10 Biggest NFL Busts of the Last 10 Years

This article was last updated by on

All the teams want the best players. However, not all the best are successful. Hence, not all players live up to the hype.

NFL busts are not a new thing. So, we’ll be ranking the 10 biggest NFL busts over the last 10 years in this list.

Justin Blackmon (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Justin Blackmon (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

But, this doesn’t mean that these are the worst players. It’s just that they did not live up to the potential.

In some cases, the reason can be injury or poor handling by the team. NFL is a competitive environment, and it’s challenging to manage expectations and grueling competition.

10 Biggest NFL Busts of the Last 10 Years

The list is prepared after looking at the sites such as thecomeback.com. The stats of the players are picked from Pro-Football-Reference.

S.N. Name Drafted Year
10 Justin Blackmon 2012 No. 5
9 Blaine Gabbert 2011 No. 10
8 Johnny Manziel 2014 No. 22
7 Ej Manuel 2013 No. 16
6 Paxton Lynch 2016 No. 26
5 Trent Richardson 2012 No. 3
4 Dee Milliner 2013 No. 9
3 Justin Gilbert 2014 No.8
2 Kevin White 2015 No. 7
1 Dion Jordan 2013 No. 3

10. Justin Blackmon

Wide receiver Justin Blackmon’s NFL career lasted for only a single season. Jacksonville Jaguars selected him in the first round.

He was the fifth overall pick. His skills as a player were excellent. Justin was selected to the All-Rookie team in his first season.

Sadly, his downfall was caused by substance abuse. Blackmon was captured for driving under the influence of alcohol.

After that, he was suspended by the NFL for breaching their substance abuse policy. He played a single game after being suspended.

About four months after his arrest, he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Then, again in 2015, he was arrested for driving under the influence in Oklahoma.

Read more about 10 Players with Most NFL Championships.

Later, he accepted the charges. But, he had to spend a year on probation with fines and community service in the end.

So, the chances of him playing at the NFL are almost none.

9. Blaine Gabbert

On this list of 10 biggest NFL busts over the last 10 years, quarterbacks dominate the list. Among the quarterbacks, one name is Blaine Gabbert.

In 2011, Jacksonville Jaguars picked him in the first round. He was the overall 10th pick.

Blaine was eager to get into NFL. So, he decided to enter the NFL draft instead of playing college senior year.

Blaine Gabbert (Source: NFL.com)
Blaine Gabbert (Source: NFL.com)

The bet worked well for him as he was selected within the first round. But, his performance in the NFL was abysmal.

He got sacked forty times in his rookie season. To make matters worse, his completion percentage in the league was just 50.8%.

Some pointed out his injury for his poor performance. The injuries continued for two more seasons.

After the third season, Jacksonville Jaguars traded him. Since then, he has changed three more teams.

In 2020, he was part of the Super Bowl winning team. But he was the backup quarterback that season. So, he barely played any games.

8. Johnny Manziel

Another quarterback on the list is Johnny Manziel. Contrary to other players, he was not a top 10 pick.

However, there was a lot of hype for Johnny Manziel. Most players are picked after college.

In the case of Johnny Manziel, he was picked from high school. He won numerous awards in his high school career.

In his case, the off-field controversies failed his career. Even before playing a single college game, he was arrested.

There were three charges against him of disorderly conduct, failure to produce identification, and carrying a forged driver’s license.

From 2012 to 2016, he was always surrounded by some controversies. It seemed that he was struggling to adjust to his new fame.

In 2016, he was charged with domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, Collen Crowley. After this incident, a lot of people cut ties with him.

Read more about 5 Top NFL Trades This Season.

His marketing agency, agent Drew Rosenhaus also terminated their contract with Manziel. Drew Rosenhaus had never terminated with a player’s contract before.

7. Ej Manuel

Quarterback Ej Manuel played professional football for only six seasons. The buffalo bills picked Manuel in the first round.

In the 2013 round, he was the 16th pick overall. So, the team had a lot of hopes for him.

However, he could not live up to his potential due to injuries. He was an excellent player for Florida State University.

Ej Manuel (Source: ESPN)
Ej Manuel (Source: ESPN)

In his first year, he sprained his right lateral collateral ligament. As a result, he had to rest for more than two months.

He could not play the rest of the first season. In the 2014 season, he had to sit on the bench.

Ej Manuel had an improved third season. Sadly, he spent his fourth season on the bench.

Then the Oakland Raiders bought him for the 2017 season. 2017 was a decent season for him.

