Sometimes, the highly regard draft pick just doesn’t pant out. Today, we’re highlighting the worst draft picks made by draft position over the past 10 draft classes. Whether it is poor play, off-field issues, injuries or something else, all things will be considered, with a specific focus on how good a player was for the team who drafted him, so if he revitalized his career elsewhere, he will still be eligible for the list.
1. Sam Bradford (QB/St. Louis Rams/2010)
The 2010 NFL Draft will always be near and dear to me because it was year in which I began writing my mock drafts. At the time, I was a bigger fan of Jimmy Clausen over Bradford due to Clausen’s experience in a pro-style offense and concerns over Bradford’s shoulder injury. While Bradford has proved to be the superior NFL talent, I wasn’t wrong about my concerns over his health. Bradford has missed 48 career games in his eight-year career, tearing his ACL twice, spraining his AC joint in his throwing shoulder and a sever ankle sprain among other injuries. One of the last benefactors of the old collective bargaining agreement, Bradford has already made $124 million in his career and is poised to make $20 million with the Cardinals in 2018. The Rams, who were in the midst of a five-year playoff drought when they drafted him, failed to make the playoffs or even have a winning season during Bradford’s five-year stint in St. Louis.
2. Greg Robinson (OT/St. Louis Rams/2014)
The Rams are off to a bad start and what makes this even worse is that another former No. 2 selection by the Rams, Jason Smith, is easily in the conversation as well. We gave the edge to Robinson because he was surprisingly much worse as a pass protector. In his three-year stay with the Rams, Robinson allowed 18 sacks, 33 hits on his quarterback and 59 total hurries. He was traded to the Lions last offseason and his replacement, Andrew Whitworth, was a first-team All-Pro last year.
3. Dion Jordan (DE/Miami Dolphins/2013)
There were a lot of candidates here, but Dion Jordan takes the cake after missing 38 games due to suspension while with Miami, including the 2015-16 seasons. He started only one game in Miami and had just three sacks before over those two seasons that he actually saw the field before being released after failing a physical. Jordan latched onto the Seahawks roster last year and easily had the best year of his career, but that isn’t saying much.
4. Aaron Curry (LB/Seattle Seahawks/2009)
Widely considered the safest pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, Curry was even a dark horse candidate to be taken No. 1 overall by Detroit. Curry simply couldn’t adapt to NFL speed and when he tried to use his athleticism to make up for it, he failed. Seattle ultimately cut bait and traded Curry during the 2011 season to Oakland.
5. Justin Blackmon (WR/Jacksonville Jaguars/2012)
Fun fact: Blackmon is still under contract with Jacksonville and the Jaguars are reportedly undergoing their second uniform change since he last saw the playing field. Jackson was incredibly talented and showed flashes of what he could do, lighting up the Texans during his rookie season with seven catches for 236 yards. After playing all 16 games as a rookie, Blackmon’s suspension issues started rearing their ugly head in 2013, he missed the first four games before being suspended indefinitely after week eight that year and has never made it back to the football field. Now 28 and five years removed from playing his last snap, his return to the NFL is bleak.
6. Vernon Gholston (DE/New York Jets/2008)
The Jets thought they finally landed their replacement for John Abraham when they selected Gholston sixth overall in 2008. Gholston, who had the fifth-most sacks all time for Ohio State when he was drafted, failed to record a single sack at the NFL level. After being cut by New York in 2011, Gholston failed to make the final roster for any other NFL team.
7. Kevin White (WR/Chicago Bears/2015)
The Bears were in need of a playmaker to replace Brandon Marshall and ultimately Alshon Jeffery when they selected Kevin White out of West Virginia, however, White has played just five games in his career. He broke his shin during training camp and missed his entire rookie year before breaking the fibula in the same leg after four games in 2016. Last season, he played one game before breaking his scapula. It’s doubtful that the Bears pick up his fifth-year option this summer.
8. Jake Locker (QB/Tennessee Titans/2011)
The 2011 NFL Draft is one of the best draft classes of all time. The overall resume of the top 11 players selected include a league MVP, a Super Bowl MVP and a three-time defensive player of the year. The 11 players combined for 40 Pro Bowl and 25 All-Pro nods. Of those 11, only two players have failed to even make the Pro Bowl, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert.
Tennessee was in the middle of a crossroads in 2011. They had just got rid of both quarterback Vince Young and head coach Jeff Fisher, but they waited to fire Fisher and therefore missed out on all of the top head coaching candidates, forcing them to settle with Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame player for the organization who was their offensive line coach. Locker showed some potential his rookie year, but his reckless style of play exposed him to injuries and play declined over the years. After missing 23 games between 2012-14, the Titans let Locker enter free agency before he surprisingly retired at age 27.
