Move over, Ryan Leaf! JaMarcus Russell won't be getting a bust in Canton, but he certainly has been a bust. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Russell will now likely be considered the biggest draft bust in NFL history. He will have been paid more than $39 million by the Raiders, while producing only seven wins as a starter.
Keeping with the theme of "busts", as well as continuing the post-draft hangover, let's take a look at the biggest Patriots draft busts since 2001. (I won't look at the 2009 or 2010 drafts because that's just unfair). I define a bust as a player drafted in the first two rounds who did not perform as well as hoped during their stay with the New England Patriots.
1st Round "Busts"
Daniel Graham (2002) - 21st overall pick, was selected as the best college tight end as a senior. Graham was expected to be the next Ben Coates and was a major let down. He never put up great receiving statistics, despite remaining an above average blocker. He suffered from a bad case of the "dropsies" early on in his career and never produced as expected. Although he was elected a team captain in 2006, his on field performance never matched his locker room leadership.
Bust Factor: While Graham was a let down, he was far from being a major bust. He did what was asked of him and, while he never stole the show, he was competent. 6/10
Benjamin Watson (2004) - A 32nd overall pick, Watson was supposed to be everything that Graham wasn't- a big time receiver who could put up the big numbers. Watson certainly became a better receiver than Graham, but was unable to be as successful of a blocker. Watson just wasn't the complete package that he was expected to be. He also experienced "stone hands" every one in a while and just became too unreliable. He was phased out of the offense and walked this off-season.
Bust Factor: 5/10
Laurence Maroney (2006) - Taken 21st overall, Maroney remains on the roster today. There are legions of Maroney haters that combat Maroney supporters every season. It's hard to label Maroney a bust when he shows so much promise in 4-5 games a season...and just lets everyone down the rest of the year. He was expected to become a workhorse back in a tandem after Corey Dillon, but Maroney never progressed to that point of command in the running game. He's still competing for a starting role this season.
Bust Factor: 5/10
2nd Round "Busts"
Bethel Johnson (2003) - 45th overall, Johnson was expected to be a game changer in the offense. That never happened as Johnson was unable to catch the ball. He was a preview for "speed doesn't equal talent" and the failed Joey Galloway experiment. Despite his failure as a receiver, he was a reliable returnman...like Tedd Ginn Jr. (oh, and FYI: I consider fellow 2003 2nd rounder Eugene Wilson a reasonable player and not a bust).
Bust Factor: 8/10
Chad Jackson (2006) - 36th overall, Jackson was expected to be a complete receiver. However, injuries prevented him from really performing on the field and the Patriots got fed up with waiting for him to shine. I have a hard time labeling someone a bust due to injuries, but Jackson wasn't cut during the season- he was cut in training camp in 2008.
Bust Factor: 8/10
Terrence Wheatley (2008) - 62nd overall, Wheatley showed promise as a rookie, effectively shutting down Peyton Manning. Unfortunately, he was injured that game. This past season, while healthy, Wheatley was surpassed on the depth chart by Rookie Darius Butler, Old Man Springs, and fellow draftee Jonathan Wilhite. Wheatley will most likely get another season to prove himself, but don't be surprised if he gets cut.
Bust Factor: 6/10
While that may seem depressing, my "Bust Factor" value is completely objective. If I gave them a 5/10, that means they're an average player from where they were drafted. They could still be above average (Maroney is better than a lot of other backs in the league), but for a first round pick, he's still just an average player.
Also, I ran through the numbers at Miguel's Patscap site (wonderful information about salaries) and guess what? These 6 players I deem "bust" worthy all cost us LESS than what the Raiders had to fork over to JaMarcus Russell (roughly 32m the Patriots paid vs the 39m the Raiders paid). So while we may have missed a few over the years, at least we didn't put all our eggs in one basket- only to see that basket have a giant hole in it.
(Maybe Russell ate his way through the basket)