However, in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he did not get any chance to play. Finally, he retired in 2019. Currently, he is working as an analyst.

6. Paxton Lynch

The final quarterback on our list is Paxton Lynch. In 2016, he was selected in the first round.

In terms of overall picks, he was the 26th overall pick. The leading cause of his worse performance is a worse pick.

In his four-year season, he played only five games. Even in his rookie season, he was sacked multiple times.

In his four-year career, he changed four teams. However, for the Seattle Seahawks, he played in the off-season.

In terms of college games, he was one of the best in his generation. In college football, he played for Memphis University. Sadly, he could not translate that to NFL performance.

In his second season, he suffered from a shoulder injury. Even his first team did not believe much in him. It seems odd that the Denver Broncos did not use their first-round pick. He was not used even during the second time. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers cut him from the final roster. However, he was included in the active roster.

5. Trent Richardson

The running back for the Cleveland Browns is also one of the top ten NFL busts in the last 10 years. He was the third pick overall.

Before the NFL picks, Trent Richardson was considered as the top prospect. Many guessed that he would be the first pick.

Before his NFL debut, he was considered Unanimous All-American. Apart from that, he won the Doak Walker award.

It was predicted that he would be one of the top running backs in the years to come. Sadly, he did not live up to the potential.

The last time when he was selected in the first pick was in 2002. Naturally, this raised a lot of expectations for him.

Unlike other prospects, he had a good season. But the Browns traded him to Indianapolis Colts. After that, each season was a steep decline for him.

4. Dee Milliner

The cornerback Dee Milliner made his NFL debut in 2013. The New York Jets picked him in the first round.

Overall, he was the ninth pick in 2013. But his NFL career lasted for only three seasons.

Over three seasons, he played just twenty-one games. The main reason for his short career was injury.

At the starting of his rookie season, he faced some difficulty. His initial performance was not very good. After that, he was kept on the bench. However, his performance improved as the season went on.

By the end of the first season, he made 56 tackles. Unfortunately, destiny took a wrong turn in the next season.

He suffered from an ankle sprain even before the season began. This kept him away from the game for weeks.

Again in Week 6, he suffered another injury. Later, further scans showed that his Achilles tendon was torn.

Read more about Ranking 15 Best NFL Edge Rushers.

He didn’t play the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to injury.

3. Justin Gilbert

Justin Gilbert is another cornerback on the list of top 10 NFL busts of the last 10 years. The Cleveland Browns picked Gilbert in the first round.

In 2014, he was the eighth overall pick. But, he could not fulfill the expectations of the team. On the back of his college performance, he was considered one of the best cornerback prospects.

Justin Gilbert (Source: SI.com)
Justin Gilbert (Source: SI.com)

Justin could not play the first two games because of injury. So, in the first season, he played fourteen games only.

During the second season, he played only nine games. Apart from poor performance, he also got in trouble for substance abuse.

However, even before the substance abuse, none of the team picked him up.

2. Kevin White

Wide Receiver Kevin White is also considered one of the top NFL busts of the last decade. The Chicago Bears drafted White in the first round.

In terms of overall pick, he was the seventh pick. Kevin played college football for Lackawanna College.

Just like other players, injury played a significant role in his career. White had a stress fracture which required surgery.

Therefore, he did not play any games during his first season. Unfortunately, the injuries continued even in the second season.

Except in 2018, he suffered from an injury in every other season. Finally, the Bears released him in his fourth year.

Even though Arizona Cardinals signed him in 2019, it was only for the practice matches. White joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2020. Currently, he is with New Orleans Saints.

1. Dion Jordan

The biggest NFL bust of the last ten years is Dion Jordan. The defensive end made his debut for Miami Dolphins.

Jordan was selected in the first round with an overall third pick. Jordan played college football for the University of Oregon.

Dion Jordan (Source: ESPN)
Dion Jordan (Source: ESPN)

During his rookie year, he played only sixteen games. He was found guilty of substance abuse in 2014 and 2015.

Jordan was suspended for the entire season of 2015 for substance abuse. Later, in 2017 he joined the Seattle Seahawks. 

Even in his new team, he was found guilty of using Adderall. Then he moved from Oakland Raiders to San Francisco 49ers. However, no team signed him for the 2021 season.


These stories are cautionary tales. Sometimes, players misuse the opportunity while others fail due to uncontrollable circumstances.

  • Check other Articles on
  • NFL
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

Related articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share article

Latest News