NFL Draft Stories; The Biggest Busts of the NFL Draft In Recent History
The NFL Draft is a crazy event that encompasses nearly every human emotion for football fans. There are cheers when their team picks the next savior of the franchise, there are groans when a team makes an unpopular pick or trade and a bevy of other feelings as the NFL Draft goes on.
While fans and analysts argue over which team made the best use of its draft capital, there are undoubtedly some huge misses every year. Drafting a player in the first rounds means that rookie enters the NFL with a great deal of pressure on them from Day 1.
Some rookies thrive under this while some crumble. Here is a list of some of the biggest busts in NFL Draft history:
(Editor's note: This will only cover players from the past decade.)
No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft
Having an elite pass rusher on defense requires a premium that nearly every NFL team is willing to pay. The Miami Dolphins thought they had found their edge rusher when they moved up to take Dion Jordan with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Jordan had compiled 12.5 sacks in his final two seasons for the Oregon Ducks and possessed a rare blend of athleticism and size.
However, Jordan failed to make much of an impact for the Dolphins and went through a number of suspensions from off-the-field issues. He has appeared in just 50 total games since 2013 and has only accumulated 10.5 sacks over the course of his career.
Jordan is still in the league with the Las Vegas Raiders but has failed to live up tot he potential of being drafted with the No. 3 overall pick in 2013.
No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft
Chicago Bears fans had quite a bit to be happy about during the 2015 NFL Draft. Although the team had a down year the season prior, a top 10 pick gave reason for fans to be excited about drafting a game-changing playmaker. What made it even better was Chicago was the host city for the NFL Draft, meaning there was no shortage of Bears fans in attendance.
Considered one of the top wide receivers in the draft, Bears fans were excited for the prospect of adding a playmaker on the outside. White was coming off of a 1,400-yard, 10 touchdown performance in his final year with the West Virginia Mountaineers.
White's NFL career got off to a horrendous start as he was injured during off-season workouts and didn't play a snap during his rookie campaign.
His sophomore season in the NFL didn't go much better as he was placed on season-ending injured reserve after four games in the 2016 season.
White found himself on injured reserve once again in the 2017 season after fracturing his left shoulder in the season opener. White lasted just one more season with the Bears but failed to do much of anything other than catching a 54-yard Hail Mary pass just short of the endzone in the Bears' 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots.
White signed on with the Arizona Cardinals to start the 2019 NFL season but was cut in late August. At this point in his career, White has 25 receptions for 285 yards and 0 touchdowns.
Trent Richardson/Johnny Manziel/Justin Gilbert
No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, No. 8 overall and No. 22 overall picks in the 2014 NFL Draft
Trent Richardson, Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel are part of a disastrous two-year stretch for the Cleveland Browns' first-round selections.
Richardson seemed like a safe bet to be a franchise running back when he entered the 2013 NFL Draft. Former Indianapolis Colts chairman Bill Polian called him one of the "three sure-thing players" in the draft. The Browns felt the same way and traded up to select the Alabama Crimson Tide running back with the No. 3 overall pick.
Richardson's rookie year went well as he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns, breaking Browns' rookie records set by NFL legend Jim Brown. However, he also averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry, the lowest for a rookie running back in the 2012 NFL season.
The Browns made a shocking move next season by trading Richardson to the Colts for a 2014 first-round pick. The Browns now entered the 2014 NFL Draft with two first-round picks and were poised to do a reset on the troubled franchise.
Teams hit or miss on first-round picks every year. However, it's truly spectacular that a team has two first-round picks and misses (horribly) on both.
In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Justin Gilbert with the No. 8 overall pick. Gilbert started just three games for the Browns in two seasons and hardly saw action in a one-year stint for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His NFL career seems to be effectively over.
Johnny Manziel had become one of the most polarizing players in college football during his career at Texas A&M. "Johnny Football" became the first freshman to win both the Davey O'Brien Award and Heisman Trophy in 2012.
Manziel was one of the most popular players to watch play, but scouts and analysts were much less bullish on his prospects as a pro. Some had him as a top 5 pick, others felt he'd flame out of the league quickly. Former coach Barry Switzer even made personal attacks on Manziel's character saying, "I don’t like his antics. I think he's an arrogant little prick. I’ve said that and I’ll say it again."
The Browns selected Manziel with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, hoping that he'd be a franchise quarterback. However, Manziel started just eight games for the Browns over the course of two seasons and was out of the league following the 2015 NFL season.
No. 26 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft
The Denver Broncos have been searching for their next franchise quarterback since the days of John Elway. There have been plenty of successful quarterbacks to start for the team since then, but few have become franchise-changing level players. The team aimed to change their fortunes in the 2016 NFL Draft by taking Paxton Lynch with the No. 26 overall pick.
The pick turned into a colossal failure for the Broncos and Lynch's NFL career. He started just two games in his rookie season, completing 49 of 83 passes for 497 yards and two touchdowns. Lynch again failed to take the reigns as the leading signal-caller in 2017 and was released from the team in the 2018 NFL Season.
He made a combined four starts with four touchdowns and four interceptions in two years with the team.
Quarterbacks of the 2011 NFL Draft not named Cam Newton
Jake Locker (No. 8 overall), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10 overall), Christian Ponder (No. 12 overall)
Most of the teams drafting in the top 10 of the 2011 NFL Draft were undoubtedly happy with their choices. Eight of the top 10 picks were or still are Pro Bowl-caliber players and many of them have become faces of their respective franchises.
The two players in the top 10 that didn't make a Pro Bowl were Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert. Locker was taken with the No. 8 overall pick by the Tennessee Titans and Gabbert went No. 10 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Locker started only 23 games for the Titans while struggling with injuries and Gabbert started 27 games in his three seasons with the Jaguars but the team only won five of those starts. Gabbert somewhat redeemed his NFL career by becoming a decent backup option later in his career but he never lived up to those expectations of being a top 10 pick.
Christian Ponder went two picks after Gabbert and did manage to have one decent season, passing for nearly 3,000 yards and leading the Minnesota Vikings to a 10-6 record in the 2012 NFL season. However, Ponder's success would be short-lived and the quarterback would be out of the league following the 2014 NFL season.