The NFL is full of talented players who made their way through the ranks of high school and college football.
Some NFL players surprised coaches and fans by becoming Pro Bowl caliber players after only moderate college successes. Other players watched as their careers fizzled out before they really began.
In the case of NFL quarterbacks some of the worst NFL draft picks have been acquired over the last 20 years.
Here’s our list of the top 13 NFL quarterback draft fails that shouldn’t have happened in the last two decades.
Drafted: Round 1, 10th Overall, 2006
The Cardinals quarterback was a highly touted prospect who was supposed to turn the team around. Instead Leinart entered his first season with an 11-to-21 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions.
Eventually Leinart jumped around from Arizona to Houston and then Oakland. During his career Leinart’s TD-to-INT ratio has jumped to 15-to-21. 11 of his touchdown passes came as a rookie in 2006.
Since his rookie year Leinart has thrown 4 touchdowns with 9 interceptions.
Drafted: Round 2, 60th Overall, 1995
Kordell Stewart had one really good year and then stuck around for 10 NFL seasons.
The Pittsburgh Steelers may have had something to do with Stewart’s demise. They attempted to use him as a quarterback, running back, receiver, punter, etc.
Stewart was never happy with his everyman role and eventually made his way to Chicago where he failed as a starting QB.
In the end Stewart was a backup quarterback and emergency punter for the Ravens.
Drafted: Round 3, 67th Overall, 2005
While Charlie Frye was picked up rather late in Round 3 there were still a lot of hope for his career with the Cleveland Browns.
Frye was considered to be an underrated passer who performed good work at Akron.
Eventually Fry would fill in as a backup quarterback in Seattle and then Oakland.
His career stats are nothing to rave about but as a Round 3 pick he still has a career in the NFL which is more than we can say for many NFL hopefuls and short-term players.
Drafted: Round 2, 40th Overall, 2007
How do you replace Dan Marino in Miami? You don’t do it with a BYU quarterback.
Miami believed John Beck could learn from starting QB Trend Green and eventually develop into an NFL caliber starter. Green was eventually injured and then Cleo Lemon failed to impress. Beck ultimately took to the field in his rookie year and lost all five of his starts.
Eventually the Dolphins drafted Chad Henne and Chad Pennington and John Beck was pushed back to the QB 3 spot. Beck was traded to the Ravens where he served as the backup QB from 2009 until 2010.
The Ravens then handed off Beck to the Redskins in 2011. Beck is still hoping for a QB1 spot but time is quickly slipping away from him.
Beck may be the only player on our list whose failure can be partially blamed on the injuries of other players.
Drafted: Round 1, 25th Overall, 2005
Campbell didn’t just throw interceptions, he also suffered through a career of injuries. Campbell started with the Washington Redskins but was eventually dealt to Oakland.
His time in Oakland yielded better results but ultimately the team traded for Carson Palmer when Campbell was suffering through another injury.
Campbell’s biggest failure was letting down a team that has been in desperate need for a franchise QB for some time.
Drafted: Round 1, 11th Overall, 1999
Oh Daunte Culpepper how you managed to break the hearts of your fans. Culpepper became such a disappointment because he showed regular spurts of genius backed up by horrid play calling.
In 2004 Culpepper became the leader with the Minnesota Vikings after he replaced Randall Cunningham.
Culpepper had athleticism but he was often injured and ultimately his play was ineffective in a league that left him behind.
While Culpepper made three Pro Bowls over his career his constant fumbles and failure to get the job done lands him on this list.
Drafted: Round 1, 22nd Overall, 2003
When Rex Grossman left college ball he was being called the next Brett Favre. 10 years later Grossman has been to a Super Bowl but as any Chicago Bears fan can attest that appearance was more the product of a strong running game and a great defense than a Rex Grossman type arm.
Grossman’s biggest problem? He throws interceptions as if he’s trying to hand the ball to the other team.
After a decade in the NFL with several starting QB jobs under his belt Grossman has racked up a lousy 71.6 passer rating.
Drafted: Round 1, 18th Overall, 2000
Pennington was another NFL draft bust whose career was sidelined by numerous injuries.
In 2000 Pennington replaced Vinny Testaverde and in 2002 he led the New York Jets to the playoffs.
A lack of arm strength hurt his NFL prospects and because of constant injuries even backing up an NFL quarterback has been hard work for the once rising NFL star.
Drafted: Round 1, 22nd Overall, 2007
Brady Quinn was taken by the Cleveland Browns in 2007 and was coached by NFL offensive legend Charlie Weis.
We don’t even want to mention all of the ways in which Brady Quinn failed at his job.
The best way to sum up his failure is to note that in 2010 he was traded to the Denver Broncos where he was placed behind Tim Tebow.
Drafted: Round 1, 19th Overall, 2003
Boller was picked up by Ravens head coach Brian Billick in 2003.
The Ravens had great defense but they couldn’t turn over games without a worthwhile QB. Kyle Boller was a strong-armed quarterback in college but he was too slow to keep up with the speed of NFL player. Experts also noted that Kyle Boller never really understood NFL defenses.
Throwing turnovers and getting injured is a familiar theme on our Top 14 NFL Quarterback draft fails and Boller is no exception.
Just like other fails before him Boller didn’t leave the NFL, he just became a backup QB for the Rams and Raiders.
Drafted: Round 1, 3rd Overall, 2006
Vince Young was a favorite of Titans owner Bud Adams and was drafted 3rd overall despite the objections of head coach Jeff Fisher.
Young had horrible throwing mechanics and during intelligence tests he scored low on the NFL spectrum. While Young was a very athletic QB he wasn’t a very good passer.
Young did flash some moments of brilliance but then quickly turned those moments around with a really bad timed interception or a misread play.
His immature behavior and off-field antics eventually led to his dismissal and he took Jeff Fisher down with him.
Drafted: Round 1, 3rd Overall, 2002
Joey Harrington was robbed of the 2001 Heisman Trophy and fans quickly backed up the promising QB.
Despite his college Heisman loss Harrington always seemed to carry a sunny and positive disposition.
Detroit was hoping for a franchise quarterback and instead they were met with interceptions, bad mechanics, and a QB who failed to properly read NFL defenses.
Harrington left the NFL to become a musician and chef — enough said.
The worst NFL QB Draft choice in history? Ask any Raiders fan what they think about JaMarcus Russell and they will have some choice words for the 2007 1st Overall NFL Draft pick.
Without a rookie wage scale in place the Raiders selected Russell first overall and gave him $39 million guaranteed for three seasons.
JaMarcus would rack up an 18-to-23 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
After being released by the Raiders in 2010 he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
JaMarcus Russell was so bad with the Raiders that his jersey wasn’t wore against until Terrelle Pryor started wearing it in 2013.
There have been other failed NFL quarterback draft choices over the years but those are the 13 worst NFL quarterback draft picks of the last 20 years.