Last May, a youth football team from Boise, Idaho became heroes when they worked together to rescue passengers trapped in an overturned vehicle. The Boise Black Knights, a football team consisting of kids between 12 and 14 years old, were on their way home from a tournament in New Mexico when their school’s van came across an overturned car on the side of an Oregon highway.
“We were all driving, they came around the corner and seen an accident with a car rolled over, and the two vans pulled over,” said Rudy Jackson, the team’s coach. The driver pulled over upon seeing the accident, and the boys jumped into action without hesitation.
“It wasn’t really something we thought about. We just instantly pulled over,” said Regan Magill, a player on the Black Knights who caught the entire incident on film. “I don’t want to imagine what would happen if we were not there to help.”
The boys demonstrated true teamwork in their efforts to save the male driver and female passenger who were trapped inside the upside-down vehicle. According to the Malheur County Sheriff’s office, an officer wasn’t able to arrive at the site of the crash until an hour after the first call as a result of vehicle problems.
“When the deputy arrived he found the ambulance attending to the two occupants of the vehicle,” said a statement from the Sheriff’s office. “There was no sign of a football team at the scene when he arrived. He took statements from the vehicle occupants as well as another witness but it was never mentioned to him about how the occupants were removed from the vehicle by a football team.”
“It’s nice to see kids doing a good deed like this; I suspect they have some great coaches leading them,” said Undersheriff Travis Johnson. “It’s hard to know exactly what would have happened if this team hadn’t been there to rescue the trapped female, but as it is, it looks like everyone is going to be just fine.”
“I’m more than proud. I’m at a loss for words,” said coach Rudy Jackson. “They got out of the car like they were supposed to do that… it’s a great bunch of kids.”
35 College Footballers Who Became the Biggest Draft Busts in NFL History
Brady Quinn was a very promising first pick for the Cleveland Browns, which came 22nd overall in the 2007 draft. A quarterback that embodied Fighting Irish excellence during his four years at Notre Dame, expectations were high for a team in the slumps. Unfortunately, Quinn was unable to help them transform the Browns into winners and they remained a losing team for the next decade. Superb players they passed on to draft him included Joe Staley, Greg Olsen, Steve Smith, and Brandon Meriweather.
JaMarcus Russell was the first pick in the 2007 draft and went to the Oakland Raiders. They thought he’d win games, but Russell was unable to make a mark in the NFL. By the time his career ended following the 2009 season, he had a reputation for having a bad work ethic. That draft didn’t have a wide selection of top-notch quarterbacks, but Oakland banked on Russell. They shouldn’t have — they would have been wiser to draft Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis, or Patrick Willis. After starting for two seasons, he was let go from the team.
Tony Mandarich built a stellar reputation as an offensive lineman in college, which is why he was selected second in the 1989 draft when the Green Bay Packers used up their first-round pick on him. What a mistake, especially when considering they missed on Hall of Famers Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders. Mandarich had a foul attitude, though, which some say was because of his substance abuse issues. After only three seasons, he was cut and the Colts picked him up. Mandarich retired two years later following a lukewarm NFL career.
The Cleveland Browns drafted Courtney Brown, the first pick overall in 2000. After a stellar college career with Penn State’s Nittany Lions and a promising rookie year, injuries cut his career short. No one can predict injuries, but consider the fact that Cleveland skipped out on LaVarr Arrington, Brian Urlacher, Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, and the GOAT — Tom Brady, who was chosen 199th (!) overall in the draft. The Browns, meanwhile, would lose for the greater part of the next two decades.
Tim Tebow had such a good college career that, despite the fame he found and the money he made in the NFL, his professional career is quite disappointing. Sure, there was a crazy campaign around him and Tebow made an indelible mark on the popular culture of the day, but he really didn’t do that much for the Denver Broncos. Just several years before his NFL career died in 2010, Denver used their first pick (22nd overall) on him in the 2010 draft, missing out of Rob Gronkowski, Golden Tate, Jimmy Graham, and Navorro Bowman.
