November 30, 2009
Time is running short on the last year of the '00s, so it's time to dive into the daunting task of ranking the NFL's best of the decade. Best what? Best everything. We're going with a series of top 10 lists, and if something miraculous happens between now and December 31st, well, we'll just have to catch it at the end of 2019.
What makes a draft bust? Is draft position alone the determining factor? How much does one have to fail? Could a bust have an otherwise fine career, aside from the massive expectations that accompanied him into the league? What role do injuries play in the whole thing? Does bad luck equal bust?
Ask 100 different people and you'll get 100 different answers, which is why the whole darn discussion is so fun. There are no right answers, hence the following list fraught with contradictions. You'll find complete flops next to guys who could play a decade in the league. The reasoning player X is included might make you say, "well, why not player Y?"
And some of the names you don't see might be as surprising as those you do see. For instance, David Carr(notes) or Alex Smith on this list, even though their names frequently pop-up on such rankings. Just because they went No. 1 doesn't mean that, outside of a two-month stretch in the spring of the year they were drafted, most people ever thought they'd be great. Those guys were more No. 1 by default; the best looking prospects of a bad class.
But, without further adieu, Shutdown Corner's top 10 draft busts of the 2000s:
Sitting out the 2004 college season was bad. Getting drafted by the Lions was worse. After a decent rookie season (29 catches, 350 yards), Williams caught just 14 balls in the NFL. He was cut by the Tennesee Titans in 2007 after failing to get a single reception.
Sports Illustrated called him "the best lineman to come out of college in years". He was supposed to dominate the left tackle position for "10 to 15 years". But he went from that marquee offensive line position to right tackle to left guard, on the Raiders no less. He's an adequate NFL player, but far from the "next Tony Boselli".
5. Maurice Clarett, RB, Denver Broncos, No. 101, 2005
Not a bust in the traditional sense, but before the goose-getting and the arrests and the jail sentence, it was thought that Maurice Clarett could be a good gamble for the Broncos. His 40 times at the combine were abysmal and he looked puffier than Vince Vaughn in Old School. But Mike Shanahan had made stars of less (Mike Anderson(notes), anyone?).
Why Leinart and not Carr or Smith? Leinart was the USC golden boy, the Heisman Trophy winner who became the toast of L.A. and could have been the No. 1 pick in 2005 before coming back and getting his game nitpicked by scouts. Now he's best known for holding a beer bong and backing up the ageless Kurt Warner(notes). Who knows, he may be a star of the 2010s. But for the '00s: bust.
All of the flaws that are readily apparent in Bush's game today weren't so obvious three years ago. Those who were touting Mario Williams(notes) as the No. 1 pick (and there weren't many) did so more because they thought Williams would be great, not because they thought Bush's college dominance wouldn't translate to the pros. Bush is a fine NFL player, but far from the game-changing superstar he was anticipated to be.
This summer, the former Florida State star was playing for the Bloomington Extreme of the Indoor Football League. No word on whether they give discounts at Dillard's.
Earlier this month, Joe Posnanski had the best summation of Russell's professional prospects I've ever seen:
You keep hearing about this "talent" that he has - after all, he was the No. 1 pick in the draft - but best I can tell he can't or won't run, he has no feel in the pocket, he has no idea what an open receiver looks like and he has absolutely no idea where his passes are going. I'm just not sure what his talent is supposed to be. Yes, he's big and he has a strong arm. Big deal. That's not talent, not for an NFL quarterback. To me, that's like saying someone has talent for playing the piano because they have long fingers and like music.
It's always easier to judge a bust in retrospect. We can look back at the failed drug tests in college and the prima donna attitude and say, "he was destined to fail." But that's the thing ... you never know how a guy is going to perform. Randy Moss(notes) had problems, but he's on his way to Canton. Charles Rogers had just as much talent, he just couldn't harness it. And it didn't help that he went to the Lions either.
Comments, criticisms, omissions, and your own top ten lists are encouraged in the comments below.
Posted Jul 2 2012
Posted Jul 3 2012
Posted Jun 21 2012