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Top Ten Worst NFL Draft Picks Ever

Which NFL Draft Picks Simply Didn't Pan Out as Planned?
Date & Time Saturday April 5, 2014, 12:00 PM (EDT)
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NFL | Which NFL Draft Picks Simply Didn't Pan Out as Planned?

As we edge ever closer to this year’s NFL draft, I’m sure we’re all on pins and needles wondering who our teams are going to pick. While some of us (you’re welcome, Cleveland) don’t have first-round selections this year, it’s still an exciting time since, thus far, there are 32 lossless teams in 2014. The draft is where dynasties are built in the NFL…or lost, as the case may be. Today, we take a look at the top ten worst draft picks of all time. This is, of course, a subjective topic, but I hope we can all agree that these ten guys didn’t play out as anticipated.


1. Ryan Leaf (QB-Chargers) - The utter unfortunateness of Leaf’s NFL career (concisely summed up by his 14/36 TD/INT ratio) is made even more stark by the fact that he was drafted immediately after Peyton Manning (Leaf went 2nd overall in the 1998 draft). While Manning has gone on to have arguably the greatest career of all time, Leaf missed the entire 1999 season due to an injury and went 1-8 as a starter in 2000 before being released by San Diego once and for all. Leaf has been out of the league completely since 2001. 


2. Lawrence Phillips (RB-Rams) - Nowadays, prospective players’ characters are assessed and assessed and assessed some more by NFL front offices. This was not, evidently, the case in 1996. During his time at Nebraska, Phillips appeared to have the chops to become one of the best RBs of all time, which led to St. Louis snapping him up with the No. 6 overall pick. During the course of his troubled career, Phillips was kicked off the Rams, faced multiple assault charges, and was sentenced to ten years in prison for injuring three people by striking them with his vehicle. Talk about wasted potential. 


3. Reggie Rogers (DE-Lions) - Detroit took Rogers with the 7th overall pick in 1987. Rogers remained with the club for a mere two seasons, putting just a single sack in the books during that timespan. In 1988, Rogers was found guilty of vehicular homicide and sentenced to serve time in prison, effectively ending his short-lived career with the Lions. 


4. JaMarcus Russell (QB-Raiders) - Russell, who had an excellent career at LSU, was the No. 1 overall pick in 2007. Oakland, obviously, believed they had found the new face of their franchise. Sadly, however, this situation went as many seem to in Oakland…badly (the recent Roger Saffold debacle comes to mind). Russell started only one game during the 2007 season and proceeded to go 7-18 overall in a starting role. Russell hasn’t played in an NFL game since the end of 2009. 


5. Art Schlichter (QB-Colts) - Schlichter, who was drafted 4th overall by Baltimore in 1982, struggled from the very start of his NFL career. Schlichter spent his rookie season backing-up 4th-rounder Mike Pagel and it was all downhill from there. Due to his gambling issues, Schlichter ultimately found himself embroiled in an FBI investigation and wound-up suspended from the NFL for an undetermined period of time. In 1983, Baltimore used their No. 1 overall pick on John Elway, who, incidentally, refused to play for them. Fortunately, the Colts’ fortunes improved when they moved to Indianapolis and ultimately wound-up with this kid named Peyton Manning under center. 


6. Bo Jackson (RB-Buccaneers) - In 1986, the Buccaneers took Jackson with the No. 1 overall pick. This wasn’t necessarily a bad call, except that Jackson wanted to play baseball, not football. Tampa Bay couldn’t strike a deal with Jackson and he eventually re-entered the draft in 1987, where the Oakland Raiders drafted him in the final round. This worked out fine for Oakland, but Tampa Bay went onto have a streak of 11 losing seasons.  


7. Charles Rogers (WR-Lions) - Rogers was a breakout star during his years at Michigan State and was a top draft prospect in 2003 (which led to his No. 2 overall selection). Rogers was with Detroit for just three seasons, during which he caught a measly 4 TDs, but failed 3 drug tests. Rogers was suspended from the league in 2005, following his dismal semblance of a career.  


8. David Klingler (QB-Bengals) - The No. 6 overall pick in 1992, Klingler was intended to fill the shoes Boomer Esiason left behind. This didn’t exactly pan out as planned for Cincy. Klingler went 4-17 as a starter, then served as a back-up around the league for three seasons after being released by the Bengals brass. Klingler bowed out of the league permanently in 1997. 


9. Jerry Tagge (QB-Packers) - Tagge, who was only one of several Green Bay QB miscues between the illustrious careers of Bart Starr and Brett Favre, was drafted 11th overall in 1972. Tagge played only 12 games for the Pack, resulting in a 6-6 record. In this short stint, Tagge managed to throw 17 interceptions and a whopping 3 TDs. 


10. Cedric Jones (DE-Giants) - The New York Giants used the No. 5 overall pick to draft Jones in 1996. Somehow, they missed the fact that Jones was actually blind in one eye (how this doesn’t show-up during a medical exam, I’m not sure) and was, therefore, unable to play on the left side. In the end, the Giants moved another young player named Michael Strahan to the left, so I’d say it all worked out for the best, but it doesn’t change the fact that Jones was basically a wasted pick.

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