After being groomed by Joe Paterno in Penn State, Ki-Jana Carter got picked first overall in 1995. The Cincinnati Bengals thought he was going to be huge, offering him a record-breaking contract that ended up being money thrown down the drain. The phenomenal college player tore his ACL in his first NFL appearance, in the first preseason game that year. After missing his first season, he had injuries for the next four years. While his career ended, the Bengals watched Terrell Davis and Curtis Martin, potential running back picks they missed on, raking up yardage for their teams.
Vince Young was chosen third overall in the 2006 draft by the Tennessee Titans, banking on his incredible college championship years. They were worried about his throwing motion in his arm and results on standardized tests, but put these worries aside. At first, it appeared that they were right, as at the end of his first season he was selected to the Pro Bowl and won Offensive Rookie of the Year. He played great, yet he got injured and was replaced at the starting position. Although he wrestled the position back, Young didn’t take the Titans anywhere.
Ray Carruth got picked 27th overall by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 1997 draft. They needed to fill a spot, but he got only four touchdowns and only 62 receptions in three years. That’s not the reason he was a draft bust, as he was busted in real life by the police. In 1999, he was arrested and convicted of conspiracy to murder Cherica Adams, who was eight months pregnant with his baby at the time. Carruth spent the next 18 years in prison.
Kevin Kolb was chosen in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles, ending up as the 36th pick overall. The organization saw that Donovan McNabb was injured again and needed to groom a new quarterback. Sure, Kolb was fine as a backup, but he was never starting material and a huge waste of a draft pick. He later went to the Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills, but Kolb was hit by three serious concussions that ended his career at 29. He said it sounded like “someone shooting a shotgun right next to my ear, every second of every day.”
Charles Rogers was the second pick overall in the 2003 draft when the Detroit Lions picked him, though they should have picked Andre Johnson, a Pro Bowler who was chosen next by the Houston Texans. Reflecting the Lions’ subpar performance in the following years, Rogers was incredibly unlucky. He broke his collarbone just five games into his first season, ending his rookie year. In 2005, he was suspended for substance abuse violations. That year he was cut from the team and no other NFL organization picked him up.
Andre Ware was another draft bust chosen by the Detroit Lions, who selected the 1989 Heisman Trophy winner in the first round of 1990. Coming seventh overall in the draft, he remained a backup to Rodney Peete and Erik Kramer, who proved they could start at quarterback. Ware went to play in Canada and Europe after getting let go by the Lions. Today, he works as an analyst for ESPN and Houston Texans radio broadcasts. What a waste of a first pick!
Vernon Gholston got picked sixth in the 2008 draft by the New York/New Jersey Jets, effectively tearing their first-round pick and throwing it up in the wind. He was a feared pass rusher in college, yet got only five tackles and eight assists in his rookie year — the following year he was just as bad. By 2010, he was gone from the NFL, having wasted everyone’s time. The Jets should have chosen Jerod Mayo, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, or Aqib Talib instead.
Johnny Manziel got selected in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Cleveland Browns, who have squandered more draft picks than any other team in all likelihood. While he’s a great athlete who did great things for Texas A&M as a quarterback, Manziel had built a reputation for substance abuse. “It’s not a secret,” his father even said. The Browns should have skipped on him and chosen Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr instead, as both these quarterbacks have made Pro Bowls.
Brian Bosworth was the Seattle Seahawks’ supplemental first-round pick that they had earned, and which they wasted in 1987. Oklahoma’s Brian Bosworth was thought to be the next great linebacker, but his performance-enhancing substance usage had adverse effects on his body. After just one full year in the NFL, he suffered a shoulder injury that ended his career. There was so much promise, yet the Seahawks didn’t use their supplemental pick right at all. Bosworth’s been known as one of the biggest busts ever since.
Aaron Curry got selected in the 2009 draft in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks, coming in fourth overall. Analysts said it was “safe” to choose the Wake Forest linebacker, but he ended up delivering subpar performances that frustrated the organization and fans alike. Only three seasons later, he was gone from the team. Brian Cushing and Clay Matthew, both of whom have made their mark in Curry’s position, were available to the Seahawks still — what a serious error!
