Worst NFL Draft Busts of All-Time | Breaking Down the Past Decade
With the 2010 NFL Draft less than 24 hours away, there’s no better time to reflect on the past decade’s grave mistakes by NFL franchises.
We’re merely 20 hours away from seeing NFL GM’s and coaches trade and draft their way into over-hyped and bust-candidate oblivion. But before we can even begin to fathom what this year’s class might bring us in terms of flat-out disappointment, it’s best to take a look back.
Here’s a look at the worst top 10 picks in each draft through the last decade, starting in the 2000 NFL Draft, with what NFL Soup deems as “true busts”.
Note: While players outside of the top 10 can definitely be considered busts, we’re being nice and limiting it to the top 10 of each year’s draft. After all, these are the guys MelKiper Jr. and so many other experts wasted their time hyping up for an entire year, so they deserve the shame more than anyone else.
2000 NFL Draft
Courtney Brown, DE, Penn State
Brown was a mammoth defensive end drafted with the first overall pick by the Cleveland Browns, and what a waste of space he turned out to be.
He was actually a fairly serviceable end for a few years, but for the first pick in a draft, he went beyond disappointing or failing to live up to expectations.
Brown recorded just 19 sacks in just six seasons in the NFL, while missing a total of 35 games due to injury. Brown was last seen in the league as a Bronco in 2005, having his uninspiring career halted at the age of 27.
Dishonorable mentions: Peter Warrick
2001 NFL Draft
Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State
With former Michigan star receiver David Terrell in the top ten of this draft, it’s painfully clear just how big of a bust Reynolds was to take the cake as the top bust in the 2001 draft.
Reynolds was drafted 10th overall by the Green Bay Packers as their next great pass-rusher, but never had the height, frame, or size to truly compete with opposing offensive linemen.
With under-developed skills and toughness, Reynolds eventually wore out his welcome in Green Bay, and was done with the league at age 24, finishing his three-year career with just three sacks.
Dishonorable mentions: David Terrell, Gerard Warren
2002 NFL Draft
Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon
Harrington was in fierce competition for the top (or bottom) spot in 2002′s top 10, as he squared off with top overall pick David Carr for the (dis)honors.
Carr received a lot of ridicule for his lack of success in Houston, but many people forget how energetic and passionate of a player he was for the first 3-4 years with the Texans. It wasn’t until he took an unbelievable pounding behind their atrocious offensive line, that he finally wilted into a bust.
Harrington, on the other hand, while playing on a horrible Lions team and often with very few weapons, didn’t ever truly have the same flair Carr possessed.
Harrington was never accurate, wasn’t prolific, and didn’t perform well in the clutch. He wins/loses in this race, if only by a hair.
Dishonorable mentions: David Carr
2003 NFL Draft
Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State
For at least the first few games of his rookie season, Rogers appeared to be the answer Matt Millen and co. were so frequently searching for at receiver.
However, a broken collarbone early in the season set in motion a tragic sequence of injuries and inconsistency, which led to Rogers losing all of his speed and eventually falling out of favor with the Lions, and inevitably, all of the NFL.
Dishonorable mentions: Byron Leftwich
2004 NFL Draft
Reggie Williams, WR, Washington
Williams was as over-hyped as receivers get, failing to crack 40 receptions in each of his first two seasons, and never finding his way over 700 receiving yards.
He did have one impressive season in 2007 when he somehow scored 10 touchdowns, but then quickly reverted to his disappointing self with 9.8 yards per catch and just three scores the following season.
Williams was out of football in 2009, and has since resurfaced in Seattle’s camp, along with fellow first-round receiver bust, Mike Williams. Wait for it…
Dishonorable mentions: Robert Gallery
2005 NFL Draft
Mike Williams, WR, USC
Sure, you could conted that Alex Smith deserves this spot. However, with somewhat of a rebound season in 2009, it’s fair to say the jury is still out.
You could then say Troy Williamson is the next big bust. You’d be extremely close, but not quite there.
You see, Williams was supposed to be the next Keyshawn Johnson. He was the most hyped receiver we had seen in some time. He dominated the Pac-10, had great size and ball skills, and was booming with confidence (or cockiness).
But then he sat out the 2004 collegiate season, and turned into mush. Williams was taken with the 10th overall by the Detroit Lions (another receiver!?), and never even cracked 30 receptions in a season.
In fact, after recording 29 catches as a rookie, he never topped 10 catches again. Like Reggie Williams, he too is trying to salvage his “gone horribly wrong” career in Seattle.