Busted: Young NFL Duds Who Were Supposed To Be Studs

Football | 12/17/20

In a perfect world, a young college football stud chosen in the early rounds of the NFL Draft would transition perfectly to the professional games. As history has proven over and over again, that is sadly not the case. While fans might not want to admit Dwayne Haskins Jr. is already a bust after just a few seasons, the writing is on the wall. These are the young NFL duds that were supposed to be studs. We hope this list doesn’t age well!

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside Has Trouble Catching The Ball

eagles wide receiver
John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles seven spots ahead of Seattle taking D.K. Metcalf. Philadelphia was looking for a big target to give QB Carson Wentz a security blanket. Instead, they got a player who only managed 169 receiving yards in his rookie season.

Metcalf, on the other hand, has been nothing short of sensational for the Seahawks. To put the bad pick into more context, by week 15 of the 2020 seasons, Arcega-Whiteside only has 12 career receptions while Metcalf already has 17 career touchdowns.

Sony Michel Floundered In New England

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

There was a lot of excitement in New England when the team took running back Sony Michel at the end of the first round of the draft in 2018. With an aging Tom Brady, the Pats would be able to get to a run-first attack, helping keep the future Hall of Famer safe from harm.

In two years playing with Brady, Michel never broke 1,000 yards rushing. In his sophomore season, he averaged less than four yards per carry.

Josh Rosen Was Replaced After One Year

josh rosen cardinals
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Coming out of UCLA, NFL scouts loved the skillset Josh Rosen provided, but were concerned about his leadership abilities. The Arizona Cardinals decided to throw caution to the wind and took him with their top pick in 2018.

Rosen was so bad in the desert that Arizona fired head coach Steve Wilks. Kliff Kingsbury took over and reset the team, drafting Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in 2019. Rosen was then shipped off to Miami and has continued to bounce around the league since.

Dwayne Haskins Jr. Got Benched For A Career Back Up

dwayne haskins jr
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The Washington Football Team made headlines in 2019 when they took Dwayne Haskins Jr. out of Ohio State with their first-round draft pick. The college stud was chosen to succeed Alex Smith, whose career was on the brink of collapse after breaking his leg.

At the start of the 2020 season, Haskins Jr. was named the team’s starting QB as he entered his sophomore season. Four games later he was benched for Kyle Allen, a career back up with sporadic starting experience. When Allen got hurt, Alex Smith stepped back into his starting role, proving just what the coaching staff thinks of the former top round pick.

N’Keal Harry Wasn’t The Answer The Patriots Were Looking For

nkeal harry patriots
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After striking out with Sony Michel, the Patriots grabbed a player in 2019 who seemed like a can’t-miss prospect. While playing at Arizona in the Pac-12, N’Keal Harry was a yard hawk who looked like he could do it all.

Since being drafted, he has played sparingly. Injuries have set him back, but so has his own inconsistent play. When you can’t produce with Tom Brady and Cam Newton throwing to you, you know you’re a bust.

Corey Davis Was Overshadowed By A.J. Brown

corey davis titans
Silas Walker/Getty Images
Silas Walker/Getty Images

Taken by the Tennessee Titans to give QB Marcus Mariota a reliable target in 2017, Corey Davis produced one moderately successful season in 2018. That season didn’t stop the Titans from drafting A.J. Brown in 2019 and replacing Mariota with Ryan Tannehill.

Playing second fiddle to Brown has been good for Davis, even if the bigger-bodied wideout has outshined him in almost every way. Prior to the start of the 2020 season, the Titans declined the fifth-year option on the former first-round pick’s rookie contract.

Mason Rudolph Is Not The Future In Pittsburgh

mason rudolph steelers
Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers saw QB Mason Rudolph as a developmental prospect who could eventually replace Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh when the team selected him in the third round of the 2018 draft. When Big Ben was lost for the 2019 season to an injury, Rudolph was given his first big shot to show his potential.

Rudolph finished the season having started eight games while playing in ten. He completed 62 percent of his passes and threw thirteen touchdowns and nine interceptions. At the start of the 2020 season, there was no QB controversy.

Jameis Winston Isn’t Careful Enough With The Football

NFL: DEC 29 Falcons at Buccaneers
Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jameis Winston has one of the strongest arms in the NFL. The top pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015, there is no denying how exciting he could be to watch. He could also be incredibly frustrating.

In 2019, his last with the Bucs, Winston threw for over 5,000 yards, 33 touchdowns passes, and 30 interceptions. For every throw he could make, he would make another just as bad. In 2020, he signed with the Saints to back up Drew Brees.

Clelin Ferrell Was Outshined By A Fourth Round Pick

clelin ferrell
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The 2019 Raiders draft class was supposed to be highlighted by Clelin Ferrell, the defensive lineman they took with their top pick. In his first season, however, Ferrell proved to be inferior to rising star Maxx Crosby.