9. Ereck Flowers (OT/New York Giants/2015)
Dee Milliner is definitely in consideration here as well, but Flowers was basically a reach since Day One. Drafted as a raw prospect Jerry Reese was hoping the Giants could develop into the left tackle of the future, Flowers was thrusted into the blindside as a rookie and has remained there to disastrous results since. Over the last three seasons, Flowers allowed 16 sacks, 34 hits on the quarterback and 124 total pressures. The Giants signed Nate Solder this offseason, which will push Flowers to the right side in what is likely his final chance in New York as it’s unlikely they pick up his fifth-year option.
10. Blaine Gabbert (QB/Jacksonville Jaguars/2011)
Like Locker, Gabbert was another bust player selected inside of the talented crop that was the 2011 NFL Draft class. Jacksonville won just 11 games in his three seasons at the helm before the Jaguars traded him to the 49ers for a sixth-round pick. Jacksonville traded up six spots to select Gabbert on draft day. Ironically, Tennessee, who selected Locker over Gabbert, signed Gabbert this offseason.
11. Aaron Maybin (OLB/Buffalo Bills/2009)
Shockingly, Maybin only survived two seasons with Buffalo before they released him. He failed to record a sack while with the Bills and spent much of 2010 as a healthy scratch. He would eventually land with the Jets and lead the team in 2011 with six sacks, but he was out of the nFL by 2012.
12. Christian Ponder (QB/Minnesota Vikings/2011)
After the 2010 season, Brett Favre retired for what would be the final time and the Vikings were again in need of a quarterback. Ponder was drafted and Donovan McNabb was acquired to mentor Ponder and spend 2011 as the starting quarterback, but McNabb bombed in his six-game stay with the Vikings and Ponder was pushed into the spotlight. He was mediocre at best in 2012 before struggling in 2013 and a rib injury allowed Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman to start in his place. The writing was on the wall for him when the Vikings selected Teddy Bridgewater at the end of the first round. Ponder would ride the bench for Denver and San Francisco over the next two seasons but was not on an NFL roster last year.
13. Andrus Peat (OT/G/New Orleans Saints/2015)
Peat was drafted as a tackle, but has spent most of his career out of position at guard, to poor results. Peat struggled as both a run and pass blocker in his career and it’s likely the Saints will not pick up his fifth-year option.
14. Chris Williams (OT/Chicago Bears/2008)
After playing sparingly his rookie season, Williams struggled in 2009, allowing 50 total pressures and being flagged for nine penalties. The following year, he missed time with a hamstring injury and when he ultimately returned, he was kicked inside to guard. Williams would ultimately be released during the 2012 season.
15. Corey Coleman (WR/Cleveland Browns/2016)
Coleman has potential, but he makes this list because he has struggled to stay on the field, breaking his hand in each season. With Josh Gordon back from suspension and Jarvis Landry acquired, he will be fighting for targets in 2018.
16. E.J. Manuel (QB/Buffalo Bills/2013)
There were a handful of options here, but Manuel tops the list. The Bills made Manuel the first quarterback selected in 2013 because they were enamored with his arm strength and he started 10 games in his rookie season, but would lose his starting job to veteran Kyle Orton, who led Buffalo to their first winning season since 2004. Orton retired the following offseason and new head coach Rex Ryan brought in Tyrod Taylor, who defeated Manuel for the starting quarterback gig in training camp. After leaving Buffalo, Manuel became Derek Carr’s backup in Oakland.
17. Jarvis Jones (OLB/Pittsburgh Steelers/2013)
Jones has big shoes to fill as he was drafted to be the replacement to James Harrison, who was released earlier in the offseason. Unfortunately, Jones couldn’t live up to the billing and lost his starting job as a rookie to LaMarr Woodley. He would bounce in and out of the starting lineup, but could never secure a full-time role. Pittsburgh declined his fifth-year option and he spent last offseason with the Cardinals, but couldn’t crack their roster.
18. Calvin Pryor (S/New York Jets/2014)
A hard-hitting safety who struggled in coverage, Pryor didn’t transition well to the NFL. After taking safeties in the first two rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Jets declined Pryor’s fifth-year option and shipped him off to Cleveland, who cut him after he got into a fight with teammate Ricardo Louis. He spent last year with Jacksonville, but is currently unsigned.
19. Cameron Erving (OL/Cleveland Browns/2015)
Cleveland drafted Erving as a center, but he wound up playing guard and right tackle too, struggling at all positions. The Browns flipped him to the Chiefs last year, but the change of scenery didn’t help him.
20. Darron Lee (LB/New York Jets/2016)
Undersized, Lee played well at Ohio State because of his athleticism, but he hasn’t been able to translate this success at the NFL level. After a 2017 that was marred by bonehead penalties and poor play, he was benched late in the season.
21. Phil Taylor (DT/Cleveland Browns/2011)
This was one of the picks the Browns received in the trade with Atlanta that landed the Falcons Julio Jones. Taylor played well his rookie season and was a plus in stuffing the run, but injuries took their toll on him. He only played a full 16 games once in his career and has struggled to stay healthy since Cleveland released him in 2015.
