by Robert Ferringo - 4/26/2006
We've all made bad decisions. Sleeping with your girlfriend's mother and sister. Lighting up a smoke inside an active meth lab. Starting a land war in Asia.
Most of my poor decisions, in one way or another, revolved around rum, heavy barbiturates, high-powered rifles, women and/or the New York Mets. However, I never managed to compound one of my reckless and indefensible decisions by giving it a 10-year, $11 million contract.
You and I, we gamble. We'll regularly drop incessant amounts of capital on this or that. But NFL executives, specifically the ones involved with the annual amateur draft? Now they my friend, they Gamble.
Player evaluation is incredibly subjective, and always open for debate. Then there's the incredible unpredictability of human nature. Who's to say which player is going to be good for 12 productive, salary-cap efficient NFL seasons and which player will be good for 12 years of underachieving, drug charges, domestic violence and blown ACLs?
I understand it's a difficult job, fraught with peril. But in perusing the historical records of the NFL Draft, some of the atrocities and downright vile acts that have been committed rank right up there with any sins committed by Pol Pot.
What's worse is that if you analyze the team-by-team selections of the last 23 years you'll find that many of the most blatant offenders are also the most frequent. Franchises like the Browns, Bengals, Saints, Jets, Bears, Raiders and Seahawks have been unmitigated disasters for more than two decades. It's not difficult to understand Why they've been such underachievers and so insanely inconsistent: just look at who they've let put on their jerseys!
Enough of my nonsense. Here's a look at the biggest NFL Draft busts for each franchise (listed alphabetically) since 1982:
Arizona - Andre Wadsworth (Rd. 1, Pk. 3, 1998)
They could make a board game out of the Cardinals hilariously awful picks. Wadsworth played one year, had four surgeries and was out of football by 2000.
Atlanta - Aundrey Bruce (Rd. 1, Pk. 1, 1988)
I wanted to put Vick here (since he was traded for LT and Drew Brees) but instead I'll go with Bruce. Tim Brown went five picks later.
Baltimore - Kyle Boller (Rd. 1, Pk. 19, 2003)
The Ravens have been magnificent in the first round in their short time. But like so many of his passes, Boller was a dud.
Buffalo - Mike Williams (Rd. 1, Pk. 4, 2002)
Plenty of horrid early rounders in the 90s, but none were chosen this high or with so much hype.
Carolina - Rae Carruth (Rd. 1, Pk. 27, 1997)
If football were attempting to murder your pregnant wife, Carruth would have been a stud.
Chicago - Curtis Enis (Rd. 1, Pk. 5, 1998)
Enis gets the nod over Rashaan Salaam because Salaam didn't go until Pk. 21.
Cincinnati - 95 percent of their picks from 1991-2002.
As Chris Mortensen famously said in 2002, "They're the Bengals!"
Cleveland - Every No. 1 pick from 1990-2005.
>From "Touchdown Tommy" Vardell (Pk. 9 in '92) to Tim Couch (Pk. 1 in '99) these guys have been the height of absurdity.
Dallas - David LaFleur (Rd. 1, Pk. 22, 1997)
Just mention the name of the LSU tight end (career catches: 85) to a Cowboys fan and watch the blood rush to their face.
Denver - Tommy Maddox (Rd. 1, Pk. 25, 1992)
Broncos could have had wideouts Carl Pickens or Jimmy Smith, but instead took Elway's supposed heir out of spite.
Detroit - All top picks, 1996-2005
Ready? In order: Reggie Brown, Bryant Westbrook, Terry Fair, Chris Claiborne, Stockar McDougal, Jeff Backus, Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams.
Green Bay - Tony Mandrich (Rd. 1, Pk. 2 1989)
The Incredible Bulk was the Darko Milicic of his time. Troy Aikman went No. 1, then Mandrich, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders.
Houston - Tony Boselli (Expansion draft, Pk. 1, 2002)
The Curse of the Boselli. The Texans first-ever pick never played a down for them, and David Carr has gone on to get sacked 208 times in four years.
