The Top 5 NFL Draft Picks that almost Sunk a Franchise

As we gear up for a new season that has already seen its share of player moves and roster shakeups, we can’t help but wonder what other surprises await us during the 2019 NFL Entry Draft.  When the opportunity to draft the missing piece presents itself, teams are willing to sell the farm. Here are five times NFL teams went all in for the NFL Draft and ended up getting kicked out of the casino. 

5. Jets move up for Mark Sanchez.

In 2008, the Brett Favre–led New York  Jets have just come off a 9–7 year but failed to make the playoffs. Now it’s 2009, Favre fiiiiiinnaally retired (at least that’s what he told them he was gonna do) and head coach Eric Mangini is out. Despite losing Favre and Mangini, the Jets were still poised to be contenders. Enter Rex Ryan.  Ryan figured USC junior standout Mark Sanchez was the answer for getting the Jets over the hump and into playoff contention. Ryan wasn’t totally wrong. With a top-ranked defense and prolific running game, the Jets went to the AFC Championship game in Sanchez’s first two years behind center. After that though, the only notable Sanchez moment with Gang Green came behind his offensive guard, or should I say, because of his offensive guard’s behind? –>THE BUTT FUMBLE!<– There it is. 2010 was the last time they’ve seen the postseason.

The deal:

In exchange for Cleveland’s first-round pick (5th overall), the Jets gave the Browns… get ready for it… DE Kenyon Coleman, QB/Hot Dog Vendor Brett Ratliff, Safety Abram Elam, and the first (17th) and second (52nd) picks in the ’09 draft.

Given the price they paid in a draft that saw Matt Stafford go first overall and then the final result, the Jets would’ve been better served keeping their first- and second-round picks and snagging a veteran free agent quarterback.

4. Jags move up for Blaine Gabbert.

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Experts and analysts can shoulder some of the blame for this one. The media push of Blaine Gabbert helped propel him not only to first-round consideration, but ultimately to the top 10 of the 2011 entry draft. Coming off of a 5–11 record in 2008, the Jags showed improvement the following two seasons with David Garrard despite going 7–9 in 2009 and 8–8 in 2010.  Then coach Jack Del Rio saw an opportunity to move up and snag himself a young QB that had the potential to steer the Jaguars back into playoff contention. But we all know how that turned out. With Jacksonville failing to win more than five games in each of Lame Blaine’s seasons, Gabbert was traded to San Francisco just three years later. Gabbert has now signed with the Tampa Buccaneers, his fifth NFL team since coming into the league just 8 years ago.

The Deal: 

Jacksonville trades its 2011 first-round (16th overall) and 2011 second-round (49th overall) picks to Washington for the Skins 2011 first-round (10th overall) pick to move up 6 spots for Blaine Gabbert in a draft that saw Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick selected in the second round. And if that’s not bad enough, the Redskins used Jacksonville’s pick to draft some guy named Ryan Kerrigan.

Good job, Jerksonville.

3. Broncos trade up for Tim Tebow

It seems as if Jesus changed his mind and decided football was not Tebow’s purpose. After trading up for Tebow in 2010, the Broncos enjoyed one playoff win with him at the helm. Tebow then became an afterthought with the arrival of Peyton Manning. Tebow spent one season with the Jets and by 2013, he was out of the league. Apparently baseball is Tebow’s true calling, as he currently plays for the New York Mets AAA affiliate in Syracuse.

The Deal:

Denver moved up to grab another pick in the first round by trading away their 2010 second, third and fourth-round picks. A high price for a stop-gap quarterback. 

I should note that Baltimore used their newly acquired third and fourth-round picks to draft TEs Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, who were both part of Baltimore’s 2013 Super Bowl winning team. No doubt this wasted pick had Broncos coach Josh McDaniels looking like a horse’s ass.

2. The Rams botch the 1996 draft.

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While this isn’t solely responsible for the tragedy that was the Rams of the 90s, it definitely contributed to the franchise’s extended stay in the sewer, and the player involved will surely make you shake your head. The Rams boasted only one winning record, going 45–99 until 1999 when a 13–3 record took them all the way to a Super Bowl championship. I guess they saw something in their first-round (6th overall) pick RB Lawrence Phillips that they didn’t see in the RB they probably wish they kept. Especially seeing that Phillips only played 20 games for them.

The Deal:

The Rams gift the Steelers with eventual Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis and throw in the 72nd overall pick in the ’96 draft in exchange for a ’96 second round (59th overall) and a ’97 fourth round (121st overall). 

1. The Saints Give away the 1999 draft for Ricky Williams

(Manny Millan/SI)

Given Williams’ college stat line it’s no wonder he was very sought after, but with what the New Orleans Saints gave away to get him at number 5, you’d think the Saints were playing their last season in the NFL. Williams amassed 6,592 rush yards, 75 TDs on the ground, 988 rec yards, and 4 rec TDs in his 4 years at Texas. Coming off of a 6–10 record and an abysmal offense, the Saints were clamoring for a game breaker. Williams boasted two seasons of over 1,000 yards, but after three seasons he was dealt to Miami where he rushed for almost 2,000 yards and 16 TDs the year after departing New Orleans.

The Deal:

New Orleans gives Washington 1999 1st round, 1999 3rd round, 1999 4th round, 1999 5th round, 1999 6th round, 1999 7th round, 2000 1st round and 2000 3rd round. 

The Redskins could’ve turned this trade into a dynasty, much like Jimmy Johnson did with the Dallas Cowboys via the Herschel Walker trade. But they didn’t.