As the Bears fritter away a 5-1 start and find themselves fading into mediocrity for another season, it’s worth looking at the biggest reason they are here right now. In 2017, the Bears famously didn’t bring in Deshaun Watson before the draft because they were so taken with the kind of man Mitch “kissing titties” Trubisky was. He drove an economical car! He was so polite and well spoken! There were a lot of superlatives used to talk about how great of a quarterback they thought Trubisky would be. And all of those words that were ejaculated out of the mouths of Ryan Pace, Ted Philips, and the rest of the Apple Dumpling Gang in Lake Forest, Illinois, turned out to be completely meaningless.
Mitch turned into the Derek Zoolander of professional quarterbacking. He couldn’t throw left. The truth was, throwing to his right and deep downfield weren’t strong suits of his, either. Matt Nagy, who is increasingly in over his head and quite possibly headed for unemployment after the season, doesn’t have a fix and instead of trying to find new voices to help Mitch and the Chicago Bears offense, instead filled his coaching staff with sycophants and yes men, which created a shield around him to protect him from his own terrible play calling. Any doubts about his ability should have been quieted after Nick Foles, who he pushed for because HE KNOWS THE SYSTEM!! went out and completely crapped the bed, his pants, and everyone’s pants around him.
What is sometimes forgotten, though, is that the Bears colossally screwed up their second round pick, drafting “guy nobody has heard of” Adam Shaheen. Shaheen was supposed to be Baby Gronk. For his career, Shaheen has 33 receptions. This season, Rob Gronkowski has 39, even though he was retired and doing professional wrestling earlier this year. Shaheen is now a third string receiver for the Miami Dolphins, so at least he doesn’t have to deal with winter, even though Bears fans still have to deal with the shotgun blast sized hole he created on the roster when he was drafted.
Drafting that early in the NFL is proof of two things: you were horrible last year, and you have an opportunity to get two high end players that can help alter your franchise. When you screw up as badly as the Bears did in 2017, and can and often does set a franchise back for years. The Trubisky/Shaheen debacle got me thinking. What is the worst 1st/2nd round botch in NFL history. Of course, the NFL has been around a long time, so I put some parameters in place.
1: I’m not counting the 2019 or 2020 drafts, as there is still too much evaluation in play for those players.
2: I’m only going to do the 25 drafts before that point. 2018-1994 is the time frame we are going with.
3: The first round pick has to be a top 10 pick. Good teams who pick in the 20’s are allowed to miss once in a while.
4: One off the guys doesn’t have to be a superstar to save an epic dud of a pick. Andre Wadsworth was a memorable bust for the Arizona Cardinals. Their second round pick? Corey Chavous. Yeah, nobody special that jumps off the page. But Chavous actually had an 11 year NFL career and 20 career interceptions. If you can find a player that stays in the NFL for a decade with a second round pick, that keeps you off of this list. Let’s call this the “Mike Mamula Rule.”
With apologies to the Eagles 2016 draft class, which will eventually bare out as terrible when everyone realizes that Carson Wentz really isn’t very good (editors note: this opening was written before Wentz got benched on Sunday), here are the contenders for worst 1st/2nd round picks in the NFL
2005 Chicago Bears. Cedric Benson (4), Mark Bradley (39)
Bears fans will never forget that Lovie Smith went with Cedric Benson over Thomas Jones, who had earned his spot as the starting running back. Benson washed out ferociously. Mark Bradley was a special teams guy, but nothing else.
1998 Chicago Bears Curtis Enis (5), Tony Parrish (35)
Tony Parrish stayed in the NFL for a little bit, but the Bears hadn’t learned their lesson from seeing the Jets draft Blair Thomas and Bengals draft Ki-Jana Carter that you should never burn a top draft pick on a Penn State running back. Enis played two years as a running back, one year as a fullback, and then his career was over. One of the all time “grand opening, grand closing” guys on this list.
2001 Green Bay Packers. Jamal Reynolds (10), Robert Ferguson (41)
Reynolds played a grand total of 18 games over three seasons. He had 18 tackles in his career. He did have half of a tackle in a playoff game in 2001, so there is that, I suppose. Robert Ferguson actually lasted eight years in the NFL, but never did much. For his career, he averaged 1.8 receptions per game.
