04/28/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
With the NFL draft upon us, most teams and fans are looking forward to who might be selected to be the future of their franchise. But they're hoping more so that the first round picks they make don't end up on this list. Lets take a look at 10 of the biggest first round busts in recent NFL history.
10) Jamain Stephens/Pittsburgh Steelers (Taken 1996, 29th Overall Pick)
Coming off of their appearance in Super Bowl XXX, the Steelers took a big gamble to draft the big offensive tackle. Stephens was 6'6 and 330lbs coming out of North Carolina A&T, and Pittsburgh looked at him as a player with a big upside, but he ended up just being a big bust. s, Stephens only played 19 games n Pittsburgh before being released in 1999. He'd play 21 more games in Cincinnati over the next 3 seasons before falling out of the NFL following the 2001 season.
9) Brady Quinn/Cleveland Browns (Taken 2003, 22nd Overall Pick)
A bust at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns? That never happens (sarcasm). Coming out of Notre Dame, Quinn won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the top QB in college football, as well as the Maxwell Award for the best player in college football. Quinn also finished 3rd on the 2006 Heisman Trophy ballet. Quinn would only play 14 games for the Browns over 3 seasons before being traded to Denver in 2010
8) Curtis Enis/Chicago Bears (Taken 1998, 5th Overall Pick)
Coming off of 2 stellar seasons at Penn State, Enis had the looks of being a big time NFL star. Obviously looks were deceiving in this case, as Enis couldn't stay healthy, and when he did play, the expected level of play wasn't there. Enis rushed for 1,363 yards and scored 19 touchdowns his final season at Penn State in 1997. He would play only 36 NFL games for the Bears, rushing for a career total of 1,497 yards and scoring 4 touchdowns.
7) Tony Mandarich/Green Bay Packers (Taken 1989, 2nd Overall Pick)
Can you name the only player taken in the top 5 in the 1989 draft who isn't in the NFL Hall of Fame? I guess that's a give away. Mandarich was labeled as possibly the best NFL offensive line prospect ever coming out of Michigan State. He is the biggest draft bust in Green Bay history and one of the biggest busts in NFL history. He was cut by the Packers after 3 seasons and would play 3 more seasons in Indianapolis, starting just 47 games in his brief career.
6) Charles Rogers/Detroit Lions (Taken 2003, 2nd Overall Pick)
After winning the Biletnikoff Award in 2002 as college football's top wide receiver, the Lions selected the in state product of Michigan State with their first round pick. Rogers would "reward" the Lions by playing just 14 games in 3 seasons. Rogers caught only 36 passes for Detroit before being released in 2006.
5) Akili Smith/Cincinnati Bengals (Taken 1999. 3rd Overall Pick)
Smith had high expectations associated with him, coming off of his 1998 season at the University of Oregon where he passed for 3,763 yards and threw 30 touchdown passes. So much was expected of him, that the Bengals passed up New Orleans offer of up to 9 draft picks so the Saints could move up and select Ricky Williams. Smith would play 22 games in Cincinnati over 4 seasons, passing for 1,500 yards less than he totaled in his senior season at Oregon, before being released following the 2002 season.
4) Heath Shuler/Washington Redskins (Taken 1994, 3rd Overall Pick)
Shuler finished second in the 1993 Heisman Trophy race coming off of a stellar college career at the University of Tennessee. Shuler would end up playing only 18 games for the Redskins before being traded to New Orleans following the 1996 season. However, Shuler was elected o the U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina in 2006, serving 3 terms before retiring from office in 2012.
3) Lawrence Phillips/St. Louis Rams (Taken 1996/6th Overall Pick)
Despite having a red flag attached to his draft stock due to off the field issues at the University of Nebraska, the Rams decided to draft Phillips in the first round and trade Jerome Bettis to Pittsburgh the same day. That move worked out well...for the Steelers. Phillips would only start 20 games for the Rams before being released in 1997. Phillips was arrested several times following his brief NFL career, and is currently serving a 25 year prison sentence in California.
2) Ryan Leaf/San Diego Chargers (Taken 1998/2nd Overall Pick)
Believe it or not, many football analysts thought Leaf was a better choice than Peyton Manning as the first overall pick in 1998. Fortunately the Colts didn't listen to them. Leaf would play in 21 games for the Chargers before being released after the 2000 season. He'd play 4 more games for Dallas in 2001 before falling out of the NFL. Like Lawrence Phillips, Leaf would follow his NFL career by serving prison time.
1) JaMarcus Russell/Oakland Raiders (Taken 2007/1st Overall Pick)
Considered to be a substantial talent with a rare combination of size and arm strength coming out of LSU, the Raiders took him with the first overall pick. Russell's weight ended up being higher than most of his passing numbers in the NFL. Russell would throw only 18 touchdown passes in 3 seasons with the Raiders. He showed up for mini camp in 2010 weighing nearly 300 pounds, and was released before the start of training camp.
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