9. Ben Troupe, TE, Tennessee Titans (40th overall pick, 2004) The Titans had long relied on the steady hands of Frank Wycheck over the middle, but after he retired following the 2004 season, they found themselves in desperate need of a difference-maker at the tight end position. Troupe was seen before the draft as a pretty solid first-round pick, but he fell all the way into the Titans' laps at the beginning of the second round after they completed a trade down with the Texans for Jason Babin. Troupe posted a somewhat encouraging sophomore year as a Titan, catching 55 balls for 530 yards and four touchdowns. A fractured ankle in 2006 sapped him of his explosiveness, though, and he spent the rest of his career bouncing around the league as a shell of himself.
8. Andy Katzenmoyer, LB, New England Patriots (28th overall pick, 1999)
The Big Kat was a sensation for Ohio State, becoming the Buckeyes' first linebacker to ever start as a freshman and compiling 12 sacks. He was highly coveted and well-regarded throughout his Ohio State tenure, but he made it all the way to the end of the first round in the 1999 NFL draft. He was on his way to a solid, if not spectacular, rookie season with the Patriots when a helmet-to-helmet hit with Buffalo fullback Sam Gash seriously damaged his neck. It troubled him through the rest of the season and 2000, even after it was operated on, and he finally retired from the league during training camp in 2001.
7. Cecil Collins, RB, Miami Dolphins (134th overall pick, 1999)Collins managed an incredible feat in the '90s: he was so bad at the ACT test that even LSU had to declare him ineligible. He was under scrutiny after violating a team rule early in his freshman year, and was finally kicked out of the bayou after illegally entering other people's homes multiple times after that season. He caught on with McNeese State, but was removed from its football team after a drug violation. Jimmy Johnson wasn't the only person who saw the rare talent that Collins had for carrying the football, but because of his off-field issues, he fell all the way to the fifth round in 1999. He rewarded Johnson's faith in him by getting arrested for burglary near the end of his rookie season, and is now still serving out a 15-year sentence he received for that crime.
6. Chad Jackson, WR, New England Patriots (36th overall pick, 2006)After running an insane 4.32 40-yard dash at the 2006 scouting combine, it was widely acknowledged that Jackson was the best wide receiver in the draft. The Patriots dealt a third-round pick to the Packers to advance 16 spots and select him (it's a rare college player that Bill Belichick actually trades up to get). Jackson followed that up by immediately becoming one of the most fragile players in the NFL. Hamstring injuries held him out of the preseason and lingered throughout the 2006 season, which finally ended for Jackson when he tore his ACL against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game. He was slow to recover from the tear, spent time on the PUP list in 2007 and was finally cut by the Pats right before the 2008 season. He now moonlights as an Omaha Nighthawk in the UFL.
5. Leeland McElroy, RB, Arizona Cardinals (32nd overall pick, 1996) Until recently, McElroy held the distinction of being the lowest ever selection invited to the draft by the league, having to wait until the second round to hear his name called. After an All-American year for Texas A&M, one in which he showed off his skills as a rusher (1,112 yards) and a kick returner (at the time, he held the record for most return touchdowns in a season), he declared for the draft fully expecting to be a first-round pick. Injuries that caused him to miss two games and parts of others dropped his stock, and once he was drafted by the Cardinals, his career was largely forgettable. He lost his starting job in both his rookie and sophomore years, and was eventually pushed out of the league entirely by 1999.
4. J.J. Stokes, WR, San Francisco 49ers (10th overall pick, 1995) Stokes finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting after the 1993 season, when he caught a ridiculous 17 touchdowns and averaged 14.8 yards per catch. Despite a down year in his senior season that was driven in part by injuries, the 49ers traded up to select him with the 10th overall pick, the idea being that he'd be Jerry Rice's successor. Stokes never developed into an elite wide receiver and dealt with injuries for the majority of his career. In his best season, 1998, he finished the year with a 27.0 percent DVOA (sixth in the NFL), eight touchdowns and 770 receiving yards. Of course, a lot of that was because Rice and some guy named Terrell Owens were drawing the majority of opposing defenses' attention.
3. Brady Quinn, QB, Cleveland Browns (22nd overall pick, 2007) The Browns were thought to be interested in Quinn with the third overall pick, and one doesn't have to look very hard to find someone projecting greatness for the Notre Dame signal-caller back in 2007. Quinn tumbled down the draft board and had to wait patiently in the green room for his name to be called, giving Cleveland a second chance at him. The Browns traded back into the first round to select Quinn, giving up their first-rounder in 2008 to acquire the 22nd overall pick from Dallas. Quinn struggled in Cleveland whenever he was given an opportunity to start, and his minus-19.5 percent DVOA over 10 starts in the 2009 season lowered his value to the point that he was dealt to the Broncos for a then-anonymous Peyton Hillis and a sixth-round pick. Now he sits behind Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton, waiting to have a chance at some sort of career. Could it be that Charlie Weis was able to best utilize his strengths in college, making him appear better than he was? Jimmy Clausen looks like he'll wind up as another data point for that theory.
2. Andre Wadsworth, DE, Arizona Cardinals (third overall pick, 1998) Wadsworth was seen by more than a few personnel evaluators as the best overall player in 1998 after accumulating 16 sacks in his final season at Florida State, but because he happened to be involved in the same draft as Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf, he fell all the way to the third pick. The Cardinals happily traded back with the Chargers as they were content with Jake Plummer at quarterback, picking up a second-rounder (Corey Chavous), a 1999 first-rounder (David Boston), Eric Metcalf and Patrick Sapp. Wadsworth held out until the day before the season started, had a solid rookie year and then proceeded to have knee surgery in three consecutive offseasons, sapping him of all his burst. He wound up playing only three NFL seasons, the last in 2000, after a comeback attempt with the Jets ended on the day of final cuts in 2007.
1. Matt Leinart, QB, Arizona Cardinals (10th overall pick, 2006) - Let's bookend the list with another Trojans star. Leinart famously spurned being the favorite for the No. 1 pick in 2005, going back for his senior year at USC to take ballroom dancing and try to win back-to-back championships after 2004's romp of Oklahoma that the NCAA is now informing me never happened. His intensity and dedication were questioned frequently as Kurt Warner's understudy, and after Warner left, he embarrassingly lost a quarterback competition to Derek Anderson and was released. You hate to write off a player who admittedly hasn't looked completely clueless on the field, but it sure looks like Leinart is nothing more than a backup quarterback at this point.
[ Edited by VDSF on Jul 15, 2011 at 11:14 AM ]