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Five worst NFL draft classes of last 25 years


Previously, we counted down the five greatest NFL draft classes -- in totality, not by team -- of the last 25 years (1990-2014). Here, we take a look at the draft classes that really fell short of expectations.

1. 1992

» Complete draft class
» Pro Football Hall of Famers: None
» On the road to Canton: None
» Other notable stars: Troy Vincent, Robert Porcher, Jimmy Smith, Darren Woodson
» Number of players who made at least one Pro Bowl: 26
» First-rounders who made at least one Pro Bowl: 11

The Indianapolis Colts owned the first two selections in the 1992 NFL Draft, and as they were wont to do in this particular era, the team whiffed on both selections. No. 1 overall pick Steve Emtman played just nine games over three injury-plagued years for the Colts. Emtman's case was an unfortunate one, as he suffered two season-ending knee injuries in consecutive seasons on the Hoosier Dome's Astroturf. At No. 2 overall, the Colts picked linebacker Quentin Coryatt, whose most famous play was a potential game-changing interception that he dropped in the 1995 AFC Championship Game.

In the Colts' defense, the talent level of the 1992 draft was less than stellar. Take, for instance, the quarterback class, which was brutal. David Klingler and Tommy Maddox were first-round selections. Matt Blundin and Tony Sacca went in the second round. That's bad. However, two late-round selections are noteworthy. Jeff Blake was a sixth-round pick of the New York Jets, but made a name for himself with the Cincinnati Bengals. Brad Johnson, who was quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they won Super Bowl XXXVII, was a seventh-round selection of the Minnesota Vikings.

The 1992 draft produced no MVP winners, no Offensive or Defensive Players of the Year, and, of course, no members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is the draft in which the Green Bay Packers happily sent a first-round selection to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for their third-string quarterback.

2. 2013

» Complete draft class
» Pro Football Hall of Famers: None
» On the road to Canton: None
» Other notable stars:Sheldon Richardson, Eric Reid, Kyle Long, Le'Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy
» Number of players who made at least one Pro Bowl: 7
» First-rounders who made at least one Pro Bowl: 5

The 2013 draft is on the fast track toward becoming recognized as one of the worst in NFL history. The only reason it is not in the top spot here is because it happened just two years ago. The 1992 draft listed above produced no talent worthy of Canton; there is still time for the 2013 draft to redeem itself. The small pocket of talent that came out of the 2013 draft can still rise to excellence.

The top two selections in the 2013 draft -- Eric Fisher to the Kansas City Chiefs and Luke Joeckel to the Jacksonville Jaguars -- have yet to establish themselves as reliable NFL starting offensive tackles. The third overall selection, Dion Jordan (picked by the Miami Dolphins), has been suspended for the 2015 season for another violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.

The quarterback draft class in 2013 has the potential to make no real impact on the game. In the first round, the Buffalo Bills selected EJ Manuel, who is embroiled in a three-headed quarterback competition. In the second round, the New York Jets selected Geno Smith, who must impress a new coaching staff this summer.

3. 2009

» Complete draft class
» Pro Football Hall of Famers: None
» On the road to Canton: None
» Other notable stars:Matthew Stafford, Brian Orakpo, Clay Matthews, LeSean McCoy, Mike Wallace, Arian Foster (undrafted)
» Number of players who made at least one Pro Bowl: 20
» First-rounders who made at least one Pro Bowl: 9

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was the obvious choice for the Detroit Lions at No. 1 overall, but the player selected at No. 2 overall -- offensive tackle Jason Smith to the St. Louis Rams -- isn't even in the league anymore. That set the tone for a mixed bag in the first round. Linebacker Aaron Curry went No. 4 overall to the Seattle Seahawks, and has already assumed "draft bust" status (he retired before the 2013 season). The Green Bay Packers traded back into the first round and selected linebacker Clay Matthews, who has been one of the NFL's best pass rushers. Second-round pick LeSean McCoy was the 2013 NFC Offensive Player of the Year.

After Stafford was selected No. 1 overall, two more quarterbacks were taken in the first round -- Mark Sanchez to the New York Jets and Josh Freeman to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Sanchez was a four-year starter for the Jets and started eight games for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, Freeman, currently with the Miami Dolphins, is struggling to maintain active player status in the league.

