Like my beloved father always used to say, "If you are going to do something, do it right."
I was reminded of my dad's words of wisdom recently after reading a tweet about former first-round selection and Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell. It seems that Russell was asked during an interview on 'The Pivot' about how he felt about being considered possibly the biggest first-round draft bust in league history.
Russell stepped up and owned his rather dubious status in NFL history. He surmised that if they were going to mention his status as one of the biggest first-round busts in NFL history, they better be sure to mention that he is the biggest ever.
Russell said, "I must've been the best of the biggest."
If you can't be famous, at least be notorious.
Russell was severely over-drafted because he had one of the strongest throwing arms many NFL scouts had ever evaluated. It shouldn't have surprised anyone when the Raiders were infatuated with the shiniest of all the new prospects. Being over-drafted by the Raiders wasn't Russell's fault. However, his notoriously poor work ethic was all him. There was plenty of blame to go around on that one.
That trip down memory lane got me thinking. Who would Steelers Nation consider to be the biggest first-round draft bust in the modern era of Steelers history?
That basically sets the parameters. Underwhelming first round picks since the 1970 NFL Draft until present day.
I immediately eliminated Gabe Riveria, because his potential was never realized due to the tragic car accident. I also ruled out everybody's favorite whipping boy Terrell Edmunds, because although he hasn't lived up to many fan's expectations, he has been a reliable and durable multi-year starter. No way he deserves mention on this list.
Let's take a quick look at the Notorious 5 that actually do.
John Rienstra & Tim Worley
Basically, outside of the legendary Rod Woodson in 1987, the Steelers first-round selections in the 80's were disastrous. It's no wonder why the Steelers roster got old and lacked elite talent during the decade. Louis Lipps was the only other above-average starter drafted in the first round during the 80's.
I grouped Rienstra and Worley in the same section of this article because I struggled to determine who was the biggest bust. Both were top-10 draft picks for an aging franchise in desperate need of a infusion of young talent. Neither player provided the Steelers any relief.
Rienstra was the 9th selection in the 1986 NFL Draft. He was a nondescript offensive guard from Temple University. Many in the local sports media openly questioned the selection, even for a franchise renowned for locating off-the-beaten-path talents. Goggle John Stallworth for confirmation. Although many years have passed, the vast majority are still wondering about the selection. Although Rienstra started 14 games for the Steelers in 1989, he never came close to justifying his draft position.
Worley was the 7th overall selection of the 1989 NFL Draft. He was a talented collegiate running back with the Georgia Bulldogs. He definitely looked like a potential superstar. Big, tall, and fast; Worley had every physical attribute you could ask for in a running back. Sadly, he was never able to duplicate his promising rookie season. He struggled with ball security, injuries, and off-the-field issues in his disappointing short stint with the Steelers.
The 90's didn't start out any better for the Steelers scouting department. Actually, the Steelers hit rock bottom in 1991 with the last-second desperation selection of Florida outside linebacker Richardson with the 15th overall pick of the draft. When all the Steelers targeted prospects had already been selected leading up to their selection, the Steelers panicked and picked Richardson. Definitely not how you want to run your draft room. Not surprisingly, Richardson turned out to be a huge mistake. He never even started a game for the Steelers.
Stephens was the 29th overall selection for the Steelers in the 1996 NFL Draft. He was considered a gigantic offensive tackle project from North Carolina A&T. The Steelers admitted no less. Apparently the Steelers thought that they were in a position to warrant the inevitable delay. Basically, the Steelers thought he was worth the wait. He wasn't. Stephens did manage to start 10 games for the Steelers during the 1998 campaign, but that was the extent of his success. Thankfully his failure ended the first-round project experiments in Pittsburgh.
I almost selected former Steelers cornerback Artie Burns for this dubious spot on the list, but I ended up choosing Jarvis Jones due to his higher draft positioning. Jarvis Jones was selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Steelers. Jones was a highly productive, two-time All American player at outside linebacker for the Georgia Bulldogs. Although Jones displayed subpar athleticism during the predraft process, the Steelers were apparently captivated by his collegiate production. He was never able to approach that level of production on the professional level, barely able to pass as a serviceable starter on occasion for the Steelers during his four years with the team.
There you have it, the Notorious Five. The 5 biggest first-round draft busts for the Steelers in my opinion. That only leaves me with one final decision. Who is the biggest of them all?
In my humble opinion, that not so distinguished honor would have to go to:
Richardson not only never started a game, but he barely cracked the stat sheet for the Steelers. Even graded against the meager accomplishments of the other four candidates, Richardson has to be the obvious choice in my opinion.
Now it's your turn to make your opinion known and your voice heard. Who do you think is the biggest first-round draft bust in Steelers history? One of my top five, or maybe you have someone completely different in mind. Vote in the attached poll, and then explain your thought process in the comment thread below.
This article is meant to be a fun and entertaining community discussion and distraction only, another way to pass the time as we anxiously await the start of training camp next week.
Who is the biggest first round draft bust for the Steelers in the modern era?
This poll is closed
A = John Rienstra
B = Tim Worley
C = Huey Richardson
D = Jamain Stephens
F = Jarvis Jones