The NFL draft is just a few months away and the internet is in overdrive with speculation on how the draft could play out. Rather than bore readers with another of the countless mock drafts out there here is a more light-hearted item – a look at some of the worst draft picks ever made.
Here is our Top Five:
NUMBER 5 – CHARLES ROGERS
Rogers, who passed away in November, ended 2002 as a unanimous All-American and the winner of the Fred Biletnikoff Award. That potential made the Michigan State Wide Receiver the second overall pick in the 2003 draft as the Detroit Lions scooped him up.
At the time it looked like a sensible draft choice given his record-breaking college career. Rogers recorded three touchdowns in his first five pro games but injuries – especially a broken collar bone – caused him to spend time away from the Lions squad and his career veered wildly off track.
Rogers had issues with drugs and was released after three seasons and a total of a mere four touchdowns. The Lions cited his attitude as their reason for letting him go.
NUMBER 4 – RYAN LEAF
If you speak to even the most casual fans of the NFL they will know the name Peyton Manning. Very few – if any – casual fans will remember Washington State’s Ryan Leaf, yet he was the second pick in the 1998 draft, taken immediately after Manning. Leaf was selected by the San Diego Chargers.
Ryan played just three seasons in the NFL – two for San Diego and one for the Dallas Cowboys – managing just twenty-one starts and fourteen touchdown throws. Slightly less than the 579 passing touchdowns that Manning notched.
NUMBER 3 – AKILI SMITH
If you’ve heard the phrase “gambling is a mug’s game” then you’ll appreciate what unfolded as the Cincinnati Bengals took a chance on Smith as the number three pick in the 1999 draft.
Smith hadn’t done anything of note on the field until his senior year at Oregon, where he had a remarkable season, throwing for over 3,700 yards and 32 touchdowns in just 11 starts. The New Orleans Saints offered the Bengals NINE picks to move up so they could nab Akili but Cincinnati said no, opting to gamble on the one-season wonder themselves.
That proved to be seriously bad judgment as Smith appeared in just 22 games over a four-year career in which he threw for an embarrassingly low five touchdowns.
NUMBER TWO – VERNON GHOLSTON
In 2007 Gholston was named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year for his performance at Ohio State. In 2008 he was signed as the number six pick by the New York Jets. It would prove to be the peak of his short-lived NFL career.
All in all Gholston made forty-five appearances for the Jets over a three-year period and after unsuccessful tryouts with the Saint Louis Rams, Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, Vernon kissed goodbye to that chapter of his life and retired, having failed to record a single sack.
A joke went that perhaps his name should be “Ghoul”-ston, since he seemed insubstantial against offensive linemen.
NUMBER 1 – KI-JANA CARTER
When Carter left Penn State in 1995 to enter the draft after helping them to an undefeated season it was not surprising to see him taken first by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1996 draft. The running back got a then-record-breaking deal for a rookie at $19.2 million.
Carter had huge potential but a torn ACL early in his career stalled his career and he never showed the capacity to get back to the top level. The seven-year deal that the Bengals put together was looking woeful and after nine years with three different teams he called it quits with a measly 20 rushing touchdowns to his name.
There you have it! Five examples of why you really shouldn’t count your chickens before they hatch. For you Bengals fans, Joe Burrow should be a safe bet for your first pick if you are making an NFL mock draft, but that’s what they said about Carter, too …