The Cardinals are a living example of this. Kurt Warner is their money man while Matt Lienhart holds a clip board very well (I think he also gets a neat little earpiece to hear play calls). Lienhart was the all-american boy that came out of USC, while Warner came out of the grocery store. Many other big-time schools have given us busts over the years: Carson Palmer has faded away for the Bengals as another USC wonder boy, Vince Young has the same duties for the Titans as Lienhart, Rex Grossman was amazing for the Gators, but ask Bears fans how they feel about him. On the other hand look at Joe Flacco for the Ravens out of Delaware, Jay Cutler for the Broncos out of Vanderbilt, and Matt Ryan for the Falcons out of BC - those programs where decent, but had no where near the talent that the big time schools have (Just cause I'm a Bronco homer - Stanford was never that great with Elway). Look at all the MAC QBs playing, too. Those quaterbacks had to rely on their own talent and not be carried by their teammates. Once you get to the NFL, all the players are all americans and you can't hide anymore. I saw it last night with Colt McCoy, too - he won't be much in the NFL. McCoy can sit back and catch up with Chase Daniel on Sundays in a few years.
Who was the last really great QB to come out of a NCAA powerhouse?
Through 41 Super Bowls, the University of Alabama has had the most winning quarterbacks with 3 (Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler).
Notre Dame (Joe Theismann, Joe Montana), Purdue (Bob Griese, Len Dawson), Stanford (Jim Plunkett, John Elway), and Brigham Young University (Steve Young, Jim McMahon) each have had 2.
Here is a nice list of busts from Joe Brown from The Love of Sports:
Top 20 All-Time QB Busts
20. Tommy Maddox: (1992 Denver Broncos 25th Overall)
I know some of you may question this pick. Broncos fans will probably agree and Steelers Fans will disagree. However, his first four years in the league were pretty brutal. In fact, he was out of the league for six years and sold insurance before making his comeback. The Steelers found that he still had some tread on the tires and enjoyed a couple seasons with him before turning it over to Ben Roethlisberger. Don’t worry Tommy Maddox fans. If I do a list of the best comeback stories, your guy will have a place in it.
19. Tim Couch: (1999 Cleveland Browns 1st Overall)
Couch was lauded by recruiting guru Tom Lemming as the best prospect since John Elway. He had a legendary high school career that is considered by many to be among one of the best of all time. To say he was a complete bust in Cleveland would be unfair. He did lead them to a playoff appearance and battled injuries his whole career after being repeatedly punished behind a porous offensive line. After Kelly Holcomb threw for over 400 yards replacing the injured Couch in a playoff game, a quarterback controversy was started. He never gained coach Butch Davis’s trust and eventually began his graze in the pasture.
18. Dave Brown: (1992 <a class="kLink" oncontextmenu="return false;" id="KonaLink0" onmouseover="adlinkMouseOver(event,this,0);" style="POSITION: static; TEXT-DECORATION: underline! important" onclick="adlinkMouseClick(event,this,0);" onmouseout="adlinkMouseOut(event,this,0);" href="http://theloveofsports.com/index.php/site/comments/top_20_qb_busts/#" target="_top">New York Giants Supplemental Pick)
This former Duke Blue Devil was a below average quarterback during his playing days. After a decent season in 1994, Brown could never gain the confidence or trust from his coaches Dan Reeves and Jim Fassel. Dave had decent size and scrambling ability but his problem was he had below average arm strength and accuracy. Even though he played in his fair share of games, not once did he throw for over 300 yards.
17. Jack Thompson: (1979 Cincinnati Bengals 3rd Overall)
He was dubbed “The Throwin’ Samoan” when his collegiate career ended in 1978. Thompson was one of the most prolific passers in NCAA history. After a few years in Cincinnati he headed to Tampa Bay but was quickly unseated by Steve DeBerg. Poor Cincy fans didn’t even know at the time that this would be the start of a string of 1st round quarterback busts that wasn’t ended until Carson Palmer came to town. I had to dig back a little bit for this one since he was before my time.
