The 30 Worst Draft Picks In NFL History

pushly | 8/16/22

Most of us will never experience being drafted in the NFL. Being an NFL draft pick is special and comes with high expectations. The NFL Draft has produced many great players, but even more busts. Check out the worst NFL Draft picks of all time.

Andre Ware

Andre Ware personified that winning a Heisman Trophy, guarantees nothing. Ware won the Heisman in 1989, and was drafted by the Detroit Lions.

Andre Ware
George Gojkovich/Getty Images
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Even with Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders in the backfield, Ware struggled. Ware’s six games, five TDs, eight INTs, and seven fumbles.

Heath Shuler

The Washington Commanders rich history of drafting well at the QB position took a major blow when they drafted Heath Shuler, one of the worst draft picks in NFL history.

Heath Shuler
Getty Images/Archive
Getty Images/Archive

Shuler, drafted 3rd overall in 1994, completed 47% of his passes in four games, in three seasons with Washington.

Johnny Manziel

With the nickname “Johnny Football”, the Cleveland Browns thought that the sky was the limit for 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Johnny Manziel.

Johnny Manziel
Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

Manziel’s on-field play was rivaled only by his terrible off-field legal issues. Manziel in 15 NFL games, threw seven TDs, and seven INTs.

Brian Bosworth

“The Boz”, Brian Bosworth entered the 1987 NFL Draft with promise and controversy. Bosworth’s first NFL moves, drafted by Seattle, were a lawsuit involving wearing the #44, and a list of teams he would refuse reporting to.

Brian Bosworth
Owen C. Shaw/Getty Images
Owen C. Shaw/Getty Images

Bosworth had four sacks and three fumble recoveries in two seasons.

Tony Mandarich

The Green Bay Packers drafted Tony Mandarich #2 overall in the 1989 NFL Draft for a reason. Mandarich put up impressive pre-draft workout numbers, and did nothing more in seven NFL seasons.

Tony Mandarich
Tom Hauck /Allsport/Getty Images
Tom Hauck /Allsport/Getty Images

Green Bay never started Mandarich, and he exited the league with two fumble recoveries total.

Ryan Leaf

Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning, a Hall of Fame QB, and two-time Super Bowl champion, were in the same draft.

Ryan Leaf
David Madison/Getty Images
David Madison/Getty Images

Leaf and Manning being in the same 1998 draft was their only similarity. Leaf’s career ended with a 48% completion percentage, and 22 more interceptions than TD passes.

JaMarcus Russell

JaMarcus Russell, considered widely by NFL pundits as the worst draft pick ever, was drafted first overall in the 2007 draft by the Oakland Raiders.

GettyImages-93076206
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Russell started his career by refusing to play over contract issues. Russell started once for Oakland, and left the NFL after only three seasons.

Isaiah Wilson

Isaiah Wilson was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and played only 3 games as a rookie.

GettyImages-1203574164
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Tennessee traded Wilson to Miami, was cut without playing once, and unceremoniously left the NFL after a chance granted by the New York Giants.

Matt Leinart

Matt Leinart was selected 10th in the 2006 NFL Draft and played in 17 games for his career. The Arizona Cardinals drafted Leinart to transition the team from Kurt Warner, but that dream never came alive.

Matt Leinart
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Leinart threw fifteen touchdowns, 21 interceptions, and had a 57% completion percentage.

Derrick Harvey

Derrick Harvey has had his NFL career characterized by many as one of the worst ever. Holding out from the team that drafted him, the Jacksonville Jaguars, before playing your first-ever game, is not a great start. Harvey, the 8th pick, had only 8 QB sacks in 3 seasons.

Derrick Harvey
Getty Images
Getty Images

Kevin White

West Virginia product, Kevin White, was one of the most highly touted wide receivers in the 2015 NFL Draft. White’s NFL debut was postponed until his second season as he was injured his entire rookie year.

Kevin White
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

White has zero TDs, and currently trying to stay in the league.

Josh Rosen

Former U.C.L.A. Bruins star QB Josh Rosen was drafted 10th in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.

Josh Rosen
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Rosen started thirteen games in his rookie season, with a horrendous offense in front of him. Rosen has twelve career TDs, 21 INTs, and currently is a Cleveland Browns backup.

Justin Gilbert

Many of the cornerbacks drafted by the Cleveland Browns, are out of the league as fast as they enter it.

Justin Gilbert
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images

Justin Gilbert is no different, drafted 8th by Cleveland in 2014, and out of the NFL by 2016. Gilbert’s career ended with 1 INT and 1 defensive TD.

Andy Katzenmoyer

Past NFL analysts shared an overwhelming belief that Andy Katzenmoyer is among the worst NFL draft picks of all-time. The former 1999 NFL Draft pick of the New England Patriots, was once thought of as college football’s best-ever linebackers.

Andy Katzenmoyer
Brian Bahr /Allsport/Getty Images/Archive
Brian Bahr /Allsport/Getty Images/Archive

Katzenmoyer retired after one season, from a lingering neck injury.

Bobby Carpenter

Bobby Carpenter joined an impressive list of defensive lineman picked highly in an NFL Draft. Carpenter, picked 18th by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2006 NFL Draft, played for Dallas, Miami, Detroit, and New England, in his six NFL seasons.

