Best and worst first-round NFL draft picks of the 1990s

Who were the best and worst first-round NFL draft picks of the 1990s? With NFL Network celebrating '90s week, we offer a look at two strong candidates for each category in all 10 drafts of the decade. Let the debates begin:


Best: Junior Seau or Emmitt Smith

Seau: One of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, the No. 5 overall pick was named to 12 Pro Bowls and played 13 years with the team that drafted him (San Diego).

Smith: As the No. 17 overall pick of the Dallas Cowboys, Smith had a Pro Football Hall of Fame career that resulted in three Super Bowl rings and 11 straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Worst: Andre Ware or Blair Thomas

Ware: The Detroit Lions made Ware the No. 7 overall pick, and he started just five games (with just five touchdown passes) over a four-year career.

Thomas: The former No. 2 overall pick had a decent rookie year in averaging 5.0 yards per carry, but lasted just four years with the New York Jets.


Best: Herman Moore or Ted Washington

Moore: The Detroit Lions took Moore out of Virginia with the No. 10 pick, and he became one of the franchise's best ever at the position: more than 9,000 yards, including 1,686 and 14 touchdowns on 123 receptions in his career-best year (1995).

Washington: Nose guards don't pile up gaudy statistics, but Washington's career needs no more validation than its sheer length: 17 years with seven clubs.

Worst: Huey Richardson or Todd Marinovich

Richardson: After a disappointing rookie season as the No. 15 pick, Richardson was traded from Pittsburgh to Washington for a seventh-rounder.

Marinovich: The Raiders made Marinovich the No. 24 overall pick and let him go after only two seasons.


Best: Leon Searcy or Dale Carter

Searcy: The No. 11 overall pick played 11 seasons in the NFL and and was at one point one of the game's elite left tackles.

Carter: The former Tennessee star was the No. 20 overall pick and lasted 14 years in the NFL, half of them with the team that drafted him (Kansas City), and had 24 career interceptions.

Worst: Steve Emtman or Tony Smith

Emtman: The No. 1 overall pick couldn't stay healthy in three seasons for the Indianapolis Colts and made just five starts in two subsequent years with the Miami Dolphins.

Smith: The former Southern Miss running back started just six games as a rookie for the Atlanta Falcons as the No. 19 overall pick, and didn't start another game in his brief career.


Best: Willie Roaf or Jerome Bettis

Roaf: The offensive tackle went to 11 Pro Bowls and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after being chosen No. 8 overall by the New Orleans Saints.

Bettis: The power rusher plowed through tackles with the Rams and Steelers for 13,662 career yards and 91 touchdowns as the No. 10 overall pick.

Worst: Rick Mirer or Leonard Renfro

Mirer: The Seahawks' No. 2 overall pick showed some promise as a rookie, but never could get beyond a bad knack for throwing interceptions (76, to just 50 TD passes).

Renfro: The Philadelphia Eagles got two seasons and just two starts out of the No. 24 overall pick.


Best: Marshall Faulk or Willie McGinest

Faulk: The Pro Football Hall of Famer, a No. 2 overall pick of the Colts, had an incredible four-year stretch in which he rushed for more than 5,000 yards and received for more than 3,000, accounting for 69 touchdowns.

McGinest: The Patriots' No. 4 overall pick amassed 86 career sacks and logged 12 years of service with the club that chose him.

Worst: Heath Shuler or Trev Alberts

Shuler: The No. 3 overall pick lasted just three years with the Redskins, and another two with the New Orleans Saints, in throwing more than twice as many interceptions (33) as TDs (15).

Alberts: Alberts lasted just three years in the NFL and made just seven career starts at linebacker as the No. 5 pick.


Best: Tony Boselli or Warren Sapp

Boselli: The cornerstone draft pick of the then-expansion Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 2 overall), Boselli was one of the best left tackles in the NFL right from his rookie year.

Sapp: Sapp was chosen at No. 12 by the Buccaneers, and went on to a Hall of Fame career with 96.5 career sacks and seven Pro Bowl selections.

Worst: Rashaan Salaam or Trezelle Jenkins

Salaam: After a 1,000-yard rookie season with the Bears, the former Heisman Trophy winner was out of the league within three years with injury and fumbling issues.

Jenkins: The Chiefs took Jenkins at No. 31 overall, and he played in just nine games with no starts in three years.


Best: Eddie George or Ray Lewis

George: The Houston Oilers' No. 14 overall pick had seven seasons of 1,000-plus rushing yards and was a four-time Pro Bowler.

Lewis: As the No. 26 pick, it's not hard to argue that Lewis was the best player in the entire draft after a stellar and lengthy career with the Ravens (13 Pro Bowls, two Super Bowl rings).

Worst: Lawrence Phillips or John Michels

Phillips: Disciplinary issues cost Phillips a promising NFL career as the No. 6 pick of the Rams, and he made just 20 career starts.

Michels: The Packers took Michels at No. 27 overall out of Southern Cal, but knee injuries shortened his career to four years, only three in Green Bay, and 14 career starts.


Best: Walter Jones or Tony Gonzalez

Jones: The Seahawks made Jones the No. 6 pick and got 12 dominant seasons from him, followed by a first-year-eligible election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Worst: Reinard Wilson or Jim Druckenmiller

Wilson: Cincinnati took Wilson with the No. 14 pick, and although he lasted six years with the club, he made just 23 starts over that time.

Druckenmiller: San Francisco's No. 26 overall pick played sparingly as a rookie and was traded to the Miami Dolphins, where his career ended after three years.


Best: Peyton Manning or Charles Woodson

Manning: The No. 1 overall pick became one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history in Indianapolis, and is still going strong with the Denver Broncos.

Woodson: Like Manning, the former Michigan star and Heisman Trophy winner is still active in the league after 16 years, and has 56 career interceptions.

Worst: Ryan Leaf or Jason Peter

Leaf: A longtime posterchild for draft busts, Leaf was a No. 2 overall pick of the San Diego Chargers, and was off the roster after three seasons.

Peter: The Carolina Panthers' No. 14 overall pick made 20 starts over his first two NFL seasons, but chronic neck pain brought an early end to his career.


Best: Champ Bailey or Torry Holt

Bailey: As a new member of the New Orleans Saints, Bailey embarks on his 16th NFL season with his third NFL team this fall with 12 Pro Bowl selections on his resume.

Holt: The explosive receiver helped the Rams to a Super Bowl title as a rookie, and subsequently posted eight straight seasons of 1,000-plus receiving yards.

Worst: Tim Couch or Akili Smith

Couch: The former No. 1 pick lasted just five forgettable seasons in Cleveland, and the Browns compiled a 26-54 record in that stretch.

Smith: As a No. 3 overall pick, Smith lasted just four years with the Cincinnati Bengals, appearing in just three games over his last two years.

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