We all know that busts in the NFL draft are inevitable. We should also know that they happen at every position. Of course, we only tend to focus on the quarterback position and the offensive side of the ball. The truth is that there have been plenty of “can’t-miss” linebackers who accomplished nothing in the NFL, failing to live up to the hype. To show that busts happen all over the field, let’s look at the biggest linebacker busts in NFL history.
Trev Alberts – 5th Overall, 1994
After winning the Butkus Award and Lambert Trophy in college Alberts was surely worth the fifth overall pick in the draft. But the injury bug got the best of him in the NFL.
Over three seasons with the Colts, Alberts was only able to play in 29 games, starting seven games. He managed just 69 tackles during those games and four sacks, never living up to his potential.
Huey Richardson – 15th Overall, 1991
After a great college career at Florida, the Steelers drafted Richardson but tried to get him to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Moving him to inside linebacker didn’t help either.
A year after being drafted 15th overall, Pittsburgh accepted a seventh-round pick in a trade for Richardson. Things didn’t work out with Washington or the Jets either and Richardson was finished after two seasons and 16 games in the NFL.
Aaron Maybin – 11th Overall, 2009
Maybin looked like a can’t-miss prospect after being a consensus All-American at Penn State. But the Bills parted ways with him after Maybin failed to record a sack in his first two seasons.
He caught on with the Jets and amassed six sacks the next year. But he couldn’t keep it going the following year and ended up playing just 48 NFL games over four seasons, collecting just 36 tackles and six sacks. To his credit, Maybin has done well after football as both an artist and an activist.
Mike Junkin – 5th Overall, 1987
Junkin is one of many bad draft picks made by the Browns over the years with head coach Marty Schottenheimer overruling the team’s scouts to take him fifth overall. Of course, the Browns didn’t help Junkin or themselves by trying to move him to outside linebacker despite playing inside linebacker in college.
By the time they moved him back inside, injuries started to hinder Junkin, who was later traded to the Chiefs after Schottenheimer was fired by the Browns and hired in Kansas City. But more injuries and a lack of interest when the Chiefs released him ended Junkin’s NFL career after just three seasons.
Brian Bosworth – 1987 Supplemental Draft
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because there was a 30 for 30 movie made about his extraordinary college career and downfall in the NFL. He was an all-everything in college, becoming one of the few defensive players to be a Heisman nominee and winning the Butkus Award twice. Bosworth also led Oklahoma to a national championship in 1985.
After some drama with the draft and his stated refusal to play for certain teams, Bosworth signed a 10-year, $11 million contract with the Seahawks, the biggest a rookie had ever signed at the time. He played well for two seasons, although he never lived up to the hype of the trash talk he spewed. Ultimately, a shoulder injury ended his career early, helping make Bosworth one of the most spectacular busts in NFL history.