The Busts Of Busts … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Here’s our premise for today:

Who were the worst first-round draft choices in the NFL since the merger in 1970?

The selections are based on their position in the round. In other words, who was the worst 12th player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft from 1970 to 2008? Who was the least productive player taken with the 25th pick?

We will leave out last year’s draft since those players have not had the chance to show themselves as busts just yet.

For instance, our pick as the worst No. 1 draft choice in the last 38 drafts is DL Steve Emtman (right), taken by the Colts with the first choice of the 1992 NFL Draft.

When I picked the best first round picks it was very subjective. I’ll use a more objective reference for picking the worst first round selections. The No. 1 ability any player can have is availability and that’s how we’ve made our selections: games played. It’s not a perfect barometer of their contributions, but they couldn’t begin to be productive if they weren’t on the field. Injuries, in some cases death and in one case even murder led to departures from the league by first round selections. We violated this rule only once in 32 picks, and that’s the first choice.

Again remember that picks No. 27 through 32 have not always been in the first round. It was in 1976 that picks No. 27 and 28 joined the first round, with No. 29 and No. 30 coming in 1995, No. 31 in 1999 and No. 32 in the 2002 Draft. There were various exceptions along the way, like the ‘95 draft when new teams in Jacksonville and Carolina received a pair of first round selections.

So here we go, the worst first-round picks, spot by spot:

# Player  Year  Team  On the Pick 
1  Steve Emtman  1992  Indianapolis  Based strictly on games played, the worst first choice would have been Bo Jackson (‘86/Tampa Bay.) Jackson played in only 38 games before a hip injury ended his athletic career. But he produced 3,134 offensive yards and 18 TDs in his short time with the Raiders. Emtman played in 50 games with three teams but only 18 of those came with the Colts. He had eight sacks and an interception. Ki-Jana Carter (‘95/Cincinnati) was also considered, playing in just 51 games.
2  Ryan Leaf  1998  San Diego  It’s hard to believe that some people thought Leaf was a better choice in the ‘98 Draft than Peyton Manning. He played in just 25 games during his NFL career.
3  Akili Smith  1999  Cincinnati  Smith played in just 22 games before washing out of the NFL. He had five TD passes compared to 13 INTs for the Bengals. 
4  Art Schlichter  1982 Baltimore Colts  It was not physical injury that ended Schlichter’s career; it was a mental and emotional malady: gambling. The inability to handle his gambling addiction allowed him to play in just 13 games over three seasons with the Colts.
5  Mike Junkin 1987  Cleveland  Easily the worst defensive draft choice over the last 38 years. Junkin played in just 20 games during his brief NFL career, finishing with five games in KC for the 1989 season with Marty Schottenheimer.
6  Rich Campbell  1981  Green Bay  Among the early first-round quarterback busts over the years, Campbell qualifies as the biggest. He played in seven games over four seasons with the Packers and couldn’t beat out an aging Lynn Dickey and David Whitehurst.
7  Andre Ware  1990  Detroit  The Lions have had many first round failures over the years, but none bigger than Ware, who played in just 14 games in his brief four-year career in Detroit.
8  Larry Stegent  1970  St. Louis Cardinals  One of the biggest first-round busts in history, Stegent was a running back out of Texas A&M who played in just seven games for the Cardinals before suffering a knee injury that ended his career. He touched the ball twice, fumbled once and then disappeared.
9  Kevin Allen  1985  Philadelphia  Off-field problems ended Allen’s career with the Eagles after 16 games and one season. He spent time in prison on a sexual assault charge.
10  Jamar Reynolds  2001  Green Bay  Former Packers GM Ron Wolf was a pretty good judge of talent, but his final first-round pick before retirement was Reynolds and he flopped in a big way, playing just 18 games over three seasons before being released.
11  Jerry Tagge  1972  Green Bay  In three seasons with the Packers, Tagge played in 17 games and threw three TD passes compared to 17 interceptions. He failed so badly Green Bay brought in the aging John Hadl to handle the QB duties.
12  Phil Dokes  1977  Buffalo  In two seasons, Dokes played in 25 games for the Bills and impressed few with his productivity. He was cut loose before the ‘79 season and banged around the NFL and USFL for several more seasons.
13  David Overstreet  1981  Miami  Overstreet signed in Canada and played two seasons there, before signing with the Dolphins for the 1983 season. He played 14 games for Miami, but died in June of 1984 when the car he was driving swerved off an east Texas highway, ran into gas pumps at a service station and exploded. He died at the scene.
14  Bernard Williams  1994  Philadelphia  Williams had a solid rookie season with the Eagles, playing left tackle and protecting QB Randall Cunningham. But it was after that ‘94 season that the Eagles and NFL found out Williams had a marijuana problem. He was suspended and never saw the NFL again, although he played in Canada and the XFL.
15  Yatil Green  1997  Miami  Coming out of the University of Miami, Green showed promise, but he blew out his ACL in both knees in consecutive training camps and played just eight games in the ‘99 season, catching 18 passes.
16  Dan McGwire  1991  Seattle  The brother of baseball’s Mark, McGwire played in just 13 games over five seasons with the Seahawks and Dolphins. His only claim to fame is that at 6-8, he is considered the tallest QB in NFL history.
17  Clyde Duncan  1984  St. Louis Cardinals  It was two seasons, 20 games and Duncan was gone from the Cardinals. He ended up touching the ball 32 times (four catches, 28 kick returns) and had three fumbles.
18  Steve Schindler  1977  Denver  As a rookie, Schindler went to the Super Bowl with the Broncos and played in 28 games over two seasons. He was cut before the ‘79 season; spent time in New England where he didn’t get on the field and his career was over.
19  Steve Pisarkiewicz  1977  St. Louis Cardinals  Drafted out of Missouri, Pisarkiewicz spent three years in the league, where he played a total of 10 games for the Cardinals and Packers, threw three TDs, seven INTs and disappeared into football oblivion.
20  Ken Novak  1976  Baltimore Colts  Two seasons in the middle of the Colts defensive line, a total of 23 games and then Novak was gone, never to return to the playing field.
21  Gabe Rivera  1983  Pittsburgh  In his rookie season, Rivera was a bit of a disappointment for the Steelers in the six games he played. During the next off-season, Rivera was thrown from his auto in an accident and ended up a paraplegic, never to play again.
22  Pete Adams  1973  Cleveland  Offensive lineman out of Southern Cal played in 25 games in two seasons with the Browns before he disappeared from the pro football field. 
23  Tim Anderson  1971  San Francisco  Drafted out of Ohio State, Anderson decided to play in Canada, spending four years there before finally coming back and playing for the 49ers and Bills, for a total of 15 NFL games.
24  Todd Marinovich  1991  Los Angeles Raiders  He threw three TD passes against the Chiefs in the final game of the 1991 regular season, but came back the next week and threw four INTs in a first-round game in the playoffs. Played in just eight NFL games, tried his hand in Canada and Arena Football, and has multiple arrests on drug charges over the last 15 years.
25  BillyCannon Jr.  1984  Dallas  The son of the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner came out of Texas A&M and played eight games as a rookie before suffering a neck injury that aggravated a congenital spinal condition. Doctors ended his career. 
26  Ted Gregory 1988  Denver  Easily the biggest first-round draft bust in the last 36 years. Drafted by the Broncos, he was traded before the ‘88 pre-season was over to New Orleans. He played three games for the Saints, before going to the IR list with a knee injury and he was never seen again.
27  Rae Carruth  1997  Carolina  Carruth played 22 games over three seasons before he was arrested late in 1999 and charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He remains in a North Carolina prison today after being found guilty of helping to kill the mother of his child.
29  Andy Katzenmoyer  1999  New England  Katzenmoyer came out of Ohio State as a Butkus-like middle linebacker. But halfway through his second season, he suffered a neck injury and never returned to the playing field.
30  Andre Johnson  1996  Washington  Then Redskins GM Charlie Casserly actually traded up to get Johnson, who never played a down for Washington. He dressed for one game as a rookie, and then was cut after his second training camp. He spent two years in Detroit and played in a total of four games.
31  Trezelle
1995  Kansas City  Certainly the most disastrous first-round choice in franchise history, Jenkins played in just nine games. He went from starter, to backup, to waiver wire in the span of three weeks in the 1997 season. He never played again.
32  Craig Newsome  1995  Green Bay  Of the six players taken at No. 32 in the first round, Newsome ranks as the most disappointing. He played in 53 games over five seasons, but 32 of those games came in his first two years with the Packers. He played just 21 games over his last three seasons.


