 45 games. We couldn’t make that up if we tried. Even after that inauspicious debut, the Jacksonville Jaguars still saw fit to pick him up in the 1995 expansion draft, after he caught zero passes for zero yards in 1994 with New York (playing mostly on special teams that year). What had to be most galling for Giants brass after drafting Brown was the fact that the rival Jets selected Nebraska TE Johnny Mitchell one pick later. Mitchell played four years with the Jets, catching 158 passes for 2,086 yards and 16 touchdowns. Ouch.
11. New York Jets – DE Vernon Gholston
In the dictionary, under “massive draft bust” it says, “see Vernon Gholston.” The Jets assumed in 2008 that Ohio State DE Gholston was the real deal — a combination defensive lineman/outside linebacker who made life hell on opposing quarterbacks. He famously set a Buckeyes record for sacks in a game when he dropped Wisconsin QB Tyler Donovan four times in a November 2007 contest. He was also a beast at the 2008 combine, tying the bench press record for 37 reps at 225 lbs. Thus, the Jets took him at no. 6 in 2008 and promptly signed him to a five-year contract. But, he played little in his rookie season making 13 tackles in 15 games and then in 2009, he played a little more, but still only recorded 17 tackles. After one more underwhelming season in 2010 and another campaign of zero sacks, the Jets released Gholston in 2011 and his name is still followed by a spit among New Yorkers to this day.
10. Oakland Raiders – Tie: QB JaMarcus Russell and QB Todd Marinovich
We felt so sorry for Russell, who has caused gallons of ink to be spilled decrying his first round selection, that we felt he needed a running mate for worst ever first round pick by the Oakland Raiders. Who better then than fallen angel Todd Marinovich, who made all kinds of headlines long before he ever stepped on a collegiate or pro gridiron. Marinovich made headlines as a high school athlete who was being driven hard by stage parent Dad Marv Marinovich. The Golden Boy who couldn’t miss, nicknamed “Robo QB”, Marinovich was a standout at USC, despite being conflicted over his way-too-focused upbringing and was selected 24th overall by the Raiders in 1991. The pressure of pro football was too much and he flamed out in a haze of booze and drugs, playing just eight games over two seasons. As for Russell, the story of how the first overall pick in the 2007 draft spectacularly imploded at the big league level is well known. After sitting out most of his first season with a contract dispute, his play over the final two seasons of his career earn him the “worst first overall pick ever” designation.
9. Philadelphia Eagles – WR Freddie Mitchell
UCLA is a breeding ground for future NFL talent, some of it good, and in the case of Freddie Mitchell, bad. A one year superstar with the Bruins (which should have been a red flag for Philly), Mitchell caught 68 passes for 1,314 yards and eight TDs in his junior (and final) year with UCLA. The red flag we put in parentheses should have been the lone touchdown he caught in his freshman and sophomore seasons. Anyhow, the Eagles took a flyer on him at 25th overall, even though Reggie Wayne was still available (he went 30th to Indianapolis). Mitchell, a showboat who would later be disgraced in an interview before Super Bowl XXXIX against New England, never really caught on as a go-to guy in Philly. He started just 17 of 63 games in four seasons, catching 90 passes for 1,263 yards and five TDs. About that Super Bowl interview with ESPN talking head Dan Patrick, when he was asked to identify the members of the Patriots’ secondary, Mitchell claimed he did not know them by name, only by number, and then deliberately stated each of their numbers incorrectly. He caught just one pass for 11 yards in a 24-21 loss, but still kept his mouth running long after.
8. Pittsburgh Steelers – WR Troy Edwards
Winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award for being the NCAA’s best pass-catcher in a season is one thing, translating that talent to the NFL gridiron quite another. That is exactly what Troy Edwards did in 1998 with Louisiana Tech, when he set records for receptions (140; third most in DI-A history), yards (1,996; second most in NCAA history) and scored an astounding 27 TDs (he had 50 in three seasons). So when Pittsburgh came knocking at no. 13 in 1999, no one was surprised. In his rookie season with the Steelers, Edwards started six of 16 games and had respectable numbers of 61 receptions, 714 receiving yards and five TDs. But, in two seasons thereafter, he all but disappeared, starting just one of 30 contests and rolling up a meager 498 yards on 37 catches and scoring zero TDs.
7. San Diego Chargers – QB Ryan Leaf
In the sports vernacular, Leaf’s inclusion here is as easy as hitting a home run on a windy day at Coors Field in Denver. One pick after the Indianapolis Colts selected future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning with the first pick in the 1998 draft, the San Diego Chargers tabbed Washington State’s Leaf. It wasn’t like he was chopped liver, either, having throw for 6,779 yards and 55 touchdowns in his two years as a starter for the Cougars. Thereafter, though, his career was beset by injuries and with poor play and bad behavior, it would be a short one. He started nine of 10 games his rookie year and passed for an abysmal 1,289 yards (39.0 rating), two TDs and 15 interceptions. In 2000, Leaf “improved” to throw for 1,883 yards, 11 TDs (18 INTs) and a passer rating of 56.2. After three more starts with Dallas in 2001, Leaf was out of the NFL and on to a series of arrests and jail time.