22. Johnny Manziel (QB/Cleveland Browns/2014)
The Browns have selected three quarterbacks 22nd overall over the years and none of them have panned out, but none were worse than Manziel, who was a talented college quarterback, but his weak arm limited his NFL potential. Additionally, Manziel was controversial, receiving a fine for giving the middle finger during a game and having questionable work ethic. The Browns would rid themselves of Manziel after just two seasons and Manziel checked himself into rehab. He is currently attempting a comeback to the NFL and has made it known that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
23. Danny Watkins (G/Philadelphia Eagles/2011)
At age 26, Watkins became the oldest first round pick since 1971 when the Eagles selected him 23rd overall. He never panned our and Philadelphia would cut him after just two years with general manager Howie Roseman saying that the “innate toughness” Watkins showed at Baylor never materialized. He played one final season in the NFL with the Dolphins before retiring to become a firefighter in Texas.
24. Bjoern Werner (DE/Indianapolis Colts/2013)
A German product who dominated a Florida State, Werner was going to be an interesting prospect no matter how his career panned out. He was never able to be the skilled pass rusher at the NFL level that he was in college, racking up just 6.5 career sacks. Despite starting 15 games during the 2014 season, he was inactive for the Colts AFC Championship Game against New England. He lasted one more season as a backup before the Colts released him.
25. Tim Tebow (QB/Denver Broncos/2010)
Taken during Josh McDaniels’ brief reign as the Broncos head coach, Tebow was always a fan favorite, especially after having one of the most prolific college careers of all-time, but he was never a good fit as a NFL quarterback. He’ll be remembered for his pass to Demariyus Thomas that helped the Broncos defeat the Steelers in overtime of the 2011 AFC Wild Card. He completed an abysmal 46.5 percent of his passes the following season and after the Broncos acquired Peyton Manning in 2012, he was traded to the Jets. Tebow is currently in the New York Mets minor league system.
26. Jonathan Baldwin (WR/Kansas City Chiefs/2011)
Drafted to be the No. 2 option behind Dwayne Bowe, Baldwin’s career took off with him injuring his wrist while fighting teammate Thomas Jones in the preseason. He didn’t catch a pass until Week 7 of his rookie year and in two seasons with the Chiefs, he had just 579 receiving yards and two touchdowns before being traded to the 49ers for fellow bust draft pick A.J. Jenkins. He has not seen the field since 2013.
27. Donald Brown (RB/Indianapolis Colts/2009)
Drafted to be the heir to Joseph Addai, Brown never quite lived up to expectations, failing to top 650 rushing yards or score more than five touchdowns during his five years in Indianapolis. He would play two more seasons before retiring.
28. Lawrence Jackson (DE/Seattle Seahawks/2008)
Fresh off of their fourth consecutive NFC West title, the Seahawks were hoping to fortify their pass rush with Jackson. He never lived up to the hype and the wheels fell off as Seattle went 4-12 in 2008. Jackson only mustered two sacks his rookie year and was shipped to Detroit after his second season for a sixth-round draft pick. He would play three more seasons before his career came to a close.
29. Gabe Carimi (G/OT/Chicago Bears/2011)
Carimi had a ton of upside entering the NFL, he started 49 games at left tackle for Wisconsin, and won the Outland Trophy, was a unanimous All-American and was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Chicago was in desperate need to upgrade an offensive line that surrendered 56 sacks the year before, but Carimi unfortunately wasn’t the savior. In his rookie year, a knee injury in Week 2 ended his season and in 2012 he allowed 48 total pressures, including seven sacks. Chicago would trade him to Tampa Bay during the summer of 2013 for a 2014 sixth-round draft pick.
30. A.J. Jenkins (WR/San Francisco 49ers/2012)
A surprising selection when he was drafted, nobody was less of a factor for their team than Jenkins was. He was only active for three games as a rookie and only had one pass thrown his way, which was an incompletion. The next year, San Francisco would trade Jenkins to the Chiefs for Jonathan Baldwin. Jenkins played just two more seasons and accumulated 223 scoreless yards before he was released.
31. Jerry Hughes (DE/OLB/Indianapolis Colts)
Maybe the Colts should stop issuing No. 92 to their rookie edge rushers. Hughes was a late bloomer in his NFL career as he was much better after he left the Colts. In his three seasons in Indianapolis, Hughes only racked up five sacks before they shipped him to Buffalo. Doug Marrone was able to get the most out of Hughes, who would rack up back-to-back 10 sack seasons in Buffalo.
32. Derek Sherrod (OT/Green Bay Packers/2011)
There were a couple of worthy options here, but Sherrod’s 20-game stint with Green Bay takes the cake. Sherrod broke his leg five games into his rookie season and was just never the same after. He missed the entire 2012 season and only played in 15 games in the two years after, making just one start. He hasn’t made an NFL roster since.