NFL draft busts: Who’s the worst of the worst?

Carter, Salaam head list

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Ryan Leaf

LEAF ME ALONE. Pathetic pivot Ryan Leaf is one of many dunces who were huge NFL draft busts.

With mock drafts spreading like wildfire and rumours flooding the web, the NFL draft is looming and Porky should be worried " sports nuts are again thirsting for pigskin.

However, it’s not all champagne and roses in the War Room; there have been more than a fair share of standout college players who became NFL busts. Without further ado, here are some of the biggest NFL flops in the last 20 years:

Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Penn State/Penn State running backs in general
The first overall pick in the 1995 draft had a great career as a Nittany Lion, playing alongside future pros like Kerry Collins, Joe Jurevicius, Jeff Hartings and Kyle Brady. Sadly, dominance in the Big Ten conference didn’t translate into dominance in The Show. Carter compiled only 1,144 yards in 10 seasons. Carter was part of a trend of crappy Penn State running backs which wasn’t broken until Larry Johnson’s emergence. Carter and fellow Penn State clowns Blair Thomas (second overall in 1990) and Curtis Enis didn’t crack 5,000 combined yards in their careers. Ouch.

Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado
This gentleman brought home Heisman hardware in 1994 with the Buffaloes. He was only the fourth player in NCAA history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. The 1995 first-rounder had a respectable rookie season with the Chicago Bears, ripping off over 1,000 yards and 10 majors, but after that he was out of the league within three years and had a brief stint in the uber-prestigious XFL. We hope to God you can sense our sarcasm.

Ryan Leaf, QB, Washington State
Drew Bledsoe isn’t exactly the greatest pivot in history, but the fellow WSU Cougar looks like a Hall of Famer compared to Leaf, an absolute misery who went second overall to the Chargers in 1998. A Heisman finalist after his junior year, Leaf was expected to be the prototypical cannon-armed pocket passer. In reality, he bombed worse than Michael Richards at a comedy club.

Tony Mandarich, OT, Michigan State
This Oakville native was drafted second overall behind Troy Aikman in 1989. Mandarich took a short toot down the 401 and Michigan interstates to play collegiate ball for the Spartans and, coming out of school, Sports Illustrated dubbed him “The Greatest Offensive Line Prospect Ever.” It turned out Mandarich couldn’t block a muskrat for the Green Bay Packers and ended up a mediocre NFL analyst on The Score.

Heath Shuler, QB, Tennessee
After Shuler’s outstanding career in Knoxville, the Washington Redskins made him the third overall pick in the 1994 draft. A contract holdout and poor play quickly made Shuler a scapegoat in the U.S. capital and seventh-round pick Gus Frerotte soon beat him out for the starting job. Thank goodness a consummate superstar like Peyton Manning came along to redeem the quarterback position for Vols fans.

Lawrence Phillips, RB, Nebraska
This head case has enough problems to make Dr. Phil salivate. Drafted sixth overall in 1996, Phillips was released in 1997 by the St. Louis Rams. He was charged for assaulting a woman in between his layoff and his attempted 1999 comeback with San Fran. He was cut again in mid-season for skipping practice and has since bounced around in the CFL, perhaps the worst punishment of all for a pro football player.

Todd Marinovich, QB, USC
This Southern Cal product was a first-round pick by the Raiders in the 1991 draft. While he wasn’t the highest drafted player on this list, Marinovich had been groomed to be a pro quarterback from early childhood. He led USC to the Rose Bowl as a freshman but serious drug problems ruined his NFL career after only one season.

Peter Warrick, WR, Florida State
This ’Nole seemed to have all the ability and swagger in the world, going fourth overall in the 2000 draft. Unfortunately, the FSU star has never racked up more than 819 yards and seven touchdowns in a season. Most recently, Warrick was signed by the Arena Football League’s Las Vegas Gladiators.

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