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NFL Draft: No. 1 picks that turned busts

The NFL has had its fair share of highly-touted draft picks who ultimately failed to live up to their potential.

Here are some of the most notable NFL draft busts, all of whom were selected first overall.

Read more: Best No. 1 picks in NFL Draft history

JaMarcus Russell

Oakland Raiders (2007)

Russell is generally considered to be the biggest draft bust in NFL Draft history. He was seen as one of the most promising quarterback prospects ever, with all the physical tools to be a huge star when he came out of LSU in 2007.

But he played just three seasons in the league and finished his career with a 7-18 record as a starter.

The Raiders were warned against taking him with the first pick by their former player Matt Millen, who kicked him out of a pre-draft interview with the Detroit Lions for being overly distracted.

But Oakland were sold on his impressive physical traits and the cannon of an arm that many thought could save the ailing franchise.

In his rookie season, Russell experienced some of the troubles that most quarterbacks do when adjusting, completing just 53.8% of his passes.

But his inability to read defences and inaccuracy was probably more costly than for most others as he threw five times as many interceptions as TDs.

In his second season, Russell's situation deteriorated further. Despite throwing 13 touchdowns and only eight interceptions, his off-field problems started to overshadow his performance.

He faced regular criticism for his lack of dedication and work ethic. During that season, Russell's weight increased to more than 300 pounds, and he found it difficult to maintain his fitness.

Steve Emtman

Indianapolis Colts (1992)

At 6-4 and 290 pounds, Emtman played like a human wrecking ball at the University of Washington, but his NFL career never took off because of injuries.

As a rookie, he recorded 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and a forced fumble in just three games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

The next season, he lasted five games with one sack, and blew out his other knee.

In his third and final year with the Colts, he didn't start any of the four games he played and had one sack, but a neck injury put him out again.

And so, just over three years after he was drafted, the Colts waived Emtman after he refused to accept a $1.3 million salary reduction.

Read more: NFL Draft dates, schedule, venue, history and more

Courtney Brown

Cleveland Browns (2000)

Like Emtman, Brown's career was a case of what might have been but for the injury curse. He ran a blistering 4.52 time for the 40-yard dash in college to ensure he was selected ahead of Penn State teammate Lavar Arrington in the 2000 NFL Draft.

And he flashed serious potential in his rookie season before suffering ankle and knee injuries.

He recorded 17 sacks in five years with Cleveland before finishing his career in 2005 with the Denver Broncos.

Ki-Jana Carter

Cincinnati Bengals (1995)

Back in the days when running backs were viewed as more valuable than now, Carter was the undisputed rushing star coming out of college.

In 1994, he led Penn State to an undefeated record and a berth at the Rose Bowl, where he rushing for 156 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, including an 83-yard touchdown on the first offensive play of the game.

That performance secured his status as the number one pick for the Bengals, who had traded up from No.5 to ensure they got him.

But things didn't work out in Cincinnati as he suffered a torn knee ligament on only his third professional carry - in a preseason game - that caused him to miss all of his rookie year.

He never quite recaptured his explosive ability on returning from that injury and, through a number of other injury issues, failed to fulfill his promise.

Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns (2018)

There's still time for Mayfield to turn his career around in the NFL, but the former Oklahoma star is on his fourth NFL team now after the Browns lost faith in him.

It was a surprise when Cleveland used their No.1 overall selection on the Sooners star in the quarterback-laden draft of 2018, taking him ahead of the presumptive pick Sam Darnold.

Standing at just over 6ft tall, Mayfield did not have the majestic pocket presence of a Peyton Manning or the quickness of other QBs in his draft class like Lamar Jackson.

But he brought a ton of moxie and self-belief that should have lifted a team that had gone 1-31 over the previous two seasons.

However, he was never that far from controversy in Cleveland with various spats with coaches and teammates bringing unwelcome publicity to the organization.

There was enough improvement in his second year by Lake Erie to suggest it could work out, but ultimately a torn labrum ended his fourth season in Cleveland and he was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional fifth-round draft pick in 2022.

Read more: Every NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick

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