Top 50 NFL Draft Busts: Where Are They Now?
April 16th, 2012| by Lost Lettermen
Biggest of the Busts
The NFL draft can make or break your NFL franchise for years to come, as Peyton Manning going one spot ahead of Ryan Leaf in 1998 showed. As a result, the biggest NFL draft busts in history often end up trading fame for infamy.
We look at the Top 50 NFL draft busts of all time, according to ESPN.com in 2008.
50. Michael Westbrook | 49. Jon Harris
50. Michael Westbrook (pictured), Colorado, WR (No. 4 overall, 1995): After a big rookie season, injuries led to a mediocre career. Today he lives in Mesa, AZ, and runs the Michael Westbrook Self-Defense Academy.
49. Jon Harris, Virginia, DE (No. 25 overall, 1997): Harris started just eight games in two seasons with the Eagles, with two sacks and a fumble recovery. He now resides in Swedesboro, NJ.
48. David LaFleur | 47. Maurice Clarett
48. David LaFleur, LSU, TE (No. 22 overall, 1997): As a tight end, he caught just 85 passes and 12 touchdowns in four seasons with Dallas. He now resides in Sulphur, LA.
47. Maurice Clarett (pictured), Ohio State, RB (No. 101 overall, 2005): Clarett never played a down in the NFL but has seemingly has cleaned up his act after serving prison time for concealed weapon and robbery charges. He often speaks to college football teams about his past mistakes and lives in Youngstown, OH.
46. Alex Van Dyke | 45. John Clay
46. Alex Van Dyke (pictured), Nevada, WR (No. 31 overall, 1996): Van Dyke caught just 25 passes and three touchdowns in three seasons with the Jets. He currently owns Going Vertical, a training facility in Sacramento for athletes to improve speed, agility and power.
45. John Clay, Missouri, OT (No. 15 overall, 1987): Clay played in just 12 games over two seasons. His whereabouts are unknown.
44. Johnathan Sullivan | 43. Mike Mamula
44. Johnathan Sullivan, Georgia, DT (No. 6 overall, 2003): He played just four seasons with the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots. In 2006, Sullivan was pulled over in Griffin, GA, for running two red lights and charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
43. Mike Mamula (pictured), Boston College, DE/LB (No. 7 overall, 1995): Dubbed a “Workout Warrior” for his impressive NFL combine, Mamula played six seasons in the NFL and was was hobbled by injuries. He currently works with Comprehensive Screening Services in Voorhees, NJ.
42. Akili Smith | 41. Reggie Rembert
42. Akili Smith (pictured), Oregon, QB (No. 3 overall, 1995): Smith started just 17 games over four seasons with the Bengals and threw 13 picks to just five touchdowns during that time. Smith runs Akili Smith Training for quarterbacks in his hometown of San Diego, CA.
41. Reggie Rembert, West Virginia, WR (No. 28 overall, 1990): He never signed with the team who drafted him (New York Jets) and went to Cincinnati for a mediocre three seasons. He resides in Indianapolis, IN.
40. Cade McNown 39. Trezelle Jenkins
40. Cade McNown (pictured), UCLA, QB (No. 12 overall, 1999): Pegged as the Chicago Bears’ next franchise QB, McNown lasted all of two seasons in the “Windy City.” In June of 2013, McNown was named the vice president of Lourd Capital Management, an investment company in Southern California.
39. Trezelle Jenkins, Michigan, OT (No. 31 overall, 1995): He couldn’t stick in the league after three years and just nine games under his belt. He now owns a Harold’s Chicken Shack in Ferndale, MI.
38. Dan McGwire | 37. Patrick Bates
38. Dan McGwire (pictured), San Diego State, QB (No. 16 overall, 1991): Better known as Mark McGwire’s little brother, Dan didn’t have a single NFL start or touchdown pass. Today he’s the president of Vita H2O Inc., a vitamin water company in Reno, NV.
37. Patrick Bates, Texas A&M, S (No. 12 overall, 1993): The safety had just one interception in 44 NFL games. His current whereabouts are unknown.
36. Russell Erxleben | 35. Mike Elkins
36. Russell Erxleben (pictured), Texas, P/PK (No. 11 overall, 1979): After just five NFL seasons, Erxleben eventually became a currency investor who served time in prison for fraud. In February of 2014, Erxleben was sentenced to 90 months in prison for scams that included a $2 Ponzi scheme.
35. Mike Elkins, Wake Forest, QB (No. 32 overall, 1989): Elkins played one game and attempted two passes before never playing again. Today he fronts a country music band, “The Mike Elkins Band,” with another former Demon Deacon, Chip Rives.