  • BENGALS – released CB Mike Mickens; RFA LB Brandon Johnson signed tender offer.
  • CHARGERS – RFA OT Jeromey Clary signed his tender offer.
  • HIEFS – RFAs QB Brodie Croyle, OT Ryan O’Callaghan, C Rudy Niswanger signed tender offers.
  • COWBOYS – RFA S Pat Watkins signed tender offer.
  • EAGLES – re-signed G Max Jean-Gilles.
  • FALCONS – RFAs, OT Tyson Clabo, G Harvey Dahl, OT Quinn Ojinnaka, RB Jason Snelling signed tender offers.
  • JETS – RFA RB Leon Washington signed tender offer.
  • LIONS – RFA C Dylan Gandy signed tender offer; OT Daniel Loper released.
  • PANTHERS – RFA DT Tank Tyler signed tender offer.
  • RAIDERS – signed UFA QB Kyle Boller (Rams).
  • SAINTS – RFA S Usama Young signed tender offer.
  • SEAHAWKS – RFAs C Chris Spencer, LB David Hawthorne and WR Ben Obomanu signed tender offer.
  • STEELERS – RFAs TE Matt Spaeth and OT Willie Colon signed tender offers.
  • TITANS – RFA RB LenDale White signed tender offer.
  • VIKINGS – released WR Vinny Perretta.

12 Responses to “The Busts Of Busts … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 16, 2010  - MenInRed says:

    Hey I see the “HIEFS” guys signed. lol Bob.

