The B1G's top 10 first-round busts of the 21st century
It’s a title that nobody wants.
Being labeled as a bust implies that a player had serious promise, and for whatever reason, never came close to those expectations. That reason could be injuries, suspensions or just poor performance. The bigger the divide between hype and performance, the bigger the bust.
With the draft seven weeks away, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and look back at some of the B1G’s top first-round draft busts of the 21st century:
10. Michael Haynes, Penn State DE (2003)
Pick — No. 14, Chicago Bears
The 2002 B1G Defensive Player of the Year set a Penn State record with 15 sacks. The pass-rushing specialist was billed as the next great Chicago Bears defender when he was picked No. 14 overall in 2003. That, however, didn’t prove to be the case.
Haynes played just three seasons in Chicago, most of which were spent as a reserve with only four career starts. He had 61 tackles and 5.5 sacks before the Bears cut him in August of 2006.
The Bears then went to the Super Bowl that year. Haynes, on the other hand, never played in another NFL game.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Haynes — S Troy Palamalu, TE Dallas Clark, RB Larry Johnson, CB Nnamdi Asomugha.
9. Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin OL (2011)
Pick — No. 29, Chicago Bears
Speaking of the Bears, they thought they were getting the next great Wisconsin offensive lineman when they selected Carimi with the No. 29 pick in the 2011 draft:
What they got was one of the more disappointing first-round offensive linemen of the 21st century.
The first-team All-American couldn’t pave the holes that Montee Ball ran through once he arrived in Chicago. Carimi suffered a season-ending knee injury in his second NFL game and was never the same after that. He was moved to right guard, but even then he wasn’t effective.
Just two years after drafting him, the Bears cut bait in 2013 and traded the former Badger to Tampa Bay for a sixth-round pick. After one year with the Bucs, Carimi signed with the Atlanta Falcons and played in all 16 games, and actually started seven of them. That was his fourth and final year in the NFL.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Carimi — DE Muhammad Wilkerson, DE Cameron Heyward.
8. Aaron Maybin, Penn State DE (2009)
Pick — No. 11, Buffalo Bills
Maybin was considered a likely top-10 pick in the 2009 draft. He wasn’t, which probably worked out for the best. The first-team All-American declared for the draft after his redshirt sophomore season, but he didn’t prove to be ready for the NFL.
The former Penn State defensive end struggled as an edge rusher in the NFL with just 18 tackles as a rookie (he played in all 16 games) and six tackles in his second season. The Bills cut the former first-rounder after just two seasons without a single sack.
Maybin had his only productive NFL season after signing with the New York Jets in 2011 (he had 6 sacks and 4 forced fumbles), but he couldn’t sustain that production the following season and he was out of the NFL by 2013.
On the bright side, Maybin made the most of his retirement and is now successfully pursuing his passion as an artist.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Maybin — DE Brian Orakpo, CB Malcolm Jenkins, LB Brian Cushing, WR Jeremy Maclin, C Alex Mack, WR Percy Harvin, CB Vontae Davis, LB Clay Matthews, C Eric Wood.
7. A.J. Jenkins, Illinois WR (2012)
Pick — No. 30, San Francisco 49ers
Jenkins looked like a player who had a high floor. He was a productive receiver at Illinois with 2,432 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns despite some shaky quarterback play, he was an effective kick returner and he recorded a blistering 4.37-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Still, he was a surprise first-round pick:
As it turned out, Jenkins’ floor proved to be much lower than imagined.
Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers took Jenkins with the No. 30 pick in the 2012 draft, but he was only on the active roster for three games as a rookie (he was healthy). He didn’t record a single catch and dropped his only target. Jenkins was subsequently traded the following season to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent two ineffective seasons.
After a brief practice squad stint with the Dallas Cowboys, Jenkins’ NFL career was over. He finished with just 17 catches for 223 yards and zero touchdowns.
Which receivers were selected after Jenkins? Alshon Jeffery and T.Y. Hilton. Yikes.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Jenkins — RB Doug Martin.