34. Craig Powell | 33. Leeland McElroy
34. Craig Powell, Ohio State, LB (No. 30 overall, 1995): Powell played just 12 games with Cleveland/Baltimore with little impact. He joined the Army after his career and now resides in Youngstown, OH, and works for the nutritional company Unicity.
33. Leeland McElroy (pictured), Texas A&M, RB (No. 32 overall, 1996): McElroy ran for just 729 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons in the NFL. He currently resides in Garland, TX.
32. Andre Johnson | 31. Todd Marinovich
32. Andre Johnson, Penn State, OT (No. 30 overall, 1996): Johnson never appeared in a game with the Redskins and played just three games his whole NFL career. He’s currently a business owner in Leesburg, VA.
31. Todd Marinovich (pictured), USC, QB (No. 24 overall, 1991): The “Robo QB” made just eight regular-season starts in two seasons with the Raiders. Arrested in 2009 for failing to show up in court for a drug rehab review, Todd now works at the Sports Science Lab in Southern California with his infamous father, Marv, and runs the Todd Marinovich Art Gallery.
30. Aaron Gibson | 29. Todd Blackledge
30. Aaron Gibson, Wisconsin, OT (No. 27 overall, 1999): Gibson played in just 11 games over three seasons before being cut. He was last seen with the af2′s Austin Wranglers in 2007.
29. Todd Blackledge (pictured), Penn State, QB (No. 7 overall, 1983): Blackledge never started a full season with the Chiefs before being dealt after five seasons. Today he’s a television analyst for college football on ESPN. He resides in North Canton, OH.
28. Tony Mandarich | 27. Walt Patulski
28. Tony Mandarich (pictured), Michigan State, OT (No. 2 overall, 1989): “The Incredible Bulk” was a bust in Green Bay but turned his life around in Indianapolis. He wrote a book detailing his hard times with the Packers and now owns a modeling photography studio and media company in Scottsdale, AZ.
27. Walt Patulski, Notre Dame, DE (No. 1 overall, 1972): Patulski had a decent rookie season but put up poor numbers the rest of his career (just four years). He currently resides in Syracuse, NY.
26. Jack Thompson | 25. Tim Worley
26. Jack Thompson (pictured), Washington State, QB (No. 3 overall, 1979): The “Throwin’ Samoan” could never unseat Ken Anderson, the starter in Cincinnati. Residing in Torrance, CA, Thompson helped Washington State and World Vision to help raise money after the tsunami in American Samoa in 2009.
25. Tim Worley, Georgia, RB (No. 7 overall, 1989): Injuries and off-the-field issues cut short a career with a promising start. Worley has turned his life around and launched Worley Enterprises, a business based on Christian motivation speaking. He resides near Atlanta, GA.
24. Tony Sacca | 23. Kelly Stouffer
24. Tony Sacca (pictured), Penn State, QB (No. 46 overall, 1992): Sacca played in just two games and never started in the NFL. He is now the head coach for Burlington City High School in Burlington, NJ.
23. Kelly Stouffer, Colorado State, QB (No. 6 overall, 1987): Stouffer sat out his entire rookie season and then started just 16 games over four years. He currently resides on a farm in Rushville, NE.
22. Blair Thomas | 21. Steve Niehaus
22. Blair Thomas (pictured), Penn State, RB (No. 2 overall, 1990): Thomas never rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He currently resides in King of Prussia, PA, where he is recovering from heart problems. Thomas promotes Emmortal Magnesium Therapy, a natural anti-inflammatory product, and instructs youth football around the country for Junior Ranks.
21. Steve Niehaus, Notre Dame, DT/DE (No. 2 overall, 1976): Niehaus started just 20 games in three seasons with Seattle and now resides in Fairfield, OH.
20. Curtis Enis | 19. Tim Couch
20. Curtis Enis (pictured), Penn State, RB (No. 5 overall, 1998): In three NFL seasons, his longest run was 29 yards. He’s now the head football coach at Bradford High School in Ohio, although his hiring there was very controversial.
19. Tim Couch, Kentucky, QB (No. 1 overall, 1999): Couch went 22-37 as a starter and never played again after the 2003 season. He resides in Lexington, KY, and is now a college football analyst with the Big Blue Sports Network and FOX Sports South. He is married to former Playboy playmate Heather Kozar.
18. Derek Brown | 17. David Klingler
18. Derek Brown, Notre Dame, TE (No. 14 overall, 1992): He caught just 11 passes in 45 NFL games. As of 2010, Brown runs three Quiznos Sub Shops and resides in upstate Rexford, NY.
