Extreme Buyer’s Remorse: the Biggest NFL Draft Busts of All Time

When a player is drafted in any sport, expectations are very high. They were highly-touted in college and owners, general managers and coaches all hoping they’ll bring that same mojo to their team by drafting them high and giving them a pile of money. But unfortunately this isn’t always the case. There are busts and boy are there busts! These busts have been so stinky that General Managers and coaches have been fired for drafting them. It’s safe to say that quarterbacks have hardest time making it in the NFL. It’sthe most high-profile and one of the most demanding jobs in all of sports. Many a quarterback has come out of college with a great resume only to falter after the first snap and first sack in the NFL. But quarterbacks are a dime a dozen, so Top 5 won’t bore you with all the ones who didn’t make it, but instead try to spread it out with busts at various positions. So here are the Top 5 NFL Busts of All Time.

5 Trev Alberts, LB

Fifth Overall Pick 1994-1996 Albertsprobably got injured on this way up the podium at the NFL Draft. The 1993 All-American, Dick Butkus Award and Jack Lambert Trophy winner, played just 29 games in just three seasons all with the Colts. All those hits and injuries must have done something to his head, because his dunderhead worked at ESPN on theextremely popularcollege football pre-game and post-game telecasts. He was terminated for breach of contract when he declined to report to work in 2006. Apparently Albertsthought that he was just as good, if not better than ESPN’s key anchors, Reese Davis, Chris Fowler, KirtHerbstreit and Lee Corso, and wanted more face time. Alberts has been the Athletic Director at the University of Nebraska-Omaha since 2009.

4 Charles Rogers, WR

Second Overall Pick 2003-2005 Injuries also hit this great talent and unanimous All-American, drafted by the Detroit Lions out of Michigan State. Oh, and the failed drug tests and arrests didn’t help his short NFL career either. This sad sack had just 36 catches for 440 yards and four touchdowns. Rogers is currently under investigation for a number of criminal charges.

3 Tony Mandarich, OT

Second Overall Pick 1989-1991, 1996-98 Mandarich is the Ryan Leaf of the offensive line when it comes to busts. Not as big of a head case mind you, but his career was called all hype by many, and the Green Bay Packers, which drafted him out of Michigan State, bought into it and passed up on some running back named Barry Sanders. On top of that, Mandarichjust wasn’t very good. He also took enough steroids to make Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds blush.

2 Steve Emtman, DT

First Overall Pick 1992-1997 This consensus All-American was a just a beast of a player when he was at the University of Washington.Emtman won just about every defensive college award. That was more than enough for the Indianapolis Colts to draft him first overall. But like plenty of great players, Emtman was just destroyed by injuries very early in his career. In five seasons he had just eight sacks in just 19 starts. Today Emtman is a real estate developer and strength and conditioning coach for the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League.

1 Ryan Leaf, QB

First Overall Pick 1998-2001 Leaf may be the biggest bust in the history of sports. You’re the San Diego Chargersand have the first overall pick. You need a quarterback and have a choice between Payton Manning and Ryan Leaf. Who would you pick? That’s what Top 5 thought, but the Chargers ended up picking Leaf instead. Not a bad choice, because he was a first team All-American and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting at Washington State, but that’s where it all ended. Leaf was a physical and mental disaster. His poor behavior and horrific play always got him into trouble. The infamous video of Leaf threatening some poor local reporter didn’t actually make him a media darling either. Leaf’s two touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 10 games in his rookie season got him benched and had the Chargers’ safety Rodney Harrison saying Leaf was, “a nightmare you can’t even imagine. If I had to go through another year like that, I’d probably quit playing.” Leaf bounced around the NFL before “retiring” in 2001. He’s been battling drugs and has entered rehab for an addiction to painkillers.

Honorable Mention

Lawrence Phillips, RB
Sixth Overall Pick
1996-97, 1999

Drafted out of Nebraska by the St. Louis Rams, Phillips looked to be the guy who was going to replace Jerome Bettis, who for some reason the Rams gave up on after a couple of seasons. Phillips was the ultimate head case. He was a violent criminal dating all the way back to his high school days in Los Angeles, but was also a great talent on the football field. His troubles caused him to bounce around just about every professional league in the world. He is currently in prison serving ten years for trying to run a bunch of people over in his car.


Todd Marinovich, QB
24th Overall Pick

This pot-smoking hippie couldn’t even make with the Los Angeles Raiders, which drafted him, and that’s the team where all head cases go to play. One of the many great high school quarterbacks to come out of Orange County, CA to play for USC, Marinovichgot into a lot of trouble right from the start, and was done after just one year. Marinovichlater played in the CFL and even the Arena Football League before finally calling it quits. Like all good hippies, he isnow pursuing his passion for art.


Art Schlichter, QB
Fourth Overall Pick
1982, 1984-85

This was a huge waste of talent of a great quarterback from Ohio State, who got caught up in gambling and other illegal stuff. Originally drafted by the Baltimore Colts, Schlichter was suspended early and often and even gambled away his $350,000 signing bonus. During his short stay in the NFL, Schlichter played for three teams and even did a stint in the Canadian Football League. Schlichter compiled a 0-6 record with three touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a starter in the NFL. On the bright side he did win an Arena Football League championship with the Cincinnati Rockers. But the gambling bug never let go of Schlichter. Neither did drugs, theft and committing fraud. He tested positive for cocaine while under house arrest and was sent back to prison.

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