Quarterbacks were taken with five of the first twelve picks in the 1999 NFL Draft. Interestingly, those five QBs ran the gamut with a super-star (#2 pick Donovan McNabb), a star (#11 pick Daunte Culpepper), a disappointment (#1 pick Tim Couch), a bust (#12 pick Cade McNown), and a Top 10 Bust (#3 pick Akili Smith). Some of you (especially Cleveland Browns fans) might believe that Couch was a bust, but he simply was too productive. In particular, he threw for 11,000 yards with 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions in 62 career games. On the other hand, McNown certainly was a bust after throwing for only 3,000 yards with 16 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 25 career games. For as bad a McNown was, Smith was even worse. For instance, Smith had career totals of 2,000 passing yards with five touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 22 games. In addition, he had a career record of 3-14 as a starter. In essence, McNown was really bad but Smith was historically bad. As one of the worst quarterbacks ever drafted with an early first round pick, Smith has earned the #5 spot as a Top 10 NFL Draft Bust.
Jack Thompson was a heralded quarterback from Washington State whose career will always be evaluated in the rear-view mirror of the greatest post-season quarterback in NFL history. As a foreshadowing, the previous sentence can be used to introduce a completely different Top 10 Bust simply by changing the highlighted word. If NFL draft busts were evaluated like NBA draft busts seem to be, Thompson (who was drafted ahead of Joe Montana) would be as well know as Sam Bowie (who was drafted ahead of Michael Jordan). Instead, Thompson hasn’t received his due credit as an all-time bust. With a Weighted Average Value (WAV) of 13 based on career totals of 5,300 passing yards and 33 touchdowns, he has the highest total of any Top 10 Bust. Then again, he had a record of 4-17 as a starter and a total of 45 interceptions so he gained a lot of bonus points. This post should convince you that Thompson, unlike Bowie, was completely unproductive as a professional so his bust status is well deserved.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, two quarterbacks from the University of Houston shattered numerous passing records. The first, Andre Ware, won the 1989 Heisman trophy after throwing for 4,700 yards and 46 touchdowns. The second, David Klingler, threw for 5,100 yards and 54 touchdowns the following season. Based on those numbers, Klingler made the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 1991 College Football issue. I’ve heard of the SI Jinx, but that cover proved to be ironically prophetic given the headline of “Bombs Away!” As a senior, Klingler’s passing yardage declined by over one-third and his touchdowns declined by almost one-half. Still considered a top QB prospect, Klingler went sixth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. With an abysmal 4-20 record as a starter and career totals of only 4,000 yards and 16 touchdowns, he appropriately became my #9 NFL Draft Bust.
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.