The SEC is expected to dominate the first round of the NFL Draft later tonight, with as many as 12 players potentially being selected in the first round. Over the last several years the SEC has produced more NFL talent than any other conference in the nation; however, they’ve also produced some major busts, as well.
Particularly at quarterback, the conference has produced some major disappointments in the National Football League. These are the five biggest SEC draft busts of all-time (with a heavy influence of quarterbacks):
No. 1 Overall Pick: JaMarcus Russell, QB LSU (2007)-
You really shouldn’t be doing any list of NFL Draft busts without listing JaMarcus Russell, and when you’re doing an SEC-specific list, he belongs at the top. Everybody was enamored with Russell’s physical tools to the point that they ignored the fact that he was generally disinterested altogether. Oakland, who set the gold standard for questionable draft picks, invested $61 million and gave Russell $32 million up front, and in exchange they got a 7-18 record as a starter and off-the-field issues to boot.
No. 1 Overall Pick: Aundray Bruce, LB Auburn (1988)-
Bruce was an All-American for Auburn in 1987 and he was the MVP of the Citrus Bowl. The Atlanta Falcons made him the No. 1 overall pick in 1988, and he spent ten years in the league between Atlanta and Oakland as a serviceable player. Unfortunately, as a No. 1 pick, he never really lived up to the potential and he simply wasn’t worthy of the investment of a first overall pick.
No. 1 Overall Pick: Tim Couch, QB Kentucky (1999)-
You wanna know a little bit about how poor the Cleveland Browns have been historically, Tim Couch is actually one of the better quarterbacks (statistically) of all-time for the Browns. However, I don’t think anyone in Cuyahoga County will correct you when you say Couch was a bust. Couch was one of the greatest high school athletes of all-time and he was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1998, but a lot of his success was predicated on the “Air Raid” offense he played in at Kentucky. After leaving Cleveland, Couch made multiple attempts at a comeback and was rumored to be linked with steroid in 2007 when he was signed by the Jaguars.
No. 3 Overall Pick: Heath Shuler, QB Tennessee (1994)-
Before there was Peyton Manning, Heath Shuler ruled the roost in Tennessee. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1993 and the Washington Redskins took him with the third overall pick. Unfortunately for Redskins fans (and luckily for North Carolina’s 11th District), Shuler didn’t really start being productive in Washington until after his NFL career was over. He’s a Congressman now, so he wasn’t a complete bust, but on the football field, his career 54.3 quarterback rating didn’t quite cut it.
No. 4 Overall Pick: Keith McCants, LB Alabama (1990)-
McCants was a consensus All-American for Alabama in 1989 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent the fourth overall pick on him. They gave him a $2.5 million signing bonus, which was then a record, and McCants didn’t provide much in return. The freakish athlete didn’t adjust well to the NFL at linebacker, so in 1991 he was moved to defensive end. He had some raw ability as a pass-rusher, but he didn’t produce much and he was cut in 1993. After pit stops in Houston and Arizona, he was out of the league by 1995 and he has had his a few run-ins with the law since then.