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30 Most Infamous NFL Draft Busts: Where Are They Now?

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The NFL Draft is the world’s biggest crapshoot. 

Will the quarterback you pick as your next franchise QB be the next Peyton Manning or the next Ryan Leaf? Is that player who lights up the NFL Scouting Combine more Brian Urlacher or Mike Mamula? Is that small-school kid who wows scouts the second coming of Joe Flacco or Giovanni Carmazzi?

As a result, every year there are high-profile draft picks who go from can't-miss prospects to the unemployment line in the blink of an eye.

With that in mind, we take a look at the 30 most infamous busts in NFL Draft history and answer the question, “Where are they now?” 

— Compiled by Jim Weber, a veteran college sports journalist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. Weber has written for CBS Sports Network, NBCSports.com, ESPN the Magazine and the college sports website he founded and sold, LostLettermen.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JimMWeber.

30. Aundray Bruce (No. 1 overall, 1988 NFL Draft)

To Bruce’s credit, he played 11 years in the NFL, which is far more than most of the players on this list. But when you are the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, teams expect a Hall of Famer instead of a reserve, role player. He currently resides in Montgomery, Alabama.

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29. Rick Mirer (No. 2 overall, 1993 NFL Draft)

Mirer’s career wasn’t terrible but so much more was expected from the former Notre Dame QB than losing almost twice as many games as he won on Sundays (24-44). He now lives outside San Francisco and co-owns a wine company.

Twitter: @RickMirer

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28. Trev Alberts (No. 5 overall, 1994 NFL Draft)

Alberts’ NFL career never got off the ground, as injuries limited him to just 29 games. He went on to become a college football analyst for ESPN before being named Nebraska-Omaha’s athletic director in 2009 — a position he holds to this day.

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27. David Klingler (No. 6 overall, 1992 NFL Draft)

Klingler went from airing it out at Houston to getting crushed in the NFL, as he finished with a 4-20 career record for the Cincinnati “Bungles.” Klingler now works in the faith as an Associate Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary.

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26. Mike Williams (No. 10 overall, 2005 NFL Draft)

Another colossal blunder by former Detroit Lions GM Matt Millen, Williams caught just 37 balls in the Motor City and played only three more seasons elsewhere. Williams is still in football, as he’s now the head coach at Van Nuys High School in California. 

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25. Dan McGwire (No. 16 overall, 1991 NFL Draft)

Dan McGwire was not nearly as successful at the pro level as his big brother, Mark, as Dan started just five career games. He now lives in Reno, Nevada, and works for an executive search firm in the lighting industry.

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24. Blair Thomas (No. 2 overall, 1990 NFL Draft)

Spoiler alert: This won’t be the last former New York Jet you see on this list. In six NFL seasons, Thomas never had a single 1,000-yard campaign. He now owns a health products company outside of Philadelphia. 

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23. Steve Emtman (No. 1 overall, 1992 NFL Draft)

Beset by injuries throughout his NFL career, Emtman had just eight total sacks. The former Washington Huskies star is back in the Pacific Northwest as the owner of a construction company in Spokane.

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22. Curtis Enis (No. 5 overall, 1998 NFL Draft)

Another Penn State running back that didn’t pan out at the next level, Enis was hampered with injuries and retired at the age of 24. He’s had a winding post-NFL career that has included being a police officer and a high school head coach. He is currently living near Dayton, Ohio, and a son of his, Solomon, recently received an offer to play for Curtis' alma mater.

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21. Vernon Gholston (No. 6 overall, 2008 NFL Draft)

Of the New York Jets’ many NFL draft blunders, Gholston was the worst. Compared to Lawrence Taylor among his arrival in New York City, Gholston instead finished his NFL career without a single sack. Gholston lives outside New York and now co-owns a health & fitness center. 

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20. Courtney Brown (No. 1 overall, 2000 NFL Draft)

Nicknamed “The Quiet Storm,” Brown’s NFL career was a little too silent, as he compiled just 19 sacks in six seasons as he battled knee problems. Brown now appears to reside in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

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19. Andre Ware (No. 7 overall, 1990 NFL Draft)

Ware piled up 44 TD passes in the 1989 college football season en route to winning the Heisman Trophy but finished with just five scores in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. After bouncing around the CFL and World League, Ware got into broadcasting and is now a college football analyst for ESPN.

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18. Cade McNown (No. 12 overall, 1999 NFL Draft)

The UCLA quarterback won just three career NFL games and was out of the league after two years with the Bears. Even worse than being an NFL Draft bust? Allegedly being banned from the Playboy mansion. McNown is now back in Los Angeles and works in finance.

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17. Matt Leinart (No. 10 overall, 2006 NFL Draft)

Leinart was thought to be a steal as the 10th overall pick in 2006 but never turned into anything more than a serviceable backup QB in the NFL. He’s now back in Los Angeles and around college football as a studio analyst for FOX Sports 1.

Twitter: @MattLeinartQB

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16. Tim Tebow (No. 25 overall, 2010 NFL Draft)

A 47.9 percent career completion percentage caught up to Tebow and his fourth-quarter magic, as he started just 16 games as an NFL quarterback. As has been well chronicled, Tebow is now trying his luck at baseball with the New York Mets’ organization.

