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10 Times NFL Draft Experts Were So Wrong It Hurts

Every sports fan makes a few bad predictions. Yes, even I'm man enough to admit that I've lost quite a few bucks making horrible calls over the years. No one can predict the future. Still, we love to use the information at our disposal and pretend we're Nostradamus anyway.

Every spring, the NFL Draft comes calling with enough NFL mock drafts to drive you insane. Experts dive into results from the NFL Scouting Combine, the insane questions asked by teams during player interviews, and the past few seasons of college football to try and determine who will be a future NFL star. Even in 2023, we're all waiting to see if Anthony Richardson climbs draft boards after a solid Pro Day or if Will Anderson Jr. goes ahead of fellow Alabama product Bryce Young. Every year, we wait for the Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Washington Commanders and the Minnesota Vikings to reload their rosters with young, explosive draft picks.

Never in the history of professional football has there been a perfectly-crafted NFL Draft prediction. While there have been plenty of misses and horrible rankings, here are 10 instances where the "experts" weren't even close about a player.

10. David Carr

David Carr made a sizable income throughout his infamous NFL career.

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Related: The 10 Worst No. 1 Picks in NFL Draft History Were Complete Misses

When the Houston Texans joined the NFL as an expansion franchise and kicked off the 2002 NFL Draft with the first overall pick, EVERYBODY wrote Fresno State's David Carr down as the consensus No. 1. They did. So did they. ESPN's Mel Kiper even compared Carr to Texas legend, Troy Aikman.

Carr lasted 11 seasons in the NFL, threw more interceptions (71) than touchdowns (65), and appeared in only 16 games over the final six years of his career. Ryan Leaf may have been a bust, but Carr was maybe bigger.

9. Jimmy Clausen

Jimmy Clausen looks up at the scoreboard during a Chicago Bears game.

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Mel Kiper said during the 2010 NFL Draft that if Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen wasn't a successful NFL quarterback, he'd retire in eight years. Well, after being the 48th overall pick by the Carolina Panthers, Clausen started 14 career games for the Panthers, Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears and was out of football by 2015.

For the record, Kiper did not retire, but I'm pretty sure he stopped putting his career on the line after that draft.

8. Geno Smith

Geno SMith takes a sack as a member of the New York Jets

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USA Today Sports called West Virginia's Geno Smith "too tempting to bypass" during the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft "especially since he has skills similar to those of Cam Newton." What? The same Geno Smith who had four rushing touchdowns in four years of college football is equivalent to Superman?

Geno Smith has a losing record as a starting quarterback and failed to reach 30 career touchdown passes after six seasons. I once had a West Virginia fan tell me that Geno Smith was always going to be a bust because, and this is a direct quote, "cannot throw the ball when there's wind."

However, after leaving the New York Jets and bouncing around the league, Smith appears to have made a home in Seattle, where he's flourishing.

7. The Indianapolis Colts' Entire 1992 Draft Class

Steve Emtman & Quentin Coryatt

Left: Photo by Rich Pilling/Diamond Images via Getty Images, Right: Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

You'd think NFL teams only hired the absolute best scouts on the market, right? Well, the Indianapolis Colts had the first AND second picks in the '92 draft. Do you know how many Pro Bowls first-overall selection Steve Emtman and second-overall pick Quentin Coryatt combined to make?


In fact, out of Indy's 13 picks that year, second-round pick Ashley Ambrose was the only player to reach a Pro Bowl. He did that once in 1996. The 1992 draft is considered one of the worst of all time and is only the second draft ever to produce ZERO Hall of Famers. the Colts weren't a good football team back then, but wasting two high first-round picks in putrid. The only way this could have been worse was if they took two offensive linemen back to back.

6. Mike Williams

Mike Williams stands on the Detroit Lions sideline

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No, not the Los Angeles Chargers Mike Williams, the other Mike Williams.

After enjoying two incredible college years, including a Consensus All-American season in 2003, USC wide receiver Mike Williams was ruled ineligible after leaving school early and trying to declare for the 2004 NFL Draft. He didn't play football for an entire season, but that didn't diminish his value. The Detroit Lions drafted him No. 10 overall in 2005. Mel Kiper told fellow ESPN analyst Merril Hoge, "I'll see you at his Hall of Fame induction."