Crosby was taken in the same draft as Ferrell by Las Vegas in the fourth round and instantly became a star on defense. As for Ferrell, he’s still young and Las Vegas isn’t ready to give up on him yet. The same can’t necessarily be said for the fans.

Eli Apple Looks Lost In The NFL

eli apple giants
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

One of the biggest draft busts in recent years was Eli Apple. The 2016 first-round pick of the New York Giants, his game failed to materialize at the NFL level. With New York, he looked lost sticking with wide receivers.

A trade to New Orleans didn’t help him. New Orleans got rid of him after just one season. The Panthers took the next chance on him, but injuries derailed his audition with the team and they eventually released him.

DeShone Kizer Helped Cleveland Go 0-16

deshone kizer browns
2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images
2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images

No one wants to be the quarterback that helped the team lose every single game in a season, but here we are. DeShone Kizer was taken by the Cleveland Browns in 2017, tossed 22 interceptions, and was credited with 15 of 16 losses on the season.

The Browns were quick to draft Baker Mayfield the next season, a move that has turned the franchise around. In 2020, Cleveland clinched a winning record for the first time since 2006 when Derek Anderson was under center.

Nelson Agholor Was Not A Philly Special

nelson agholor eagles
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles under Doug Pederson do not have a good reputation for scouting WR talent prior to the draft. Nelson Agholor was taken by the team with the 20th overall pick in 2015, and he never produced a 1,000 yard receiving season in five years.

After becoming a free agent, Agholor signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, where he has found a spot as a role player with big-play potential, but still hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status.

Quinnen Williams Needs A Change Of Scenery

quinnen williams
Eric Espada/Getty Images
Eric Espada/Getty Images

At this point, just about every player on the New York Jets needs a change of scenery, but perhaps none more than Quinnen Williams. Drafted to cement the team’s pass rush, Williams has underwhelmed. Having a coaching staff led by Adam Gase hasn’t helped matters either.

After being drafted in 2019, it was reported the Jets were so frustrated with the defensive lineman that were willing to take trade offers for him. Nothing materialized, and Williams continued to disappoint in his sophomore season.

Don’t Be Fooled By Mitchell Trubisky’s Winning Record

mitchell trubisky
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Since being taken with the second overall pick by the Chicago Bears in 2017, Mitchell Trubisky has played like a stud in one season. Under the guidance of head coach Matt Nagy, the Bears went 12-4, made the playoffs, and Trubisky was named to the Pro Bowl.

Since then he has only completed 63 percent of his passes and was benched for veteran journeyman Nick Foles two games into the 2020 season. Two games Chicago had won. As we said, don’t be fooled by Trubisky’s win-loss record.

Reuben Foster Wasn’t Worth The Risk

reuben foster 49ers
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

John Lynch has done a lot of good things as the general manager of the 49ers. Moving back into the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft to take Reuben Foster was not one of them.

Foster couldn’t stay out of trouble off the field and couldn’t stay healthy on it. After two seasons, San Francisco got tired of waiting for him to get his act together and released him. He went on to sign with the Washington Football Team where he tore his ACL and LCL before the start of the 2019 season.

Charles Harris Lasted Three Seasons In Miami

charles harris dolphins
Mark Brown/Getty Images
Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins were badly in need of an edge rusher when they drafted Charles Harris in 2017. Harris failed to live up to expectations, appearing in 41 games and only registering 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

Miami released him after three seasons, admitting they made a mistake drafting him. Even more heartbreaking for Dolphins’ fans is who was drafted behind him: T.J. Watt and Tre’Davious White. Both look like franchise players for their teams.

Corey Coleman Didn’t Earn The Right To Complain

corey coleman browns
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images

Taken with the 15th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, a frustrated Corey Coleman demanded a trade from the team after just two seasons. The Browns, disappointed the top pick never produced top yards, were more than happy to oblige.

Coleman was shipped off to the Giants, where he has only started one game. Cleveland may have granted the frustrated receiver’s request to trade him but it wasn’t because he earned it. It was because he was just that bad.

John Ross Is All Gas And No Brakes

john ross bengals
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

John Ross might be the fastest player in the NFL. During the draft combine his stock rocketed up the board when he ran the fastest 40-yard dash time in history. The Bengals bought into the hype and took the Washington wide receiver with the 9th overall pick in 2017.

If you’re curious, that means the QB-needy Bengals took the speedy wideout ahead of the selections of both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. When he’s been healthy, Ross has only managed 27.1 receiving yards per game (as of this writing).

Deandre Baker Was Released After One Season

deandre baker
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In 2019, the New York Giants moved up in the draft to take defensive back Deandre Baker in the first round. Unfortunately, Baker was unable to improve upon a disastrous rookie campaign after he was arrested.

New York released him, looking to free themselves of any drama. All charges against Baker were later dropped, and he was signed to the practice squad of the Kansas City Chiefs. While Baker may be a bust for now, given a chance, he may still have a chance to make a name for himself in the league.