Tim Couch got chosen as part of the 1999 draft, which was the year of the quarterback. He got picked first by the Cleveland Browns, the team that’s on this list once again for abysmal draft choices. Out of the first 12 picks, five were quarterbacks, but Couch did nothing for Cleveland. They should have done some soul-searching in their draft strategy after this while watching picks they missed making plays over the years, like Donovan McNabb and Dante Culpepper. Judging how they did the next 20 years, they did nothing of the sort.
Todd Marinovich got selected in the 1991 draft by the Los Angeles Raiders in the first round, 24th overall. There were many warning signs from the quarterback from USC that reared their ugly head, but the team ignored these. That was a mistake, as Marinovich got charged with illicit substance-related issues by the police. Since getting cut from the NFL, he has gotten in trouble many more times. The Raiders could have picked up the legendary Brett Favre instead…
Rick Mirer got drafted in 1993 by the Seattle Seahawks in the first round, second overall pick. Mirer looked like he was following in Joe Montana’s footsteps by entering the NFL after a notable college career at Notre Dame. Just like Joe Cool, he was a serious prospect and had a decent start. Unfortunately, things turned sour and he got released after four seasons. Mirer played for six teams over eight years. Now he has a winery in Napa Valley.
Heath Shuler got drafted by the Washington Redskins third overall in the 1994 draft. The Redskins thought that this was a franchise quarterback after looking at his college career. He was number two on the Heisman Trophy voting during his last year. However, a fellow rookie, Gus Frerotte, won the spot from him and Shuler ended up going to New Orleans and Oakland. Shuler didn’t do much on those teams, either. In 2007, he entered politics and ran for Congress as a representative from North Carolina.
Back in 1992, Steve Emtman was the first pick, drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round. Truth be told, there wasn’t much competition that year, with a less than impressive list of Pro Bowlers. With that said, the Colts were convinced they had brought in a defensive stalwart in Steve Emtman. Although he had an impressive run at college, he struggled in the NFL. In three years, Emtman played only 18 games and was plagued by injuries. After subpar spells at Washington and Miami, Emtman left the league for good.
In the 1998 draft, the San Diego Chargers were in desperate need of a QB and ended up getting Ryan Leaf, the second pick in the first round. Sadly though, Leaf displayed a bad attitude during his rookie season and was benched by the time November came along. He was sidelined with a shoulder labral tear during the 1999 season and he was playing up again in 2000. Although the Cowboys and the Buccaneers tried to salvage his career, Leaf just didn’t have the drive to behave on the field. His reputation was also hindered by legal entanglements.
The second pick during the first round of the 2009 draft, Jason Smith was the man who the St Louis Rams hoped would strengthen their offensive line. However, injury-prone Smith couldn’t handle the pace of the NFL and burned out after three seasons. He eventually moved onto the Jets but was out of the league completely by 2013. Not only did he never make a Pro Bowl, but Smith only started 26 games during his short career. The Rams could have had Pro Bowlers such as Brian Orakpo or Clay Matthews instead.
Robert Griffin III
Baylor star Robert Griffin III was the second pick when he was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 2012 draft. The talented QB had a great start, being voted NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. A promising career was surely on the cards. However, the Heisman Trophy winner suffered recurring knee injuries and his coach even called him out. By the time 2016, the Redskins were done with Griffin and he only lasted a year at the Browns. He became third-string QB of the Baltimore Ravens.
The third pick of the first round of the 2013 draft was Dion Jordan. The defensive end caught the attention of the Miami Dolphins and during this period, they secured his services. However, his self-destructive nature got him into a lot of trouble. In 2015, Jordan was suspended for the rest of the season after violating performance-enhancing substance policies. Fast forward to 2017 and the Dolphins let him go. He went on to start just three games with the Seattle Seahawks up until the present day.