2005 Minnesota Vikings. Troy Williamson (7), Erasmus James (18)
These guys get a little extra stink on them because they are the first people on this list that were both first round picks (definitely not the last, though. Holy hell, wait til we get to the Browns). Pro Football Reference says on Troy Williamson’s page that he is the 8252nd best player in NFL history. To put that into perspective, Rex Grossman is the 4642nd best player. Where they found 4000 players worse than Grossman is beyond me, but here we are.
Erasmus James was so bad that there are actually 900 people who played in the NFL that are worse than Williamson, but still better than him.
2007 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gaines Adams (4), Arron Sears (35)
So this is a tough one, and I’m going to try to handle this objectively. Adams passed away after his third season in the NFL. He got a few sacks, but was playing with defense first teams in Chicago and Tampa. Also, in spite of getting at least six sacks in each of his first two seasons, the Bucs traded him during his third season, something which is somewhat unprecedented in the NFL, considering Tampa had just a 4th overall pick just two and a half years prior on him. Making this one tougher from a Bears perspective? They traded the 42nd pick in the 2010 NFL draft for him. That pick would end up being used on all time legend Rob Gronkowski.
Arron Sears lasted two years in the NFL and had nine false start penalties as a rookie. So there is that.
2003 New Orleans Saints. Jonathon Sullivan (6), Jon Stinchcomb (37)
Sullivan bombed out of New Orleans after three seasons, when he was traded to the Patriots. They released him a month into that season and his career was over. Stinchcomb I was super on the fence about. He was in the NFL for eight seasons, but he basically didn’t play in three of them. He got a Pro Bowl nod one season, then a year later, he was out of the NFL .
2007 Atlanta Falcons. Jamaal Anderson (8), Justin Blalock (39)
No, you are thinking of the other Jamaal Anderson. The running back who helped the Falcons get to a Super Bowl forever ago. This Jamaal Anderson was taken eight overall, didn’t do anything as a Falcon, and eventually bounced around some teams before his career came to an end. Justin Blalock was…I dunno, lets call him a serviceable left guard for a few years. Screw it, let’s move on and make fun of the Jets.
2008 New York Jets. Vernon Gholston (6), Dustin Keller (30)
Vernon Gholston may have done less than any other player that lasted in the NFL for three seasons. As the sixth pick, he ONLY lasted those three seasons, and in that time he averaged 14 tackles per season and had as many NFL sacks as me.
Dustin Keller was in the NFL for 5 seasons, averaged nearly 50 receptions per season, and was a top 10 fantasy tight end twice, and you still cannot convince me this person actually existed.
2003 New york Jets. Dewayne Robertson (4), Victor Hobson (53)
Robertson spent six seasons in the NFL ,and made little to no impact. He averaged about 2.5 sacks per season. Was traded for an undisclosed pick to Denver, and after a year in Denver, he was done.
Hobson was a versatile linebacker for the Jets, who started 14 games for the team in 2007, then played three games total in 2008, splitting his time between the Bengals and Cardinals. Then it was just kind of over. In 2012, he was the producer of a movie called “C’Mon Man” in which he also gets an acting credit as “Audience Member #9.” The movie appears to star Tony Rock, who is best known for being an audience member at the Patrice O’Neal roast.
2002 Buffalo Bills. Mike Williams (4), Josh Reed (36)
On first glance, it looks like both guys played in the NFL for eight seasons. But then it looks like Williams was out of the NFL for three of those seasons, then came back for about half a season with Washington. At least he didn’t seem to have very many penalties against him. One holding penalty in 59 games is at least something to hang your hat on.
Reed did stay in the NFL for eight years, and he must have been a great locker room guy. It doesn’t seem like he did much special teams work. He averaged less than 3 receptions for 31 yards per game over his career. Congrats on getting paid, my man.
2013 Miami Dolphins. Dion Jordan (3), Jamar Taylor (54)
Holy hell. Dion Jordan is still in the NFL? Jordan was suspended for the entire 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Since then he has bounced around three teams, but he is still out there, trying to play. Good for him on that. But he has done nothing of note during those seasons. In his entire career, he has started four games.
Sweet merciful…Taylor is still in the NFL, too. He has been on seven teams over his career. He was given the ability to start for two seasons in Cleveland. During those two seasons, the Browns went a combined 1-31. Not all Taylor’s fault. But still….goddamn Browns, man.
