The biggest NFL Draft busts of the last 15 years

If you’re looking to forecast the next generation of NFL
stars, just take a look at the first round of the most recent draft.
Savvy organizations can find value in all seven rounds, but in terms of
success rate, there’s no better bet than the first 32 picks.

But for every Peyton Manning or Von Miller, there is another
former top prospect who didn’t pan out. Whether they failed because of
injuries, substance abuse, or simply poor play, all of these players
provide fascinating case studies of the NFL’s demanding environment and
the fleeting nature of athletic success.

Below, read all about 20 of the most notorious draft busts from recent NFL history.

Justin Blackmon, WR

Justin Blackmon, WR
(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

School: Oklahoma State
Selected: 5th overall, 2012 draft, Jacksonville Jaguars
Played for: Jacksonville Jaguars
One thing to know: Blackmon
is a stark example of how drug and alcohol use can derail a promising
career. The two-time consensus All-American struggled to control his
drinking in college, but the Jaguars took a chance on him anyway. Things
started out well enough, but after leading all rookies with 865
receiving yards in 2012, Blackmon was hit with two suspensions during
the 2013 season and hasn’t played in the NFL since. He was arrested for a
DUI in late 2015.

Maurice Clarett, RB

Maurice Clarett, RB
(Ed Andrieski/AP)

School: Ohio State
Selected: 101st overall, 2005 draft, Denver Broncos
Played for: N/A
One thing to know: This
Ohio native was never the most coveted prospect out there, but his
bizarre story makes him a noteworthy disappointment all the same. After a
futile attempt to enter the 2004 draft as a sophomore and the loss his
NCAA eligibility for that fall, Clarett should have arrived at the 2005
combine with a chip on his shoulder. Instead, he posted lackluster times
of 4.72 and 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Undeterred, the Broncos
still made a ridiculous reach to get him in the third round, but they
got their just desserts when he washed out of training camp and never
appeared in an NFL game.

Aaron Curry, LB

Aaron Curry, LB
(Jonathan Ferrey/Getty)

School: Texas A&M
Selected: 4th overall, 2009 draft, Seattle Seahawks
Played for: Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders
One thing to know: Curry
was a polished and tremendously versatile prospect when he was
selected, earning the highest draft position of any linebacker since
LaVar Arrington in 2000. While some analysts deemed him the safest
prospect available, he lost his motivation and struggled in the Seattle,
recording just 5.5 sacks in three seasons. He’s now trying to make it
as an NFL coach; he was seen at the Carolina Panthers training camp this

Phillip Dorsett, WR

Phillip Dorsett, WR
(Maddie Meyer/Getty)

School: Miami
Selected: 29th overall, 2015 draft, Indianapolis Colts
Played for: Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots
One thing to know: This
Fort Lauderdale native still has time to turn things around, but at
nearly 25 years old, his leash is starting to tighten. Three months
after being traded to the Patriots for Jacoby Brissett, Dorsett has made
just seven catches — not a good sign, especially given that the
Patriots boast the most prolific passing game in the league. Bill
Belichick has resurrected careers before, but in this case, he hasn’t
been able to work his magic.

Vernon Gholston, DE

Vernon Gholston, DE
(Nick Laham/Getty)

School: Ohio State
Selected: 6th overall, 2008 draft, New York Jets
Played for: New York Jets
One thing to know: As
a prospect, Gholston looked like he had the right combination of size
and speed to succeed in the NFL for years to come. He also earned the
highest bench press score at the draft combine, teasing Jets fans who
wanted an uncompromising defender to make life difficult for division
foes like Tom Brady. Unfortunately, Gholston struggled throughout his
tenure in New York, starting just five games and going without a sack in
three years. He played his last game in January 2011.

Justin Gilbert, CB

Justin Gilbert, CB
(Jason Miller/Getty)

School: Oklahoma State
Selected: 8th overall, 2014 draft, Cleveland Browns
Played for: Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers
One thing to know: How’s
this for a return on investment: Gilbert started just three games
across two seasons before the Browns traded him to Pittsburgh for a
sixth-round pick. The change of scenery didn’t do much for the Texan,
whose lack of interest was a constant cause of friction in the locker
room. He was suspended for the entire 2017 season for violating the
league’s substance abuse policy and is currently a free agent.