17. David Klingler (pictured), Houston, QB (No. 6 overall, 1992): Klingler went 4-20 as a starter with 20 interceptions to 15 touchdowns. He has a master’s in theology and in 2012, Klingler was named assistant professor of biblical studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Havard School of Theological Studies in Houston
16. Peter Warrick | 15. Huey Richardson
16. Peter Warrick (pictured), Florida State, WR (No. 4 overall, 2000): Warrick had five mediocre years in the NFL, then bounced around other pro leagues; he was on a roster in the Ultimate Indoor Football League as recently as 2011. Warrick is currently the wide receivers coach of Creekside High School in Fairburn, GA.
15. Huey Richardson, Florida, LB (No. 15 overall, 1991): Kicked to the curb after just one season in Pittsburgh, Richardson is now a VP of U.S. Institutional Sales with the Permal Group in New York.
14. Joe Profit | 13. Reggie Rogers
14. Joe Profit, Louisiana Monroe, RB (No. 7 overall, 1971): He ran for just 197 yards in two seasons and retired after his third. Profit earned his doctorate and is in the business of building information technology firms. He resides in Atlanta.
13. Reggie Rogers (pictured), Washington, DT (No. 7, 1987): Rogers lasted just two seasons in Detroit, recording one sack, and then returned briefly before retiring in 1992. Rogers, who killed three teenagers while driving under the influence in 1988, was arrested for his sixth DUI in November of 2010. The arrest came just a year and a half after he was sentenced to two years in prison for his fifth DUI. Rogers died of a cocaine overdose in 2013.
12. Andre Ware | 11. Jim Druckenmiller
12. Andre Ware (pictured), Houston, QB (No. 7 overall, 1990): Ware had just six starts in four seasons with eight interceptions. He now works on Houston Texans radio broadcasts and ESPN college football.
11. Jim Druckenmiller, Virginia Tech, QB (No. 26 overall, 1997): The former Hokie notched just one start in two NFL seasons and then was gone. He resides near Memphis and works as a sales rep for ASAP Staffing.
10. Jerry Tagge
10. Jerry Tagge, Nebraska, QB (No. 11 overall, 1972): Tagge threw 17 interceptions in 18 games with Green Bay. He now works as a financial advisor in Omaha, NE.
9. Bo Matthews
9. Bo Matthews, Colorado, RB (No. 2 overall, 1974): Matthews ran for just 1,372 yards and 11 touchdowns in six seasons. He resides in Denver, CO, and runs non-profit community development centers, The Matthews Center and Bo Matthews Center for Excellence.
8. Mike Junkin
7. Johnny “Lam” Jones
7. Johnny “Lam” Jones (pictured), Texas, WR (No. 2 overall, 1980): Jones had blazing speed but stone hands. He now resides in Austin, TX, where he’s battling cancer and is an avid photographer.
6. Keith McCants
6. Keith McCants, Alabama, DE (No. 4 overall, 1990): McCants tallied just 13.5 sacks in six NFL seasons and currently resides in Tampa, FL. He has been arrested several times on drug charges over the years, most recently in 2010, but is now trying to stay clean. You can follow him on Twitter at @KeithMcCants.
5. Charles Rogers
5. Charles Rogers, Michigan State, WR (No. 2 overall, 2003): Rogers played just two seasons in the NFL and his life has been a mess since. He has had three-alcohol related incidents since 2009 and was accused by police of threatening to kill his own mother over $100,000 in 2012.
4. Heath Shuler
4. Heath Shuler, Tennessee, QB (No. 3 overall, 1994): After throwing 21 picks to just five touchdowns over three seasons with the Redskins, Shuler has triumphantly returned to D.C. as a Democratic congressman from North Carolina.
3. Art Schlichter
3. Art Schlichter, Ohio State, QB (No. 4 overall, 1982): After playing in just 13 games, Schlichter was in and out of prison thanks to a gambling habit. Schlichter was sentenced to 10 years in prison in September of 2011 for his part in a ticket fraud scheme, then tested positive for cocaine to break a pre-sentencing release agreement.
2. Lawrence Phillips
2. Lawrence Phillips, Nebraska, RB (No 6. overall, 1996): After a shortened career due to major character issues, Phillips was arrested and eventually sentenced to 31 years in prison for domestic violence and assault with his car in a bizarre incident in which he tried to run over kids after a pickup football game in Los Angeles in 2005. [Update: In April of 2015, Phillips was suspected of killing his prison cellmate.]
1. Ryan Leaf
1. Ryan Leaf, Washington St., QB (No. 2 overall, 1998): Tossing 36 picks in four disastrous NFL seasons, Leaf moved back to his native Montana and was arrested for stealing to feed a prescription medication addiction. He was sentenced to five years in jail in 2013 but was released in December of 2014.