16. Kelly Stouffer: (1987 St. Louis Cardinals 6th Overall)
He didn’t get off on the right foot in St. Louis after sitting out his rookie year due to a contract dispute. The Cardinals grew tired of his attitude and shipped him off to Seattle. He was a tough guy but wallowed in clip board duty for the majority of his time there. He threw seven touchdowns against 19 interceptions during his stay in Seattle. Like a few other busts on this list, he is now a broadcaster for <a class="kLink" oncontextmenu="return false;" id="KonaLink1" onmouseover="adlinkMouseOver(event,this,1);" style="POSITION: static; TEXT-DECORATION: underline! important" onclick="adlinkMouseClick(event,this,1);" onmouseout="adlinkMouseOut(event,this,1);" href="http://theloveofsports.com/index.php/site/comments/top_20_qb_busts/#" target="_top">college football games on ESPN Plus and Versus. Last I heard he was also a color analyst for the Minnesota Vikings.
15. Cade McNown: (1999 Chicago Bears 12th Overall)
He was drafted to the delight of Bears fans to end the misery of a musical chairs quarterback game that involved Steve Stenstrom, Moses Moreno and Erik Kramer. McNown had a good career at a school, UCLA, which has produced some solid signal callers in the past. He had a prickly personality that didn’t make him the most loved or respected guy in the huddle. It seemed like the only time he could complete a pass was if a cornerback fell down. Cade’s career was short lived in the NFL, lasting only four years. His two years in Chicago had 16 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. He eventually went to Miami and San Francisco for the next two years and I’m pretty sure he didn’t even attempt one pass.
14. Jim Drukenmiller: (1999 San Francisco 49ers 26th Overall)
He was football’s version of the cannon armed but erratic Ricky Vaughn. Rumor has it that he could throw a <a class="kLink" oncontextmenu="return false;" id="KonaLink2" onmouseover="adlinkMouseOver(event,this,2);" style="POSITION: static; TEXT-DECORATION: underline! important" onclick="adlinkMouseClick(event,this,2);" onmouseout="adlinkMouseOut(event,this,2);" href="http://theloveofsports.com/index.php/site/comments/top_20_qb_busts/#" target="_top">football over 100 yards. He had excellent size at 6’5 and 235 pounds. After a brief and unsuccessful stint in San Francisco he was traded to the Dolphins and quickly released. In addition to the physical qualities he was even born in Pennsylvania, the land of quarterbacks. None of that could take away the fact that he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.
13. Dan McGwire: (1991 <a class="kLink" oncontextmenu="return false;" id="KonaLink3" onmouseover="adlinkMouseOver(event,this,3);" style="POSITION: static; TEXT-DECORATION: underline! important" onclick="adlinkMouseClick(event,this,3);" onmouseout="adlinkMouseOut(event,this,3);" href="http://theloveofsports.com/index.php/site/comments/top_20_qb_busts/#" target="_top">Seattle Seahawks 16th Overall)
As if the constant rainfall wasn’t enough, I feel terrible for the dreariness Seattle fans endured due to the drafts of the early 1990’s. McGwire was productive in college but that was more a product of his environment. San Diego State wasn’t exactly a team that was playing world beaters and it reflected in his inflated statistics. Regardless, Seattle needed a quarterback to replace Dave Krieg and tapped Dan to be the man. He could never adjust to the speed of the NFL and was out of the league after five years. Two years later the Seahawks took another QB in the first round that didn’t pan out any better….Rick Mirer. Oh yeah, a guy named Brett Favre went 17 picks after Mcgwire.
12. Jerry Tagge: (1972 Green Bay Packers 11th Overall)
Tagge had a terrific college career for the University of Nebraska. He was behind the helm against the University of Oklahoma in the “Game of the Century”. Jerry had awful statistics in Green Bay with an embarrassing career line of 3 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
11. Mike Phipps: (1970 Cleveland Browns 3rd Overall)
He had a terrific career for the Boilermakers and had teams vying for his services just before the draft. He was a runner up to 1969 Heisman Trophy winner, Steve Owens. His career stats were bad enough (almost 2:1 INT to TD) but he makes this list for the circumstances surrounding his high draft status. The Browns traded their, at the time, Pro Bowl Wide Receiver Paul Warfield to get Phipps. The same Paul Warfield that was elected into the 1983 Hall of Fame class.
