The NFL Draft is near. Even the consensus wisdom turns out incredibly wrong sometimes. Here is a team composed of the worst draft busts by position. Incredibly, only two of the picks were the current iteration of the Cleveland Browns.
QB: JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 Overall, Oakland Raiders, 2007)
It’s hard to pick just one quarterback bust. There have been many. But, given where and when he was drafted, Russell has to top the list. He came in with all the tools in 2007. He was out of the league after 2009. The two most memorable parts of his NFL career are purple drank and this photo of him in a mink coat.
RB: Trent Richardson (No. 3 Overall, Cleveland Browns, 2012)
Running backs are expendable in the modern NFL. We knew this in 2012, when Cleveland used a top five pick on Richardson because he was just that damn intriguing of a prospect out of Alabama. Cleveland traded Richardson during his second season and he was out of the league after his third. He averaged 3.3 yards/carry for his career.
RB: Blair Thomas (No. 2 Overall, New York Jets, 1990)
The Jets used the No. 2 overall pick on a running back who suffered a major knee injury in college. Thomas produced just 2009 total yards and seven touchdowns for the Jets over four seasons. The next running back to come off the board was Emmitt Smith. The crosstown Giants also chose a running back in that first round, Rodney Hampton, who had five 1,000-yard seasons.
WR: Charles Rogers (No. 2 Overall, Detroit Lions, 2003)
Rogers was the worst 1st round pick of the Matt Millen era, which is saying something. Injuries and a drug problem saw the former Michigan State star amass 360 receiving yards and four touchdowns over three seasons with the Lions. Rogers was chosen one pick ahead of seven-time Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson.
WR: Justin Blackmon (No. 5 Overall, Jacksonville Jaguars, 2012)
Blackmon looked to be can’t miss. He was a two-time Biletnikoff winner and Consensus All-American entering the 2012 Draft. He had a decent rookie season, then only played four subsequent games due to substance abuse suspensions.
TE: Derek Brown (No. 14 Overall, New York Giants, 1992)
Tight ends need to be really special to be picked high. Derek Brown did not fit that billing. He caught more than 10 balls during a season once, for Jacksonville in 1997. He scored one career touchdown.
OL: Tony Mandarich (No. 2 Overall, Green Bay Packers, 1989)
Mandarich was infamously billed as the greatest NFL offensive line prospects ever. College football basically not testing for steroids then played a role. He lasted three seasons in Green Bay before being cut in 1992. He’s best known for being a draft bust and the two SI covers book-ending that saga. The next three picks in succession were Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders. Ouch.
OL: Kevin Allen (No. 9 Overall, Philadelphia Eagles, 1985)
Allen had a hugely disappointing rookie season. Then he tested positive for cocaine during training camp in 1986, was released, and was charged and convicted of rape shortly after, pleading guilty. He later emerged for cameos in the World League of American Football and Arena Football.
OL: Jason Smith (No. 2 Overall, St. Louis Rams, 2009)
Remember when the Rams drafted Orlando Pace? This was not that. Smith never won the left tackle job and got slotted over to right tackle. A rookie won the left tackle job in 2010. Smith was out of the league after failing to catch on with two teams during training camp in 2013.
OL: Mike Williams (No. 4 Overall, Buffalo Bills, 2002)
Williams was a beast at 6’6” 370 pounds. He bounced around for four seasons with the Bills before being cut. He came back for a brief stint with the Redskins in 2009. The Bills chose him three picks ahead of Bryant McKinnie who spent a decade as a solid NFL starter and went to a Pro Bowl.
OL: Robert Gallery (No. 2 Overall, Oakland Raiders, 2004)
Seven of the Top eight players chosen in the 2004 Draft went to a Pro Bowl. Gallery, viewed as a clear franchise left tackle, was the eighth. He never locked down the left tackle spot. He wasn’t that great when used at right tackle or guard either.