Bobby Carpenter
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Carpenter’s career ended with 3.5 total QB sacks.

Jason Smith

When the St. Louis Rams, now the Los Angeles Rams, selected Jason Smith #2 overall, it was to fill a serious void on their offensive line.

Jason Smith
James Escher/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images
James Escher/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

St. Louis initially signed Smith for $50 million total, $33 million of which was guaranteed. A concussion ended Smith’s rookie season early.

Vernon Gholston

A plethora of NFL pencil-pushers, believe that Vernon Gholston is the New York Jets’ worst-ever draft pick. Gholston, like many before and after him, fooled prospective teams with impressive pre-draft workout stats.

Vernon Gholston
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Gholston only played two complete seasons, in New York mostly, and had 0 total sacks.

Archie Griffin

A player that retired from the NFL with almost 3,000 rushing yards, should not be on this list, yet here is Archie Griffin. Griffin brought the spotlight on himself by twice winning the Heisman Trophy Award in college.

Archie Griffin
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Remarkably, Griffin only rushed for seven TDs during his career.

Tony Smith

Tony Smith was acquired by the Atlanta Falcons in a trade on the same night, they traded their pick of Brett Favre to Green Bay. Smith was not traded for Favre, a common misconception about his career.

Tony Smith
Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Smith’s career ended with only two rushing TDs and 329 yards.

Akili Smith

Jaw-dropping stats in college for Oregon made Akili Smith a lock for the Cincinnati Bengals when they drafted him 3rd overall in the 1999 NFL Draft.

Akili Smith
George Gojkovich/Getty Images
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Smith was awful in Cincinnati, completing less than 48% of his passes, throwing 5 TDs, and being intercepted 13 times by opposing defenses.

Roberto Aguayo

Roberto Aguayo represents the only kicker on the list of the 30 worst NFL Draft picks ever. Kickers have generally been selected in lower rounds or picked up as undrafted free agents.

Roberto Aguayo
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Aguayo missed nine of his 31 career FG attempts, and 43 yards his longest FG made.

Huey Richardson

The Pittsburgh Steeler’s “Steel Curtain” is one of the greatest defenses ever assembled in NFL history. Pittsburgh thought they scored again defensively by drafting Huey Richardson 15th in the 1991 NFL DRaft, but missed badly.

Steelers Huey Richardson
George Gojkovich/Getty Images
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Pittsburgh played Richardson out of his natural position, causing him to struggle heavily.

Lawrence Phillips

Lawrence Phillips exploded in college with 92 carries, 508 yards rushing, for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in his rookie season. Phillips was suspended 6 games over legal issues in his rookie season.

Lawrence Phillips
George Gojkovich/Getty Images
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Off-field legal issues also plagued Smith’s NFL career, spending more time imprisoned than games that he started in.

Steve Emtman

Injuries shortened a potentially brilliant career for Steve Emtman, drafted #1 overall in the 1991 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.

Steve Emtman
Gary Mook /Allsport/Getty Images/Archive
Gary Mook /Allsport/Getty Images/Archive

Emtman was released after three seasons and five total QB sacks. Emtman refused a 1994 pay cut offered over his injury issues, and his career ended in 1997.

Charles Rogers

With the second overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected wide-receiver Charles Rogers out of Michigan State University.

Charles Rogers
Getty Images
Getty Images

Rogers demonstrated abilities that of Hall of Fame potential, but problems with substance abuse marred his career. Nagging injuries and suspensions ended Rogers career in 2005.

David Klingler

Taken in the first round by the Cincinnati Bengals, David Klingler was chosen to be the team’s savior. Instead, Klingler started 24 times in three seasons with Cincinnati, 20 of those starts resulted in Bengals’ losses.

David Klingler
Ken Levine/Allsport/Getty Images
Ken Levine/Allsport/Getty Images

Today, Klingler is an associate professor of Bible exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Mike Williams

Anyone that stands at 6′ 7″, and weighs over 300lbs, seems built for the NFL. The Buffalo Bills believed that about Mike Williams when they drafted him in 2002.

Mike Williams
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

After struggling with pass protection, Williams was released, sat out a few seasons, and attempted a failed 2009 comeback.

Art Schlichter

NFL players, and coaches, know about the league’s personal conduct policies, and are expected to abide by it. Apparently not Art Schlichter, drafted in 1982, a known gambler. Schlichter was suspended for gambling in his first season.

Baltimore Colts
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Schlichter started six games, completed 45% of passes, and lost every game.

Justin Blackmon

Justin Blackmon was picked 5th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2012 NFL Draft. Jacksonville traded up to snag what they thought was a steal in Blackmon.

Justin Blackmon
Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

Blackmon currently attempts to comeback, after two suspensions for violating the NFL substance abuse policy, and his off-field legal issues.

Dion Jordan

The Miami Dolphins have not drafted well since 1983 pick, Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino. Dion Jordan adds to that list of draft busts, taken 3rd overall by Miami in 2013.

Dion Jordan
Doug Murray/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Doug Murray/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jordan was suspended for the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, before missing 2016.