Ten biggest top-ten draft busts of the past decade

It doesn’t look pretty for the NFC North. Joe Fortenbaugh

Print This April 20, 2010, 05:45 PM EST

NFP's Introduction to Scouting Class is now registering for our next session! Early bird pricing in effect until February 15th! Save $100 and REGISTER NOW!

Definition of the word “bust”:

1. To smash or break, especially forcefully
2. To cause to become bankrupt or short of money
3. A failure; a flop

With the 2010 NFL Draft kicking of in two days, there has been no shortage of opinions and analysis on the hundreds of NFL hopefuls looking to take their games to the next level.

Some of these players will exceed expectations and go on to profitable, prolific careers (see: Tom Brady, pick No. 199 in 2000).

Some will wash out of the league before they know what hits them (see: Ryan Leaf, pick No. 2, 1998).

The second category is the one we’re focusing on today.

Here are my 10 biggest top-10 busts of the past decade. To qualify for this list, a player must have been drafted in the top 10 between 2000 and 2009.

Let the debate begin…

NUMBER 10:   Courtney Brown      Defensive End     Penn State

Selected: No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2000

Penn State dominated the top of the 2000 draft as Brown was the first choice off the board followed by Washington’s selection of teammate LaVar Arrington. Cleveland liked what it saw in the 1999 first-team All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and decided to pull the trigger on the big defensive end with the first overall selection.

Brown played for seven years in the league (2000-2006), starting 60 games. However, he was plagued by injuries and was only able to play one full season during his career (2000). Having recorded just 19 total sacks and earning no trips to the Pro Bowl, Brown shut it down for good in 2006, never living up to the hype of the first overall pick.

Notable players drafted after Brown: Chris Samuels, John Abraham, Keith Bullock, Brian Urlacher.

NUMBER 9:   Peter Warrick      Wide Receiver      Florida State

Selected: No. 4 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2000

One of the most electrifying collegiate players of the last 20 years, Warrick closed out his career with the Seminoles in style at the 2000 Sugar Bowl, posting 160 yards receiving and three touchdowns — including a 59-yard punt return — in a 46-29 championship game win over Michael Vick’s Virginia Tech Hokies.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, the consensus All-American never performed like that again. Warrick amassed only 18 touchdowns in six NFL seasons and averaged a substandard 10.9 yards per reception for his career. However, you can’t say the Bengals weren’t warned. Warrick was busted in that infamous Dillard’s department store mishap with Laveranues Coles when the FSU wideouts paid $21.40 for $412.38 worth of clothing — just three months before the win over Virginia Tech.

Noteable players drafted after Warrick: Jamal Lewis, Thomas Jones, Shaun Alexander, Matt Bowen (198th overall), Tom Brady (199th overall).

NUMBER 8:   Vernon Gholston     Linebacker     Ohio State

Selected: No. 6 overall by the New York Jets in 2008

Gholston was a beast during his final season with the Buckeyes, recording a team-record 14½ sacks on his way to All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Commonly referred to as the second coming of Mike Mamula, Gholston shot up draft boards when he took his shirt off and ran in a straight line. Unfortunately for the Jets, a good body and fast 40 times don’t always translate to success on the football field.

In two seasons with the Jets, Gholston has only three starts under his belt, with 17 tackles, zero sacks, zero interceptions and zero forced fumbles. The only reason he isn’t ranked higher on this list is because we don’t have enough tape of him standing on the sidelines.

Notable players drafted after Gholston: Keith Rivers, Jerod Mayo, Ryan Clady, Chris Johnson.

NUMBER 7:   David Terrell      Wide Receiver      Michigan

Selected: No. 8 overall by the Chicago Bears in 2001

Terrell doesn’t need a lengthy write-up. Just talk to any Bears fan who remembers this pick (all of them) and they’ll tell you exactly how they feel about the former Michigan standout.

Terrell lasted five seasons in the NFL (2001-2005), making just 30 starts and scoring only nine touchdowns. His best season came in 2004 when he caught 42 passes for 699 yards and one score. The wide receiver was cut after four years in Chicago and signed by the Denver Broncos in April 2005, only to be cut again in August of that year.

Notable players drafted after Terrell: Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Freddie “The People’s Champion” Mitchell.

NUMBER 6:    Johnathan Sullivan     Defensive Tackle      Georgia

Selected: No. 6 overall by the New Orleans Saints in 2003

A two-year standout defender at Georgia who started 23 of 35 games, Sullivan opted to enter the NFL draft as a junior rather than return for his senior season.

Big mistake.

Sullivan started only 12 games in four NFL seasons (2003-2006), recording just 1½ sacks and one forced fumble in 36 appearances. As if a four-year career as a top-10 pick wasn’t bad enough, the defensive tackle was busted for marijuana possession outside of Atlanta in June 2006.

