The Fifteen Worst Defensive First Round Picks in NFL Draft History

Smith Draft 560x280It does not take very long for an NFL team to realize they made a mistake with their first round selection during the annual NFL draft. Most teams find out before training camp that they have a bust on their hands and now it is just about managing that player’s time and trying to extract whatever talent the player might have left in him.

In almost every draft, there are a few busts in the first round, it is simple human nature. Some players are not going to survive the NFL regardless of how talented they have been throughout their college careers.

Courtney Brown 560x280Some of the most famous busts in NFL draft history have occurred on the offensive side but that’s because they get more publicity and coverage. The defensive side of the ball tends to have many more busts, we just don’t ever hear about them. Until now… Here are the 15 worse defensive 1st round draft picks in NFL history.

15. Walt Patulski, DE – Bills

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 1st (1972)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1972 – 1977 (5)
  • Games Started (Games): 49 (70)
  • Players taken after him: Franco Harris (RB), Cliff Branch (WR), Lawrence McCutcheon (RB)
  • What makes him a bust? Walt dealt with injuries and eventually ended his career after just five seasons.

14. Amobi Okoye, DT – Texans

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 10th (2007)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 2007 – 2014 (7)
  • Games Started (Games): 59 (87)
  • Players taken after him: Patrick Willis (LB), Darrelle Revis (DB), Marshawn Lynch (RB)
  • What makes him a bust? He just didn’t stack up. There is no need to explain, he just wasn’t as good as projected and ended up bouncing around the NFL for seven seasons.

13. Huey Richardson, LB – Steelers

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 15th (1991)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1991 – 1992 (2)
  • Games Started (Games): 0 (16)
  • Players taken after him: Aeneas Williams (DB), Ricky Watters (RB), Brett Favre (QB)
  • What makes him a bust? It’s usually the ones that have the best college careers that end up becoming the biggest busts on draft day and Huey Richardson is another one. But you might want to point the finger at Pittsburgh for moving a DE to LB and expecting results.

12. Trev Alberts, LB – Colts

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 5th (1994)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1994 – 1996 (3)
  • Games Started (Games): 7 (29)
  • Players taken after him: Kevin Mawae (C), Isaac Bruce (WR), Tom Nalen (C), Larry Allen (OG), Bryant Young (DT)
  • What makes him a bust? As the 5th overall in 1994, one could argue that Trev Alberts wasn’t good enough to earn that spot but injuries seemed to have ended his career early. If healthy, however, he still wasn’t that good.

11. Tom Cousineau, LB – Bills

Tom Cousineau

  • Overall Pick (Year): 1st (1979)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1982 – 1987 (6)
  • Games Started (Games): 59 (66)
  • Players taken after him: Joe Montana (QB), Dan Hampton (DE), Phil Simms (QB), Ottis Anderson (RB), Mark Gastineau (DE)
  • What makes him a bust? Instead of going to the NFL and becoming a legendary LB, Tom Cousineau decided to go into the CFL for a few seasons before finally returning to the NFL in 1982. But by then, it was too late.

10. Bruce Pickens, DB – Falcons

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 3rd (1991)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1991 – 1995 (4)
  • Games Started (Games): 9 (48)
  • Players taken after him: Brett Favre (QB), Aeneas Williams (DB), Ted Washington (DT)
  • What makes him a bust? Ask any Falcons fan who is their biggest draft bust and they might all tell you Bruce Pickens, whom they might also blame for bad luck they have since felt.

9. Mike Mamula, DE – Eagles

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 7th (1995)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1995 – 2000 (5)
  • Games Started (Games): 64 (77)
  • Players taken after him: Warren Sapp (DT), Derrick Brooks (LB), Curtis Martin (RB)
  • What makes him a bust? After the most impressive NFL combine in league history, Mike Mamula vaulted himself into the seventh overall pick. It turns out, he was not anywhere close to that talented and ended up playing five seasons in mediocrity

8. Andre Wadsworth, DE – Cardinals

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 3rd (1998)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1998 – 2000 (3)
  • Games Started (Games): 30 (36)
  • Players taken after him: Randy Moss (WR), Alan Faneca (OG), Charles Woodson (DB), Hines Ward (WR)
  • What makes him a bust? His career started off on the wrong foot with a lengthy contract holdout that caused him to miss most of the team’s preparations during his first NFL season. Eventually, he would deal with injuries and end up being cut before retiring.

7. Quentin Coryatt, LB – Colts

Quentin Coryatt

  • Overall Pick (Year): 2nd (1992)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1992 – 1999 (7)
  • Games Started (Games): 78 (82)
  • Players taken after him: Jimmy Smith (WR), Darren Woodson (DB), Levon Kirkland (LB)
  • What makes him a bust? His subpar NFL career might not have been considered a bust if he was taken in the fourth round but as the second overall pick, and after passing on plenty of talented players, he just never truly earned his spot.

6. Courtney Brown, DE – Browns

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 1st (2000)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 2000 – 2005 (6)
  • Games Started (Games): 60 (61)
  • Players taken after him: Tom Brady (QB), Brian Urlacher (LB), John Abraham (DE)
  • What makes him a bust? In his five seasons with Cleveland, he only managed to play in 47 games, dealing with different set of injuries each season.

5. Aundray Bruce, LB – Falcons

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 1st (1988)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1988 – 1998 (11)
  • Games Started (Games): 41 (151)
  • Players taken after him: Sterling Sharpe (TE), Randall McDaniel (OG), Michael Irvin (WR), Tim Brown (WR)
  • What makes him a bust? You might not consider 11 seasons a bust but when you are taken 1st overall in a draft that had 5 future Hall of Famers, you need to be a bit more impactful than simply being a backup LB.

4. Aaron Curry, LB – Seahawks

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 4th (2009)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 2009 – 2012 (4)
  • Games Started (Games): 39 (48)
  • Players taken after him: Clay Matthews (LB), Brian Cushing (LB), LeSean McCoy (RB)
  • What makes him a bust? After Aaron Curry was drafted in 2009, everything changed for the Seahawks including a new coaching staff, quarterback, and a defense of the future. Many ‘Hawks fans beleive it was Aaron Curry that proved how broken the system was in Seattle.

3. Vernon Gholston, DE – Jets

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 6th (2008)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 2008 – 2010 (3)
  • Games Started (Games): 5 (45)
  • Players taken after him: Matt Forte (RB), Josh Sitton (OT), Jamaal Charles (RB), Jordy Nelson (WR)
  • What makes him a bust? As a DE in the NFL, especially one that is taken in the top six picks, you would expect at least a few sacks, right? He provided zero, zilch, none, in his short lived career.

2. Brian Bosworth, LB – Seahawks

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 1st (1987, Supplemental Draft)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1987 – 1989 (3)
  • Games Started (Games): 24 (24)
  • Players taken after him: Chris Carter (WR)
  • What makes him a bust? The hype surpassed the player this time. Brian Bosworth could have been great but after he was caught using steroids in college, everything started to fall apart and he never came close to earning his rookie contract, the largest in NFL history at that time.

1. Steve Emtman, DT – Colts

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  • Overall Pick (Year): 1st (1992)
  • Years in NFL (Seasons): 1992 – 1997 (6)
  • Games Started (Games): 19 (50)
  • Players taken after him: Darren Woodson (DB), Jimmy Smith (WR), Troy Vincent (DB)
  • What makes him a bust? He had a great first 8 games in Indianapolis until completely destroying his ACL and MCL on his right knee. He never recovered and eventually retired.