A high selection in the NFL Draft can turn a franchise around. It can also set a franchise back for years. This is not exactly a list of players like Peyton Manning, Patrick Peterson and Von Miller. This is a list of the biggest draft busts of the 2000s.
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns, 2014
If drafted a bit higher, Johnny Manziel could’ve really given JaMarcus Russell a run for his money. Johnny Football had more hype and potential than any QB in the 2014 draft class, but his off-field question marks essentially killed his career in the NFL. Admittedly, this was not a terrific class of passers. Guys like Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Logan Thomas were among some of the first QBs off the board. Manziel dropped all the way to number 22, where the Cleveland Browns ended up selecting him. His career in Cleveland was a disaster, to put it nicely. After producing 93 TDs in two years at Texas A&M, Manziel left Cleveland with seven TDs and INTs, and less than 1,700 yards passing. He has bounced around the CFL and AAF in just the past calendar year.
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars, 2012
Boy, this is a pretty ugly looking list at the top of the 2012 draft class. After Andrew Luck was taken with the first-overall pick, round one is filled with underachievers. They include Mark Barron, Brandon Weeden and A.J. Jenkins, among others. By the way, the top two picks could’ve easily cracked this list as well, but we left off Robert Griffin III due to a fabulous rookie year, followed by nagging injuries. And Trent Richardson is safe because the team that drafted him, the Browns, did actually get good production from him through 17 games in Cleveland. That makes WR Justin Blackmon the star of this class, bust-wise. Weeden’s favorite target at Oklahoma State put up incredible numbers in his final two years in school. Blackmon caught 233 passes for 3,304 yards and 38 TDs. Do not adjust your screens! Blackmon was an easy pick at number five, but due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy multiple times, Blackmon was out of the NFL after playing in only 20 games.
Vernon Gholston, New York Jets, 2008
The stage lights are always brighter in the Big Apple, and Vernon Gholston learned that lesson the hard way. Five games started, zero career sacks; not bad for a DE, eh? Gholston was a beast at Ohio State University, upping his sack total from 8.5 to 14 before declaring for the 2008 NFL Draft. The New York Jets made him the sixth pick. Gholston had trouble even getting on the field for the Jets, recording his “breakout” campaign with 17 tackles in 2009. Maybe the Jets can take solace in the fact that no DE from the first round, after Gholston’s selection, really made an impact in the NFL. It wasn’t until the 50th-overall pick when the Arizona Cardinals took Calais Campbell that we really got a decent rusher in the class.
Charles Rogers, Detroit Lions, 2003
Swinging and missing with the second-overall selection can be crushing, especially when you are the Detroit Lions. The Lions took a big swing with Michigan State WR Charles Rogers, only to watch him fail to become a competent player. Rogers finished his NFL career with just 36 receptions and four TDs in three seasons with Detroit. To make matters worse, the very next pick of the draft was also a receiver. The Houston Texans took Miami product Andre Johnson, who ranks 11th all-time in receptions. By comparison, the third-overall pick caught only 1,026 more passes than the second pick of the same draft.
JaMarcus Russell, Oakland Raiders, 2007
Of course, JaMarcus Russell retains his rightful place as king of the 2000’s NFL draft busts. Russell had all the tools, and shot up draft boards due to his incredible size and measurements. His stumbling journey to bust-dom started almost instantly. Russell actually held out through week one before reaching a contract agreement with the Raiders. Oakland gave the top pick of the draft $68 million to be their franchise QB. Russell finished his career, completing barely over 50 percent of his passes, with 18 TDs compared to 23 INTs and 25 fumbles. By the way, here were seven of the next 14 picks behind Russell that year: Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis and Lawrence Timmons. Ouch.
Other notable draft busts: Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns, 2012