Busted: Young NFL Duds Who Were Supposed To Be Studs
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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 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 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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
It’s fitting to kick things off with a quarterback yet to secure a post-season victory. Andy Dalton, as good as he can perform during the regular season, isn’t the guy you’d want leading your favorite team into the playoffs. Not only because he hasn’t won a game in four starts, but also because he’s just thrown one touchdown in that same span.
Heading into the 2019 playoffs, the Bengals fired head coach Marvin Lewis who also hadn’t won a playoff game as their head coach. Perhaps, fortune favors the bold.
The Houston Texans ran into some really bad luck in 2011. After coming off back-to-back AFC South championships and an 11-5 record, tragedy struck. Both their starter and backup (Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart respectively) suffered season-ending injuries.
Rookie T.J. Yates stepped into the fold. The team won the first game, but Yates had nothing to do with it. It was all Arian Foster’s doing after Foster rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns. In the next game, Yates threw three interceptions and no touchdowns. The defeat was inevitable.
Jeff Garcia enjoyed some playoff success during his stint in the CFL and even won the Grey Cup championship with MVP honors. Sadly, that didn’t translate over to the NFL post-season. During the regular season, Garcia was a pretty good starter. Then came the critical games.
In six starts, he was only 2-4 with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions to go along with a passer rating of 73.8. In one divisional game, Garcia threw 193 yards for no touchdowns, and the Tampa Bay defense sacked him four times.
Steve McNair was far from a dud during the regular season and even grabbed MVP honors during his 2003 campaign. McNair was 91-62 in 153 starts overall during his time with Houston, Tennessee, and Baltimore. No one’s debating his talent, we’re only questioning his playoff composure.
His first playoff stint ended in a crushing loss in the Super Bowl to the St. Louis Rams. However, after that, McNair was 2-4 in his final six post-season appearances. In that time, he threw five touchdowns to nine interceptions. Even in his MVP season, he only had two scores with four turnovers.
Neil O’Donnell was your classic journeyman. He spent his career with four different teams but played quite well during the regular season. He started 100 of his 125 games with the various teams and twice had the lowest interception rating in the NFL. Maybe not having a consistent environment contributed to his woes in the post-season.
Throughout seven starts, O’Donnell went 3-4 with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. During the 1995 season, he brought the Steelers to the Super Bowl (their first time there in 16 years) but failed miserably. O’Donnell threw two crucial interceptions when his team still had a chance to win.
For roughly ten seasons, Tony Romo was the pride and joy for America’s team. He made the Pro Bowl four times during that span, but only led the Cowboys to the playoffs six times. While he had some stellar stats leading up the post-season, he couldn’t give the Dallas fans what they wanted.
Out of the six times in the post-season, Romo would only win twice. Who can forget about that botched field goal possession against the Seahawks in 2006? He would find ways to keep his team in the game, but wouldn’t get them over the hump.
Tim Tebow did a fantastic job of leading the Denver Broncos to the playoffs in 2011. Albeit, the sound defense Denver had helped a ton, Tebow had a huge helping hand. Then, there they were in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tebow throws an 80-yard bomb and wins the game.
The ensuing game we would see the Tebow that essentially ended his career. The Patriots put a crushing on the Broncos. Tebow fumbled, had a passer rating of only 52.7, and only completed nine passes for 136 yards. After that season, the Jets even tried converting him into a fullback.
In four playoff games, Kordell Stewart’s record was 2-2. Stewart had a unique ability to excel at different positions on the offensive side of the ball. His weakness, however, became masked by the team’s great defense. Sadly, the defense couldn’t help in the post-season.
In his four playoff games, Stewart threw for two touchdowns, eight interceptions, and fumbled the ball three times. Lackluster numbers for someone who was more than mildly successful during the regular season.
Much like our friend from earlier, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer couldn’t get it done in Cincinnati during the playoffs. The only difference between the two is that Palmer has a post-season victory, but it came with the Arizona Cardinals. Overall, his record is 1-3.
After his first victory in the NFC divisional playoffs, Palmer laid an egg. The Carolina Panthers couldn’t have asked for a better quarterback to face in 2015. Palmer threw four picks, got sacked three times, and only threw for one touchdown in an embarrassing loss.
Matt Stafford has Hall of Fame like stats when it comes to the regular season. Throughout nine seasons, he started 125 of 125 games and passed for over 4,000 yards in seven of those years with a passer rating of 88.3. Not many quarterbacks can compare with that.
When the post-season comes around, things change. How is that Stafford has only played in the big tournament three times, and lost all three? His first go, he ended up throwing two interceptions at crucial moments. His most recent try against Seattle in 2016 didn’t go well either. He only threw for 205 yards with no touchdowns.
