With the NFL Draft only a few days away, I decided to take a look at the worst pick in each NFL Draft during the 1990s. In each NFL Draft, there always seems to be at least one high draft pick that just doesn't work out, either due to injuries, attitude, legal problems, or some team just simply overrated the talent of their pick. So, without further adieu, here are the worst NFL Draft Picks in the 1990s.
1990: Blair Thomas, New York Jets, RB, 2nd Pick in the Draft
Just like the 1980s, our list starts with a New York Jets draft pick. Thomas was an All-American from Penn State University, rushing for over 1,400 yards his senior season. While Thomas's rookie year went well, averaging 5.0 yards a carry, a combination of fumbles and injuries contributed to Thomas's quick downfall, and he never became the lead running back the Jets expected him to be. After four seasons in New York, Thomas finished his career playing as a backup with the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, and Carolina Panthers over the next two years. Now, Thomas and The Canon Review's worst pick for 1984 Kenny Jackson co-own a few sports bars in Pennsylvania.
1991: Bruce Pickens, Atlanta Falcons, CB, 3rd Pick
Bruce Pickens was such a bad pick that nobody seems to remember just how bad of a pick he was. The Falcons expected Pickens to team with Deion Sanders to form an excellent cornerback tandem. Instead, Pickens first engaged in a lengthy holdout, during which he threatened to sue both the Falcons and the NFL. After finally signing, Pickens shows up out of shape, to the point where after the first day of practice, he winds up puking on the sidelines. In three seasons with the Falcons, Pickens winds up only starting eight games and finishes his career with only two interceptions. After being released by the Falcons, Pickens plays a year with the Raiders in 1995 before calling it a career. Just two picks after the Falcons selection, the Rams take cornerback Todd Lyght, who has a solid 11-year career in the NFL.
1992: Steve Emtman, Indianapolis Colts, DT, 1st Pick
The Colts had the first two picks in the 1992 NFL Draft. As it turned out, it was probably the wrong year to hold the first two picks, as this was one of the weakest draft classes of all-time. The Colts picked Emtman with the first pick and LB Quinten Coryatt with the second pick. While Coryatt had a modicum of success, Emtman wasn't on the field enough to be successful. Entman was college football's most dominant player in 1991, winning both the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award for College Football's best lineman. He also finished 4th in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, a rarity for a defensive tackle. When Entman was on the field, he played very well. However, he suffered major injuries to both of his knees and his back over the first three years, and was never able to stay healthy throughout his career until he retired in 1997. Too bad, as it would have been very interesting to see what would of happened had Emtman avoided the injury bug.
1993: Rick Mirer, Seattle Seahawks, QB, 2nd Pick
In 1993, there were two quarterbacks at the top of draft, Mirer, from Notre Dame, and Drew Bledsoe from Washington State. The Patriots picked Bledsoe first, leaving the Seahawks with what many experts thought was the next Joe Montana in Rick Mirer. After the 1993 season, it looked as if Mirer was going to be the better player. Unfortunately, Mirer never really got any better, and Bledsoe went on to lead his team to the Super Bowl in 1996, which happened to be Mirer's last year in Seattle. Mirer would play for seven teams over this 12 year career, but he never came close to becoming the next Joe Montana, or even the next Joe Kapp.
1994: Heath Shuler, Washington Redskins, QB, 3rd Pick
The 1994 Redskins had a rookie quarterback that would go on to play 15 years in the NFL. That man was seventh round pick Gus Frerotte, who eventually became the starting quarterback for the Redskins over Shuler. Coming from the University of Tennessee, Shuler finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1993 and looked like the next great quarterback to come to the NFL. Instead, Shuler never spent one full season as a starting quarterback, and finished his career with 33 interceptions and 15 touchdown passes. He spent his final season with the New Orleans Saints in 1997, where he thew a shocking two touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 10 games that year. However, Shuler enjoyed his time in Washington D.C. so much that he decided to pursue his next career there, as a congressman from North Carolina.
