NFL Draft Day is synonymous with ‘hope for my team day.’ But unfortunately, being one of the best players in college ball doesn’t always translate to the NFL pro-style of play.
Today, let’s have a look at a few of the worst player investments NFL franchises have made over the years. I should put a little disclaimer here that states, it isn’t always the player’s fault. Sometimes a guy gets picked up by a team that just isn’t built for him, and then management does a poor job building around them. Those cases where you can tell that the player would have prospered and formed into something great if only a different team had drafted them are particularly sad.
The first player on our list does not fit that profile.
Tony Mandarich OT | Green Bay Packers, 1989
I can’t remember if his face hit Wheaties boxes, but he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The hype around Tony Mandarich was impressive. He was considered the best O-line prospect ever to hit the NFL Draft. The Green Bay Packers picked him up second overall, behind none other than Cowboys legend Troy Aikman.
Let’s put his performance into perspective. Tony Mandarich is the only person picked in the top five of the 1989 draft that wasn’t inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Troy Aikman, Derrick Thomas, “Neon” Deion Sanders, and Barry Sanders were all selected in the top five as well. Yet, Mandarich hit the bricks after just four years in the NFL and gets an eternal suckers spot in the Pro Football Hall of Shame. The juice (‘roids) served him well at Michigan State, but it didn’t translate to playing in the NFC. It should be noted that after being released, he took a 5-year hiatus and came back to play for the Colts for three years. Still, he earned the largest salary for any offensive lineman ever at the time and was a total bust for the Packers.
Charles Rodgers WR | Detroit Lions, 2003
Taken No. 2 overall, Charles Rodgers is unique in that he helped bust a No. 3 pick from the previous year as well. Honestly, the Detroit Lions management from this era should have just been taken out back, lined up one by one, and shot in their stupid faces.
In 2002, the Lions took Joey Harrington out of Oregon, a prototypical pro-style pocket passer that burned through his best years on a crappy team. In an effort to give the young, star QB some talented targets, they drafted Rodgers No. 2 overall in the 2003 draft. Drugs, injuries, more drugs, and more injuries had Charles Rodgers out of the league before he even recorded one season worth of games. Thanks, Charles Rodgers, for just four TD catches in 3 years. You suck, and it was Joey Harrington who left that hot steamer in a burning bag on your doorstep back in 2007.
Johnny Manziel QB | Cleveland Browns, 2014
Talk about hype like no other. Johnny Manziel was perhaps the most polarizing player pre-draft in history. By that time the top sportsbooks had draft props and listed Manziel as the favorite to go No. 1. His Pro-day performance was amazing. Yet he plummeted down the ranks on draft day, getting passed over and over. Finally, he texted the Browns then QB Dowell Logan, stating that he wanted to wreck the league in Cleveland. So, Mike Pettine sees the text and actually trades up to take Manziel. Sure, you could argue that No. 22 overall doesn’t constitute one of the worst draft busts. However, Manziel was a total Sh*t-show that brought chaos and mayhem to the Browns organizing prompting a downward spiral into a few of the worst seasons in league history. Right off the bat, he was fined for obscene gestures in the preseason. He missed practices but was seen partying with celebrities on the other side of the US. The mess was never-ending. He only had one rushing TD for all that fleet-footedness and was 7-7 in touchdowns thrown to INTs.
QB Tim Couch had fans screaming from their couches.
QB, Akili Smith would have saved heartaches by just tearing his Achilles in college.