Worst Recent NFL Draft Picks

Which NFL teams missed the mark on draft day? (Spoiler alert: it’s not just the Browns.)

August might be the pits of summer, but with training camps in full swing and the regular season just around the corner, the NFL always has something going on. For some schadenfreude-inflected summer trivia, we looked for the worst NFL draft busts over the past decade using data from Pro Football Reference.

While there are many ways to define the worst draft picks, we decided to shake things up by using two factors: was the player a high-round draft pick? And—using stats including Pro Football Reference’s Weighted Approximate Value—was their playing career wildly underwhelming?

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1. Isiah Wilson (OT, Tennessee Titans)

Wilson, an offensive tackle from the University of Georgia, was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans but never saw the field. After his rookie season, Wilson was traded to the Miami Dolphins and cut soon after.

Draft position Career regular season stats
1st round, 29th pick (2020) None

2. Christian Hackenberg (QB, New York Jets)

Hackenberg entered the league in 2016 after an up–and–down college career, but his stint with the New York Jets stayed very down. Despite being drafted in the second round, Hackenberg never played a regular-season down in the NFL. Hackenberg briefly attempted a comeback with the Alliance of American Football in 2018.

Draft position Career regular season stats
2nd round, 51st pick (2016) None

3. Kevin White (WR, Chicago Bears)

Unlike many of the picks on this list, White’s career has been defined by his snake-bitten luck more than team malpractice. Injuries derailed White’s time with the Chicago Bears, and he lasted three seasons before being cut. However, White’s managed to stick around the league—he spent the 2021 season with the New Orleans Saints.

Draft position Career regular season stats
1st round, 7th pick (2015) 323 yards, 0 touchdowns

4. A.J. Jenkins (WR, San Francisco 49ers)

Jenkins joins Kevin White in NFL-draft trivia infamy as a first-round receiver who never caught a regular-season touchdown. On top of that, Jenkins’ 49ers career peaked when he was name-dropped on a live 30 Rock episode. Jenkins caught zero passes during his rookie year and was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs afterward.

Draft position Career regular season stats
1st round, 30th pick (2012) 223 yards, 0 touchdowns

5. Paxton Lynch (QB, Denver Broncos)

The Denver Broncos spent years in the quarterback hinterlands between Peyton Manning’s 2016 retirement and this offseason’s Russell Wilson trade. For many Broncos fans, Paxton Lynch’s brief stint as a Bronco stands out as a particular low point. Despite his first-round draft pedigree, Lynch couldn’t crack the starting lineup over two seasons, and the team cut him in 2018.

Draft position Career regular season stats
1st round, 26th pick (2016) 792 passing yards, 4 touchdowns

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