Fans all throughout the league are anticipating the start of the 2023 NFL Draft in the hopes that their club will uncover a steal and choose someone like Tom Brady (a sixth-round selection in 2000) or Stefon Diggs (a fifth-round pick in 2015).
The dream is that your favorite club will choose a superstar, but the reality is that they are more likely to pick up a bust. Despite the many disappointments over the years, CBS Sports have listed the 10 greatest failures since 1990 in anticipation of the next draft.
According to their criteria, a player must have been selected in the top 10 picks to be considered a bust. While it is true that Johnny Manziel’s NFL career imploded after being picked with the 23rd overall selection in 2014, the situation was not nearly as bad as when Ryan Leaf imploded after being selected in the first round.
3. Akili Smith to Bengals (1999)
The Bengals could have gotten a package that would have made them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams by trading out the third pick in the draft. Coach Mike Ditka of the Saints reportedly attempted to move up to the 12th pick in order to choose Ricky Williams. So desperate was Ditka to move up to the third place that he offered the Bengals a total of nine draft selections in exchange for Williams.
The Bengals would have received New Orleans’ 1999 first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh-round picks (12th, 71st, 107th, 144th, 179th, and 218th) as well as their 2000 and 2001 first-round picks and their 2002 second-round pick had they accepted the trade.
2. Ryan Leaf to Chargers (1998)
Everything went wrong very quickly after Leaf was selected second overall by the Chargers in 1998. It was a complete and total failure. Leaf started just 18 games in three years with the Chargers (4-14 record), and he missed all of 1999 due to injury. The Chargers let him go after the 2000 season because they no longer had any need for him.
The Chargers’ most egregious error in this whole Leaf debacle was trading up to get him. The Chargers held the third overall choice in the 1998 NFL Draft. The Chargers traded the third overall selection, a second-round pick, and a first-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals in 1999 in exchange for moving up to second place. The Chargers also traded two players to the Cardinals. When Peyton Manning went to the Colts with the first overall pick, the Chargers were left with Ryan Leaf.
1. JaMarcus Russell to Raiders (2007)
When the Raiders made Russell the first overall choice in 2007, they disregarded almost every warning sign and ended up with a bust on their hands. First of all, Al Davis was warned by a rival team’s general manager that drafting Russell would be a mistake. It was also common knowledge that Russell detested academics; the Raiders learned this the hard way after selecting him.
Russell also had a hard time maintaining his fitness since he despised conditioning. Russell started 25 games over his three years with the club, and they went 7-18. In the end, Russell was released by the Raiders in May of 2010. When he arrived at minicamp weighing 290 pounds, 20 pounds above his playing weight, the Raiders had seen enough.