The art of the NFL Draft is rarely, if ever, scientific. Thus, despite all the poking of players’ waistlines, the prodding of the backs, calves and ankles, the running, jumping and countless other measurements, no draft selection is ever a sure thing. There are interviews. There are handshakes. There are millimeters separating collegiate All-Americans and small-school guys no one had heard of until the Combine itself.
In fact, in an effort to make the drafting of former college stars more of a guarantee, a second intelligence test was added to supplement the Wonderlic in 2013.
Again, even with more and more testing and more and more workouts, nothing is a guarantee. Even with millions of dollars on the line, teams continue to choose players who then go on to set entire franchises back by a decade.
But who is the biggest NFL Draft “bust” of all time? How do we quantify it? Just like the draft itself, those who have monumentally failed have all done so for different reasons. Some, like the Colts’ Art Schlichter, had a gambling problem that forced him out of the league in three seasons. While Indianapolis could have had Jim McMahon, there were potential Hall of Famers Indy missed out on. Does that keep Schlichter from the “biggest bust” title?
The Green Bay Packers chose Tony Mandrich over Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders and Derrick Thomas — all future HOFers. Does that make his selection at No. 2-overall the biggest waste of all time?
What about some other quarterbacks? What about Ryan Leaf, chosen behind Peyton Manning and ahead of Charles Woodson and Randy Moss? What about the tens of millions of dollars the Raiders wasted on the morbidly obese JaMarcus Russel? The Rams took Terry Baker with the No. 1-overall pick back in 1963. Three years later,their quarterback of the future was out of the league after trying his hand at wideout and running back.
In an interesting turn, the Buffalo Bills drafted Tom Cousineau with the No. 1 selection. However, the linebacker held out for more money before finally opting to play in Canada instead. Is it the most wasted pick of all time if the guy never even suits up for your team?
What about the case of Russel Erxleben? In 1979, the Saints took this kicker with the 11th-overall pick. Can you imagine the Twitterverse today if a kicker was taken that high?
Every college star has a story. Whether that past leads to motivation, hard work and success in the NFL is the reason why some general managers earn millions of dollars, while others are shown the door.
Who did less with more than any other player in the history of the league? Who was selected over more franchise and Hall of Famers than any other?
We’re just going to come right out and ask it …