It's always fun to look at the players who should have been but never were. So here are the top 10 players in the NFL who couldn't quite hack it. Enjoy.
10. Blair Thomas (RB, Penn State)
Thomas was drafted second overall by the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets in 1990. He played 5 seasons, during which he was hampered by several injuries. He finished his career with 2,236 yards and 7 TDs. The next running back that went in the 1990 draft was selected fifteen picks later by the Dallas Cowboys. You've probably heard of him - some guy named Emmit Smith.
9. David Carr (QB, Fresno State)
I feel bad putting Carr on this countdown because he never had a chance. Carr was the face of the Houston Texans in the franchise's first few years of existence. Unfortunately, that face spent most of it's time buried under defensive players. He was sacked 76 (!!!) times in his first season with Houston and it didn't get much better than that. (He's been sacked a total of 265 times.) But with a career record of 23-56, Carr has to be considered a draft bust. A former #1 overall, Carr is now bouncing from team to team as a 2nd or 3rd string guy.
8. Akili Smith (QB, Oregon)
Smith was the third overall pick in 1999. The Bengals had been offered 9 total picks in exchange for pick #3, but the Bengals turned down the offer and selected Smith. He missed most of training camp his rookie year over a contract dispute and was unable to grasp the playbook. He put up 5 TDs, 13 INTs, 2,212 yards, and a QB rating of 52.8 in 4 years, at which point he was cut by Cincinnati. He then bounced around NFL Europe and the CFL before retiring.
7. Tony Mandarich (OT, Michigan State)
In the first round of the 1989 draft, the top 5 picks were: #1 Troy Aikman, #2 Tony Mandarich, #3 Barry Sanders, #4 Derrick Thomas, and #5 Deion Sanders. Once of these things is not like the others. Mandarich was the highest rated OL prospect of all time. He was 6’5” and weighed 300 pounds, ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at the combine, had a 30” vertical, and recorded a then-record 39 reps at 225 lbs on the bench press. Mandarich was touted as “The Incredible Bulk," but he later admitted to years of steroid use while at MSU and with the Packers. He once challenged Mike Tyson to a fight, and often missed interviews because he was too drunk or hung over. He was cut after 3 seasons of underwhelming performance and injury.
6. Charles Rogers (WR, Michigan St.)
Rogers went second overall in the 2003 draft - after Carson Palmer and before Andre Johnson (oops). He recorded 22 catches for 243 yards in his rookie year before breaking his collarbone. He missed the rest of the season. In his second season, he broke his collarbone again on the third play from scrimmage. In his third year, he was suspended for the first four games after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He had, it later surfaced, failed a drug test every year at MSU. He played 9 games, starting 3, and had 14 catches for 197 yards with 1 TD. He was cut after his third season.
5. Tim Couch (QB, Kentucky)
Drafted first overall by the Cleveland Browns. Enough said. Oh yeah, and he wasn't very good but got some serious cash ($12.25 million signing bonus).
4. Rae Carruth (WR, Colorado)
Carruth played 4 years at University of Colorado before being drafted 27th overall by the Carolina Panthers. He signed a 4-year deal for $3.7 million and caught 44 passes for 545 yards in his rookie year. He was tied for the rookie lead with 4 TDs and was selected to the NFL's all-rookie team. So why was this guy a bust? The way his career ended. In his second season, be broke his foot in Week 1 and missed the entire year. And midway through his third season, he planned and participated in an attempt to kill his pregnant girlfriend. Not cool. Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. His biggest statistic? How about a 291-month-and-25-day jail sentence.
3. JaMarcus Russell (QB, LSU)
Russell was the 1st overall pick in 2007. He signed a deal that included $32 million guaranteed, the largest amount of guaranteed money at the time. JaMarcus reported to training camp at 295 pounds, which was 30 over his playing weight at LSU. His career stats include 18 TDs, 23 INTs, 15 fumbles, 4,083 yards, a 65.2 passer rating, a 52% completion percentage, and a record as a starter of 7-18. The Raiders cut Russell after the 2009-2010 season, and he has since been in the news only for his arrest. Apparently, you're not supposed to have codeine syrup without a prescription.
2. Ryan Leaf (QB, Washington St.)
Taken second overall by the Chargers in 1998 after Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf was one of the most highly touted QB prospects of all time. The Chargers traded 2 first round picks, a second round pick, and pro-bowler Eric Metcalf to get Leaf. He received an $11.25 million signing bonus, the largest ever at the time. In his 4-season career, he managed to muster an extremely disappointing 14 TDs, 36 INTs, and 3,666 yards. He also had a career completion percentage of 48.4 % and a lifetime QB rating of 50. Even though I don't really know what a QB rating is, I know that sucks. And oh yeah, Leaf was recently convicted of illegal possession of painkillers and was removed from his position as QB coach at West Texas A&M.
1. Steve Emtman (DL, Washington)
Emtman was a #1 overall pick, and edges Leaf as the #1 draft bust of all time for that reason. If you're going to take a defensive lineman at #1, you'd better get it right. And the Colts didn't. Emtman played three seasons in Indy and had a miserable 5 sacks, with 1 INT. He blew out his left knee after nine games during his rookie campaign. In his second season, he tore his patellar tendon after five games. He miraculously came back from that injury, but in year three of his career ruptured a disc in his back after colliding with a teammate. He managed to play in three more games but was then forced to undergo season ending surgery. He ended his career in Washington after 5 years a total of 8 sacks. Compare that to the most recent DL taken #1 overall - Mario Williams (4 years, 39.5 sacks) and you've got yourself the #1 NFL draft bust. (Good to know: Quentin Coryatt, the #2 overall in the same draft also went to the Colts. Yeah, I've never heard of him either.)