2002 Kansas City Chiefs. Ryan Sims (6), Eddie Freeman (43)
Sims had a career, but he was just a guy. He wasn’t a Guy. And he definitely wasn’t a GUY. Averaged just under one sack per season over his career. Sims also earned over 20 million for his career, so he goddamn showed me.
Now Eddie Freeman! This is a guy who is just a good, old fashioned bust. Spent two years in the NFL. Slapped around a few practice squads, then won a Grey Cup championship in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders.
2013 Tennessee Titans. Chance Warmack (10), Justin Hunter (34)
Chance Warmack averaged four holding calls against him per season fro the three seasons that he started. That is actually the most significant thing I could find about his career.
The Chiefs used the Hunter pick as part of a package that ended up netting them Alex Smith, which did help turn around their franchise. Hunter himself is a guy that all of us fantasy players contemplated taking a chance on more than once, then sighed, gave up, and just Percy Harvin in our lineup.
THE “WE REALLY THOUGHT THIS QUARTERBACK WAS GOING TO SAVE OUR FRANCHISE” DIVISION
2006 Arizona Cardinals. Matt Leinart (10), Deuce Lutui (41)
Leinart will always be remembered for his best game, in which the Bears came back and beat them on Monday Night Football, giving us the greatest post game presser of all time. Lutui started 16 games three times with little to no acclaim. Send us off, Denny Green!
1999: Cleveland Browns. Tim Couch (1), Kevin Johnson (32)
Johnson averaged around four receptions per game for his career. He is not who we are here to talk about, though folks. The 1999 draft is merciless. It produced two Hall of Famers in the top 10 in Edgerrin James and Champ Bailey. It also produced two other huge stars in Torry Holt and Ricky Williams. Jevon Kearse and Antoine Winfield were also first round picks. The quarterbacks, though. My friends, the quarterbacks.
A mere year after quarterbacks went 1 and 2 in the NFL draft, this was talked about as an incredibly deep quarterback class. A generational class on the level of the 1983 draft class. Donovan McNabb was the number two pick in the draft…
1999 Cincinatti Bengals. Akili Smith (3), Charles Fisher (33)
…But Couch and Akili Smith here were numbers one and three in that draft. Cade McNown went 12, and he is considered just a pleasant, run of the mill bust compared to these two. Tim Couch lasted five seasons in the NFL. The Browns were 22-37 in games he started. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
And Akili Smith was worse! Like, way way way worse! You know that outdated player ranking I mentioned when talking about Troy Williamson? According to it, Akili Smith is 5000 players worse than Williamson!! That is insane. This was a miss on a level that almost lacks precedent. In fact, the whole 1999 Bengals draft is like looking at a crime scene. Only two players from the 10 player draft lasted more than five seasons in the NFL. One was a fullback, and the other, Kelly Gregg, had to get cut before he ever played a game for the Bengals before eventually ending up in Baltimore having a great career. The worst part about it is, I have to talk about FOUR!!! other Cincinnati drafts before this article is over!
2002 Houston Texans. David Carr (1), Jabar Gaffney (33)
This almost doesn’t feel fair because Carr was drafted first onto an expansion team and the offensive line was a turnstile for pretty much the entirety of his time there. Carr was 23-56 as a starter for the Texans, and then spent the rest of his career backing up Eli Manning in New York. Not exactly the career trajectory you are hoping for with the first overall pick in a draft. Gaffney was fine. He carved out a niche role on a lot of teams for a number of years.
2011 Tennessee Titans. Jake Locker (8), Akeem Ayers (39)
Damn Tennessee, it’s really tough to botch this high of a pick on a system quarterback….
2006 Tennessee Titans. Vince Young (3), Lendale White (45)
No, Tennessee, you can’t keep doing this, you are screwing up your entire…
2015 Tennessee Titans. Marcus Mariotta (2), Dorial Green Beckham (40)
You giant goddamn idiots…Young and Mariotta were at least great college quarterbacks. The Locker pick was in the same draft in which, after seeing Locker drafted, then the Jaguars thought to themselves, “we need Blake Bortles!” and then the Vikings decided they just had to draft Christian Ponder.
Beyond that, Akeem Ayers was serviceable at best. White never put it all together, and Green-Beckham was a great high school player who seemed to get more overmatched and less interested, the bigger the institution he played at.