6. San Francisco 49ers – QB Jim Druckenmiller
Not even the esteemed Bill Walsh, who was consulting for a 49ers club in search of a replacement for Steve Young in 1997, could convince San Francisco brass not to pick Virginia Tech pivot Druckenmiller. Walsh was pushing for them to select Jake Plummer, who would go to Arizona at no. 42, but the Niners were infatuated with Druckenmiller and nabbed him at no. 26. The big Pennsylvanian was a Hokies star, having passed for 2,071 yards in his senior season, along with 17 TDs (just 5 INTs) and a 144.8 rating. The 49ers intended to groom the young QB in ’97, but a hand injury to Young forced him in and it was pretty much a disaster. In four games (one start) he threw for 239 yards, one TD and four interceptions, to go along with a terrible 29.2 rating. In 1998, he played in two games and didn’t throw a pass. He was traded to Miami in 1999 and didn’t get into any game action. The Fish cut him after the pre-season in 2000 and that was it for his career.
5. Seattle Seahawks – LB Brian Bosworth
Let’s just say that Brian Bosworth had a better acting career than football career, and that isn’t saying much. The man out of Oklahoma with the blonde mullet and outspoken ways — he openly criticized the NCAA — Bosworth was a two-time Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top college linebacker. He was also a good student who graduated a year early and became eligible for the Supplemental Draft in 1987. But, the lightning rod for controversy sent several teams a letter, pre-draft, saying he wouldn’t play for them if selected. That list included Seattle, who were nonplussed and picked him no. 1 in the supplemental draft anyway. The Seahawks promptly signed him to a 10-year, $11 million contract, the biggest rookie contract ever signed to that point. Bosworth, despite his trash talk and boasting, played fairly well in his rookie season, recording four sacks. However, a shoulder injury would force him to retire after just 12 more games. We think his best work in football was a role in Adam Sandler’s execrable remake of “The Longest Yard.”
4. Los Angeles Rams – RB Lawrence Phillips
The Rams were so confident in Nebraska Cornhuskers’ stud running back Lawrence Phillips talents in 1996 that they traded starting RB Jerome “The Bus” Bettis for draft picks at the draft. Phillips, who was already displaying the character flaws that would later see him in many legal troubles, was a gamble the Rams were willing to take and they picked him sixth overall. In two short and stormy seasons with the Rams, Phillips ran for 1,265 yards and 12 TDs. Not bad production, but he would also spend more days in jail, 23, in those two years than touchdowns. That bad behavior led to his abrupt release in November of 1997 and he was picked up by Miami. He wouldn’t do much there and spent 1998 with the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe. He had a good season there and signed with the 49ers in 1999. However, his bad work ethic and indifferent play at times riled his coaches and he was released on Nov. 23, 1999.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Bo Jackson
Bo knew football, just not with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The two-sport star (he played baseball as well) was drafted first overall in the 1986 draft by the Bucs out of Auburn, where he won the Heisman Trophy by rushing for 1,786 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns. However, Jackson was ruled ineligible during his senior baseball season (he was also drafted by the New York Yankees) at Auburn for accepting a plane trip from the Bucs to work out for the team. He has long felt the Bucs deliberately tried to make him ineligible, telling him that they had cleared his visit with the NCAA. So, he vowed he would never play for Tampa and owner Hugh Culverhouse, who had a bad rep for mistreating players. The Buccaneers rights to the multi-sport star expired in 1987 and the Oakland Raiders drafted him (seventh round). He went on to play four seasons with the Raiders and was a Pro Bowler with them in 1990.
2. Tennessee Titans – QB Jake Locker
We are going to call 2011 the year of the quarterback bust. After Cam Newton went first overall to Carolina, the three remaining pivots picked in the first round all have had dubious NFL careers. Blaine Gabbert, picked 10th overall and who was a candidate for this list, is still a NFL backup, but didn’t live up to expectations. Ditto Christian Ponder, who was selected 12th and flamed out after four seasons. Then there’s Jake Locker, who the Titans saw fit to pick eighth out of the University of Washington. It was an iffy selection, given that Locker’s draft status sank with a so-so senior year where he completed just 55.4 percent of his passes. That inaccurate arm wouldn’t get any better in Tennessee, where Locker played just 30 games in four seasons, starting 23 of them. His overall completion rate in the NFL was just 57.5 (408-for-709) and an injury in 2014 forced his early retirement from football.
1. Washington Redskins – QB Heath Shuler
Heath Shuler was so shaky with the Redskins that he was replaced by a seventh rounder from his 1994 draft year, Gus Frerotte, just 18 games into his fledgling career. Shuler was one of the SEC’s top QBs ever at the University of Tennessee and held nearly every Volunteers’ passing record when he left the program in 1994 (soon surpassed by Peyton Manning). A highly touted prospect, then, he was taken third overall by Washington. However, his first gaffe was holding out in training camp until he got the contract he wanted, a seven-year, $19.25 million pact. The Redskins, who’d fallen on hard times after winning Super Bowl XXVI, thought Shuler would be the QB of the future. He would be erratic, though, in his brief time with the ‘Skins and was often criticized for his inability to read a defence. In 19 games (13 starts) with Washington, Shuler chucked the pigskin for just 2,403 yards and 13 TDs, agains 19 interceptions. An injury in 1998, when he was with New Orleans, ended his career.