Robert Griffin III, QB

Robert Griffin III, QB
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

School: Baylor
Selected: 2nd overall, 2012 draft, Washington Redskins
Played for: Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns
One thing to know: Griffin
was the toast of the league after his rookie season, which ended with a
Pro Bowl appearance and the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. It was
all downhill from there, as the dual-threat’s play suffered thanks to a
series of frustrating knee injuries, as well as a growing rift with the
coaching staff. He was released in 2016, caught on with the Browns for
one more season, and hasn’t played since.

Derrick Harvey, DE

Derrick Harvey, DE
(John Raoux/AP)

School: Florida
Selected: 8th overall, 2008 draft, Jacksonville Jaguars
Played for: Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos
One thing to know: Harvey
entered the 2008 draft as one of the most fearsome pass rushers
available, but he never found his footing in the NFL. He was riding the
pine by the end of his third season in Jacksonville, finishing his
career with 8 sacks in 52 games — a far cry from his glory days as
co-MVP of the 2007 BCS National Championship Game.

Matt Jones, WR

Matt Jones, WR
(Sam Greenwood/Getty)

School: Arkansas
Selected: 21st overall, 2005 draft, Jacksonville Jaguars
Played for: Jacksonville Jaguars
One thing to know: Jones
spent his college days as a hyper-athletic quarterback, but the Jaguars
drafted him to be their wide receiver of the future. At 6-foot-6 and
well over 200 pounds, his rare combination of size and explosivity led
to fantasies of unbelievable 70-yard catches and deep playoff runs.
Unfortunately, Jones was hit with a drug charge in 2008 and violated his
plea agreement the following year, leading to his release.

Dion Jordan, DE

Dion Jordan, DE
(Al Bello/Getty)

School: Oregon
Selected: 3rd overall, 2013 draft, Miami Dolphins
Played for: Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks
One thing to know: To
date, Jordan has made one start in the NFL. That number would be
higher, but the Arizona native just couldn’t stay out of his own way as a
young player, racking up three drug suspensions by April 2015. After
failing a physical with the Dolphins this past spring, he ultimately
caught on with the Seahawks, but he has appeared in just two games for
them so far. At 27 years old, his career is verging on unsalvageable.

Matt Leinart, QB

Matt Leinart, QB
(Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)

School: USC
Selected: 10th overall, 2006 draft, Arizona Cardinals
Played for: Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders
One thing to know: Leinart
was set to be a top pick in the 2005 draft, but he chose to return to
USC for his senior season and saw his stock plummet over the course of
that fall, eventually dropping to 10th the following year. It’s
impossible to guess what would have happened if he hadn’t waited, but we
do know that he never developed into the franchise signal caller the
Cardinals dreamed of. He spent three seasons as Kurt Warner’s backup
before washing out of the league.

Johnny Manziel, QB

Johnny Manziel, QB
(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

School: Texas A&M
Selected: 22nd overall, 2014 draft, Cleveland Browns
Played for: Cleveland Browns
One thing to know: Cleveland took Manziel after the 2012 Heisman winner sent a text instructing Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains to hurry
up and draft me because I want to be there.” Alas, the Texan had a
rocky tenure in the Buckeye State. In less than two years, he had
checked himself into rehab, was accused of assaulting his girlfriend,
and was ultimately released after throwing just 258 passes as a
professional. He has expressed interest in making a comeback in the
Canadian Football League.

Dee Milliner, CB

Dee Milliner, CB
(Bill Kostroun/AP)

School: Alabama
Selected: 9th overall, 2013 draft, New York Jets
Played for: New York Jets
One thing to know: Milliner
provided a fitting prelude to his NFL career when he underwent right
shoulder surgery the month before he was drafted. In the years to come,
the Alabama native suffered injuries to his hamstring, bicep,
quadriceps, and just about everything else, appearing in just five games
following his mostly healthy 2013 season. He was released in 2016 and
hasn’t appeared in a game since.

