Akili Smith (Oregon)
In an unexpected development, Oregon quarterback Akili Smith rocketed up draft boards during the 1998 season. A relatively unknown commodity at the beginning of the season, Smith burst onto the scene with 36 touchdowns compared to just 8 interceptions. Seduced by a dominant performance in his final season at Oregon, and an impressive workout at the NFL combine, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Smith with the #3 pick in the 1999 NFL draft. Before we get into his horrific NFL career, this is the part that is going to blow your mind … Before the 1999 draft, the New Orleans Saints offered the Bengals NINE draft picks in exchange for the #3 pick, which they used to draft Smith (the Saints wanted Texas running back Ricky Williams). In one of the worst decisions in NFL history, the Bengals passed up on the Saints insanely generous offer and decided to stick with Smith.
To make matters worse (yes, they can get worse) here are the four players drafted immediately after Smith; Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, and Champ Bailey! Back to Smith’s NFL career… At Oregon he excelled because of his elite athleticism, but at the pro level Smith needed to understand a playbook and display accuracy on his throws. He was never able to do either, and was out of the NFL after four miserable seasons in which he played 22 games and totaled 5 touchdowns and 26 turnovers.