Twitter: @TimTebow

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15. Ki-Jana Carter (No. 1 overall, 1995 NFL Draft)

In fairness to Carter, he tore his knee up on the third carry of his rookie preseason and was never the same player. But it’s hard to avoid being labeled a bust when you’re a No. 1 overall pick with a total of 1,144 rushing yards in your NFL career. Carter now lives in South Florida and owns a marketing company.

Twitter: @mastakey32

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14. Tim Couch (No. 1 overall, 1999 NFL Draft)

On an Cleveland Browns expansion roster devoid of talent, Couch sputtered to a 22-37 career record. Don’t feel too bad for Couch though: He lives back in Lexington, Kentucky, working as a sports analyst for FOX Sports South and married to former Playboy Playmate Heather Kozar.

Twitter: @TimCouchTV

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13. Johnny Manziel (No. 22 overall, 2014 NFL Draft)

Poor Cleveland. It’s hard to believe Johnny Football is already on this list but that’s what happens when you party your way out of the league in just two seasons. Manziel claims to have now cleaned up his act and is attempting a comeback at the ripe old age of 24. 

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12. Dimitrius Underwood (No. 29 overall, 1999 NFL Draft)

Underwood infamously walked out after the first day of his rookie training camp citing religious reasons. He played a total of 19 NFL games and struggled with mental health and legal issues over the years. Underwood’s whereabouts are currently unknown, though he appears to be back in his hometown of Philadelphia.

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11. Art Schlichter (No. 4 overall, 1982 NFL Draft)

Schlichter made Pete Rose’s gambling problem look trivial, as the former Ohio State QB who went 0-6 as an NFL starter has spent the last 30-plus years in and out of prison. In 2012, Schlichter was sentenced to 11 years in prison in Ohio for a sports ticket scheme. 

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10. Mike Mamula (No. 7 overall, 1997 NFL Draft)

A “Workout Warrior” whose draft stock saw a meteoric rise after a phenomenal performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, Mamula was out of the league after five average seasons. He is now the co-owner of an employment drug screening company outside Philadelphia.

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9. Charles Rogers (No. 2 overall, 2003 NFL Draft)

Expected to be the next Randy Moss, Rogers caught a total of 36 passes in his NFL career. What followed was a host of drug and legal issues, including a report in 2012 that he threatened to kill his own mother. In a 2014 story for ESPN.com, Rogers said he was clean and studying in Michigan to become a teacher.

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Courtesy: ESPN

8. Heath Shuler (No. 3 overall, 1994 NFL Draft)

Shuler’s first stint in D.C. was a disaster, as he won a total of four games as the Redskins’ starting QB. But he was able to return to the nation’s capital as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007-13. He’s now a crisis management consultant living in Enka, North Carolina.

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7. Akili Smith (No. 3 overall, 1999 NFL Draft)

Smith spent about as much time in Cincinnati partying as he did practicing and threw a total of five career TDs as a result. Smith is currently back in his hometown of San Diego and working as a QB coach for his own company, “Akili Smith Training.”

Twitter: @Akili_Smith

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6. Lawrence Phillips (No. 6 overall, 1996 NFL Draft)

A freak athlete whose troubles started at the University of Nebraska, Phillips fizzled out of the NFL after three unspectacular seasons. Sentenced to 31 years in prison in 2008, Phillips committed suicide in January 2016 after being charged in the murder of his former prison cellmate. 

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5. Todd Marinovich (No. 24 overall, 1991 NFL Draft)

The “Robo QB” raised from the womb to be an NFL quarterback by his overbearing father, Marinovich flamed out spectacularly with the Raiders after just eight career starts due to drug problems. It appeared Marinovich had turned his life around with a passion for painting but he was arrested in August 2016 in a neighbor’s backyard while naked and in possession of drugs. 

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4. Tony Mandarich (No. 2 overall, 1989 NFL Draft)

After bombing out of Green Bay due to drugs, Mandarich salvaged his pro career by playing three substance-free years with the Indianapolis Colts. But people mostly remember Mandarich for his failure with the Packers and being drafted directly ahead of Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders. Mandarich now lives in Phoenix and works in photography.

Twitter: @Tony_Mandarich

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3. Brian Bosworth (1st round, 1987 NFL Supplemental Draft)

“The Boz” was a larger-than-life persona who shrunk under the bright lights of the NFL, playing just three seasons and best remembered for getting run over by Bo Jackson. With a Hollywood acting gig on the side, Bosworth currently lives in Los Angeles and works as a real estate agent. 

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2. JaMarcus Russell (No. 1 pick overall, 2007 NFL Draft)

Eating his way out of the league after just three seasons (18 TDs, 23 INTs), Russell is perhaps best remembered for his arrest over the codeine syrup concoction, “Purple Drank.” Saying in 2016 that he would play for an NFL team for free, no one took him up on the offer. He currently lives in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. 

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1. Ryan Leaf (No. 2 pick overall, 1998 NFL Draft)

Leaf will always be considered the NFL Draft’s biggest bust because his career (14 TDs, 36 INTs) will always be compared to the player taken right before him: Peyton Manning. After being in and out of prison due to drug addiction, Leaf now lives in Los Angeles and works for a rehab center.

Twitter: @RyanDLeaf

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