Top 10 wide receiver draft busts
Eric Moneypenny / Special to FOXSports.com
Posted: 1 hour ago
To say that Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson is clearly the most impressive athlete at any position in this year's NFL Draft isn't exactly a bold proclamation ... not one 2007 NFL Draft prospect stands above his positional peers quite like Johnson, who's 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, runs a 4.3 in the 40, and jumps like an NBA small forward.
However, NFL franchises are understandably apprehensive about drafting Johnson too high, largely thanks to the league's awful history at projecting success at the position. For example, Jerry Rice is easily the NFL's greatest receiver of all-time, but was only the third receiver selected back in 1985, behind the New York Jets' Al Toon and Cincinnati's "Touchdown" Eddie Brown.
In past NFL drafts, talented prospects like Irving Fryar and Keyshawn Johnson were taken with the first overall pick by teams needing a difference maker. But unfortunately, you still have to have the talent and system in place to get guys like Fryar and Keyshawn "the (expletive) ball." Right now, too many experts argue that teams shouldn't risk drafting Calvin Johnson too high, because you can find always find a receiver later in the draft, for much cheaper. This column is devoted to why those experts are right. These guys are the NFL Draft's Top 10 wide receiver busts. Or, the Top 10 reasons as to why everyone's justifiably scared to draft Calvin Johnson in the top five picks.
10. Desmond Howard, 1992
First round, fourth pick, Washington
At the time, just like incumbent Redskin receivers Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, the smallish Howard perfectly fit the profile of a "Smurf" receiver that excelled under head coach Joe Gibbs. By 1995, the only thing Howard really had in common with Gary Clark or Ricky Sanders was that he didn't play for Washington anymore. Howard's unique talent as a returner eventually earned him Super Bowl MVP honors, but he accomplished very little as a pro receiver, catching only 123 balls in 11 NFL seasons. Howard compiled 10,854 career yards and eight TDs as a valuable return man for Washington, Jacksonville, Green Bay, Oakland and Detroit, but his numbers as a pass catcher weren't even close to representative of such lofty draft status.
Notable WRs also available to Redskins in the 1992 draft: Carl Pickens and Jimmy Smith (Round 2), Robert Brooks (Round 3)
Notable NFL players also available to the Redskins in 1992's first round: CB Terrell Buckley, OT Bob Whitfield, OT Ray Roberts, OT Leon Searcy, DE Marco Coleman, DT Chester McGlockton, CB Dale Carter, LB Robert Jones, DE Robert Porcher.
9. Troy Edwards, 1999
First round, 13th pick, Pittsburgh
Back when the explosive Edwards played at Louisiana Tech, the 5-foot-9, 195-pound receiver put on one of the greatest single-game offensive performances you'll ever see in college, catching 21 balls for 405 yards against Nebraska in 1998 in the season opener, on his way to setting a ton of NCAA and school records that season. As a rookie for the Steelers, he caught 61 passes for 714 yards, a debut that almost any NFL receiver would be happy with. However, that was his high water mark in the NFL, as his production quickly dropped substantially, before spending time with the Rams, Jags, Titans, and Lions. Edwards battled numerous nagging injuries, along with offensive schemes that never properly utilized him, so he never lived up to his early flashes of potential.
Notable WRs also available to Steelers: Peerless Price (Round 2), Marty Booker (Round 3), and Donald Driver (Round 7).
Notable NFL players also available to the Steelers in the first round: DT Anthony "Booger" McFarland, DE Jevon Kearse, C Damien Woody, DE Patrick Kerney, LB Al Wilson, CB Antoine Winfield. If you deny that Edwards was a bust, then just imagine either Kearse or Kerney coming off the edge as an OLB for Cowher in the 3-4 defense during the past eight seasons...
8. Anthony Hancock, 1982
First round, 11th pick, Kansas City
In five NFL seasons, the University of Tennessee star caught only 73 passes for 1,266 yards and five TDs. Hancock was a forerunner of many other highly drafted Tennessee receivers to enter the NFL, followed by Willie Gault, Tim McGee, Anthony Miller, Alvin Harper, Carl Pickens, Peerless Price, Kelley Washington, and Donte Stallworth. Even though Hancock blazed the NFL trail for those Vols, he's still the biggest disappointment.
Notable WRs also available to Chiefs: Mike Quick (Round 1), Mark Duper (Round 2), Dennis Gentry (Round 4)
Notable NFL players also available to the Chiefs in the first round: RB Walter Abercrombie, future Pro Bowl OT Luis Sharpe.
