Unlucky NFL Draft PicksNFL Draft Picks that never lived up to their potential due to extenuating circumstances.
The 'Unlucky 13' NFL Draft Picks of the Last 10 Years
|13. Jerome McDougle||DE||Philadelphia Eagles||15 overall (1st round) 2003|
It would be a serious understatement to say injuries have hampered McDougle’s career. Back, ankle, and knee injuries held the former Hurricane back in his first two seasons, followed—in no particular order—by a severe knee sprain, an irregular heartbeat, and a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
|12. Yatil Green||WR||Miami Dolphins||15 overall (1st round) 1997|
A 6-foot-2 speedster out of Miami, Green’s NFL potential was never fulfilled due to back-to-back training camp injuries. On the first day of camp his rookie season, Green tore his quadriceps, right ACL, and the cartilage in his right knee. He came back for training camp the following season only to tear his ACL again. In three NFL seasons, Green racked up more knee surgeries (10) than games played (9).
|11. Thomas Jones||RB||Arizona Cardinals||7 overall (1st round) 2000|
Jones looked like a total bust in Arizona. He couldn’t beat out Michael Pittman and Marcel Shipp, and concluded his three-year career in Arizona with just 1,264 yards. But as soon as he left the desert, things turned around. When he signed with Tampa Bay, Jones showed brief flashes of the speed and power that made him the seventh overall pick in 2000. After a one-year stint there, he took his game to Chicago and excelled. He’s proved to be one of the most tough and durable runners in the league, and even enjoyed success in New York despite running behind a weak Jets’ offensive line.
|10. David Boston||WR||Arizona Cardinals||9 overall (1st round) 1999|
Once considered one of the most promising young wideouts in the game, Boston quickly became one of the most promising young bodybuilders. His obsession with getting big (and drunk driving) took over his career. The 6-foot-2 Boston topped out at 250 pounds of pure muscle, and his bulkiness and steroid contributed to a series of injuries that derailed his football career. There is no way Arizona could have seen this coming, and for that reason this pick is termed “unlucky.”
|9. Alex Smith||QB||San Francisco 49ers||1 overall (1st round) 2005|
The Niners just picked the wrong year to be terrible. San Fran had a glaring need at quarterback, and given the success of recent No. 1 overall QB’s, Bill Walsh made Utah’s Alex Smith the top pick. Within two years, it became very clear that Smith was more or less a system quarterback in college and would never live up to his draft stock. Unfortunately, the Niners didn’t have much of a choice— Aaron Rodgers was the next quarterback off the board at No. 25.
|8. Bryant Westbrook||CB||Detroit Lions||5 overall (1st round) 1997|
A tough, physical corner out of Texas, Westbrook showed promise in his first few seasons with Detroit. He was named to the All-Rookie team and was Detroit’s top corner within a few years, but a stellar 2000 campaign came to an end when he tore his Achilles tendon. After bouncing around and finding a home in Green Bay two years later, Westbrook tore his Achilles again and was done for good.
|7. David Pollack||LB||Cincinnati Bengals||17 overall (1st round) 2005|
Pollack was the epitome of an energy player during his career at Georgia. His speed off the edge, coupled with his non-stop motor and elite intensity made him a candidate to help spark a slumping Bengals defense. Pollack’s career took a wrong turn, however, when he was nearly paralyzed in an early season game vs. the Browns. His career was thought to be over, but he is still trying to rehab and make a return to the NFL.
|6. Leon Bender||DT||Oakland Raiders||32 overall (2nd round) 1998|
Bender, the first pick of the second round, died from a seizure he suffered roughly five weeks after the draft. At 6-foot-5 318 pounds, Bender was considered to have great potential, only to see it taken away by what his agent called a “freak accident.”
|5. Robert Edwards||RB||New England Patriots||19 overall (1st round) 1998|
Edwards bursted onto the scene, rushing for 1,115 in his rookie season before suffering a gruesome knee injury in a beach football game. Edwards blew out every tendon and ligament in his knee and there were concerns that he’d need to have his leg amputated. Obviously, he never returned to top-form, but after over three years of rehab, Edwards briefly returned to the NFL with the Dolphins and then went on to play in the CFL. That in of itself is a miracle.
|4. Pacman Jones||CB||Tennessee Titans||6 overall (1st round) 2005|
Jones lives his life by one motto: “Make it rain on dem hoes.” While Fat Joe didn’t intend for anyone to take his hit single to heart, Pacman made a habit of throwing $80,000 onto groups of strippers. In the long run, his dirty habit cost him more than $80,000 though—it cost him an entire year’s paycheck.
|3. Michael Vick||QB||Atlanta Falcons||1 overall (1st round) 2001|
In the five years Vick played in Atlanta, he revitalized a struggling franchise and became one of the most popular players in the NFL. But there was still so much more left to accomplish. There’s been enough dog-fighting jokes made, so I’ll take the high road here.
|2. Darrent Williams||CB||Denver Broncos||46 overall (2nd round) 2005|
In just his second season, Williams was on the verge of becoming one of the game’s most dominant No. 2 corners. A dynamic one-on-one cover man with the ability to take the ball the distance on any given interception, Williams was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Denver on the first day of the offseason. Williams’ death, followed by the collapse of fullback Damien Nash during the summer, had a dramatic impact on the Denver Broncos organization.
|1. Sean Taylor||SS||Washington Redskins||5 overall (1st round) 2004|
At Miami, Taylor looked the part of a player who would re-define the safety position. He didn’t disappoint in Washington. Taylor’s unique ability to cover the pass like a corner and stuff the run like a middle linebacker helped him earn a strong reputation early on. The two-time Pro Bowler was sure to become one of the all-time greats if his life wasn’t taken away prematurely by the four cowards who robbed his home and shot him.