10. Todd Blackledge: (1983 Kansas City Chiefs 7th Overall)
As a Penn State Nittany Lion, he led his squad to the national championship in 1982. There was quite a bit of hype surrounding him coming into the ‘83 draft. The same draft that may be one of the best quarterback drafts ever. John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly were all selected that year. Heck, even Ken O’Brien was taken and was a decent player for the J-E-T-S. Want to know the worst part? The only QB mentioned above that was taken before Blackledge was Elway.
9. Akili Smith: (1999 Cincinnati Bengals 3rd Overall)
Smith was a fine athlete that was a solid baseball prospect. His high draft selection was based on really only one year of production at Oregon. What he had in physical attributes he lacked in the noggin. He couldn’t pass the SAT so college was not an option. He opted to play baseball for the Erie Sea Wolves of the Rookie league of the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. In the NFL, he could never lock down the playbook and it showed on the field. Early on in his collegiate career he was almost suspended for failing grades. He also had an assault accusation that occurred on campus. Even more frustrating for Bengal fans is that the Saints desperately tried to trade up and take this pick offering a kings ransom.
8. Pete Beathard: (1964 AFL Draft Kansas City Chiefs 2nd Overall / 1964 Draft Detroit Lions 5th Overall)
I wanted to make this a thorough list so I had to really do some research to find a good QB bust from way back in the day. Say hello to Mr. Pete Beathard. He was a bust because even though he had ten years in the league to build a respectable QB rating, he could never get above 50. He ended his career with a 49.9 passer rating and had practically twice as many completions to cornerbacks as he did to his receivers (43 TD & 84 INT). I needed to get one for all you old timers out there to bring back some memories!
7. David Klinger: (1992 Cincinnati Bengals 6th Overall)
Like his fellow Houston alum Andre Ware, Klingler put up some crazy stats in the backyard style of football they played down in Texas. He smashed a bunch of college records. He once threw 11 (not a typo) touchdowns in a game. Klingler went on to throw for over 730 yards in one game. He set an NCAA record for touchdown passes in a season with 54 back in 1990. That record stood for 16 years until Colt Brennan broke it. The transition from the mediocre competition the Cougars faced to the talent level in the NFL proved too much for David to handle.
6. Rick Mirer: (1993 Seattle Seahawks 2nd Overall)
He had one of the more acclaimed high school careers. It looked like Mirer was headed towards a successful career when in his debut season he set NFL records for passing yards, completions and attempts for a rookie. However, he could never regain that form and thus began his well traveled career playing for six more teams being released by five of them. To the dismay of Seahawk fans, Mirer couldn’t erase the 1st round bust memories two years prior of Dan Mcgwire
5. Heath Shuler: (1994 Washington Redskins 3rd Overall)
He has found much more success as a politician than he did as a quarterback. It’s hard to blame the Redskins for picking him so high. As a Tennessee Volunteer, he set most of the passing records which were later broken by <a class="kLink" oncontextmenu="return false;" id="KonaLink4" onmouseover="adlinkMouseOver(event,this,4);" style="POSITION: static; TEXT-DECORATION: underline! important" onclick="adlinkMouseClick(event,this,4);" onmouseout="adlinkMouseOut(event,this,4);" href="http://theloveofsports.com/index.php/site/comments/top_20_qb_busts/#" target="_top">Peyton Manning. He got off to rough start after he was a training camp holdout until signing an almost $20 million contract. After two dismal years behind the helm he was eventually replaced by Gus Frerotte. He once threw five picks in a game. He continued his poor play after being traded to New Orleans and some severe foot injuries eventually led to his retirement. His career passer rating is an abysmal 54.4. He is now a Democratic member of the U.S House of Representatives in North Carolina.
4. Andre Ware: (1990 Detroit Lions 7th Overall)
Even though his impact on record books in the NFL is nonexistent, he does hold a great honor from college. Ware was the first African American Quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy (1989). Unfortunately for the Lions, they didn’t notice his gaudy stats were more of a product of the “Run & Shoot” system his team ran at the University of Houston. Andre seemed to be able to make every kind of throw at Houston but lost his accuracy in the NFL. He could never unseat Rodney Peete or Erik Kramer in the Motor City and later found a career as a broadcaster for ESPN, and now for the Houston Texans.
