They say that the NFL Draft is a crapshoot because you can scout a player for months and still not get exactly what you thought. There’s especially pressure for the team drafting first as you don’t want to mess up on selecting who should be the top player in the draft.
There have been many Hall of Famers and many busts, but what about those that were neither? When thinking of these five players, you may have forgotten that they were first overall picks as they feel more like middle-of-the-round types.
5. Sam Bradford
When the 2010 NFL Draft came along, there was a lot of talk as to who should be the first overall pick. The St. Louis Rams were desperate for a quarterback, though, and made 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford the top pick out of Oklahoma. Bradford showed flashes of greatness, but he couldn’t stay healthy and only lasted for five seasons with the Rams before spending his final four seasons with three teams and was out of the league after 2018.
Was it worth the pick? Sadly, no. The following six selections in the draft ended up being great players, especially Ndamukong Suh for the Detroit Lions and Trent Williams for the Washington Commanders.
4. Courtney Brown
When talking about the biggest busts in NFL history, nobody seems to bring up Courtney Brown. In fact, nobody seems to bring him up at all. Brown was the Big Ten Defensive Player and Lineman of the Year in 1999, and in the spring of 2000 he was selected by the Cleveland Browns to anchor their defense for years to come. However, Brown lasted just five seasons and only 19 sacks before ending his career in 2005 with the Denver Broncos.
Was it worth the pick? 100 percent not worth it. Washington selected a better defensive player and a perennial Pro Bowler with the next two picks while Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher was also a top 10 pick.
3. Mario Williams
When you think about defensive ends that were selected first overall by the Houston Texans, you probably think of Jadeveon Clowney. That’s because Clowney was one of the most hyped college players ever, but eight years prior to him being drafted, the Texans surprised many by taking Mario Williams first overall. He certainly didn’t disappoint as he was a four-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro, but unfortunately most of those accolades came when he was with the Buffalo Bills.
Was it worth the pick? Absolutely. No other player drafted in the top five was at the same level as Williams, and many of the Pro Bowlers in the 2006 NFL Draft ended up being a flash in the pan.
2. Eric Fisher
It’s hard to find an NFL Draft that received as little hype as the 2013 edition. There were some names that got floated around as to who should be the number one pick, but the Kansas City Chiefs were still able to shock some analysts by selecting left tackle Eric Fisher from Central Michigan. Fisher played for eight seasons in Kansas City and made two Pro Bowls before heading to Indianapolis for the 2021 season.
Was it worth the pick? The 2013 NFL Draft was filled with landmines and only a few players that ended up having solid and lengthy careers from the first round. Fisher was a mainstay for Chiefs and won a Super Bowl with him at tackle, so it would be hard to say they didn’t make the right choice. However, Lane Johnson was the fourth overall selection and a better player at the position.
1. Jake Long
Fisher isn’t the only somewhat forgettable left tackle from the state of Michigan as Jake Long was the first pick by the Miami Dolphins five years prior. Long played for four teams total in his career, making four Pro Bowl squads. He last played in 2016 for the Minnesota Vikings before retiring after 104 career games.
Was it worth the pick? Not really. The Dolphins had the chance to select Matt Ryan, which would have solved their quarterback troubles for years. In terms of the top five, however, Long was the second best player so it wasn’t a total miss.