Top 10 Ridiculously Bad NFL Draft Picks

Script written by Justin Giglio These stand-out prospects never managed to live up to the hype. Join as we count down the Top 10 Worst NFL Draft Picks. Special thanks to our users Sara Jason, ThePenguinGamez, and ViolaCello for submitting the idea at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Justin Giglio

Top 10 Worst NFL Draft Picks

These stand-out prospects never managed to live up to the hype. Welcome to and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Worst NFL Draft Picks.

#10: Tony Mandarich
OL, Green Bay Packers (1989)

The Packers took Mandarich with the second overall pick in the ’89 draft, overlooking future Hall of Famers Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders. Analysts and scouts pegged Mandarich as a blue-chip prospect who would become an elite NFL offensive lineman, with Sports Illustrated going so far as to call him “the best offensive line prospect ever.” Sadly, attitude problems and problems with substance abuse prevented him from reaching his full potential. After being cut by the Packers, he was checked into rehab for drug and alcohol addiction and eventually became sober. He made a brief comeback when he returned to the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, but had limited success before a shoulder injury forced his retirement in 1998.

#9: Heath Shuler
QB, Washington Redskins (1994)

Shuler was selected third overall by the Washington Redskins after the franchise had a rough time since their successful run in Super Bowl 26. Brought in to rejuvenate the team in the quarterback department, Shuler was eventually replaced by seventh-round selection Gus Frerotte. Despite signing a seven-year deal with the Redskins worth over $19 million, Shuler only lasted three seasons in Washington and started only 18 games in that span. In his career, he passed for only 15 touchdowns and threw 33 picks. Throwing that many interceptions in such a short career is almost impressive.

#8: Ki-Jana Carter
RB, Cincinnati Bengals (1995)

A promising prospect and incredibly talented running back with Penn State at the college level, Carter finished second in votes in the 1994 Heisman Trophy race. The Bengals traded with Carolina for the first pick in the 1995 draft just to have Carter on their squad, and offered him an unprecedented $19 million deal with a $7 million signing bonus – setting the NFL record at the time for a rookie contract. The Bengals’ hefty investment did not pan out, and Carter was cursed with the injury bug throughout his short career. He missed his entire rookie season due to an injury sustained in a preseason game and would go on to start just 14 games in his five seasons as a Bengal.

#7: Courtney Brown
DL, Cleveland Browns (2000)

As a Penn State Nittany Lion, Brown set the then-NCAA record for career sacks with 33. When the Cleveland Browns selected him with the first overall pick, what they expected was the record-shattering pass-rushing powerhouse they saw in the game film from his college days. In reality, they ended up with an injury-prone bust who only managed 17 sacks wearing a Browns uniform. His career ended a year after he left the Browns to join the Denver Broncos, where he played in 14 games and recorded just two sacks before calling it quits.

#6: Tim Couch
QB, Cleveland Browns (1999)

The Browns selected Couch with the first overall pick in the 1999 draft and expected him to help build the franchise into a bona fide playoff team. With a mediocre offensive line protecting him, Couch's career would be plagued with injury upon injury. He would start all 16 regular season games in only one of his five seasons as a Cleveland Brown. Even with a healthy Couch at the helm for all of those games, the Browns missed the playoffs and could only muster a 7-9 record. Despite the occasional spark of brilliance, Couch never managed to reach the level of play expected of him and was cut by the Browns in 2004.

#5: Lawrence Phillips
RB, St. Louis Rams (1996)

After a number of teams passed on Phillips in the 1996 draft due to off-the-field issues in college, the talented running back prospect fell to the Rams, who took him with the sixth overall pick. Unfortunately for both the Rams and Phillips, the off-field issues that plagued his college career followed him to the pros. He spent 23 days in prison while he was still a member of the Rams organization, and was eventually and unexpectedly released by the team after a dispute resulting from his demotion to second-string running back. While his potential and athletic ability were undeniable, he was never truly able to overcome his troubled past, and committed suicide in January 2016 after being charged with first-degree murder.

#4: Akili Smith
QB, Cincinnati Bengals (1999)

Picked third in the 1999 draft, Smith was a bit of a gamble for the Bengals considering he had only played a single successful season of college ball with the Oregon Ducks. The Bengals could have traded their first-round pick to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for nine draft picks over two years, but turned down the offer to draft Smith. He would go on to start merely 17 games and throw five TD passes in his four years in Cincinnati before being released in 2002. Smith would try to continue his career with a few other teams, including the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe and the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL, failing to find a role with either of them.

#3: Charles Rogers
WR, Detroit Lions (2003)

As an All-American college athlete coming out of Michigan State, all eyes were on Charles Rogers in the 2003 draft. During his college years with the Spartans, he broke a number of NCAA and school records, including Randy Moss’ record of 13 straight games completing a touchdown catch. The Lions selected Rogers second overall with high hopes, with analysts and pundits making comparisons between him and Moss. Injuries and suspensions limited Rogers to only 15 games played in his three seasons with the Lions. He only managed 36 catches and 440 yards in that span. He was cut by the Lions in 2006.

#2: JaMarcus Russell
QB, Oakland Raiders (2007)

Selected first overall in the 2007 draft by the Oakland Raiders, JaMarcus Russell was held out of training camp due to contract negotiations, eventually signing a six-year, $68 million contract with over $31 million guaranteed. Considering the Raiders' decision to cut Russell in 2010 after throwing for 23 career interceptions and only 18 touchdowns, they would probably like some of that money back. Russell was a dominant college quarterback at LSU, and was compared to other successful big-body pros like Ben Roethlisberger. Despite high expectations, Russell did little to elevate the Raiders from the bottom of the league and is currently begging teams to give him another shot.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Brian Bosworth
LB, Seattle Seahawks (1987)

Blair Thomas
RB, New York Jets (1990)

David Carr
QB, Houston Texans (2002)

Rick Mirer
QB, Seattle Seahawks (1993)

Andre Ware
QB, Detroit Lions (1990)

#1: Ryan Leaf
QB, San Diego Chargers (1998)

After winning his first two games as a Charger, the San Diego fanbase may have thought their second overall pick in the 1998 draft was the real-deal franchise quarterback they desperately needed. Unfortunately, Leaf threw for two interceptions and four fumbles in his third game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and it was all downhill from there. Locker room drama, spats with the media, and late nights of partying didn't help his relationships with his teammates, coaches, fans, or front office, and he was promptly released after turning the Chargers into the worst team in the league. In three seasons as the Chargers’ starting quarterback, Leaf only managed four total wins.

Do you agree with our list? Who do you think are the worst draft picks in NFL history? For more exciting Top 10s posted daily, be sure to subscribe to

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