Indianapolis - Steve Emtman (Rd. 1, Pk. 1, 1990) and Quentin Coryatt (Rd. 1, Pk. 2, 1990)
The Gold Standard of Busts, the Colts had the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in 1990 and managed to blow both. Emtman blew out both knees and played 10 games in six years, and Coryatt tallied eight sacks in eight years.
Jacksonville - Reggie Williams (Rd. 1, Pk. 9, 2004)
Not much to chose from, and the jury is still out on Williams. He has a lot of work to do.
Kansas City - Sylvester Morris (Rd. 1, Pk. 21, 2000)
The Cat suited up for all of 15 games in his five-year career.
Miami - Yatil Green (Rd. 1, Pk. 15, 1997)
At a time when one weapon or one impact defender could have put them over the top, the Fins grabbed a guy who managed nine games and 18 receptions for his career.
Minnesota - Dimitrius Underwood (Rd. 1, Pk. 29, 1999)
As Homer Simpson would say, "Psst, he's crazy." Underwood went schizoid and never played a down in the NFL.
New England - Hart Lee Dykes (Rd. 1, Pk. 15, 1989)
Very symbolic of the 90s Pats: Dykes' career was cut short by injuries suffered from a barroom ass beating.
New Orleans - Ricky Williams (Rd. 1, Pk. 5, 1999)
If football were ripping tubes and having illegitimate children, Ricky would be a force. The Saints traded their entire draft for three above-average years.
New York Giants - Ron Dayne (Rd. 1, Pk. 11, 2000)
The worst Heisman Trophy Winner Ever has 17 touchdowns in five seasons, and never averaged more than 3.8 yards per carry for the Giants.
New York Jets - Blair Thomas (Rd. 1, Pk. 2, 1990)
Nine total touchdowns in his six-year career. He set the Bust Bar high for Curtis Enis and Ki-Jana Carter.
Oakland - Todd Marinovich (Rd. 1, Pk. 24, 1991)
If football involved growing weed, smoking heroin and dodging probation officers, Marinovich would've been one of the Greats.
Philadelphia - Lester Holmes (Rd. 1, Pk. 19, 1993)
Holmes coupled with Leonard Renfro (Rd. 1, Pk. 24) to give the Eagles two busts in '93.
Pittsburgh - Tim Worley (Rd. 1, Pk. 7, 1989)
After a 770-yard rookie year, he never ran for more than 440 yards again.
San Diego - Ryan Leaf (Rd. 1, Pk. 2, 1998)
Leaf was a man amongst boys in college. He acted like a child once he hit the NFL.
San Francisco - J.J. Stokes (Rd. 1, Pk. 10, 1995)
Remember the Next Jerry Rice? Dishonorable mention goes to Giovanni Carmazzi, the Hofstra QB that went three rounds before Marc Bulger and Tom Brady in 2000.
Seattle - Brian Bosworth (Supplemental draft, 1987)
He cost the Seahawks a No. 1, and signed what was then one of the most obscene contracts in NFL history (the 10/$11 deal I mentioned in the opening). QBs Rick Mirer and Dan McGwire - No. 1 picks just two years apart - were Dishonorable mentions.
St. Louis - Lawrence Phillips (Rd. 1, Pk. 6, 1996)
If football were wife beating, Phillips would've been a steal.
Tampa Bay - Vinny Testeverde (Rd. 1, Pk. 1, 1987)
I'm not blaming Vinny, but he was the symbol for two decades of futility. He has the most losses in NFL history, and was the cherry on top of that fateful 1987 draft.
Tennessee - Alonzo Highsmith (Rd. 1, Pk. 3, 1987)
Here's how good Highsmith was: The Oilers used their No. 1 in 1988 on another running back, Lorenzo White.
Washington - Heath Shuler (Rd. 1, Pk. 3, 1994); Michael Westbrook (Rd. 1, Pk. 4, 1995)
Westbrook almost was left off the list because of that great ass kicking he gave Stephen Davis. But Davis turned out to be good and Westbrook didn't. Shuler? He was just a wuss.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.