JaMarcus Russell certainly has the résumé to earn the top spot on anyone’s all-time bust countdown. After winning the 2006 Manning Award, Russell went to the Oakland Raiders with the first pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. He clearly didn’t live up to expectations given his 7-18 starting record and career totals of 4,000 yards with 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Regardless, I can’t rank him higher than #3 because no other quarterback taken in that draft had a successful career. For that reason, his failure seems less dramatic to me. In comparison, the top two NFL draft busts offer poor numbers and drama.
Between the retirement of Vince Lombardi in 1968 and arrival of Brett Favre in 1992, the Green Bay Packers experienced a 24-year period of futility. Of note, they had only five winning seasons and two playoff appearances. Their failure can be attributed to monumentally bad draft decisions. The selection of OT Tony Mandarich with the 2nd overall pick in 1989 has received the most notoriety. However, the team also failed by trading multiple high round draft picks for washed-up QB John Hadl in 1974 and selecting QB Rich Campbell with the 6th overall pick 1981. Perhaps starting the downward cycle, Green Bay took QB Jerry Tagge with the 11th overall pick in 1972. This post focuses on that decision and whether Tagge deserves to be considered an all-time bust.
Prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, I identified Jameis Winston as a potential Top 10 Bust. In particular, I labeled him as an interception-prone QB lacking the maturity needed to lead an NFL franchise. Winston proved me wrong by having a productive rookie year on the field and avoiding problems off of it. Of note, he earned a spot in the Pro Bowl and became the inspirational leader of the significantly improved Buccaneers. If his career stalls for whatever reason (e.g. over confidence, decline in work ethic), Winston still may end up being a bust. For now, however, it appears that Tampa Bay made a good choice with its #1 overall pick.