Another bad decision the Cleveland Browns made came during the 2012 draft, with Trent Richardson being the third pick in the first round. After a great college career, it seemed like the running back had a big career ahead of him. However, after just 17 games, Richardson was on his way to the Indianapolis Colts. For the next two seasons, he didn’t make much of an impact and had even more underwhelming spells with the Ravens and the Raiders. He even tried his luck in the Canadian Football League.
The fourth pick in the first round of the 2005 draft was Cedric Benson. The running back was brought in by the Chicago Bears, but sadly never lived up to the hype that surrounded him. After a disappointing time with the Bears, Benson went on to have better times with the Bengals. However, his actions off the field seemed to tarnish his reputation completely, being arrested four times over the course of his career for a variety of crimes.
During the 2013 draft, Dee Milliner was the ninth pick of the first round for the New York Jets. And it turns out that this might have been one of the franchise’s biggest mistakes in their history. During his rookie season alone, Milliner was benched three times because of his play. A number of injuries had a devastating impact on his playing time, which meant that in three seasons, Milliner amassed only 21 games to his name. By the time 2016 came around, the Jets released Milliner.
Back in the 2010 draft, the St Louis Rams got first pick Sam Bradford and were hopeful that he would help the franchise reach some sort of greatness. They got off to a good start, with the QB winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award that year. However, the next few seasons were marred by inconsistency before his time at St Louis came to an end completely due to a knee injury in 2014. Although things picked up for him at Minnesota and Philadelphia, Bradford’s career was doomed by injury woes.
Akili Smith was the third pick for the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the 1999 Draft. The franchise had big expectations for the QB, but ultimately, the decision didn’t do them any favors. Between the years of 1999 and 2002, Smith only managed to play 17 games for the Bengals. By the time 2003 came around, Cincinnati was tired of Smith and finally decided to cut him loose. This marked the end for Smith’s NFL career and he had no choice but to try his luck in Canada.
If there was any player who you could say was an absolute star during his time in college, then it was Matt Leinart. He was the QB for the USC Trojans during their incredible run in the mid-’00s. This made him the tenth pick in the first round of the 2006 draft and the Arizona Cardinals were quick to swoop. Unfortunately, though, Leinart was nothing more than a journeyman backup for the franchise. There is no denying that the Cardinals could have done so much better with that first-round pick.
Although Blair Thomas got off to a great start at Penn State, he wasn’t able to replicate that success in the NFL. The former running back was the second overall pick in 1990, but only managed to get nine touchdowns during the four years he spent at the Jets. Thomas is famously the third of the Nittany Lions to have bombed at NFL level. After a couple of lackluster spells at the Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons, Thomas was out.
Despite being a college hit at Oregon, Joey Harrington never quite lived up to his potential and was burnt out by the time 2009 came around. The talented QB was the third overall draft for the Detroit Lions during the 2002 draft. To be fair, Harrington had a lot of chances as a starter for Detroit. By 2005, his time was up and he did absolutely nothing at his three subsequent franchises. In the last decade, Harrington has spent a lot more time with his family after returning to Portland.
One of the older NFL draft busts on this list is undoubtedly Art Schlichter. The QB from Bloomingburg, Ohio was the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 1982 draft. He joined Baltimore and it seemed like he could help improve the team considerably. However, there were rumors that Schlichter was a notorious gambler during his college years and this only intensified during his NFL years. A few years later, he was banned from the league and is currently serving time for gambling-related crimes.
If there was ever an example of how substance abuse can completely destroy an NFL career, then it is Justin Blackmon. The wide receiver from Oklahoma State was a revelation at college level and was the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 2012 draft. Things started well at the Jacksonville Jaguars, with Blackmon becoming the leading rookie of the season with 865 receiving yards. However, he was suspended indefinitely for violating substance policies and hasn’t played since the fall of 2013.
Another wide receiver who showed so much potential but never lived up to it is Troy Williamson. First impressing at South Carolina, Williamson became the seventh overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2005 draft. Over the next five seasons, he managed to catch just 37 passes, with his best-receiving yards record being 455. After just four touchdown catches, the Jaguars let him go in the 2009 season and he has not played a game since.