THE “JUST SEND THE LIONS TO PLAY IN THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE” DIVISION
2006 Detroit Lions. Ernie Sims (9), Daniel Bullocks (40)
Ernie Sims was actually on a much better craeer trajectory. He averaged 124 tackles per season in his frist three years, but his “flying around hitting things” style of play ended up coming back to haunt him. He would be slowed by injuries, and end up playing for three teams in his final four seasons, with increasingly fading results. Daniel Bullocks played two seasons for the Lions in three years. He didn’t play anywhere else.
2005 Detroit Lions. Mike Williams (10), Shaun Cody (37)
2004 Detroit Lions. Roy Williams (7), Kevin Jones (30)
2003 Detroit Lions. Charles Rogers (2), Boss Bailey (34)
Strike Three…You are outta here, Matt Millen! So Roy Williams was the best of the three, which is very much damning everyone involved here with faint praise. Mike Williams existed for awhile without actually doing anything. Charles Rogers was gawwwwwwwdawful. For his career, he averaged 2.4 receptions per game for 29.3 yards. Williams actually made the Pro Bowl once. I’ll let you guys figure out which one. Neither of them were any good.
The “Yeah, the Trubisky pick was bad, but the 49ers Didn’t Exactly Take Advantage of It” Division
2017 San Francisco 49ers. Solomon Thomas (3), Reuben Foster (31)
The Bears are rightfully mocked for trading up one spot to get Mitch Trubisky, and the reason i’ve spent too much time on this article that six people will read. But let’s take a quick look at what the 49ers did. They tend to get a free pass because Mitch has flamed out more gloriously, and people don’t tend to care as much about a defensive end.
That said, Solomon Thomas isn’t very good, and is probably a worse NFL player than Trubisky. He started 25 games in his first two seasons, and did nothing. San Francisco realized he wasn’t doing anything because he only started three of the 16 games he played in last year. This year, he was injured after two games. He’s not a player.
Reuben Foster lasted two years in the NFL. IN that time, he was areested for pot possession, suspicion of domestic violence multiple times. The 49ers eventually cut him and Washington signed him. Karma immediately caught up with him when he tore his ACL in his first practice with the team.
THE “OHIO TEAMS SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO DRAFT ANYMORE” DIVISION
2014 Cleveland Browns. Justin Gilbert (8), Johnny Manziel (22)
Gilbert lasted three seasons in the NFL. He started three games. Manziel started eight games in two seasons, then he was out of the NFL. Manziel went on to spend a couple years playing in every town and country named in the song “Never Been to Spain” by Three Dog Night. How he is just another punchline.
2012 Cleveland Browns. Trent Richardson (3), Brandon Wheeden (22)
Stop me if this sounds familiar. Trent Richardson only played three seasons in the NFL. Brandon Weeden was 28 years old when they drafted him. His career record is 6-19. Between 2012, and 2014, the Browns were a bizarro version of the Ravens. By that, I mean, they were spectacularly bad at drafting. Just epic bad. They didn’t make the list for their 2013 draft only because they didn’t have a second round pick. Their first round pick that year was Barkavious Mingo. At least I don’t have to write anything else about the Browns.
2000: Cleveland Browns. Courtney Brown (1), Dennis Northcutt (32)
GODDAMNIT! It is hard though to make fun of this pick in retrospect because it turned out the first round of the NFL draft in 2000 was so damn terrible. Brian Urlacher was the only Hall of Famer drafted in the first round. The first round of this draft was so bad in fact, that Sebastian Janikowski, who spent years being the butt of jokes because he was the first kicker ever drafted in the first round, ended up playing a long enough, successful enough career, that he is probably in the top 10 of all players drafted in the first round of it.
2009 Cincinatti Bengals. Andre Smith (6), Rey Maualuga (38)
2008 Cincinatti Bengals. Keith Rivers (9), Jerome Simpson (46)
2002 Cincinatti Bengals. Levi Jones (10), Lamont Thompson (41)
2000 Cincinnati Bengals. Peter Warrick (4), Mark Roman (34)
Look at all of these names. It’s just so uninspiring. All of the picks just kind of ended up being guys of varying low levels of success while playing for a team that is basically only in existence to make Pittsburgh feel good about itself each year. Cincinnati deserves to lose their sports teams for thinking Skyline Chili is good. They exist as a flyover state for people traveling to Philadelphia.
