Even though offensive players tend to get most of the attention, we know that defensive players are not immune from being considered busts in the NFL. That is surely the case for many cornerbacks who were drafted early but failed to deliver. Surely, we can all think of one or two cornerbacks who turned into busts. But we dug a little deeper to come up with the five biggest cornerback busts in NFL draft history.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, 58th Overall, 2014
In his defense, Jean-Baptiste was only a second-round pick, taken 58th overall in 2014. But even second-round picks should be held to certain standards and he came nowhere close to meeting them.
Jean-Baptiste played in just four games as a rookie and was cut after the preseason of his second season. He got a chance with a handful of other teams but ended up playing just five games in the NFL, recording one tackle.
Ahmad Carroll, 25th Overall, 2004
In college, Carroll was twice an All-SEC First-Team selection and was also an All-American track athlete, making him seem like a can’t-miss prospect. However, he was burned by receivers time and time again, ultimately getting cut by the Packers after three lackluster seasons.
Stints with the Jaguars and Jets didn’t go much better, although he did manage three interceptions during his brief and disappointing NFL career. Carroll also played in the CFL briefly and retired after winning the Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts in 2012.
Dee Milliner, 9th Overall, 2013
Milliner was an elite cornerback at Alabama, only to be benched multiple times during his rookie season for getting beat. To his credit, he started to play better late in his rookie season and ended up starting 12 games with 15 defended passes and three picks.
Of course, any hope of Milliner redeeming himself went out the door because of a series of injuries that kept him off the field over the next three years. Milliner played in just eight games from 2014 to 2016. Early in the 2016 season, the Jets released him and nobody was willing to give him another chance.
Bruce Pickens, 3rd Overall, 1991
Most fans have forgotten about Pickens, who should have been a star after the Falcons drafted him third overall. However, he was raw and unpolished after spending most of his college career in junior college before transferring to Nebraska.
He just wasn’t ready for the NFL and the Falcons gave up on him early in his third season. When all was said and done, Pickens spent parts of four seasons in the NFL with four different teams, managing just 88 tackles and two interceptions.
Justin Gilbert, 8th Overall, 2014
The Browns are no stranger to poor draft selections and Gilbert is among the worst. He was an All-American cornerback and a dangerous kick returner, which justified Cleveland taking him eighth overall. But things never clicked for him in the NFL, spending most of his two seasons with the Browns in a reserve role.
Cleveland received a sixth-round pick when they traded him to Pittsburgh after two seasons, although he played mostly on special teams with the Steelers, playing less than a dozen defensive snaps. Pittsburgh released him after one season and after Gilbert was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, the league never heard from him again.