4. 1999

» Complete draft class
» Pro Football Hall of Famers: None
» On the road to Canton: Champ Bailey
» Other notable stars: Donovan McNabb, Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, Daunte Culpepper, Jevon Kearse, Joey Porter, Donald Driver, Brian Waters (undrafted)
» Number of players who made at least one Pro Bowl: 25
» First-rounders who made at least one Pro Bowl: 13

The 1999 NFL Draft was famous for its quarterback class. Five passers were selected in the first round, most of whom didn't pan out. No. 1 overall pick Tim Couch (Cleveland Browns) and No. 3 overall pick Akili Smith (Cincinnati Bengals) sandwiched the quarterback who went on to have the best NFL career. The Philadelphia Eagles selected Donovan McNabb at No. 2, but the pick was booed mercilessly by the team's fans. Eagles fans wanted Ricky Williams.

Saints coach Mike Ditka thought so little of this draft class, or so much of Williams (probably the latter), that he traded all of his 1999 selections to trade up in order to get the Heisman Trophy-winning running back. Williams finished his career with more than 10,000 yards rushing, but he spent just three seasons in New Orleans.

Running back Edgerrin James and wide receiver Torry Holt were selected before and after Williams, respectively. Each enjoyed productive NFL careers. No. 16 overall selection Jevon Kearse hit the ground running as an NFL rookie, registering 14.5 sacks for the AFC champion Tennessee Titans and earned three consecutive Pro Bowl nods.

The Chicago Bears selected Cade McNown at No. 12, and the quarterback punctuated a brutal run for the team when it came to selecting offensive players in the first round (running back Curtis Enis in 1998 and then wide receiver David Terrell in 2001). The team did redeem itself with the selection of Brian Urlacher in 2000.

5. 2002

» Complete draft class
» Pro Football Hall of Famers: None
» On the road to Canton:Julius Peppers, Ed Reed
» Other notable stars:Dwight Freeney, Jeremy Shockey, Albert Haynesworth, Andre Gurode, Clinton Portis, Brian Westbrook, James Harrison (undrafted)
» Number of players who made at least one Pro Bowl: 20
» First-rounders who made at least one Pro Bowl: 10

The expansion Houston Texans owned the first overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft and selected quarterback David Carr, whose baptism-by-fire rookie season included getting sacked an NFL-record 76 times. That mark still stands, and the closest anybody has come to getting sacked that many times since then was Carr, again, with 68 sacks in 2005.

Another quarterback was selected at No. 3 overall by the Detroit Lions. Joey Harrington's career, like Carr's, didn't exactly pan out as expected. The Lions followed up the Harrington pick by taking wide receivers in the first round for the next three years.

Sandwiched between the selections of the two quarterbacks was the Carolina Panthers' selection of defensive end Julius Peppers. A year later, Peppers was helping the upstart Panthers reach Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Three more top-10 picks -- offensive tackle Mike Williams (No. 4 to the Buffalo Bills), defensive tackle Ryan Sims (No. 6 to the Kansas City Chiefs) and offensive tackle Levi Jones (No. 10 to the Cincinnati Bengals) -- each came into the NFL with much promise that went unfulfilled.

Also considered:

1991: Brett Favre was one of three quarterbacks selected in the first 34 picks in 1991. The other two -- Todd Marinovich to the Los Angeles Raiders in the first round and Browning Nagle to the New York Jets in the second round -- played a combined (regular and postseason) 303 games fewer than Favre. Hall of Fame defensive back Aeneas Williams was drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals in the third round.

2000: This draft is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, it marked the first time in 34 years (Charlie Gogolak to the Washington Redskins in 1966) that a kicker was taken in the first round. That player was Sebastian Janikowski, who still plays for the team (the Oakland Raiders) that famously selected him. But that wasn't even the most noteworthy aspect of the 2000 NFL Draft. That honor goes to the New England Patriots' pick at No. 199, quarterback Tom Brady. Six quarterbacks were taken before Brady, Chad Pennington (Round 1 to the Jets), Giovanni Carmazzi (Round 2 to the 49ers), Chris Redman (Round 3 to the Ravens), Tee Martin (Round 5 to the Steelers), Marc Bulger (Round 6 to the Saints) and Spurgeon Wynn (Round 6 to the Browns). The Browns, in a clear indicator of why the franchise has been struggling to earn contender status since returning from its hiatus in 1999, had the No. 1 overall selection for the second consecutive year (see Tim Couch in 1999 above) and took defensive end Courtney Brown, who had a brief, injury-riddled career.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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