    FYI – The Kansas City Chiefs select Ten Safety “Eric Berry” with the 5th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

    Go Chiefs!!!

  • April 16, 2010  - The Morning Fix | Arrowhead Addict | A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

    [...] The Busts Of Busts … Friday Cup O’ [...]

  • April 16, 2010  - Tracy says:

    Art Schlichter was a bust as a horse player as well as a football player. SI ran a story about him in which he crowed about winning a $375 trifecta; the bet he placed cost $75. A trifecta that size should not cost more than $10 for anybody with any handicapping skill at all.
    On top of that, he squealed on his bookies, which in a town like Baltimore will make you no friends. He probably had to go into hiding after that was made known.

  • April 16, 2010  - el cid says:

    Hopefully this article will not bring a bunch of bad karma to the draft. From Carl’s last 10 years, Herm’s odd view of how to operate a team, and Pioli’s first draft (yes, I know some day we will all consider this a “good” draft), the Chief’s Fans have seen more that a lifetime of picks who could not play. We are due for a change.

  • April 16, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Bob, I’m not sure how Todd Blackledge escaped your list. Especially considering the Chiefs selected him over Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. And while Jenkins was certainly a “bust”…he was selected 31st overall. Blackledge was the 7th pick. That would easily make him the bigger disappointment. In my mind, anyway.

  • April 16, 2010  - el cid says:

    If you are intent on looking at Chief’s history, how about Bob Stein? A USC (not sure) LB who could only play special teams. Or almost any first rounder other than DT? Most times the Chiefs were always about just one player away from returning to the superbowl and then we got to hope we could at least beat Oakland, hopefully once a year. Even one of our possible greats, Joe Delany. Most drafts since ‘69 are about failure, injuries, bad eval., guys who were the worst ever. For every Derrick Thomas there were more than enough Sims’.

  • April 16, 2010  - ThunderChief says:

    This list is a sobering reminder that even with the best evaluation techniques and skills, teams always miss on players in the first (and subsequent) rounds. So many things can trip up a guy from being a valued performer:

    Poor information retention (read: DUMB)
    Bad decisions off the field
    Overall weak, mentally
    Bad attitude

    I would think that psychological testing is getting more important to teams along with intense background checks on a player’s character but then, so many things can trip up a guy and eventually cost coaches and GMs their jobs.

    That said, is it wiser to take a lesser gifted athlete with a superior citizen grade over a stud athlete with a checkered background? I’m reasonably certain this issue will be discussed numerous times by teams in their War Rooms as the names come off the board.

  • April 16, 2010  - CapsLockKey says:

    I’m not so sure Ryan Leaf is a bigger bust than Tony Mandarich. At least with Leaf, the Chargers didn’t pass on 3 Hall of Famers.

  • April 16, 2010  - mike says:

    Brian Jozwiak, Percy Snow, Ethan Horton, Paul Palmer, Rashawn Shehee

  • April 16, 2010  - Danny W says:

    Here is a cant miss mock draft for K.C.
    1 Trade down with Cleveland for an additional second and grab Dez Bryant
    2a Terrance Cody
    2b Jerry Hughes
    2c Vladimir Ducass
    3 Brandon Spikes
    4 Javier Arenas
    5a Eric Olsen
    5b Myron Rolle
    5c Brandon Carter
    There you go you got a big time wide receiver combo slash triple threat for a couple of years until Chambers is to old (coming not this season but next)

    You got your nose tackle to slow down those 286 yard games by no name Browns running backs

    Jerry Hughes to step in and start under the guidance of Mike Vrabel

    You got your big right tackle that will take over for ROC(giving Albert one more year to play at Left tackle before Waters retires. Or if one of the guards go down you got this guy to step in and help.

    Brandon Spikes will help stop the run game his first step on the field he will tackle someone.

    Javier Arenas will return punts and kicks and cover in the nickle since Leggett forgot how or something.

    Eric Olsen will do better than our current centers will.

    Myron Rolle will be starting next to Page as a strong safety.

    Brandon Carter is 6″5 and 356 lbs he could just stand there and do a decent job of blocking if not make him a nose tackle or something.

  • April 16, 2010  - JW says:

    Better info here than the so called Chiefs sites(initials A/A A/P) I had a Jayhawk fan threaten my life on both those sites! Won’t say anymore other than if Your not from JO CO KS, or you dis-agree with those Einstiens, you get banned!

  • April 16, 2010  - el cid says:

    Do not know if anyone else heard the Pioli pre-draft press conference? He was very well spoken and did not give anything away. You have to give it to him, he does not come across with the arrogance of Carl P.

    All that said, felt like it was directed at people who were married to their first cousins. Goodness knows, while having opinions I would not pretend to have the access to info Pioli has, it is a bit troubling to think he might percieve us as complete idiots. He was unable to comprehend just what a “first round talent” was or how any player could be ided as one. Who he gets will be fine with me, may not be someone I would chose but he knows what he is doing but I do not need all that smoke being blown my direction.

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