Finding a franchise quarterback who can lead the team to victory is like finding a needle in a haystack during the NFL Draft. Offensive quarterbacks often need more time than defensive players to get comfortable with the playbook, the scheme, and their bodies.
Inevitably, there will be an out. Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, and Justin Herbert have dominated from the start of the season on. Historically speaking, it wasn’t standard practice for clubs to invest early draft selections in quarterbacks.
There are no sure bets since Tom Brady was the 199th choice in his Draft. Nonetheless, the following quarterbacks were widely regarded as future Hall of Famers, but they all but squandered their potential and eventually retired from the NFL due to poor performance.
3. Akili Smith (1999)
After his time at Oregon, Smith seemed to be a dangerous dual-threat quarterback with the ability to extend plays with his feet and rack up big yardage totals.
Smith seemed to be completely out of sync with his receivers from day one and was unable to make any necessary adjustments. He stopped playing after the 2002 season with a career-throwing stat line of 2,212 yards, 5 TDs against 13 INTs, and retirement.
2. Ryan Leaf (1998)
Ryan Leaf was compared to Peyton Manning very often. He thrived at Washington State and had all the physical qualities to become a lethal passer and the future face of the league. He spent only three seasons in the NFL before being demoted to practice squads.
All of Leaf’s endeavors were failures. He was clumsy, slow, and inaccurate when throwing to open receivers. He left the game with a quarterback rating of 50, 3,666 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and a shocking 36 interceptions.
1. JaMarcus Russell (2007)
Without a doubt, JaMarcus Russell is the most disappointing player in NFL history. Just two years after being selected, he had fallen from LSU legend status and the status of “can’t-miss talent” to the fringes of professional sports.
As he was high on codeine, Russell had stopped watching movies and working out. He was built for greatness and possessed the arm power and accuracy to become a legendary quarterback, but instead, he retired with 4,803 career passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, and 15 fumbles. Six years and $68 million later, the Raiders still owed him $31.5 million of the total.