7. Larry Burton, 1975
First round, seventh pick, New Orleans
Burton is just one of a few examples of why Olympic speed doesn't necessarily transfer to success in the NFL. Before Burton's sophomore year at Purdue, he finished fourth in the 200 meter dash at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. By the fall of 1973, the school's football coaches had finally successfully begged him to suit up. After catching 15 balls as a junior, and 38 passes (for an 18.2 yard average) as a senior, the Saints figured that Burton was a big-money threat. In five NFL seasons, it's a good thing that Fantasy Football wasn't invented yet, as the highly drafted speedster hauled in a scant 44 passes for 804 yards with the Saints and Chargers. A spectacular athlete, but a wasted draft pick.
Notable WRs also available to Saints: Freddie Solomon (Round 2, converted option QB), Rick Upchurch (Round 4), Pat McInally (Round 5, also a punter),
Notable Players also available to the Saints in the first round: Six-time Pro Bowl OT Dennis Harrah, TE Russ Francis, DB Neal Colzie, DB Tim Gray, DE Mark Mullaney, DB Dave Brown.
6. Kenny Jackson, 1984
First round, fourth pick, Philadelphia
Jackson enjoyed a successful college career as a two-time All-American at Penn State, walking away with 27 school records. However, built at 6-foot, and 180 pounds, he definitely wouldn't represent the prototypical receiver worthy of the fourth pick in 2007 (see: Ginn, Ted). In eight NFL seasons with the Eagles and Oilers, Jackson never caught more than 40 passes in a season, wasn't a factor in the return game, and finished with only 11 career TD catches before joining the assistant coaching ranks in college and the NFL.
Notable WRs also available to Eagles: Louis Lipps (Round 1), Brian Brennan (Round 4).
Notable Players also available to the Eagles in the first round: DT Bill Maas, LB Ricky Hunley, LB Wilbur Marshall, DT Keith Millard, OT Brian Blados.
5. Koren Robinson, 2001
Koren Robinson showed promise early in his NFL career. (Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images)
First round, ninth pick, Seattle
A watershed moment that foreshadowed Koren Robinson's eventually wasted potential occurred during his final college season, when his N.C. State team took on Wake Forest. That day, the talented Robinson sat out the entire first half as part of a disciplinary suspension, and his team fell behind 14-3 to an overmatched Wake Forest bunch. When Robinson finally entered the game, he easily returned a punt 61 yards for a TD. Four minutes later, he caught a TD pass from freshman Philip Rivers, immediately sparking his team to a win. That particular effort displayed Robinson's dominance, almost as much the first half-suspension displayed his growing inability to abide by rules.
In the NFL, Robinson's proven to be a productive receiver (1,240 yards in 2002) or kick return man (Pro Bowler for Minnesota in 2005-06 season). However, Robinson ultimately makes bigger headlines with numerous brushes with the law. On the field, Robinson can cut it, but off the field, he often can't, and that's the strange paradigm of Robinson's career. In 2006, he was suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, then sentenced earlier this year to 90 days in jail for DUI and fleeing the police. A fantastic talent, and a sadder story.
Notable WRs also available to Seahawks: Santana Moss (Round 1), Reggie Wayne (Round 1), Chris Chambers (Round 2), Chad Johnson (Round 2), Steve Smith (Round 3), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Round 7).
Notable Players also available to the Seahawks in the first round: OG Steve Hutchinson, DT Casey Hampton, S Adam Archuleta, CB Nate Clements, TE Todd Heap.
4. David Terrell, 2001
First round, eighth pick, Chicago
Unfortunately for Terrell, he played on some horrific offenses in Chicago. Then again, so did almost every guy on this list. Terrell caught 128 balls in five seasons for Chicago and Denver, which is terrible when compared to even Koren Robinson, or the two handfuls of eventual Pro Bowl-caliber receivers also drafted in 2001.
Notable WRs also available to Bears: See Koren Robinson's list (S. Moss, Wayne, Chambers, Ocho Cinco, Steve Smith, and Houshmandzadeh).
Notable Players also available to the Bears: Hutchinson, Hampton, Archuleta, Clements, Heap.
3. Peter Warrick, 2000
Peter Warrick, and his quarterback Akili Smith, never really panned out. (Brian Bahr / Getty Images)
First round, fourth pick, Cincinnati
By drafting Warrick, the then-"Bungles" were supposedly providing a hot young target for their hot young franchise quarterback, Akili Smith. In all actuality, the Bengals got lucky in landing him too, since his poor pre-draft 40 times prevented him from being drafted higher, possibly by Cleveland with the number one overall pick. Regardless, Warrick left Florida State as a dominant receiver, return man, and one of the most dangerous open-field runners in recent college memory.
