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Published: April 19, 2012 at 02:56 p.m.
Updated: April 22, 2012 at 02:41 a.m.

The biggest NFL draft busts in Y2K era

The 2012 NFL Draft is almost upon us and, of course, upon the decision-makers for each of the 32 teams. The front office types are hoping to revitalize their rosters for the next half-decade in one fell swoop. What they don't want is to fight in the war room, invest coaches' time and energy, as well as millions of dollars, on a bust. The expansion Houston Texans invested all of that and more in David Carr, who failed to deliver. But he wasn't as disappointing as these 12 busts from Y2K. Only top-10 picks need be considered.

12 Photos Total

  • 12. Joey Harrington, 2002, third overall 12

    Paul Warner/Associated Press

    12. Joey Harrington, 2002, third overall

    Yes, David Carr struggled. But Harrington, taken two spots later, was worse. Harrington never clicked with the weapons he was provided, whether it was Roy Williams, Charles Rogers, or Mike Williams -- all high draft choices. While their failures were not Harrington's fault, his poor play and ultra sensitive personality made for a miserable career in Detroit. After brief stints in Miami and Atlanta, Harrington's career in the NFL was over after seven seasons.

  • 11. Matt Leinart, 2006, 10th overall 11

    Paul Connors/Associated Press

    11. Matt Leinart, 2006, 10th overall

    If Trent Edwards was Captain Checkdown, then Leinart is First Officer Spock, checking down too often himself while showing little passion for getting his career on track. Leinart can go 10 of 12 for 49 yards with the best of 'em. But he never could fully wrestle the starting job away from Kurt Warner in Arizona. Pictures with sophisticated library goers and beer bongs didn't help matters.

  • 10. Troy Williamson, 2005, seventh overall 10

    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    10. Troy Williamson, 2005, seventh overall

    For being the seventh pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Williamson sure didn't do much. His career numbers were 87 catches for 1,131 yards. Roddy White, taken 20 spots lower that year, already has five 80-catch seasons. Williamson ran a 4.32 40-yard dash, but that just meant he could get to a spot he wasn't supposed to be or drop the ball faster than most human beings. This wasted pick still hurts the Vikings.

  • 9. Derrick Harvey, 2008, eighth overall 9

    Reinhold Matay/Associated Press

    9. Derrick Harvey, 2008, eighth overall

    The Jaguars drafted Harvey because they felt pass rush was the missing ingredient in their 2007 playoff run. Harvey gave them virtually nothing in 2008 with 3.5 sacks. But he was a rookie, right? The next year, in 16 starts no less, Harvey got to the quarterback twice. In 2010, he shot up to 2.5 sacks. After a sack-less year in Denver, he's trying to get his career going in Cincinnati.

  • 8. Jason Smith, 2009, second overall 8

    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    8. Jason Smith, 2009, second overall

    A player's best ability is availability, something Smith has failed to be in his career. He's played in just 29 out of 48 possible games. Missing over a third of his potential starts is bad enough, but the former second pick has struggled mightily when he has played. Perhaps more startling is that the Rams are still rolling with him. New head coach Jeff Fisher is giving the former big name prospect another shot.

  • 7. Mike Williams, 2002, fourth overall 7

    Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

    7. Mike Williams, 2002, fourth overall

    Another failed offensive line prospect. Williams stumbled through his five-year career, much like 2002 top-10 picks David Carr (first overall), Harrington (third), Ryan Sims (sixth), and Roy Williams (the safety, eighth.) Several of the other players, like Bryant Mckinnie (seventh) and Levi Jones (10th), have been strictly average. Injuries and weight issues derailed Mike Williams. A switch to guard that went, in a phrase, "not good," hastened his departure from Buffalo.

  • 6. Jamal Reynolds, 2001, 10th overall 6

    Michael Stravato/Associated Pres

    6. Jamal Reynolds, 2001, 10th overall

    When people think of Green Bay Packers' draft busts, usually Tony Mandarich, the third overall pick in 1989, is the first name that comes to mind. The modern day Mandarich, who seems far less memorable, is Reynolds. The former defensive end out of Florida State did pretty much nothing for Mike Sherman's team. The three years Reynolds was there, the Packers made the playoffs -- but not because of him. He had three sacks ... for his career.

  • 5. Johnathan Sullivan, 2003, sixth overall 5

    Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

    5. Johnathan Sullivan, 2003, sixth overall

    Former Saints coach Jim Haslett was a defensive-minded guy. He was a linebacker in the NFL for eight years. Playing on the inside, he knew how important it was to control the middle. Thus, he took Sullivan sixth overall in the 2003 draft. The only thing Sullivan ever controlled was catching blocks and his bust status. After three mostly miserable campaigns and 1.5 career sacks, Sullivan was out of the league.

  • 4. Vernon Gholston, 2008, sixth overall 4

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    4. Vernon Gholston, 2008, sixth overall

    The Jets tried to get Gholston to play good football. Gholston himself reached out to Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor to improve. No effect, as in, he never recorded a single sack. That's like bringing Iceman in to help you fly, and you can't even get the engine turned over. The sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft who had a reputation as a "workout warrior" never even breached the hallowed ground of 30 career tackles.

  • 3. Charles Rogers, 2003, second overall 3

    Ed Betz/Associated Press

    3. Charles Rogers, 2003, second overall

    If you haven't heard of Rogers, you've been living in an Airstream trailer in some desert for the last 10 years. The former second overall pick gave Detroit 440 yards in three seasons. For comparison's sake, former Rams wideout Flipper Anderson put up a 336-spot in one game. Rogers was the first of the crappy Matt Millen wide receiver picks and has been in trouble with the law much of the time since, including threatening his own kin.

  • 2. Courtney Brown, 2000, first overall 2

    Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

    2. Courtney Brown, 2000, first overall

    Sometimes there's a reason a guy has a nickname, like in the case of Brown, aka, "The Quiet Storm." He wasn't a leader, and his game was very quiet. Ok, that wasn't exactly it, but Brown was not a vocal leader. And unfortunately his brilliance would last three plays of a game as opposed to the first three years of his contract. His status on this list is sealed by virtue of being a first overall pick with less than 20 career sacks.

  • 1. JaMarcus Russell, 2007, first overall 1

    Stephen Chernin/Associated Press

    1. JaMarcus Russell, 2007, first overall

    The new benchmark for an NFL quarterback is 4,000 yards passing. Ten guys hit that mark last season, including top pick Cam Newton. Jamarcus Russell, the top overall selection in 2007, threw for 4,000 yards in his entire three-year run as THE bust of the Y2K era. Lazy and coverage blind, Russell was careless with the football (31 turnovers in 25 starts) and didn't seem to care. This serious misfire set the Raiders back several years.

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