6. Wendell Bryant, Wisconsin DT (2002)
Pick — No. 12, Arizona Cardinals
Bryant was a force at Wisconsin. He earned B1G Defensive Lineman of the Year honors twice before moving on to the NFL. Unfortunately, that was the peak of his football career.
Drugs and alcohol addiction prevented Bryant from maximizing his potential in the NFL. Three season in Arizona only yielded 28 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Bryant failed his third drug test and was suspended for the entire 2005 season, which essentially ended his NFL career.
Eventually, Bryant got sober and even had a comeback that earned him an Arena League contract in 2010. But Bryant’s prime years went to waste and he never made it back to the NFL. It was probably even tougher for the Cardinals to stomach knowing that fellow defensive tackle and future NFL Defensive Player of the Year Albert Haynesworth went three picks later…and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed went 12 picks later.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Bryant — TE Jeremy Shockey, DT Albert Haynesworth, WR Javon Walker, FS Ed Reed, CB Lito Sheppard.
5. Courtney Brown, Penn State DL (2000)
Pick — No. 1, Cleveland Browns
On one hand, you could argue that Brown was the most accomplished player on this list. He finished his career with 194 tackles, 19 sacks and 7 forced fumbles, which is probably at the very least, average for an NFL player.
On the other hand, Brown was the No. 1 overall pick. Six years after he was the first draft pick of the 21st century, his career was over. Injuries played a big part in that, and playing in Cleveland probably didn’t help.
The Penn State All-American actually looked the part as a rookie with 69 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 16 games. That, however, was the last time that Brown played a full season. Five injury-plagued seasons never lived up to that rookie year and after one last attempt in Denver, Brown called it a career.
Brown became another footnote on the embarrassing draft history of the Browns. In typical Cleveland fashion, the group of players selected after him would haunt the franchise for years. Thirteen of the following 18 picks made at least one Pro Bowl, including Penn State teammate LaVarr Arrington.
And in case that wasn’t bad enough, Tom Brady was picked 188 picks AFTER Brown.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Brown — LB LaVar Arrington, OT Chris Samuels, RB Jamal Lewis, DT Corey Simon, RB Thomas Jones, LB Brian Urlacher, DE Shaun Ellis, DE John Abraham, TE Bubba Franks, CB Deltha O’Neal, LB Julian Peterson, K Sebastion Janikowski, RB Shaun Alexander, LB Keith Bulluck.
4. David Terrell, Michigan WR (2001)
Pick — No. 8, Chicago Bears
Excitement for Terrell was through the roof for the receiver-starved Bears. Terrell was Tom Brady’s go-to guy at Michigan, where he became the first Wolverine to record consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He was an obvious choice as the top receiver off the board.
The Bears selected Terrell at No. 8 and then they doubled down on Michigan’s skill players by picking running back Anthony Thomas in the second round. They were billed as the Bears’ 1-2 punch of the future.
But only Thomas had any noteworthy success in the NFL. Terrell’s lack of development became a hot topic in Chicago, and after four seasons with 128 catches and 1,602 yards, he was cut. That was the last time the former Michigan star played in an NFL game. A reunion with Brady didn’t ever get off the ground after the Patriots cut him in 2005.
The Bears’ struggle for a franchise receiver continued while the likes of fellow 2001 receivers Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Chad Johnson and Steve Smith went on to have long, successful careers. And just for good measure, the Bears drafted Terrell instead of Drew Brees, who came off the board 24 picks later.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Terrell — WR Koren Robinson, LB Dan Morgan, DT Marcus Stroud, WR Santana Moss, OG Steve Hutchinson, DL Casey Hampton, CB Nate Clements, RB Deuce McAllister, RB Michael Bennett, WR Reggie Wayne, TE Todd Heap.
3. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State DE/OLB
Pick — No. 6, New York Jets
Simply put, Gholston was a freak. After setting the Ohio State single-season sacks record in 2007, Gholston left for the NFL and quickly rose up draft boards at the combine. He bench pressed 37 reps and ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash. Did I mention that Gholston was 266 pounds?