1995: Ki-jana Carter, Cincinnati Bengals, RB, 1st Pick
The Bengals traded up from the fifth selection in order to nab Carter, an All-American running back at Penn State who ran for nearly eight yards a carry in his final year in Happy Valley. In his first preseason game, Carter tore his ACL, and missed the 1995 season. After that, Carter was never the same explosive runner he was at Penn State, and spent the majority of his career as a backup. Like Emtman, Carter never really got the chance to prove whether or not he was worth the hype, but sometimes that's how it goes.
1996: Lawrence Phillips, St. Louis Rams, RB, 6th Pick
Normally during this list, I go for the highest pick to never make an impact, and while Cedric Jones was selected a pick ahead of Phillips and is widely considered a bust, I made an exception and went with Mr. Phillips in this case. Lawrence Phillips is one of the worst human beings to ever play professional sports. I suppose he's not worse than OJ or Rae Carruth or Chris Benoit, but other than murderers, Phillips is among the most despicable athletes in the history of sports. Despite character issues, which is another way of saying that he push his girlfriend down a flight of stairs and seems to have a homicidal temper, the Rams selected Phillips with the sixth pick in the draft. To make room for Phillips, the Rams traded a man named Jerome Bettis to the Steelers, who will one day be in the Hall of Fame. While everybody said that Phillips was the most talented player in his draft class, he never translated that talent into NFL success, averaging only 3.4 yards a carry over a three year NFL career. To make matters worse, Phillips could not seem to stay out of trouble. Today, Phillips is serving a 31 year prison sentence for, among other things, choking his girlfriend into unconsciousness and running down three teenagers with a car after a pickup football game.
1997: Tom Knight, Arizona Cardinals, CB, 9th Pick
As bad as Michael Booker was for the Falcons, I must go with Knight because he was selected two picks higher. As I recall, Knight was considered a reach by the Cardinals at the time, but the Cardinals needed a cornerback across Aeneas Wiliiams, so they chose Knight ahead of future Pro Bowlers RB Warrick Dunn and TE Tony Gonzalez. Knight didn't make much of an impact, as he had only three interceptions in a career which lasted six years, five with the Cardinals and one with the Baltimore Ravens. He wasn't as bad as Heath Shuler or Blair Thomas, but Knight failed to deliver what the Cardinals expected from the number nine pick in the draft.
1998: Ryan Leaf, San Diego Chargers, QB, 2nd Pick
There were two quarterbacks at the top of the 1998 Draft. One was Peyton Manning, whose name has become synonymous with excellence. The other was Leaf, whose name has become synonymous with the word bust. Leaf couldn't play, didn't work hard, and generally was a jerk to everyone who came across his way. Needless to say, he wasn't a popular player with his teammates. In three years with the Chargers and Cowboys, Leaf threw for 36 interceptions against 14 touchdowns. His teams would go 4-17 in games he started. Quite frankly, Leaf nearly killed the Chargers franchise, and these days it seems hard to believe that some people thought he was a better pro prospect than Peyton Manning. Today, Leaf is serving 10 years of probation, after being picked up on drug charges.
1999: Akili Smith, Cincinatti Bengals, QB, 3rd Pick
I suppose I should of picked Tim Couch here, as he was the first pick in the draft. However, at least Couch led his team to the playoffs once, and he was more of a victim of other people's stupidity than anything else. Smith, however, did absolutely nothing to justify his high draft selection. Smith had a big arm, but wasn't very accurate and seemed to have trouble reading defenses. Smith completed 46 percent of his career passes, and lasted four season with the Bengals before they decided they would rather have Jon Kitna. Smith bounced around the NFL and CFL before his career ended in 2007.
Well, thanks for reading. Tomorrow I hope to have the worst draft picks for the past ten years. If you have any ideas for future posts, than give them to me, either by leaving a comment or by e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com