Once Kurt Warner stepped away from the “Greatest Show On Turf,” Marc Bulger tried to fill his shoes in St. Louis. Bulger led the Rams to a 12-4 record, but couldn’t get it going in the playoffs losing their first game. That was 2003 and in 2004 things looked wildly different.
The Rams won their first game but ended up getting owned by the Falcons. Bulger would never play another post-season game after the 2004 season. His final touchdown to interception ratio was 4-5.
Peyton Manning is arguably a top-five quarterback of all-time. He has the statistics to back up that statement, and a few Super Bowl rings on his fingers. However, Manning had many chances to secure more of those shiny rings, but couldn’t pull it together in the playoffs.
His overall record is 14-13, which isn’t too shabby, but that’s a lot of big games to be losing for someone of his caliber. A prominent example is in 2002 after Manning threw for over 4,000 yards in the season. When the wild card game against the Jets arrived; he passed for 137 yards and two interceptions (it was a 41-0 blowout).
Warren Moon had a long NFL career and played exceptionally well in the CFL. While he pretty much dominated the latter, things in the NFL didn’t go all that well in the post-season. Throughout his 17 years playing and four different teams, he only won three playoff games.
In his ten playoff starts, Moon would probably want to forget many of his performances. When he played Seattle in his first start back in 1987, his team won but would get crushed in the next game against the Broncos. His final playoff touchdown to interception mark was 17-14. He only won a single game in his last six post starts.
Chad Pennington had a strong spirit. He came back twice from significant injuries. The NFL even named him Comeback Player of the Year both times in 2006 and 2008. His heart and determination, however, were somewhat elusive during the post-season.
His regular season passer rating was 90.1 compared to a subpar 77.3 in the playoffs. Out of the six contests, he only went on to win two of them. Pennington had eight touchdowns and eight interceptions in those games. Every time he had a head of steam moving into the playoffs, he would always blow it.
Kerry Collins was the first-ever draft pick of the Carolina Panthers. He led the new team to the playoffs in their second year of existence and even won a game. The defense needed a massive pat on the back, as Collins only threw 100 yards on 12 completions.
Then came Collins lone Super Bowl appearance where he threw for just 112 yards. On top of that, he had zero touchdowns paired with four interceptions. Collins had a long (18 seasons) career, so people tend to confuse his quantity for quality.
Randall Cunningham played in the NFL like Varsity high school kids play the game; slinging the ball downfield with abandon. He still somehow managed to throw many more touchdowns than interceptions in his career (207-134). Cunningham could also use his legs to escape danger. He was a regular season stud.
Then the post-season arrived, and he transformed into more of a dud. Cunningham started nine playoff games and went 3-6, never reaching the divisional round. Twice his passer rating was under 60 as he finished with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Andrew Luck is the man whom the Colts believed would be the proper replacement for Peyton Manning. When you subtract the injury-ridden years, Luck plays extraordinarily well during the regular season. In five seasons, Luck posted a record of 43-27 with 132 touchdowns and a passer rating of 87.3.
Post-season Luck is different. As of 2018, he is 4-3 in the post-season with 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His overall rating dropped to 72.7, and he has yet to reach the Super Bowl. Maybe Deflate-Gate had something to do with that?
Matt Ryan aka “Matty Ice” is a tremendous regular season quarterback. You can depend on him to have the Falcons either in the playoffs or right in the mix of things every season. He even was about to defeat Tom Brady back in 2016, but let the game slip away.
That’s just one blemish on Ryan’s post-season resume. In ten starts, he is only 4-6. Ryan also lost his first three playoff starts. He wouldn’t see his first victory when it mattered until 2012.
Thanks to a 2019 post-season victory, Philip Rivers has brought his record to 5-5 in the playoffs. Rivers is the reason the Chargers play as hard as they do and how they manage to sneak into wild card games every year. His regular season statistics are staggering as it includes a 94.7 overall passer rating.
He’s only been to the AFC Championship game once. That was the year he went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady. Rivers didn’t show up for that match with just 211 yards and two interceptions.
Outside of maybe one other quarterback on this list, Dan Marino is probably the best. His biggest downfall is his inefficiencies in the playoffs. In 17 seasons, Marino made the post-season ten times, but never won a Super Bowl. That is concerning for someone his superb talent.
He finished with an 8-10 post-season record and a 77.1 passer rating. Marino’s performance in the 1984 Super Bowl sums it up quite well. After rolling through the conference and divisional game, Joe Montana ripped apart Marino’s Dolphins. He threw two interceptions and got sacked four times.