In case you need reminding, there are three phases to the game of football: offense, defense, and special teams. Of course, most fans tend to overlook special teams in many circumstances, including when we talk about draft busts. Whether you realize it or not, there have been many special teams players who were high draft picks and expected to be stars, only to fall well short of those expectations. Since we never want to forget special teams, here are the biggest special teams busts in NFL history.
Admittedly, it might be unfair to label Janikowski as a bust. He did play 18 seasons and is the all-time points leader for the Raiders in franchise history. On the other hand, he was the 17th overall pick and was supposed to be a generational talent. But he only made one Pro Bowl and made fewer than 80% of his field goals during six of his 18 seasons.
If he were a late-round pick, we’d probably look at him differently. But considering the hype around him at the start of his career, Janikowski turned into a bit of a bust.
Despite playing at Wyoming, DePoyster had a standout career, becoming the first college kicker to make three field goals of over 50 yards in the same game. He was easily the best kicker available that year and well-deserving of the second-round pick the Lions used on him.
He served as both a placekicker and punter but spent just one year in Detroit before serving in the Army for two years. He then returned to the NFL but played just two seasons with the Raiders before his career ended. Over those three seasons, he made just three of 15 field goals and missed two of his 20 extra points, falling well short of expectations.
Erxleben was a three-time All-American as a punter at Texas and remains the only punter to have that distinction. He was also a great placekicker during his collegiate career, helping inspire the Saints to use the 11th overall pick in the 1979 Draft on him, figuring that Erxleben could handle both roles. But he never excelled in either role and never made the Pro Bowl.
After three seasons of Erxleben in both roles, New Orleans drafted Morten Andersen to be their placekicker and then released Erxleben two years later when they drafted Brian Hansen as their new punter.
While Feller was only a fourth-round pick, he was actually the first kicker ever drafted. After a standout college career at Texas, it seemed like he would be worth it.
However, he made just six of 20 field goals with the Eagles as a rookie before spending the next two seasons with the Saints. After making just 37% of his field goals in those three seasons, his career was over and an utter disappointment.
If you watched Aguayo kick in college, he would have looked like a can’t-miss placekicker at the next level and worthy of the second-round pick the Bucs used to get him. He ended his college career as the third-most accurate kicker in NCAA history.
But for whatever reason, it didn’t carry over to the NFL. He made just 22 of 31 field goals as a rookie, causing Tampa to release him before his second season. He’s struggled to hold onto a job ever since after looking like a generational talent coming out of Florida State.