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The draft is the most important part of the process of rebuilding an NFL team. Year after year, team managers and scouts have tried to select the best college players to improve their team. However, you do not always get what you want. Sometimes, great college athletes do not become great pros in the professional game. Today, let’s look back to see some of the biggest flops in NFL history.
1989 Draft: Green Bay Packers; First Round, 2nd Pick
Tony Mandarich was selected by the Packers as the second overall pick in 1989. During his college career, Mandarich was definitely one of the best linemen around, but he couldn’t shake his drug habit. As a result, he was released by the Packers only after three seasons and only had a five-year NFL career. By selecting him, the Packers missed out on many Hall of Famers, including, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders.
2007 Draft: Cleveland Browns; First Round, 22nd Pick
During the past decades, the Cleveland Browns have had a long list of disappointing quarterback draft picks and Brady Quinn was one of those. Many people expected Brady Quinn to become a franchise quarterback. However, Quinn played three seasons for the Browns and only threw 10 touchdowns. In choosing Quinn the Browns missed out on several notable players, such as Greg Olsen, Steve Smith and Joe Staley.
1998 Draft, San Diego Chargers, First Round, 2nd Pick
Before the 1998 NFL Draft, there was a huge debate about whether the Colts should select Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. Although Leaf had a higher quarterback rating in his college career, the truth is that he never came close to Manning in the NFL. In the 1998 season, he only had 2 touchdowns but had 15 interceptions. After missing the 1999 season due to injury, he threw 11 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 2000. After retiring from football, he had several legal issues and even spent two years in jail.
1994 Draft, Washington Redskins, First Round 3rd Pick
Heath Shuler was drafted by Redskins as the 3rd overall pick in 1994. The Redskins thought that they had finally found a great quarterback talent to lead them to a fourth Super Bowl victory. However, Shuler struggled and even threw five interceptions in one game. After a disappointing three years with the Redskins, Shuler was traded to the Saints. He retired in 1998 due to foot injuries. However, Shuler did have a successful political career was the U.S Representative for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district from 2007 to 2013.
2007 Draft: Oakland Raiders; First Round, 1st Pick
JaMarcus Russell might be the most infamous 1st Overall Pick in NFL history. When being drafted by Raiders in 2007, he had just been named the MVP of the 2007 Sugar Bowl. He made his first start in the last game of the regular season in 2007 due to contract negotiations and became a starter in the 2008 and 2009 season. He was released in 2010 due to inconsistent play and a poor working altitude, and that was the last we saw of him. Who did the Raiders missed by selecting Russell? Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch!
2000 Draft: Cleveland Browns; First Round, 1st Pick
In the 2000 NFL Draft, the Browns selected Courtney Brown, a defensive end from Penn State as their 1st overall pick. Brown did perform well in his first career with 69 tackles and 4.5 sacks and recorded 4.5 sacks in the only five games he played in 2001. After that, he struggled hard to stay healthy. He only played in 26 games and recorded just 8 sacks from 2002 to 2004. Brown retired with the Broncos in 2005. It is always a pity to watch talented athletes struggle to fight against injuries.
2002 Draft: Houston Texans; First Round, 1st Pick
Carr was selected as the 1st overall pick by the Houston Texans. The new expansion team initially hoped that Carr would lead the team to success. However, the Texans had poor pocket protection and Carr was sacked 76 times as a rookie and 49 times in his second year. Carr left the Texans in 2007. After that, he played as a backup quarterback for the Panthers, 49ers and Giants and won a Super Bowl with Giants. It is not a bad career overall but still disappointing considering he was selected before Julius Peppers, Bryant McKinnie and David Garrard.
1990 Draft: Detroit Lions; First Round, 7th pick
Andre Ware won the Heisman Trophy in 1989. However, he never performed to the same level in professional football. Ware played as a backup quarterback before being released by the Lions. Then Ware even played in Canada and Europe before he eventually retired.
2003 Draft: Detroit Lions; First Round, 2nd Pick
Charles Rogers was selected as the second overall draft pick in 2003. In order to get that pick, the Lions traded Joey Harrington. However, injury and abuse violations kept Rogers away from the level he should have achieved. Rogers broke his collarbone after five games in the rookie season. After that, Rogers broke his other collarbone after only three games in 2004 and in 2005, Rogers was suspended due to an abuse violation after only four games. Rogers was then was released and never returned to NFL.
2010 Draft: Denver Broncos; First Round, 22nd Pick
Tim Tebow might be the best college football players of all time, but things are quite different in the NFL. Tebow did have some highlights in football, such as having the highest quarterback rating in a playoff game for the Broncos, but he never achieved a level comparable to his college career. Now, Tebow has become a baseballer in the New York Mets’ farm system. By selecting him, the Broncos missed out on Rob Gronkowski, Golden Tate, Jimmy Graham and NaVorro Bowman.
Akili Smith was selected as the 3rd overall pick in 1999. However, he never achieved what he should have. He started just 17 games with the Bengals, but only achieved a record of 3-14 which included only five touchdowns. After retirement, Smith became a high school coach in San Diego.
1995 Draft: Cincinnati Bengals; First Round, 1st Pick
Ki-Jana Carter was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995. However, Carter was blown up by injury as he tore his ACL on just his third run out in his first preseason game. He missed the rest of the season after that. Carter never came close to realizing his full potential due to the injury.
2008 Draft: New York Jets; First Round, 6th Pick
In the 2008 draft, the Jets selected Vernon Gholston with their 6th overall pick. The initial thought was for him to improve the defense, but things did not work out. Gholston only had eight assisted and five tackles in his first year. He also did not have a single sack in his rookie year. In his second year, the results were quite similar and Gholston left the league in 2010.
2006 Draft: Tennessee Titans; First Round, 3rd Pick
Vince Young was one of the biggest prospects in the 2006 draft after winning a college championship. He did perform well in his first season, winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and was even selected in the Pro Bowl. In the 2008 season, he went on to lead the team into the playoffs. However, Young received a terrible injury at the start of the 2008 Season and was replaced by Kerry Collins. After that, Young never achieved the level that we saw in his rookie year.
1999 Draft: Cleveland Browns; First Round, 1st Pick
In 1999, the Browns selected Tim Couch with their 1st overall pick. However, Couch just became yet another one of the names under the “disappointing QB list” that the Browns have maintained through their dark era. Couch played five seasons with the Browns before being released and never again stepped onto the field as a QB, although he did make practice squads with the Packers and Jaguars.