Any way you look at it, 1981 #6 overall pick Rich Campbell failed miserably as a professional quarterback. During his four-year NFL career, Campbell threw for a total of 386 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. Based on his poor performances in mop-up duties or as an injury replacement, the Packers never trusted him enough to start even one game. The former Cal star likely would have failed as a starter, but the problem is that we’ll never know. In his honor, I established the Rich Campbell Exemption for players who never received a fair chance to compete on the field. Campbell avoided being declared a Top 10 Bust, but couldn’t escape the stigma of an Honorable Mention.
For those of you who might be curious as to whether or not The Penn State Jinx really exists, this post analyzes the four running backs (D.J. Dozier, Blair Thomas, Ki-Jana Carter, and Curtis Enis) usually mentioned in support of the argument. While they don’t deserve to be called Top 10 Busts, their stories are worthwhile to clarify certain exemptions.
– As a 14th overall pick, Dozier was drafted too low (i.e. the Brady Quinn Exemption);
– With almost 3,000 yards from scrimmage, Thomas was too good (i.e. the Tony Mandarich Exemption); and
– Both Carter and Enis had their careers end prematurely because of injuries (i.e. the Steve Emtman Exemption).
With the worst career of the four, Dozier still earned an Honorable Mention despite his exemption.
As a #1 overall pick with a disappointing NFL career, Steve Emtman often gets mentioned as an all-time bust. I can’t refute the first part of that sentence, but the second part ignores the impact that injuries had on his career. In particular, Emtman suffered season-ending injuries in each of his first three years in the league. The 1991 Lombardi Award winner clearly didn’t live up to his potential, but I can’t justify calling him a bust. In this post, I establish the Steve Emtman Exemption as an Top 10 Bust exclusion for injured players. Furthermore, I discuss the use of it for oft-injured teammate Trev Alberts.
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.