The Biggest Busts In NFL History
It’s no secret that the NFL is a rough business these days for rookies. More than ever, rookies are expected to come in and make an immediate impact. The breakout play of rookies such as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson has made it seem that perhaps rookies simply can adapt quicker these days – but the struggles of others such as Geno Smith remind us that these are still kids learning the ropes as they go along and thus shouldn’t be held to the same standard as veterans around the league.
The word “bust” is thrown around a lot these days, and is attached to many players – some deserved, some not. There was a time where it would have been hard to find anyone who would argue that then-49ers quarterback Alex Smith wasn’t a bust. Legendary Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw needed six seasons to get it together; what quarterback would possibly be afforded that luxury nowadays?
This list is a compilation of some of the biggest busts in the history of the NFL, some obvious selections and others not so much. Read along and feel free to add your picks in the comments section below.
Alright, let’s get the obvious one out of the way. At one point, Ryan Leaf was considered as good a prospect as some Peyton kid from the University of Tennessee. Leaf was selected with the second overall pick in the 1998 draft by the San Diego Chargers, and posted up horrendous numbers in his rookie campaign (45% completion rate, 2 TDs, 15 INTs). His career was flagged by poor behavior and terrible play. He flamed out of the NFL in 2001 and is currently serving time in prison stemming from stealing prescription drugs.
JaMarcus Russell was a highly touted quarterback from Louisiana State University who had a powerful arm. The Raiders selected Russell first overall in the 2007 draft and got diminishing returns, to say the least. Russell was considered uncoachable and lackadaisical. He was cut in 2010 and an arrest for codeine syrup possession without a prescription is believed to have significantly hurt his chances to be signed by another team. His latest attempt at a comeback occurred prior to the 2013 season.
Tony Mandarich was believed to be the future of the offensive tackle position – athletic and brawny. The second overall pick of the 1989 draft, Mandarich played three season with the Green Bay Packers in a tenure that was marred with poor play and strange behavior – including challenging Mike Tyson to a boxing match and referring to the city of Green Bay as a “village”. Mandarich flamed out in Green Bay and managed to resurrect his career somewhat in Indianapolis.