[Editor’s Note: Continue the slideshow for more recent NFL draft busts (e.g. JaMarcus Russell) and others not included on ESPN’s list (e.g. Brian Bosworth)]
Other epic busts that were not included in ESPN’s 2008 list include:
JaMarcus Russell, LSU, QB (1st overall, 2007): Russell was out of the league by 2009. He was arrested for “Purple Drank” in July of 2010 and has had financial problems and an unsuccessful NFL comeback attempt. He lives in his hometown of Mobile, AL.
Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma, LB (Supplemental Draft, 1st round, 1987): Bosworth appeared in just 24 NFL games after a star-studded career at Oklahoma before moving on to a Hollywood film career. Appearing in Dish Network commercials and the subject of an ESPN “30 for 30” film in 2014, Bosworth resides in Malibu, CA.
Steve Emtman, Washington, DT (1st overall, 1992): Emtman had an extensive list of injuries and finished with just eight career NFL sacks. He now resides in Spokane Valley, WA, and is a real estate developer.
Ki-Jana Carter, Penn State, RB (1st overall, 1995): Another draft pick whose career was ruined by injuries, Carter resides in South Florida and is an analyst for the Big Ten Network.
Courtney Brown, Penn State, DE (1st overall, 2000): Brown played in the NFL until 2006 but wasn’t on the field much due to injuries. He resides outside Denver in Parker, CO.
Trev Alberts, Nebraska, LB (5th overall, 1994): The former ESPN college football analyst troll only started seven games in the NFL over three seasons with the Colts due to injuries. The former Cornhusker is now back in college sports as Nebraska-Omaha’s athletics director.
— Josh White (@BJoshWhite) January 9, 2015
Rick Mirer, Nebraska, QB (2nd overall, 1993): Billed as the next Joe Montana coming out of Notre Dame, Mirer had just 50 TDs to 76 INTs in his NFL career. Mirer now lives in the Bay Area and is the head of a winery called Mirror Wine Company.
— NFL Alumni (@NFLAlumni) October 7, 2014
Mike Williams, USC, WR (10th overall, 2005): Another ill-advised wide receiver selection by then-GM Matt Millen, Williams struggled keeping his weight down with the Detroit Lions and had just 127 career receptions. He was named the head football coach of Brentwood (CA) middle school in August of 2014.
— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) January 12, 2015
Aundray Bruce, Auburn, LB (1st overall, 1988): Billed as the next Lawrence Taylor out of college, Bruce finished with just 32 career NFL sacks. He currently resides in Montgomery, AL, and is a volunteer defensive line coach at NAIA Faulkner University.
Matt Leinart, USC, QB (10th overall, 2006): Leinart’s dominance in college was forgotten when he went 8-10 as a starter in a brief NFL career. Leinart is now back in Los Angeles and is an analyst for FOX Sports.
Never watch Fox Sports 1 but I’m amazed at their panel.. The guy from Pros vs Joes, Brady Quinn & Matt Leinart pic.twitter.com/M4NgYosQbc
— George John-Blaise (@GeorgieBlaise) December 31, 2014
Aaron Curry, Wake Forest, LB (4th overall, 2009): One of the rare recent draft misses for the Seattle Seahawks, Curry’s five-year NFL career included a grand total of 5.5 sacks. He is currently a graduate assistant for the Charlotte 49ers’ football team.
Vernon Gholston, Ohio State, DE (6th overall, 2008): An absolute monster in the weight room, Gholston’s three-year NFL career with the New York Jets ended without a single sack. He reportedly currently resides in Chatham, NJ.
Brady Quinn, Notre Dame, QB (22nd overall, 2007): Quinn’s long wait in the green room on draft day was an omen of things to come. In four NFL seasons, he threw a whopping 12 career touchdown passes. He is now an NFL and college football analyst for FOX. He is also married to former Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone.
— JSPstudio (@JSP_studio) October 11, 2014
Tim Tebow, Florida, QB (25th overall, 2010): The Denver Broncos rolled the dice on Tebow by drafting the Florida QB in the first round and came up with snake eyes. Aside from a magical run in the 2011 season in which the Broncos advanced to the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, Tebow was a huge bust who completed just 47.9% of his NFL passes. He’s now a college football analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network.
Dimitrius Underwood, Michigan State, DE (29th overall, 1999): In one of the most bizarre stories in NFL history, Underwood quit Vikings training camp as a rookie after one day over religious reasons. Playing in just 19 career NFL games, Underwood spent time in the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center and an internet search still places him in his hometown of Philly.