Amobi Okoye, DT

Amobi Okoye, DT
(Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

School: Louisville
Selected: 10th overall, 2007 draft, Houston Texans
Played for: Houston Texans, Chicago Bears
One thing to know: Okoye
knew almost nothing about football when he took up the game as a high
school sophomore, but just a few short years later, he heard his name
called as the youngest first-round pick in NFL history. Unfortunately,
his raw talent never translated into consistent success in the pros, and
he was released by the Texans after the 2010 season. He survived a
scary bout with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis in 2013, making several
comeback attempts but never appearing in another game.

Trent Richardson, RB

Trent Richardson, RB
(Matt Sullivan/Getty)

School: Alabama
Selected: 3rd overall, 2012 draft, Cleveland Browns
Played for: Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts
One thing to know: Richardson
was hyped as the game’s best running back prospect since Adrian
Peterson, and with good reason: his incredible lower body strength,
explosiveness, and field vision allowed him to whiz by the vast majority
of defenders. He had a solid first season for the Browns, but they gave
up on him quickly, shipping him to Indianapolis for a first round pick
after just 17 games. From there, his career fell off a cliff. Richardson
rushed for just 1,082 yards over his final two seasons, appearing in
his final NFL game in 2014. He spent this fall playing for the
Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.

Charles Rogers, WR

Charles Rogers, WR
(Allen Kee/Getty)

School: Michigan State
Selected: 2nd overall, 2003 draft, Detroit Lions
Played for: Detroit Lions
One thing to know: Rogers
was drafted by his hometown team after earning unanimous All-American
honors at Michigan State. The athleticism that helped him make 27
touchdown catches in two years as a Spartan didn’t translate to the NFL,
where he caught just four passes in the end zone. He was suspended for
violating the league’s substance abuse policy in 2005 and was cut by
Detroit the following year. Rogers served jail time in 2010 after
violating a court order to remain sober.

JaMarcus Russell, QB

JaMarcus Russell, QB
(Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)

School: LSU
Selected: 1st overall, 2007 draft, Oakland Raiders
Played for: Oakland Raiders
One thing to know: Russell
was the definition of a can’t-miss prospect when he declared for the
2007 draft. With a 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame and an absolute cannon for
an arm, many scouts envisioned him developing into a superstar with the
ability to beat defenses with monster passes and surprisingly nimble
footwork. It never happened. Russell completed 52.1% of his attempts,
became a nuisance in the locker room and was released after the 2009

Mark Sanchez, QB

Mark Sanchez, QB
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

School: USC
Selected: 5th overall, 2009 draft, New York Jets
Played for: New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys
One thing to know: Sanchez
went to back-to-back Conference Championship appearances in his first
two seasons, but make no mistake: the Jets won games in spite of their
signal caller, not because of him. The California native threw 69
interceptions in just four years in New York and was released following
his first losing season. He began 2017 as the Chicago Bears’ third
stringer before going down with a neck injury.

Jason Smith, T

Jason Smith, T
(Jeff Roberson/AP)

School: Baylor
Selected: 2nd overall, 2009 draft, St. Louis Rams
Played for: St. Louis Rams, New York Jets
One thing to know: Smith’s
smaller size and inexperience with an NFL-style offense provided
meaningful question marks in the months leading up to the 2009 draft,
but the Rams, in need of a franchise left tackle to anchor their
rebuilding project, still jumped at him early. They were quickly
disappointed by his slow transition to the professional game and growing
injury history, eventually trading him to the Jets in 2012. He never
started another game, bouncing around the league for a couple of years
before hanging up his cleats.

Mike Williams, WR

Mike Williams, WR
(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

School: USC
Selected: 10th overall, 2005 draft, Detroit Lions
Played for: Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks
One thing to know: Like
Clarett, Williams became ineligible for the 2004 college football
season after he declared for the draft a year too early. The lost year
didn’t hurt his stock for the 2005 draft, but he never regained the form
he flashed at USC, starting just six games for the Lions. He got a few
other opportunities before ultimately falling out of the league. He now
coaches the football team at Van Nuys High School.

Now check out one baseball prospect few expect to be a bust.

Now check out one baseball prospect few expect to be a bust.

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Ike Ani: @ Ike Ani is a Freelance writer whose quest constantly is to relate happenings around the world to human daily living. He's also a song writer and singer, Acoustic Guitarist, and Teacher.