To the extent that a bust can be described as having a bad career, a Top 10 Bust can be described as having a really bad career. Whereas most players referenced as all-time NFL busts were really bad, Tony Mandarich is an exception. Compared to the roided-out Adonis before the 1989 Draft, the roid-free version of Mandarich was not as strong and not as fast. Regardless, he still was good enough to survive in the NFL for six seasons over a ten-year period (i.e. two three-year stints separated by a four-year absence). Having played in 86 games (including 63 starts), he hung around long enough to escape being considered a Top 10 Bust. However, he still received an Honorable Mention given all of the pre-draft hype and post-draft disappointment surrounding him. This post references his career as an introduction to the 3rd criterion used to refine the list of Top 10 NFL Draft Busts.
After trading All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss to the Raiders prior to the 2005 Draft, the Vikings needed to find a new deep-ball threat. In response, they used Oakland’s 1st round pick (7th overall) in that draft to select South Carolina wide receiver Troy Williamson. The former Gamecock was raw as a receiver, but he was fast. Of note, Williamson ran the 40 in a blistering time of 4.32 seconds at the combine. When players like him are drafted, teams often respond with comments like, “You can’t teach speed.” The Vikings didn’t need to teach Williamson how to run fast, but they needed to teach him how to catch the ball. Unfortunately, they couldn’t. On behalf of all players who were drafted because of combine results instead of on-field accomplishments, Williamson has earned an eponymous exemption.
Intuitively, a higher draft pick has more upside than an lower draft pick, but how much more? This post discusses the quantitative approach used to determine a threshold such that a player can be drafted too low to be considered an all-time bust. Based on the frequency and total number of Pro Bowl selections, there’s a significant drop-off in the upside potential of a player drafted after the first ten overall picks. As such, players selected with the 11th overall pick or later, such as Brady Quinn, are exempt from being Top 10 Busts.
In general, higher draft picks perform better than lower draft picks. That statement obviously doesn’t tell you anything new. However, have you ever wondered how much better? Fortunately, pro-football-reference.com has developed a proprietary statistic to quantify a player’s value. Called Weighted Average Value (WAV), the statistic can be used to rank all-time greats as well as to determine all-time busts. Furthermore, it can be applied to evaluate trades involving future draft picks. For instance, the Saints gave up draft picks totaling an expected WAV of 175 in order to get the rights to Ricky Williams. You probably already know that the Saints made a bad decision. After reading this post, you’ll learn how bad.