3. Todd Marinovich: (1991 <a class="kLink" oncontextmenu="return false;" id="KonaLink5" onmouseover="adlinkMouseOver(event,this,5);" style="POSITION: static; TEXT-DECORATION: underline! important" onclick="adlinkMouseClick(event,this,5);" onmouseout="adlinkMouseOut(event,this,5);" href="http://theloveofsports.com/index.php/site/comments/top_20_qb_busts/#" target="_top">Oakland Raiders 24th overall)
His story is so fascinating and sad this recap will be a bit longer. He was almost literally programmed by his obsessive father to be a quarterback from the day he was born. All of his decisions were made for him by his parents and I believe that is what eventually led to his demise in the NFL. Take this quote he said as a teenager going into college. “This is the biggest decision of my life. It means not only where I will play football but, most likely, who I will marry, who my best friends for life will be, where I will live. It means everything. And the one thing I know for sure is I’m too young to make this kind of decision by myself.” Sounds like a pretty smart and grounded kid. When he went to birthday parties as a child, he brought his own ice cream and cake that didn’t have sugar or processed flour. It has been said that he teethed on frozen kidneys as an infant. His father was stretching his son’s hamstrings when he was less then two months old. The restrictions and eventual pressure to succeed were astonishing. It eventually caught up to him when he, away from home and on his own, was arrested several times for cocaine possession, suspicion of growing marijuana and then for heroin possession in 2001. In 2005 he was arrested yet again in a California public bathroom with drug paraphernalia. His getaway vehicle? A children’s bike. At the police station he stated his profession was an “anarchist”. While skateboarding near Newport Beach, California in 2007 he was once again arrested for possession of methamphetamine. If not the biggest bust, it may be one of the saddest stories in professional sports. Who knows what would have become of Marinovich if he were allowed to have a normal childhood.
2. Ryan Leaf: (1998 San Diego Chargers 2nd Overall)
He was almost as bad with the media as he was on the field. He didn’t set himself up to become a fan favorite or media darling. After signing, at the time, the largest signing bonus ($11.25 million) for a rookie, his performance didn’t match the compensation. He stated soon after he was drafted that he was looking forward to eventually having a parade through downtown San Diego. Through nine games he threw two touchdowns and thirteen interceptions. In one game that season he was one for fifteen for four yards and three fumbles. In his rookie year he had to be restrained by teammates from going after a reporter. Another time he let a fan that was razzing him get to his head and again had to be restrained by teammates. When his career was finished his statistics were putrid. He had 14 touchdowns against 36 picks. His career passer rating was 50.0. It seemed that he had found some stability recently as a quarterbacks coach for West Texas A&M. However, that was short lived after Leaf was let go for allegedly asking a player for some pain medication.
1. Art Schlichter: (1982 Baltimore Colts 4th overall)
The former Ohio State Buckeye was the last starting quarterback under legendary coach, Woody Hayes. Even though he was a bust from a statistical standpoint his legacy is tarnished for another reason. Like Alex Karras, Paul Hornung, Pete Rose and now Tim Donaghy, he was a sports figure that had a severe gambling problem. By mid-season of his first year, he had blown his whole signing bonus on gambling losses. During the 1982 NFL strike, he amassed at least a $700,000 debt in gambling. He ratted on his bookies to the feds after they threatened to expose his problematic vice. His career passer rating was an embarrassing 42.6. In 1987, he was arrested in a huge sports gambling (multi-million dollar) ring. Pete Rozelle essentially banished him from the league.
Early Preview of my 21st Century Edition
Some of these guys are already busts such as Mr. Blue Skies himself, Joey Harrington. Others may still have an opportunity to turn it around but it’s not looking good. These guys I’m limiting to any QB picked in the top ten picks from 2000-2006. Too soon to call anybody from the 07 & 08 drafts busts….yet. The only player below I’m not completely calling a bust is V.Y. I know he may not have the mental make up to succeed but he does have the physical tools. He just needs someone like Rene Russo to do for him what she did for Kevin Costner in Tin Cup and he could bounce back.
Joey Harrington: (2002 Detroit Lions 3rd Overall)
David Carr: (2002 Houston Texans 1st Overall)
Kyle Boller: (2003 Baltimore Ravens 19th Overall)
Alex Smith: (2005 San Francisco 49ers 1st Overall)
Vince Young: (2006 Tennessee Titans 3rd Overall)