In six NFL seasons, Warrick hauled in 275 balls for 2,991 yards, but most of those numbers came during his first four rocky years, when the consensus developed that he wasn't big enough or fast enough and was too inconsistent. During that time, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh firmly entrenched themselves as the true main players in Cincinnati's receiving corps, and Warrick faded away, averaging an incredibly disappointing 10.9 yards per catch in his career with the Bengals and Seahawks. Warrick was cut by Seattle in September 2006, and hasn't played a down in the NFL since.
Plus, when you look at the talent available to the Bengals at any position in the first round, the Bengals made an enormous mistake taking Warrick.
Notable WRs also available to Bengals: Plaxico Burress (Round 1), Jerry Porter (Round 2), Laveranues Coles (Round 3), Darrell Jackson (Round 3), Dante Hall (Round 5)
Notable Players also available to the Bengals in the first round: LB Brian Urlacher, RB Shaun Alexander, RB Jamal Lewis, DT Corey Simon, RB Thomas Jones, DE John Abraham, TE Bubba Franks, CB Deltha O'Neal, LB Julian Peterson, QB Chad Pennington, OT Stockar McDougle, DT Chris Hovan, LB Keith Bulluck. (Ouch.)
2. Johnny "Lam" Jones, 1980
First round, second pick, N.Y. Jets
Before entering the University of Texas in 1976, Jones won an Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in the 400 meter relay, and placed sixth in the world in the 100 meter dash, all before buying his first college book. Lam's speed was incredible, so, of course, he was an electrifying college halfback at first, and an All-American wideout later on for the Longhorns. The Jets were so enamored with his potential, they even traded two first round picks (the 13th and 20th) to San Francisco to draft him.
Upon entering the pros, Jones' hands were considered suspect at best, and he only caught 138 passes for 2,322 yards in five seasons with the Jets, Jones would spend the 1985 and 1986 seasons on injured reserve, and comeback attempts with the 49ers and Cowboys were short-lived and futile. Sadly, Jones is currently very ill, having battled advanced bone cancer since 2005, but will celebrate his 49th birthday on April 4th.
Notable WRs also available to Jets: Art Monk (Round 1), and that's about it for receivers in 1980. So, forgive the Jets for grabbing at straws, especially if the straw they grabbed ran a 4.2.
Notable Players also available to the Jets in the first round: OT Anthony Munoz (the very next pick), early NFL sackmaster Doug Martin, DE Jacob Green, LB Otis Wilson, C Jim Ritcher, QB Marc Wilson, and QB Mark Malone. For what it's worth, the 13th and 20th picks that the Jets traded turned out to be San Francisco's RB Earl Cooper and DT Jim Stuckey, respectively.
1. Charles Rogers, 2003
First round, second pick, Detroit
Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson are the most dominant receivers I've ever seen at the college level, but I'd put Charles Rogers right on the edge of that group. Rogers was ridiculous at Michigan State, then ran an incredible 4.3 in the 40 heading into the NFL Draft, an insane time that had dozens of scouts salivating. Upon entering the league, the talented Rogers accomplished very little, breaking his collarbone on more than one occasion, and violating the NFL's substance abuse policy almost as many times (three) as he caught TD passes (four). In three NFL seasons, Rogers caught an embarrassingly low 36 passes for 440 yards, and was cut by the Lions in 2006. Attempts at an NFL comeback are questionable at this point, especially considering that the once speedy Rogers recently timed in around 4.8 in the 40, half a second slower than he ran in his glory years. Maybe his collarbone was bothering him...
Notable WRs also available to Lions: Andre Johnson (the next pick), Anquan Boldin (Round 2), Nate Burleson (Round 3), Kevin Curtis (Round 3), Shaun McDonald (Round 4), Brandon Lloyd (Round 4), and Doug Gabriel (Round 5) have all produced more than the draft's second pick. Plus, Ronald Curry, a college quarterback drafted in the final round has caught over 80 more career passes than Rogers.
Notable Players also available to the Lions in the first round: Too many players from the 2003 first round still have so much potential. The most notable are RB Larry Johnson, DT Dewayne Robertson, RB Willis McGahee, QB Byron Leftwich, DE/OLB Terrell Suggs, DT Kevin Williams, S Troy Polamalu, TE Dallas Clark, C Jeff Faine, QB Rex Grossman. Just name a 2003 first rounder, most have contributed more in the NFL than Rogers.
By all reports, Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson is a model prospect on and off the field, and one of the best college wideouts we've ever seen. But as you can see, the tale of Charles Rogers and others on this list could understandably scare a franchise or seven away from selecting such a wide receiver at the top of the draft.