Naturally, the Jets saw the upside on the freakish edge rusher and didn’t listen to scouts’ concerns. This clip is classic Jets draft:
Those cheers didn’t last long.
Gholston never recorded a single NFL sack. In three seasons, he made 42 tackles and started just five games. It didn’t matter that Gholston had the benefit of working in Rex Ryan’s defense. He was later named the Jets’ biggest bust in franchise history by ESPN.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Gholston — LB Jerod Mayo, OT Ryan Clady, RB Jonathan Stewart, OT Branden Albert, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB Aqib Talib, RB Chris Johnson, CB Mike Jenkins, OT Duane Brown.
2. Robert Gallery, Iowa OL (2004)
Pick — No. 2, Oakland Raiders
There are more stories of successful Iowa offensive linemen in the NFL than there are busts, but none was bigger than Gallery…literally and figuratively. The 6-7, 325-pound left tackle won the Outland Trophy as a senior and earned unanimous All-America honors.
After Gallery tore up the combine and was selected No. 2 overall by the Raiders, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King did a profile piece on Gallery in which he dubbed the former Hawkeye “the best lineman to come out of college in years.”
Needless to say, that didn’t happen.
Gallery was a late bloomer as a left tackle, and once he got to Oakland, he was moved to right tackle. He actually had some success there in his first two seasons, but in his third year, the Raiders moved him back to left tackle. That didn’t work. He allowed 10.5 sacks and was part of a porous Raider offensive line. Gallery eventually played well enough after getting moved to left guard to get a 3-year contract from Seattle in 2011, but he only played one year of that before getting cut and retiring.
Did one story fuel the Gallery hype train a bit too much? Perhaps, but even without the article, when the No. 2 overall pick isn’t good enough to be a starting left tackle, he’s a bust. It didn’t help that Gallery was the only non-Pro Bowler of the first eight picks of the 2004 draft, and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald was selected one spot after him.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Gallery — WR Larry Fitzgerald, QB Philip Rivers, S Sean Taylor, TE Kellen Winslow II, WR Roy Williams, CB DeAngelo Hall, QB Ben Roethlisberger, LB Jonathan Vilma, DT Tommie Harris, OG Shawn Andrews, DE Will Smith, DT Vince Wilfork, RB Steven Jackson, DE Jason Babin.
1. Charles Rogers, Michigan State WR (2003)
Pick — No. 2, Detroit Lions
Sadly, no player on this list squashed more hype with more self-combusting decisions than Rogers. The Saginaw, Michigan native was supposed to be the offensive superstar that the Lions lacked in the post-Barry Sanders era. Instead, he couldn’t even become a worthy starter.
Rogers entered the NFL as easily the best receiver in America having posted an insane 27 receiving touchdowns in two seasons of action in East Lansing. I mean, he was incredible.
What many didn’t know was that he failed multiple drug tests during college. That was overlooked, as was his diluted sample at the combine.
Injuries halted each of Rogers’ first two NFL seasons, which fueled his drug problems. Rogers’ third failed drug test in 2005 resulted in a four-game suspension and eventually was cut after earning just three starts upon his return. Workouts with several NFL teams didn’t result in a single contract. Just over three years after the No. 2 pick made his debut, he was out of the NFL.
His post-football journey was filled with arrests for drugs and alcohol, and even a lawsuit that ordered Rogers to pay $6.1 million of his $9.1 million signing bonus back to the Lions for breaching the contract he signed. The $39 million contract he signed is gone, and he currently works at an auto shop in Fort Myers, Fla. Rogers’ story is as tragic as they come.
Eventually, the Lions got their stud receiver when Calvin Johnson also went No. 2 overall in 2007, but Rogers will always be remembered as one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
First-round Pro Bowlers picked after Rogers — WR Andre Johnson, CB Terrence Newman, OT Jordan Gross, DT Kevin Williams, LB Terrell Suggs, CB Marcus Trufant, S Troy Palamalu, TE Dallas Clark, RB Larry Johnson, CB Nnamdi Asomugha.