10Vince Young, quarterback
The Texas Longhorns superstar defeated USC in the national title game and accounted for 9,167 yards in three years of college ball.
Young was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 after being the Tennessee Titans’ third overall pick and made the Pro Bowl for a second time after the 2009 campaign.
But the dual-threat playmaker was never among the NFL’s elite. He was inconsistent as a pocket passer and clashed with Titans coach Jeff Fisher, culminating in Young being released in 2011.
Young never threw for more than 12 touchdowns in a single year. He had 46 touchdown throws to 51 interceptions in six seasons of game action as a pro.
9Tim Tebow, quarterback
Tebow was perhaps the most decorated signal-caller in NCAA history at Florida, with great intangibles and no off-field concerns. After being chosen 25th overall by the Denver Broncos, though, it became evident Tebow’s inaccuracy as a passer would doom him.
Despite guiding Denver to a playoff win following an AFC West title in 2011, Tebow didn’t stick and ultimately moved on to professional baseball.
The polarizing field general had a 75.3 passer rating, and did log 989 yards rushing, but his 47.9 percent completion rate in the NFL signaled the end of his gridiron days.
8Archie Griffin, running back
Being the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in college football history set Griffin up for high expectations in the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals drafted the Ohio State star 24th overall in 1976.
With only seven rushing touchdowns in as many NFL seasons, Griffin didn’t nearly reach the production he had with the Buckeyes.
Griffin’s college career consisted of 5,589 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns on the ground.
7Tony Mandarich, offensive tackle
Perhaps the most hyped prospect ever at his position, Mandarich was the second overall pick in the 1989 draft, expected to join a long line of Green Bay Packers legends.
Mandarich lasted only three seasons in Green Bay before he was cut in 1992. He was out of football for multiple years with substance abuse issues. Although he made a comeback with the Indianapolis Colts from 1996 through 1998, a shoulder injury forced Mandarich to retire.
Adding salt to the wound for Packers fans: of the top five draft selections in 1989, Mandarich was the only one not to go on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
6Brian Bosworth, linebacker
“The Boz” was a gigantic personality and one of the best linebackers ever to play college football. He won a national title in 1985 at Oklahoma but tested positive for steroids prior to the 1987 Orange Bowl.
Bosworth was a two-time Butkus Award winner as the nation’s best linebacker, but the Seattle Seahawks spent a first-round pick on Bosworth in the supplemental draft and only got 24 games out of him in three seasons.
An injured shoulder cut Bosworth’s playing days short, yet he didn’t make a strong impact when he did start in the NFL.
5Johnny Manziel, quarterback
The first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy, Manziel was a two-year wunderkind at Texas A&M who had 7,820 yards passing, 2,169 yards rushing and 93 total touchdowns.
Manziel was drafted 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2014. A disastrous rookie campaign preceded an improved second year thanks to having fellow signal-caller Josh McCown as a mentor.
Repeated off-field transgressions forced the Browns to cut Manziel in March 2016, leading him to the Canadian Football League in 2018.
Given Manziel’s star power and historic college numbers, he’s a bigger bust than embattled quarterbacks Todd Marinovich and Art Schlichter.
4Matt Leinart, quarterback
A stud at USC who won the 2004 Heisman Trophy, Leinart guided the Trojans to a Rose Bowl win and a national championship during his three-year starting tenure.
Leinart threw 99 touchdowns to only 23 interceptions, completed 64.8 percent of his passes and averaged 8.6 yards per attempt in college.
The Arizona Cardinals drafted Leinart 10th overall in 2006 to be the future face of the franchise. Instead, Kurt Warner had a career renaissance while Leinart floundered in four seasons.
In only 33 games as a pro, Leinart logged a 70.2 passer rating, 15 touchdown passes and 21 picks.
3Charles Rogers, receiver
Some might label Peter Warrick as the bigger failure among wideouts, yet Rogers was quicker to flame out in the pros.
The Michigan State product went second overall to the Detroit Lions in the 2003 NFL draft after amassing 2,821 yards on 20.9 yards per catch and 27 touchdowns in two starting seasons with the Spartans.
Rogers managed only nine starts in three NFL years, with 36 catches on 84 targets for 440 yards and four touchdowns. Injuries played a part, but so did drug use, which led to three failed drug tests.
2JaMarcus Russell, quarterback
One of the most gifted prospects in history, it’s hard to blame the Oakland Raiders for drafting Russell first overall in 2007. He was fresh off an MVP performance in the Sugar Bowl at LSU and dazzled in workouts.
After throwing for 28 touchdowns to eight interceptions with a 67.8 percent completion rate in his final college season, Russell was an epic failure. He had a 65.2 passer rating and 52.1 percent completion rate in three NFL seasons, with a 7-18 starting record.
The Raiders didn’t account for how Russell carried himself off the field, which cost them dearly.
1Ryan Leaf, quarterback
This list takes into account college production and legacy, draft status, adequate sample size in the pros and minimizes the NFL busts whose careers were predominantly derailed by injury.
Leaf had time to prove himself with the Chargers franchise after being named a first-team All-American at Washington State and going second overall in the 1998 NFL draft. He’d thrown for 3,968 yards on 9.7 yards per attempt with 34 scores and 11 picks in his last year of college.
A career NFL passer rating of 50.0 and 14 touchdowns to 36 interceptions made Leaf the epitome of a bust.