The 5 Biggest NFL Draft Busts in the Modern Era

By Josh Brown

5. Matt Leinart

Leinart was expected to be a great quarterback, after spending his career at USC as a media favorite and Heisman winner. However, after an abysmal rookie season with Arizona, the once undrafted Kurt Warner took over and lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Throughout four season, Leinart threw 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

Leinart was expected to be a great quarterback, after spending his career at USC as a media favorite and Heisman winner. However, after an abysmal rookie season with Arizona, the once undrafted Kurt Warner took over and lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Throughout four season, Leinart threw 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

4. Jason Smith

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Offensive Tackle Jason Smith was taken at number 2 by the Rams in 2009, and praised as a future NFL star. As a big, athletic tackle, the Rams believed he would solve a lot of their problems up front. Instead he just added to them. In 2012 he was a back-up on the Jets and he currently does not play in the NFL. Arian Foster went undrafted in the same year Smith was taken number 2.

3. Vernon Gholston

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Taken at number six as a Defensive End, Gholston was expected to add to the stellar New York Jets defense in 2008. In 45 games with New York, Gholston had no sacks whatsoever. Players who were drafted after Gholston: Chris Johnson and Joe Flacco.

2. Ryan Leaf

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While on the early end of this “modern era” list, Leaf deserves a spot for the high expectations placed upon him before entering the NFL. Every analyst at the time was comparing him and fellow 1998 draft prospect Peyton Manning in terms of who was better. Manning was taken number one, Leaf number two. His draft position ended up being highly indicative of his NFL career, which was highly disappointing, to say the least. In 2014 Leaf was sentenced to five years in prison for breaking into a home in Montana to steal prescription drugs, which violated his Texas probation.

1. JaMarcus Russell

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The seemingly obvious number one pick in 2007, who even held out before the start of the season for a bigger payday, will go down in history as one of the biggest NFL draft busts of all time. Having amazing athletic ability, a powerful arm, and an ego to match, Russell was highly sought out by NFL teams in need of a quarterback. After three seasons of failing to live up to expectations in Oakland and showing up in increasingly worse shape, Russell was eventually booted. Players who were drafted after JaMarcus Russell: Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Darrelle Revis, and Adrian Peterson.