Monday, May 7, 2012

Biggest Busts in Draft History... Of Any Sport

     Two weeks removed from the NFL Draft, I've been reminded of many former #1 Picks. Not just in the NFL, but in the NBA, NHL and MLB. Hell, I even remembered a few #1 picks from MLS. With that in mind, I was also reminded of the various draft busts throughout sports history that were picked high. These draft picks never live up to their high expectations and tend to fall into complete obscurity and infamy. So I've comprised a list of the most notable high draft picks that had no machismo (draft busts):

  1. Ryan Leaf, QB, 2nd overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers: Enough said. It's a good thing that Indy went with Peyton Manning with their #1 overall pick in this draft because Ryan Leaf absolutely sucked. An episode of NFL Top 10 ranked him as the "No. 1 Draft Bust in NFL History" and he deserves it. At Washington State University, Leaf averaged 330.6 yards per game and threw for a Pac-12 record 33 touchdowns during his junior year. He also guided the Cougars to their first Rose Bowl in 67 years, losing to eventual national champions Michigan Wolverines 21-16. His NFL career didn't translate over so well. Many scouts lauded Leaf for his strong arm (stronger than Manning' as a matter of fact) and huge upside. But he never lived up to the hype, lasting four years with a career QB Rating of 50.0 while throwing for fourteen touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Notorious for hitting the golf links while the other quarterbacks on the team were studying film, Leaf was arraigned on May 3rd by Texas state authorities on drug possession charges and currently stands to serve fifty years in prison.
  2. Sam Bowie, center, 2nd overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers: The Chicago Bulls picked Michael Jordan with the 3rd pick in the 1984 NBA Draft although many experts thought of him as the best player in the draft. The teams that picked ahead of the Bulls? The Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers. Now it's easy to understand why Houston chose Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon with the No. 1 overall pick. He did win two NBA titles with Houston, after all. But Portland's pick turned out to be one of the biggest punchlines in sports history. A McDonald's All-American from Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Sam Bowie was picked by Portland from the Kentucky Wildcats. Bowie was a center for the Wildcats, standing 7'1" and weighing in at 235 lbs. On paper, the pick made sense; the Trail Blazers needed help in the post with Bill Walton suffering numerous foot problems. Bowie made the All-Rookie team his first season with 10 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game. But he would be hammered by an array of injuries, eventually being traded to New Jersey in 1989 for Buck Williams. He went on to average 10.9 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game and 1.78 blocks per game throughout his nine-year career.
  3. Matt Anderson, RP, 1st overall pick in the 1997 MLB Amateur Draft by the Detroit Tigers: Matt Anderson was poised to become the second coming of Mariano Rivera. A Southwest Conference All-Star in 1995 and a First-Team College All-American at Rice University, Anderson also set Rice University school records for wins (30) and saves (14). He also posted a 1.82 ERA in his final year with the Owls. All was going well in his first season with the Tigers in 1998 as he went 5-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 42 appearances. In fact, he struck out 44 batters in 44 innings pitched. However, he tore a muscle in the armpit of his throwing arm tossing an octopus at a charity event. Since that freak injury, he's never been able to even hit 90 MPH on his fastball during his remaining days with the Tigers and hasn't posted an ERA under 4.72 in the majors. In 2005, which was his final season, he walked eleven batters and gave up 19 hits in ten innings of work with the Colorado Rockies.
  4. Kwame Brown, center, 1st overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards: Consistently rated as the "best high school player of his class", Kwame Brown was also the first No. 1 overall pick to be taken right out of high school. That's right. Not LeBron. Not Dwight. Kwame. The former McDonald's All-American's rookie season was clouded by immaturity issues and lack of production, averaging only 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Brown did improve in his second season, starting 20 of the 80 games he's played in while recording averages of 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. However, injuries and various feuds with teammates and coaches would force Brown out of Washington. His highest scoring game during his last year with the Wizards was only 19 points. Since then, he's played for the Lakers, Grizzlies, Pistons (The Pistons are known for signing former No. 1 picks i.e. Joe Smith), Bobcats, Warriors and currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. Kwame Brown has also been under an investigation involving rape charges in 2006 and had an incident where he threw a cake at a man in 2007. Let's just hope that John Wall isn't planning on starting any food fights any time soon.