Notable players drafted after Sullivan:  Kevin Williams, Terrell Suggs, Troy Polamalu, Willis McGahee, Dallas Clark, Nnamdi Asomugha

NUMBER 5:   Joey Harrington     Quarterback      Oregon

Selected: No. 3 overall by the Detroit Lions in 2002

Ah, the legend of Joey Heisman. One of the most notable quarterback busts in NFL history, Harrington rode a wave of hype out of Eugene, where he went 25-3 as a three-year starter, throwing for 2,415 yards and 23 touchdowns during his senior campaign.

After seven brutal NFL seasons with four teams (Detroit, Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans), Harrington’s career numbers include a 56.1-percent completion percentage, 79 touchdowns, 85 interceptions, 76 starts and a QB rating of 69.4.

His best season came with the Lions in 2004 when Harrington tossed 19 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. Detroit went 6-10 that year.

Notable players drafted after Harrington: Bryant McKinnie, Dwight Freeney, Albert Haynesworth, Ed Reed.

NUMBER 4:   JaMarcus Russell      Quarterback     LSU

Selected: No. 1 overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2007

You can argue with me in the comments section all you want that Russell isn’t a bigger bust than Harrington, but until J-Roc gets to 76 career starts (which is never going to happen), he gets the prize.

The first selection off the board in 2007, Russell has been awful in his three years in Oakland, completing just 52.1 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 70 sacks and 15 lost fumbles in 25 starts. The Raiders are 9-22 in games in which Russell has played quarterback and are 10-22 over the past two years.

Not exactly the type of production the Black Hole was looking for when its team drafted the big-armed quarterback out of LSU three years ago.

Notable players drafted after Russell: Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis, Jon Beason.

NUMBER 3:   Mike Williams     Wide Receiver     USC

Selected: No. 10 overall by the Detroit Lions in 2005

Williams burst onto the college scene as a freshman for the Trojans when he caught 81 passes for 1,265 yards and 14 touchdowns. He followed that up with an impressive sophomore season, but unfortunately, that’s where the “feel good” portion of this story ends.

Following his second year at Southern Cal, Williams became a victim of one of the greatest screw-jobs in NCAA history. Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett decided to challenge the NFL rule that a player must be three years removed from high school to be eligible for the NFL draft. A federal judge sided with Clarett, and Williams decided to jump on the train and take advantage of the ruling as well.

After Williams hired an agent and declared for the draft, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the Clarett decision. Williams tried to go back to USC, but the NCAA (in its infinite wisdom) said that since the wideout had hired an agent, he was ineligible to play. Never mind the fact that a federal freakin’ judge said it was permissible and Williams was just playing by the rules at the time.

Long story short, Williams had to sit out the next season before he was eligible to enter the NFL draft. After three seasons in which the wide receiver caught just 44 passes for 539 yards and two scores, Williams washed out of the league.

Notable players drafted after Williams: DeMarcus Ware, Shawne Merriman, Aaron Rodgers, Roddy White.

NUMBER 2:   Jamal Reynolds     Defensive End      Florida State

Selected: No. 10 overall by the Green Bay Packers in 2001

Oh yeah, Packers fans. Don’t tell me you forgot about Reynolds.

After a sensational senior season in which Reynolds amassed 58 tackles and 12 sacks on his way to winning the Rotary Lombardi Award (nation’s best defensive lineman or linebacker), the Packers were believers.

So much so that Green Bay traded backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the 17th overall pick to the Seattle Seahawks to move up to No. 10, where it pounced on Reynolds.

Talk to any Seahawks fan and they’ll tell you how great this deal was. Talk to any Packers fan and they might mention that Reynolds never started a game in three NFL seasons and recorded a grand total of three sacks and 18 tackles in 18 games.

The Packers tried to trade Reynolds to Indianapolis in 2004, but the deal was voided when the defensive end failed a physical.

Notable players drafted after Reynolds: Steve Hutchinson, Nate Clements, Marcus Stroud.

NUMBER 1:   Charles Rogers     Wide Receiver      Michigan State

Selected: No. 2 overall by the Detroit Lions in 2003

Where to begin with this guy…

1. Rogers won the Biletnikoff Award (nation’s best receiver) and broke Randy Moss’ NCAA record of 13 straight games with a touchdown reception in his final year at Michigan State.

2. He played three seasons in the NFL, catching a whopping total of 36 passes for 440 yards and four touchdowns in only nine starts.

3. He washed out of the league.

4. He was busted in September 2008 for assault and battery. In December of that year, he violated probation by testing positive for Vicodin. In March 2009, he went to jail for a probation violation. In September 2009, he was arrested for DUI. In January 2010, he violated a sobriety court order when he was found passed out drunk.

Makes the rest of these busts look like Pro Bowlers by comparison.

Notable players drafted after Rogers:  Andre Johnson (one spot later)

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

NFP Inside Content. All Season.