Well, it's draft time again. Nothing quite captures the carnival-like craziness of a draft like the NFL. Every day there's a new rumor about who's going where, who's trading who and who's getting what. Sure, you need to be an Ivy league mathematics professor to keep up with what's going on, but hot dang it's exciting isn't it? So with Andrew Luck and RG3's 2012 whereabouts all but a fait accompli, everyone is turning their attention to the next big question: who will be this year's 'Draft Bust'? That's right, despite putting college draft nominees through more testing than the President's new Air Force One jet and watching as much film as this year's Oscar judges, occasionally NFL teams select an absolute nuffie. So here are some of the worst, in the '5 Greatest Ever NFL Draft Busts'.
5. Akili Smith (QB) http://youtu.be/NBTj7yzz-8I As third overall draft pick by Cincinnati in the 1999 draft, Smith saw out an unremarkable fours years with the Bengals starting just seventeen games and throwing for just five touchdowns. Smith would then go on to be cut from Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Frankfurt Galaxy and perhaps most embarrassingly, the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. While not a particularly obnoxious or tragic bust, the fact that you've probably had to Google his name to remember who he is is a sound indication of how much impact Smith had on the NFL universe.
4. Tony Mandarich (OL) http://youtu.be/BEtp8nY-oA0 The 1989 NFL Draft saw some of the all-time greats get their names called out. Troy Aikman. Barry Sanders. Derrick Sanders. Deion Sanders. Err, Tony Mandarich? Believe it or not, Tony 'the Marshmallow' Mandarich from Michigan State was selected before three of the four Hall of Famers above, as the second overall draft pick by the Green Bay Packers. Like so many busts, Mandarich was a college sensation (gracing two covers of Sports Illustrated ) who couldn't transfer his talents to pro football. The big difference with Mandarich was the ongoing suspicion of steroid use, with the Canadian-born offensive lineman shedding 30 pounds after leaving school immediately raising eyebrows. After getting cut two years into his Green Bay contract (a city he constantly referred to as a 'village') Mandarich took a break from football to attend rehab before eventually finishing his career with three lackluster years at the Colts.
3. Brian Bosworth (LB) http://youtu.be/1bNfag1hosI Brian 'The Boz' Bosworth differs from the others on this list because at least he had the courtesy to warn a number of teams not to sign him. While playing linebacker at the University of Oklahoma, peroxide-mulleted Bosworth managed a number of achievements, including winning two Butkus awards as well as getting busted for steroids and managing to insult the entire NCAA with a t-shirt labeling them the 'National Communists Against Athletes'. Despite displaying massive anti-authority tendencies, Bosworth was sought after by a number of teams in the 1987 draft. But to make sure he was only going to play for a team that was suitably 'Bosworthy', he took the preemptive move of sending letters to a number of teams detailing why they should't bother trying to sign him. Despite these alarm bells Seattle did in fact sign him, to a record rookie contract, and when he wasn't suing the NFL for the right to wear #44 or screen printing 'Ban the Boz' t-shirts he did play some decent enough football. Unfortunately, however, Boz's shoulders couldn't keep up with his mouth, and just two games in to his third season he was forced to retire due to recurring injuries to a life of lawsuits and B-Grade movie appearances. None of them being anywhere near as good as seeing him owned by fellow rookie Bo Jackson in a Monday night football match. Bo Jackson vs. The Boz
2. JaMarcus Russell (QB) http://youtu.be/j6kK73wpGNM Former all-powerful Dark Lord Al Davis and his Raiders had a knack for taking unwanted problem players and turning them into superstars. It could be argued then that with JaMarcus Russell they actually achieved the reverse, with Russell coming into the team an outstanding number one draft pick and leaving three years later a big fat disappointment. And by fat I mean... really fat. When you're a 6'6 quarterback and already a pretty big target, showing up to training camp two out of your three years (NB: he didn't attend his rookie training camp ) looking more like an offensive lineman is going to earn you all sorts of punishment from fans and the coaching staff. Despite only still being twenty six years old it's unlikely JaMarcus will ever grace the Gridiron again, which isn't surprising seeing the Raiders - a team who at various times in their history harbored all sorts of criminals and bad-asses - won't even let players wear his old #2 jersey out of pure shame.
1. Ryan Leaf (QB) http://youtu.be/UMe0Rz1frdE Not a single draft has gone by in the last decade without mention of the name Ryan Leaf, and there's a pretty good chance that none ever will. Quite simply Leaf is to draft picks what Jar Jar Binks is to the Star Wars franchise - a fetid reminder that even with excellent planning, things can still go balls up. A star quarterback at Washington State University, Leaf was regarded as a hot-headed player with a rocket arm and ability to get things done. Foregoing his senior year to enter the 1998 draft, Leaf was so sought after that the third pick San Diego Chargers traded two first round picks, a second round pick and a 3x Pro Bowler to move up to the second pick give themselves a chance to score Leaf. And score Leaf they did. But that's where the scoring stopped for San Diego. In his three seasons with the Chargers Leaf achieved four wins as a starter, threw numerous interceptions, had continual blow-ups with the coaching staff and local media and on more than one occasion was caught playing golf or Flag Football while recovering from injury. Post-Chargers, Leaf floated around between a few other teams and practice squads (including being listed as the fourth string quarterback for Tampa Bay) before retiring to a life of petty burglary and drugs charges, the latest being just a week ago. Oh, and in case you're sitting their wondering "Who was the first pick in '98? And what's he ever done?" Well ladies and gents, that man happens to be none other than...Peyton Manning. Boom.
Any I missed sports fans?