Williams caught 44 passes his first three seasons, left football for two years, had two average seasons with Seattle, then was out of the NFL by 2011. He spent eight days in the CFL. He's still not in the Hall of Fame. Sorry, Mel.

5. Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson passes against the Patriots in 2020.

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Bleacher Report called Russell Wilson "by far the worst move of the draft" after the Seattle Seahawks selected him 75th overall in the third round back in 2012.

"Pete Carroll is proving why he didn't make it in the NFL the first time," B/R added.

That year, Seattle also picked Bruce Irvin (78 career starts and 43.5 sacks), Bobby Wagner (five-time Pro Bowler), J.R. Sweezy (started two Super Bowls), and Jermaine Kearse (74 starts in seven seasons).

I'd say Seattle and Pete Carroll did just fine. But the Denver Broncos might have made the worst trade of all-time in securing the former Super Bowl champ. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be on Russell Wilson's ride anymore.

4. J.J. Watt

JJ Watt is introduced as a member of the Houston Texans

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A reporter with CultureMap Houston heralded Auburn's Nick Fairley as a player who'd "collect Pro Bowl berths for years to come." In contrast, he referred to the Houston Texans' 11th overall pick as "Pizza Boy J.J. Watt."

"Watt is a great story. But it's hard to imagine him ever being a star," the article reads. "It's hard to see him changing games for Houston on defense."

Wisconsin's J.J. Watt became a 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and first-ballot Hall of Famer. Nick Fairley played six subpar seasons and never made a single Pro Bowl.

Here's a tough moment for Houston fans to remember:

3. Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers celebrates a 2019 win over the Washington Redskins.

Quinn Harris via Getty Images

Related: How Aaron Rodgers Fell in the NFL Draft: A Pick-By-Pick Explanation

An anonymous NFL Scout said of California's Aaron Rodgers, "I don't like him. He's a clone of [Joey] Harrington and [Kyle] Boller. They all throw the same way. What have those guys done? Nothing."

Rodgers has fewer interceptions (80) in 14 NFL seasons than Harrington had (85) in just six seasons. Also, Rodgers has almost the same number of touchdown passes in the NFL playoffs (36) as Boller had in his entire NFL career (48).

Swing and a miss. Things could've been a lot different if the Arizona Cardinals or New York Giants got a hold of Green Bay's GOAT.

2. JaMarcus Russell

Jamarcus Russell yawns during Raiders camp.

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Related: What Happened to JaMarcus Russell and Where is the Former NFL QB Now?

Much like everyone thought at the 2005 NFL Draft, LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell was a can't-miss pick. After carving up Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M, Russell was a sure-fire NFL stud. However, Mel Kiper took it one step further when he called his skill level "John Elway-like."

JaMarcus "Elway" Russell threw 23 interceptions and completed 52 percent of his passes as a professional and was out of football in three years. He's considered one of the worst NFL quarterbacks of all time.

1. Dan Marino

Dan Marino poses next to his Pro Football Hall of Fame bust

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For the record, the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers all had the opportunity to draft Dan Marino. That's a Hall of Fame mistake made by almost half the league. Heck, we're sure that if the Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars existed back then, they would have passed on him too. Rumor has it that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is currently working on creating a time machine to go back and fix his mistake.

This one is my all-time favorite. After almost every NFL team passed on Pittsburgh's Dan Marino, the Miami Dolphins drafted the future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback 27th overall in the 1983 NFL Draft. Sports Illustrated's Paul Zimmerman infamously said of the pick, "I don't understand it."

"I don't see where he's going to get this great coaching that's going to overcome the problems he's had," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman must have forgotten Don Shula was Miami's head coach because Marino became the NFL's first 5,000-yard passer in only his second season and won the 1984 NFL MVP award. After over 61,000 passing yards, 420 touchdown passes and nine Pro Bowl selections, it's safe to say every team that passed on Marino will be thinking about this whiff, and what could have been, forever.

This article was originally published on April 24, 2019, and has been updated since. 

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