Rashan Gary Has Only Started Three Games

rashan gary
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

If you’re picked as high in the draft as Rashan Gary was by the Green Bay Packers, you should make an immediate impact. In two seasons, the linebacker has only started three games and recorded 42 combined tackles.

The numbers don’t speak kindly for Gary, who could have helped turn the Green Bay defense into a strength of the team. Brian Burns, who has been a great player for the Carolina Panthers was taken four spots behind Gary in the draft.

Leonard Fournette Fell Flat In Jacksonville

leonard fournette
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Leonard Fournette was a bruising runner at LSU. The Jaguars had to feel confident in 2017 taking him with the 4th overall pick in the draft. Unfortunately, his heavy workload in college hurt his success in the NFL.

Fournette has averaged four yards per carry over his career and has shown less power every season. Despite gaining over 1,000 yards on the ground in his third season, the Jaguars released him. He was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has barely seen the field.

Marcus Mariota Was Almost Great

marcus mariota titans
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Marcus Mariota was so close to being the franchise QB for the Tennessee Titans. He led the team to the playoffs once but ultimately fell victim to tentative play and injuries. In 2019, it was an injury that ended his run with the Titans as Ryan Tannehill became the starter.

In the offseason, Tannehill signed a $100 million-plus contract to stay in Tennessee and Mariota signed with the Las Vegas Raiders to be Derek Carr’s back up.

Solomon Thomas Was Not Who San Francisco Hoped He Was

solomon thomas 49ers
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

After tricking the Bears to swap spots with them in the 2017 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected defensive end Solomon Thomas. A good player for four seasons in San Francisco, Thomas never reached the “next level.”

Since missing on the pick with Thomas, the 49ers have continued to target defensive lineman in the first round of the draft. The aggressive strategy has netted the team Javon Kinlaw and Nick Bosa since then.

Blake Bortles Was Turn Over Prone

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans
Tim Warner/Getty Images
Tim Warner/Getty Images

Blake Bortles was given every opportunity to succeed as the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Drafted in 2014, Bortles spent five seasons with the team and started 73 games. His best season was his second when he tossed 35 touchdown passes and helped the team reach the AFC Championship game.

The rest of his time in Jacksonville was largely forgettable. He was mistake-prone, throwing 75 total interceptions and fumbling 46 times. That’s a lot of takeaways!

Roberto Aguayo Is Why You Don’t Draft A Kicker Early

roberto aguayo tampa bay
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

No one really knows what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were thinking when they drafted Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the NFL Draft. Most teams wait until at least the 5th round to even consider taking a kicker.

In his rookie season, the kicker went 22-31, which would be good numbers if he was a quarterback. The team admitted they made a huge mistake one year later, releasing him in the preseason.

Paxton Lynch – What Was John Elway Thinking?

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

After bringing Peyton Manning to Denver and winning a Super Bowl, there’s been a theory that Denver Broncos’ team president John Elway has purposely sabotaged the QB position to keep his own legacy intact. Enter Paxton Lynch.

Elway used a first-round pick on Lynch in the 2016 NFL Draft and… well… the results weren’t good. Lynch never played well enough in practice to show he could start in the NFL and was eventually released and Denver drafted Drew Lock.

Christian Hackenberg Is Best Left Forgotten

New York Jets v New England Patriots
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The New York Jets liked what they saw out of Christian Hackenberg coming out of Penn State enough to make him the team’s second-round draft pick in 2016. Unsurprisingly, drafting a QB who only completed 53 percent of his passes in his final college season was not a good idea.

Hackenberg never started a game in two years with the Jets and was traded after two seasons. In 2020, Hackenberg retired from football altogether.

Kevin White Peaked In College

NFL: SEP 10 Falcons at Bears
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

During his final year at West Virginia, wide receiver Kevin White caught 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those numbers caught the eyes of NFL scouts, and the Bears took the plunge and drafted him in the first round.

With Chicago, White played less than 20 games as injuries piled up. During his brief time in Chicago, he broke his leg and shoulder blades. In 2020, he signed with San Francisco and joined the team’s practice squad.

Ereck Flowers Does The Opposite Of His Job Description

Detroit Lions vs New York Giants
Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

The former number nine overall pick by the New York Giants, Ereck Flowers has been really bad at his job. In his first three seasons with the team, he allowed the most QB pressures in the NFL, which is the opposite of what he’s supposed to do.

At one point, Flowers was performing so poorly that one of his offensive teammates claimed he had “quit on the team.” Flowers was released in 2018.

Dorial Green-Beckham Couldn’t Get Out Of His Own Way

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

In 2015, the Titans hoped they had a steal in the draft when wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham fell to them at pick number 40. The big-bodied receiver was built in the mold of Calvin Johnson, but couldn’t stay out of his own way.

Green-Beckham lasted for one year in Tennessee. A promising start to his rookie season was a letdown, and the team traded him to Philadelphia. In 2017, Philly waived him, and in 2018 he got in trouble with the law, ending any hope he had for a comeback.