Top 10 Busts of the 2008 NFL Draft

In the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, we will be looking back at the drafts from the past 10 years, including busts, studs, and steals.

The 2008 NFL Draft was set to be one of the deepest and most talented draft classes in years. This was true especially at the top of the class. Guys like Chris Long, Glenn Dorsey, Sendrick Ellis, Darren McFadden, and Jake Long were all viewed as top-tier talent, all worthy of the first overall pick. Of course, looking back nearly nine years later, we can see that most of these top players had limited success in their careers.
10. Brian Brohm-QB Louisville
56th Overall-Green Bay Packers
3 Seasons: 0 TDs, 5 INTs, 26.0 QB Rating

Despite being a 2nd Round pick, Brohm was a bust due to his pre-draft hype. Also, he was fucking terrible when he did play, outplayed in training camp by Matt Flynn. The Packers made this pick when they were in QB purgatory-Brett Favre was retiring, but not really retiring, and Aaron Rodgers was completely unproven. Brohm had a legit shot at competing with Rodgers for the starting QB spot. Of course, this competition never happened, and Brohm was regulated to a 3rd string spot. Despite pre-draft reports and mock drafts that led people to believe that Brohm was a 1st Round prospect, teams clearly did not feel the same way. Hell, Brohm almost lasted until the 3rd Round. So in reality, Brohm was never really a good prospect, just a good college QB.

Career Highlight: Becoming Purdue’s Co-Offensive Coordinator prior to his 32nd birthday. If you can’t cut it as a player, you can always be a coach.

Brian Brohm at Louisville

9. Phillip Merling-DE Clemson
32nd Overall-Miami Dolphins
4 Seasons: 70 Tackles, 3.5 Sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD

Though technically not a 1st Round pick, but technically a 1st Round pick in any draft where the Patriots aren’t forfeited their 1st Round pick, Merling was supposed to be a solid piece in the Dolphins’, or Bill Parcell’s, rebuilding process. Merling had solid production at Clemson, and looked like a good fit in the Dolphins’ new 3-4 defense. After making a huge play to help get the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2008, and recording 71% of his career sack total in 2009, Merling recorded only 7 total tackles combined the next two seasons, and was released during the 2012 offseason. He bounced around the league for a little bit after that, and was out of the league by 2014. Injuries hampered his career from the beginning. Merling was injured throughout much of the pre-draft process, and never really recovered after sustaining serious injuries in 2010 and 2011.

Merling during his time with the Dolphins

Career Highlight: That touchdown in his career stats was not a typo. In his rookie year, Merling intercepted Brett Favre in the 2008 season finale, and returned it for a touchdown, a vital play in the Dolphins’ playoff run.

8. Kentwan Balmer-DT North Carolina 
29th Overall-San Francisco 49ers
3 Seasons: 62 Tackles, 0 Sacks

Balmer was the “other” DT in a draft class that featured two projected future superstars (In the end, they all sucked). Balmer lasted two years in San Francisco before being shipped to the Seattle for what was probably a conditional 8th round selection in 2027. Balmer bounced around from the Panthers to the Redskins during the 2011 season, before walking away from the Redskins in 2012. Balmer was overhyped coming out of college, put up paltry numbers at the 2008 Combine (5.11 40, 7.65 3 Cone, 29 inch vertical), and never amounted to anything in the league.

Career Highlight: Despite being a colossal bust and walking away from the Redskins in 2012, he was not officially released by the team until May 2014. Impressive for a guy with no talent.

7. Felix Jones-RB Arkansas 
22nd Overall-Dallas Cowboys
6 Seasons: 2,912 Rushing Yards, 11 Rushing TDs, 137 Receptions

Jones was a match made in heaven for the 2008 Cowboys. The other running back from Jurrah’s alma mater Arkansas, Jones was viewed as the perfect speed complement to Marion Barber’s power. Jones filled this role well at first, averaging 8.9 yards per carry in his rookie year, and 5.9 in his second season. As time wore on, Barber became ineffective, and Jones struggled to take on the role of the primary back. He never gained more than 800 yards on the ground, and quickly declined. As of writing this, Jones in only 29 years old and hasn’t played in nearly four years. Jones participated in the 2014 Veteran’s Combine to try and get one last crack at the league, and posted a 4.85 40 time, compared to the 4.43 he put up in 2008. Needless to say, it didn’t land him a contract.

Jones playing at Jurrah’s Alma Mater

Career Highlight: Averaging 8.9 yards per carry his rookie year. 8.9 yards per carry!

6. Chris Williams-OT Vanderbilt
14th Overall-Chicago Bears
7 Seasons: 57 Starts

An athletic Left Tackle prospect coming out of Vanderbilt, Williams was supposed to be the Bears’ answer at the position for the next decade. Only, he wasn’t, and he didn’t even play LT much of his time with Chicago. Williams wasn’t a sexy pick when he was drafted, but the selection was considered a smart one. In the end, it was neither smart nor sexy, and Williams was not athletic enough to play LT, or powerful enough to play guard. Williams was cut by the Bears during the 2012 season, and went to the Rams. He actually resigned with the Rams for the 2013 season, and landed a four year deal with the Bills in 2014! He was cut in 2015 after failing a physical.