THE “HOLY HELL, THIS IS BAD AND IT REALLY COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE” DIVISION
2014 Jacksonville Jaguars. Blake Bortles (3), Marqise Lee (39)
It isn’t Blake Bortles’ fault he was drafted third. But it sure as hell was Jacksonville’s fault. His existence ruined a great defense and set the team’s eigth rebuild in 20 years into motion. Marqise Lee was whatever.
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars. Luke Joeckel (2), Jonathan Cyprien (33)
Cyprien is fine. Even good in some moments when the Jags defense was flying high. But Joekel being the second pick then having his career being over after five vanilla ass years when they could have drafted…actually, don’t even worry about it. The 2013 draft was terrible.
2012 Jacksonville Jaguars. Justin Blackmon (5), Andre Branch (38)
I thought Blackmon wasa going to be great. It turned out he was an All Pro headcase who couldn’t stop getting in trouble.
2009 Jacksonville Jaguars. Eugene Monroe, (8), Eben Britton (39)
A good way to rebuild your team is to draft tackles with high picks to strengthen your offense. A bad way to rebuild your team is to draft tackles named Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. Alex Mack and Andy Levitre went after each guy in their respective rounds. That would have been a good way to rebuild.
2008 Jackonville Jaguars. Derrick Harvey (8), Quentin Groves (52)
Derrick Harvey played four inconsequential seasons in the NFL, averaging about 20 tackles per season. Groves hung around for longer by be willing to put a lot of frequent flier miles on his credit card, as he played for five teams in seven seasons.
The only reason this team didn’t qualify for being on the list SEVEN seasons in a row is because they didn’t have second round picks in 2010 and 2011. Their picks those two years? Blaine Gabbert and Tyson Alualu. Both would have been comfortable with the company on this list.
THE “IT FEELS LIKE THE RAIDERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON HERE MORE” DIVISION
2010 Oakland Raiders: Rolando McClain (8), Lamarr Houston (44)
McClain just never could put it together. You know it’s over for you when the Ravens trade you before they have even seen you play a regular season game. Oh, also he pleaded guilty to firearm possession and assault charges. He may or may not have burnt down his own home for insurance reasons. Oh, and while he was suspended by the NFL, he got addicted to purple drank.
Houston is the dimwit who tore his ACL celebrating a sack while his team was down by 25 points.
2007 Oakland Raiders: Jamarcus Russell (1), Zach Miller (38)
No, not that Zach Miller. But yes, definitely THAT Jamarcus Russell. It was actually really thoughtful of the Raiders to draft Russell while he was on his lowest orbit as he rotated around the sun. Russell entered the NFL with weight problems, and left the NFL with several broken scales in the Raiders locker room.
2004 Oakland Raiders: Robert Gallery (2), Jack Grove (45)
This might not be fair to Gallery, and more a sign of the dysfunction for the Raiders. He came into the NFL as a right tackle. Then he was moved to left tackle. Then he was moved to left guard. He was okay at guard, but he was not all that good.
I don’t have any idea what a Jack Grove is.
What did we learn from all of this? Even good teams can have a bad draft, but for the most part, bad teams have bad drafts and then continue to have bad drafts. The Steelers, Ravens, and Patriots don’t show up on this list. These are teams that are considered elite in the NFL and have maintained that level for a long time.
You know who is on these lists a lot? The Lions, the Bears, the Bengals, the Browns, the Jaguars, and Raiders. All teams that have no real history of sustained success over the past few decades.
But another disertation is not why we are here. You have to already know what the biggest bust of the past 25 years is, and nothing the second round pick was gonna do would save this Hindenburg of a pick. Ladies and gentlemen, the worst draft combo of all time.
THE ABSOLUTE WORST COMBO OF ALL TIME
1998 San Diego Chargers. Ryan Leaf (2), Mikhael Ricks (59)
Ricks could have been the second coming of Tony Gonzalez and it would have been hard to redeem the first round pick. Countless ink has been spilled about how Leaf is the most spectacular bust in NFL history, so let’s just hit some of the statistical highlights.
Under 50% Completion Percentage: CHECK
Career Losing Record in Games Started: 4-17 baby! Check
Career Passer Rating So Low That Football Reference Won’t Even Acknowledge It: CHECK!!!
More Interceptions Than TD’s: 36 ints to 14 tds! CHEEEEEEECK!
If you think I missed any that fall into the criteria above, drop them in the comments.