Things could have gone so differently for Amobi Okoye. The defensive tackle from Louisville was delighted when he found out he was the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2007 draft, the youngest ever. He made his way to the Houston Texans but never managed to find any consistency and was released in 2010. Despite overcoming illness in 2013, any major comeback proved to be futile. It is amazing to think that Okoye is still only 32 years of age.
It seems like just yesterday that Bruce Pickens was the third overall pick in the first round of the 1991 draft. Originally proving himself in Nebraska, the talented CB, regarded by many as the best at college level, moved to Atlanta. Many experts believed he would be an overnight sensation. However, this didn’t happen and Pickens only managed to record two interceptions over the course of his NFL career. After failed spells at Kansas City and the Packers, he made an unceremonious departure from the Oakland Raiders in 1995.
Things started so well for Reggie Bush, especially after so much success at USC. Despite many expecting him to be the first pick in the 2006 draft, Houston controversially passed on the running back, and have never regretted it. In the end, they went with Mario Williams instead and Bush joined the New Orleans Saints. After spells with the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, 49ers and Buffalo Bills, Bush called time on his NFL career. In 2019, he was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
Defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson had all the makings of a top NFL performer after a successful college career at Kentucky. In the first round of the 2003 season, Robertson was the fourth overall pick, going with the New York Jets. By the time 2008 came around, Robertson didn’t managed to live up to his potential and hoped to sign with the Bengals. However, they never managed to agree on a contract, and instead, he was sent over to the Broncos. He only lasted one season before being released.
Originally playing for West Virginia, Kevin White was the talk of the town during his college years. Sadly though, after being drafted seventh overall by the Chicago Bears in the 2015 draft, the wide receiver suffered an injury that kept him sidelined during the entirety of his rookie season. In four seasons, White didn’t catch a single touchdown and he only managed to lock down 14 games and five starts. After becoming a free agent, White signed with the Cardinals but didn’t play a single game.
Many NFL experts wondered who would be the first pick of the first round of the 2015 draft. Was it going to be Florida State QB Jameis Winston or Oregon QB Marcus Mariota? Ultimately, the latter was the second pick and went to the Tennessee Titans, with first pick Winston going with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For the first four seasons, Mariota did just fine, but by no means stood out from the rest. In 2019, he was benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill.
Most of the drafts on this list were pretty high picks, but not Maurice Clarett. While he had a promising college career, he was ultimately the 101st pick in the third round of the 2005 draft. Things were looking good but a series of incidents saw his time with Ohio State come to an end in 2003. Denver ultimately tried their luck with Clarett two years later. However, he was ultimately let go before the season even started. This was as far as his playing career went in the NFL.
The 26th pick in the first round of the 2016 draft was Paxton Lynch for the Denver Broncos. The defending Super Bowl Champions were looking to find someone worthy of replacing Peyton Manning, who had just retired. They ultimately decided that 26th overall pick Paxton Lynch would be the right man for the job. The former Memphis QB was sadly the wrong call for the Broncos, starting just four games over the next two years. He went on to be a practice squad player for the Steelers and the Seahawks.
You could say that there are two sides to Mark Sanchez’s career. During the first round of the 2009 draft, Sanchez was the fifth pick after coming through the ranks at USC. The QB played back-to-back AFC Championship games with the Jets, defeating the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the playoff games. Ultimately though, things went downhill for Sanchez as the years went on. Erratic play, injuries, and an embarrassing Thanksgiving Day game moment against the Patriots eventually led to his release in 2014.
After being the 50th pick in the second round of the 2016 draft, Christian Hackenberg didn’t exactly light up the NFL during his time with the New York Jets. He only played during the preseason and was only backup QB during 2017. After Sam Darnold made his way into the team, the Jets sent Hackenberg packing and he found himself at the Raiders instead. He was just as unsuccessful at Oakland, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia and is no longer playing in the NFL at all.