  5. JaMarcus Russell, QB, 1st overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders: In spite of his impeccable talent, Russell is the new millenium's version of Ryan Leaf. Known for being indifferent with coaches, Russell only lasted three seasons with Oakland before eventually being cut. He was also 7-18 as a starter, throwing 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He was arrested on July 5th, 2010 for being in possession of codeine syrup without any valid prescription. 
  6. Andre Ware, QB, 7th overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions: Andre Ware was a ground-breaking quarterback at the University of Houston, becoming the first African-American quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. Ware set 26 NCAA records during his junior year with Houston, throwing for 4,699 yards and 44 touchdowns. His pro career didn't last long, however. He only played in 14 games and started six of those games during his four-year stint with Detroit. He went on to play for the Raiders, Jaguars, spent time in the CFL and even played for the Berlin Thunder in NFL Europe.
  7. Alexander Daigle, forward, 1st overall pick in the 1993 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators: Alexander Daigle was coveted by the Ottawa Senators in 1992 as NHL scouts considered him a "can't miss prospect". In fact, they coveted him so much that they admittedly lost games on purpose during the 1992-1993 season. This prompted an investigation by the NHL. But it turns out that all the losing was for naught as Ottawa passed up the likes of Chris Pronger and Paul Kariya. To make matters worse, he only scored 20 or more goals twice (during his rookie season and in 1996-1997). He did play in the NHL for 13 seasons with the Senators, Flyers, Lightning, Rangers, Penguins and Wild. He played four seasons with a Swiss ice hockey club called HC Davos before retiring in 2010.
  8. Bryan Bullington, SP, 1st overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates: Bryan Bullington was a star pitcher at Ball State, going 11-3 with a 2.86 ERA and walking 18 while striking out 139 hitters (a school record) in 104 innings during his senior year. Selected No. 1 overall by the Pirates in 2002, Bullington showed promise in the minor leagues, going 13-5 with a 2.52 ERA with two minor league teams. But his major league career isn't so stellar. Through the 2010 season, he has a 1-9 record lifetime with an ERA of 5.62 and only 54 K's. His career has been marred by various injuries and lack of performance. He's now pitching in Japan for Hiroshima Toyo Carp.
  9. Cleveland Browns 1999-2000 No. 1 Overall Draft Picks: It's not often that one sports franchise gets back-to-back No. 1 draft picks, but it's EXTREMELY rare that one franchise can botch both picks. In 1999, the Browns selected QB Tim Couch from Kentucky. The next year, Cleveland picked DE Courtney Brown from Penn State with the No. 1 overall pick. Despite throwing for 11,131 yards during his five-year NFL career, Couch completed only 59.8% of his passes while throwing for 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions. He was mainly plagued by injuries and a weak Browns squad all-around. As for Brown, he did have a productive rookie season in which he recorded 70 tackles and 4.5 sacks. His second season was shortened by injuries, though he did record 4.5 sacks in five games. During 2002-2004, Brown went on to only play 26 games and record eight sacks, eventually retiring in 2006 with the Denver Broncos. Unfortunately, Cleveland hasn't had a very decorated draft history since then with their best pick being WR Braylon Edwards from the University of Michigan.
  10. Brien Taylor, SP, 1st overall pick in the 1991 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees: Long before Derek Jeter became the center of attention throughout the Big Apple, there was a ton of hype surrounding Brien Taylor. Taylor had a stellar senior year at East Catherat High School, retiring 213 batters in 88 innings while walking 28. The Yankees selected him first overall in 1991 and offered Taylor $300,000 to sign a minor league contract. However, his agent Scott Boras claimed that the previous year's top-rated high school pitcher Todd Van Poppel was paid $1.2 million to sign with Oakland. They used this as leverage despite Taylor's poor grades in high school preventing him from getting a major college scholarship offer. He signed a $1.55 million contract the day before his classes at Louisburg College, further delaying him signing with the Yankees until the school year ended. Taylor never made it to the big leagues, becoming the first No. 1 overall pick to never reach the majors. His career was muddled by a shoulder injury defending his brother Brenden in a fist fight. He was arrested in 2005 for misdemeanor child abuse and was charged in 2012 for cocaine trafficking.
     There are other memorable draft busts throughout sports, but there's just too many to name. Let's just hope that RGIII and Andrew Luck don't end up like these draft bums.

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