Career Highlight: Signing a 4 year $13.5 million contract with the Bills even after earning his bust status. Impressive. That’s like getting a visible STD and still getting laid.

5. Keith Rivers-OLB USC 
9th Overall-Cincinnati Bengals
7 Seasons: 291 Tackles, 3 Sacks, 2 INTs

Rivers being the reason for the Hines Ward Rule

Rarely do traditional OLBs go in the top 10, but when they do, they’re usually terrible for some reason. Rivers was supposed to be a special talent coming out of USC, probably the best prospect out of all the SC linebackers drafted between 2008-2009, but he ended up being the worst. Part of the reason was his injuries, including breaking his jaw during his rookie year by way of a Hines Ward cheap shot. Rivers ended up being traded during the 2012 draft to the Giants for a 5th Round pick, and eventually retired from football on the first day of the 2015 training camp.

Career Highlight: The Hines Ward Rule

4. Derrick Harvey-DE Florida
8th Overall-Jacksonville Jaguars
4 Seasons: 92 Tackles, 8 Sacks

The 2008 Jaguars felt that they were in a real position to compete for the AFC South Title, but had Peyton Manning standing in their way. That’s why they decided to trade up to the 8th spot to select pass rusher Derrick Harvey to help stop Manning. However, the Jaguars truly became the Jaguars in the years following the 2008 season, and Harvey never became even a decent pass rusher. He was cut following the 2011 lockout, and caught on with the Broncos for one season.

Career Highlight: Being considered a “good run stuffer.”

3. Sendrick Ellis-DT USC
7th Overall-New Orleans Saints
5 Seasons: 173 Tackles, 12.5 Sacks

The 6 foot nothing DT out of USC was supposed to be a pass rushing force for the Saints. Ellis was not the Saints’ first choice as they reportedly offered Kansas City a shitload of picks to draft Glenn Dorsey, but Ellis was a good consolation prize. That is, until he played. Ellis never had much of an impact on the Saints defense, and in his best season, he recorded 6 sacks. Ellis retired from football prior to the 2013 season.

Career Highlight: Winning Super Bowl XLIV.

2. Glenn Dorsey-DT LSU
5th Overall-Kansas City Chiefs
9 Seasons: 321 Tackles, 7 Sacks

He peaked in college

Where the hell did things go wrong for one of the most decorated defensive tackles in NCAA history? Dorsey won numerous awards, was a two time First-Team All-American, and won a National Championship during his time in the Bayou. He was destined to be the next Warren Sapp-a game changing 3 technique who could rush the passer and stop the run. Needless to say, Dorsey was supposed to be something special, and was the best DT prospect in a LONG time. But Dorsey never became an impact player, and at his best, he was a decent starter. Part of the problem may have been the Chiefs’ ineptitude-switching to a 3-4 defense when they did not have the personnel for it. Still though, Dorsey only ever managed to be a decent run stuffer during his time in Kansas City, and eventually became a nose tackle in San Francisco. Dorsey never recorded more than two sacks in a single season, and clearly was never worth a first round pick.

Career Highlight: He peaked in college.

1. Vernon Gholston-OLB Ohio State
6th Overall-New York Jets
3 Seasons: 42 Tackles, 0 Sacks

One of the biggest busts in NFL History. Gholston is the epitome of a “workout warrior” as he posted outstanding combine numbers and had all the measurables. But it wasn’t like Gholston was a bum in college, he was a good pass rusher for the Buckeyes. Prior to the Combine, Gholston was viewed as a late first, early second round prospect due to his raw athletic ability, but teams just couldn’t help themselves after watching him run and jump in spandex. There’s really not much that can be said about Gholston’s career, mostly because it never really happened. Gholston is the constant reminder that Combine numbers are mostly a crock of shit.

Career Highlight: None. Nothing in Gholston’s career is highlight worthy.

Looks like Tarzan, gets outplayed by Jane

Dishonorable Mentions

Darren McFadden-RB Oakland Raiders
Drafted 4th in a loaded RB class, McFadden had some great moments in his career, but has not lived up to his draft status

Lawrence Jackson-DE Seattle Seahawks
Consistently gave teams 4 to 6 sacks for a few years. Could’ve been worse.

Leodis McKelvin-CB Buffalo Bills
Best known for receiving death threats after the 2009 opener.

Even More 2008 Draft Coverage!

Old fart Gil Brandt, who sometimes writes things tucked four pages deep at NFL.com  recently re-picked the 1st Round of the 2008 Draft. It’s probably time he calls it quits, however, as he gave the Titans Matthew Slater, a special teams player in the first round. The gap between Bleacher Report and NFL.com keeps getting smaller.

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