The 40 Most Disappointing Draft Picks of All Time

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5. Akili Smith
> League: NFL
> Drafted: 3rd overall, Cincinnati Bengals, 1999
> Position: Quarterback
> Professional games played: 22

Upon hearing the term “draft bust,” Akili Smith is likely one of the first names that comes to mind for many sports fans. Smith impressed NFL scouts in his lone year at the University of Oregon, and the Cincinnati Bengals took him third overall, hoping they found their franchise quarterback. But Smith’s college skills didn’t translate to the NFL. He later said that he partied and drank alcohol to excess, which likely contributed to his struggles. Smith started 17 games for the Bengals over four seasons, throwing just five touchdowns.

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4. Alexandre Volchkov
> League: NHL
> Drafted: 4th overall, Washington Capitals, 1996
> Position: Center
> Professional games played: 3

Alexandre Volchkov never materialized into the star player the Washington Capitals clearly hoped he would become. The Russian center was drafted fourth overall after a promising amatuer career. But Volchkov could only manage to get into three NHL games, spending just 30 total minutes on the ice. Volchkov spent years in developmental leagues before heading back to Russia in 2000.

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3. Mark Appel
> League: MLB
> Drafted: 1st overall, Houston Astros, 2013
> Position: Pitcher
> Professional games played: 0

One of the most recent players on this list, Mark Appel may also be one of the most surprising. Appel was drafted first overall in 2013, and the Houston Astros expected him to be the pitching centerpiece of the dynasty they had worked for years to build. But Appel could never find the success many in baseball thought he would, posting high ERAs in the minor leagues. Now Appel says he is taking an “indefinite break” from baseball and is pursuing some of his other interests. If he never comes back, he will be just the third number one overall pick who never made it to the major leagues.

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2. Ryan Leaf
> League: NFL
> Drafted: 2nd overall, San Diego Chargers, 1998
> Position: Quarterback
> Professional games played: 25

Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning were neck and neck in the race to be the top pick in the 1998 Draft. The Indianapolis Colts were split between the two, but ultimately chose Manning, who went on to be an all-time great NFL player. Leaf dealt with maturity issues as well as substance abuse problems that quickly derailed his career. After his career ended, Leaf became addicted to painkillers and was arrested for breaking into several homes of friends to try to steal their pills. After getting out of prison, Leaf got sober and now hosts a radio sports talk show.

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1. Anthony Bennett
> League: NBA
> Drafted: 1st overall, Cleveland Cavaliers, 2013
> Position: Power forward
> Professional games played: 151

Anthony Bennett became one of the most surprising top overall picks in the NBA, when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him first overall in 2013. Many scouts and NBA executives didn’t think Bennett should have been drafted that highly, and it appears they were right. Bennett shot an abysmal 39.2% from the floor in his four years in the NBA. He bounced around four teams in his tenure. He was traded by the Cavs to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who cut him after the season. He also played sparingly for the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets. Bennett is currently trying to revive his career in the NBA’s developmental G League, so his days in the league may not be totally finished. The bust label, however, will surely stick to Bennett indefinitely.