He has arguably the league's strongest arm. Many league insiders have said he had the single greatest individual pre-draft workout in the history of the NFL. But even with almost $40 million guaranteed paid out to JaMarcus Russell by the Raiders, it didn't stop the young QB from busting out of the league after just three historically-awful seasons. Not to worry, JaMarcus. Adrian Hasenmayer finds a new home for you -- among the Top 10 NFL Draft Busts of the past 20 years.
Tim Couch, No. 1 pick in 1999 (Browns)
Couch got thrown into the fire early in 1999, and showed some flashes before plateauing by going 8-6 as a starter in 2002 with the Browns. But eventual shoulder issues took away any downfield possibilities — and despite a few comeback attempts, Couch was out of football after 2003.
Ki-Jana Carter, No. 1 pick in 1995 (Bengals)
The top overall pick showed a bit of promise with Cincy in his first two years, at least in the red zone with 15 rushing TDs from 1996-97. But injuries piled up, plus it became clear that Carter was not the franchise back the team expected after picking him No, 1 overall. In all, he followed the same career trajectory of another failed Penn State RB (Blair Thomas, No. 2 overall pick by Jets in 1990).
Todd Marinovich, No. 24 pick in 1991 (Raiders)
While he wasn't selected until the bottom half of the first round, as opposed to the other busts on this list, the former USC star QB offers a cautionary tale of how drug abuse can ruin a promising career. Al Davis thought he scored a draft gem, and even gave the rookie lefty a playoff start a week after his NFL debut, when he threw three TDs against the Chiefs. But in the wild-card rematch, Marinovich was picked off four times. 1992 was his final season, as drugs overcame the talented passer — and hampered him through several unsuccessful comebacks in Arena football and the CFL.
Courtney Brown, No. 1 pick in 2000 (Browns)
The Browns thought they had found their dominant pass rusher of the next millennium, but the former Penn State star could barely stay on the field. The injury-riddled DE played in just 47 of a possible 80 games in five years in Cleveland, with just 17 sacks to show for it. Brown gave his career one last shot with Denver in 2005, but retired after recording just two sacks in 14 games.
David Carr, No. 1 pick in 2002 (Texans)
Not only was he the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft, but he was the first-ever pick by the expansion Houston Texans. With the pressure of a new franchise riding on his shoulder pads, Carr appeared to be progressing naturally through his first three seasons — until the ridiculous sack numbers started taking their toll. Carr led the league in times sacked in three of his first four years, which eventually rendered him too jumpy in the pocket to stick with his downfield reads. His Texans peaked at 7-9 in 2004, before nosediving at 2-14 in '05. The Texans finally gave up on Carr after 2006, and Carr has spent the past six years as a backup with the Panthers, 49ers and Giants.
Lawrence Phillips, No. 6 pick in 1996 (Rams)
Dick Vermeil's heart may have been in the right place, but the former St. Louis Rams head coach finally learned that he can't change everyone. The good-hearted head man gambled on the talented, yet troubled Phillips high in the 1996 first round, despite the RB's long history of off-the-field incidents. But Phillips quickly wore out his welcome with the Rams, the locals, and finally, the 49ers during his last shot in 1999.
Heath Shuler, No. 3 pick in 1994 (Redskins)
Shuler has been much more successful in politics as a Congressman from North Carolina than in pro football. Much-heralded out of Tennessee, Washington's football branch gave Shuler the keys to the franchise, but to put it not so delicately, Shuler helped drive the Redskins' rig into a tree. As a rookie, Shuler completed just 45% of his passes in winning one of eight starts. And that may have been the high point. In his final three seasons (including 1997 with New Orleans), he threw five TD passes and 21 interceptions.
Tony Mandarich, No. 1 pick in 1989 (Packers)
Mandarich has publicly admitted his secret to the dominant college career at Michigan State that led to him being a No. 2 overall pick — steroids. We didn't know it at the time, but "The Incredible Bulk" was also ingesting steroids and painkillers daily during his three tumultuous seasons in Green Bay. Toward the end of that stint with the Pack, Mandarich claimed he was finally off the steroids. He did come back after missing a season to earn a starting job with Indianapolis, salvaging the remainder of his career.
Ladies and gentlemen . . . the new standard-bearer as the ultimate draft bust: JaMarcus Russell! Russell, whom the Oakland Raiders took as the first pick in 2007, didn't have the goods to become a great or even decent quarterback, despite his obvious talent. He seemed indifferent to coaching, was cut after three seasons and is still looking for a job. Russell has created a new low for draft busts.
Here is your standard-bearer as the ultimate draft bust. It seems unimaginable that most teams were divided on whether Leaf or Peyton Manning was the better QB prospect heading into the 1998 draft, and that the Colts came close to choosing Leaf instead of their future Hall of Famer. Leaf may have had the worst season in NFL history as a rookie, both on-field (completing just 45% of his passes, 2 TD passes, 15 interceptions) and off the field (several notable media and fan blowups, plus rubbing teammates like Junior Seau the wrong way). Leaf very clearly couldn't handle the pressures and responsibilties of being a franchise QB, and washed out of football by 2001. -- Adrian Hasenmayer