The Biggest NFL Draft Busts in History - The RBs

Who were the biggest NFL Draft busts in history? There’s been a lot more than you might think, so we’ve decided to focus on the running backs.

Biggest NFL Draft Busts

  • Leroy Keyes (drafted 3rd overall in 1969 by the Philadelphia Eagles)
    Leroy Keyes was so good at RB for the Eagles that they converted him to safety in 1971 (where he recorded six INTs). As a runner, Keyes totaled 369 rushing yards and three TDs in his five-year career.
  • Terry Miller (drafted 5th overall in 1978 by the Buffalo Bills)
    Miller’s career got off to a fast start, as he rushed for 1,060 yards and seven TDs as a rookie for the Bills. That’s the good news; the bad news is that he ended his four-year career with 1,583 yards. In effect, a delayed bust.
  • Tim Worley (drafted 7th overall in 1989 by the Pittsburgh Steelers)
    Worley had a decent rookie season for the Steelers, rushing for 770 yards and five TDs. However, he was a turnover machine (16 fumbles in three seasons), missed most of the 1991 season to injury, and was suspended for the 1992 season after missing two drug tests. A trade to the Bears in 1993 failed to resurrect his career, and he was out of football five games into the 1994 campaign.
  • Curtis Enis (drafted 5th overall in 1998 by the Chicago Bears)
    Enis’ career ended before it had a chance to take off. Enis tore up his knee in the second start of his rookie season, which set the tone for his NFL tenure. The RB missed 25% of the Bears’ games during his three-year stint. His knee worsened, and he retired in 2001 with 1,497 yards and four TDs on the ground.
  • Bo Matthews (drafted 2nd overall in 1974 by the San Diego Chargers)
    Matthews managed an eight-year NFL career, however, it wasn’t a productive career– especially for the #2 overall pick. In summary, Matthews played in 101 games, rushing for 1,566 yards and 11 TDs.

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  • Lawrence Phillips (drafted 6th overall in 1996 by the St. Louis Rams)
    After assaulting his ex-girlfriend at Nebraska, many teams took Phillips off their draft boards. Not the Rams, who were blinded by Phillip’s raw talent. However, Phillips never changed his tune; he spent 23 days in jail over his nearly two years with the Rams. Phillips signed with the Dolphins, but they released him after he assaulted a woman in a nightclub. Phillips bounced around several teams and leagues, never really changing his ways. Eventually, Phillips died in 2015 while incarcerated.
  • Ki-Jana Carter (drafted 1st overall in 1995 by the Cincinnati Bengals)
    Unfortunately, injuries killed Carter’s career. Injured on the third carry of his first pro pre-season game, Carter missed four full seasons to a myriad of injuries. In seven NFL seasons, he played in 59 games, started 14 of them, and compiled 1,144 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and 66 receptions for 469 yards and a touchdown.
  • Brent Fullwood (drafted 4th overall in 1987 by the Green Bay Packers)
    Looking at Fullwood’s totals of 1702 rushing yards and 18 rushing TDs over his 3.5-year career, you’d never know he made the Pro Bowl in 1989 as a fullback for the Packers. Fullwood was out of football by 1990.
  • Blair Thomas (drafted 2nd overall in 1990 by the New York Jets)
    Jets fans Thomas consider Thomas another in a long line of draft disappointments, rushing for only 2,000 yards and five TD in his four seasons with the team. After being let go by the Jets, he totaled 13 games with three teams over two seasons, with 227 rushing yards and two TDs.

A Very Special Bust

  • Trent Richardson (drafted 3rd overall in 2012 by the Cleveland Browns)
    Richardson has the rare distinction of being a first-round bust for two NFL teams. The Browns traded up to grab Richardson in 2012 and were rewarded with 1317 scrimmage yards and 12 TDs. However, he regressed so much in his sophomore season, they traded him mid-season to the Colts for a first-round pick. By that point, Richardson had lost “it,” lasting just one more season with the Colts in 2014. He never played again after that.

Wrapping Up

This is our list of the biggest NFL RB Draft Busts. Do you agree with our selections? Who would you have included in this list? Drop a note in the comments and let us know!


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