I think we can all agree that NFL draft-day trades can be risky. Teams are making snap decisions before the clock runs out and often giving up multiple picks to move up in the draft and take a specific player. If that player doesn’t pan out, the trade will forever be remembered as a disaster. Let’s take a look back at some of the worst trades made on draft day that have gone down in infamy.
Chargers Move Up One Spot for Ryan Leaf
Not only did the Chargers think Leaf was their long-term answer at quarterback, but they were so desperate to get him that they traded up one spot before someone else could grab him. The cost of moving from third to second in the draft was the 33rd overall pick, Eric Metcalf, and Patrick Sapp.
With the 33rd overall pick, Arizona selected Corey Chavous, who played 10 seasons and went to a Pro Bowl in 2003. Most people forget that the Chargers made that trade to assure themselves the chance to draft Leaf. As we all know, they could not have been more wrong.
Bengals Make Ki-Jana Carter First Overall Pick
While Carter was a great running back in college, he may not have been worth the top overall pick in the draft. For whatever reason, the Bengals needed to have him and didn’t think he’d be there at no. 5, trading the fifth and 36th overall picks to Carolina to get him. Injuries derailed Carter every step of the way, labeling him a bust.
Meanwhile, the Panthers drafted Carter’s Penn State teammate Kerry Collins fifth overall with Collins taking Carolina to the NFC Championship Game in his second season.
Broncos Trade Up to Take Tim Tebow
Not only were the Broncos foolish enough to think that Tim Tebow could be an NFL quarterback, but they actually traded up to get him. Denver gave up the 43rd, 70th, and 114th overall picks so they could select Tebow 25th overall. Granted, the Broncos had an entertaining run and one amazing playoff win out of Tebow.
However, the Ravens used the extra picks to draft both Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, who won a Super Bowl with Baltimore the year they beat the Broncos in the playoffs.
Saints Give Up Everything for Ricky Williams
Mike Ditka wanted Williams so bad he was willing to give away literally every pick New Orleans had in the 1999 draft to move up to take him fifth overall. That’d be a hefty price for any player. The kicker is that the move didn’t pay off.
The Saints went 3-13 that year, causing Ditka to lose his job. For what it’s worth, Washington didn’t make good use of those draft picks, so nobody made out too well from that pick.
Washington Trades Up for Robert Griffin III
In fairness to Washington, Griffin won the Heisman and was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie before that devastating knee injury that derailed his career. If not for that injury, history may be a lot kinder to Washington for this trade. However, they gave the Rams a king’s ransom for the second overall pick in 2012.
While not every pick worked out for the Rams, the likes of Greg Robinson, Alec Ogletree, Michael Brockers, and Janoris Jenkins were selected thanks to that trade. Years later, Jeff Fisher would troll Washington by sending out the players taken with those extra picks as team captains against Washington.