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Ranking the Top 5 NFL quarterback busts

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel
Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel
Walter Sharp
Modified 08 Jan 2021, 12:17 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

With the 2021 NFL Draft approaching its time to look at some great college football quarterbacks that turned into busts in the NFL.

The group of quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft are special but unfortunately there are a few that could flatline in the NFL. Over the years we sit and watch quarterbacks in college and make outrageous statements on how they will dominate the NFL.

NFL franchises watch these same players and listen to the same people tell them that this player is one that could change a franchise. Little did they know the player would change their franchise but not in the way it was intended. Here are the five college football quarterbacks that turned out to be busts in the NFL.

5. Matt Leinart

Matt Leinart would bring home a lot of hardware in his time at USC. His best season was in the 2004 College Football Season. Leinart would lead and win the 2004 National Championship. In the 2005 college football season he would lead USC back to the National Championship.

The National Championship game between the Texas Longhorns and USC Trojans may go down as one of the best games in history. Unfortunately Matt Leinart and the Trojans came up short. Lets take a look at Matt Leinart's stats and awards won at USC.

Matt Leinart's Stats at USC:

  • Completion Percentage: 64.8%
  • Passing yards: 10, 693 yards
  • Touchdowns: 99
  • Interceptions: 23

Matt Leinart's College Football Awards:

  • 2003 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year
  • 2004 AP Player of the Year Award
  • 2004 Consensus All-American
  • 2004 Heisman Memorial Trophy
  • 2004 Manning Award
  • 2004 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year
  • 2004 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award
  • 2005 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award

Matt Leinart was one of the best quarterbacks to play at the University of Southern California (USC).

Matt Leinart's NFL Career

Matt Leinart was selected 10th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. Leinart would start a total of 16 games for the Arizona Cardinals in the four years he spent with the team. Matt Leinart would only complete 57.1% of his passes for the Cardinals.

In four years Matt Leinart would pass for 3,893 yards 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions with the Cardinals. Arizona Cardinals would release the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback after the 2009 NFL Season. Matt Leinart would play for the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders the next two seasons. Leinart walked away from the NFL in 2013.


Looking at all the accomplishments and the stats that Matt Leinart recorded in college it's mind boggling that he failed in the NFL. As crazy as it sounds Matt Leinart would only start 17 games in the NFL before retiring. A former National Champion and Heisman Trophy winner turned out to be a bust in the NFL.

4. Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel was one of the most popular college football quarterbacks of all-time. In two seasons at Texas A&M he made a name for himself. Manziel would bring home all the awards he won in college in the 2012 College Football Season.

Johnny Manziel has would catch every college football fans eyes with his ability to scramble out of the worst situations. Once scrambling out of the situations he would throw a rocket down field for a completion. Manziel also showed tremendous running ability at the quarterback position in college. Here is a look at the stats and awards Johnny Manziel accomplished at Texas A&M.

Johnny Manziel's Stats at Texas A&M:

  • Completion Percentage: 68.9%
  • Passing yards: 7,820 yards
  • Touchdowns: 63
  • Interceptions: 22
  • Rushing Attempts: 345
  • Rushing yards: 2,169 yards
  • Rushing Touchdowns: 30

Johnny Manziel's College Football Awards:

  • 2012 AP Player of the Year Award
  • 2012 Consensus All-American
  • 2012 Davey O'Brien Award
  • 2012 Heisman Memorial Trophy
  • 2012 Manning Award
  • 2012 SEC Offensive Player of the Year Award

Johnny Manziel is one of the best quarterbacks to ever put on a Texas A&M jersey.

Johnny Manziel's NFL Career

Cleveland Browns would select Johnny Manziel with their 22nd pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Manziel would only start eight games in two seasons for the Cleveland Browns. Manziel's off the field issues had a lot to do with his lack of play in the NFL.


In the eight games for the Browns Johnny Manziel would completed 57% of his passes. He would also throw for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. Manziel went (2-6-0) during his two years with the Browns.

Johnny Manziel left Texas A&M after his sophomore year and failed to live up to the hype in the NFL. The former Heisman Trophy winner has yet to return to football. It has been rumored that Johnny Manziel has signed to play football for a league that is controlled by the fans.

3. Robert Griffin III

Washington Football Team would draft quarterback Robert Griffin III with their 2nd pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Griffin III was coming off the best season of his college career. Robert Griffin III would spend all four years at Baylor University.

Griffin III would lead the Big 12 in total yards in his senior season. He would record 4,992 total yards. Robert Griffin III would also lead the Big 12 in total yards per play, passing efficiency, passing touchdowns and passing yards per attempt. Lets take a look at the stats and awards that Robert Griffin III accomplished at Baylor.

Robert Griffin III Stats at Baylor:

  • Completion Percentage: 67.1%
  • Passing yards: 10,366 yards
  • Touchdowns: 78
  • Interceptions 17
  • Rushing attempts: 528
  • Rushing yards: 2,254 yards
  • Rushing touchdowns: 33

Robert Griffin III College Football Awards:

  • 2011 AP Player of the Year Award
  • 2011 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year
  • 2011 Consensus All-American
  • 2011 Davey O'Brien Award
  • 2011 Heisman Memorial Trophy
  • 2011 Manning Award

Some say that Robert Griffin III is responsible for bringing Baylor Football back to being relevant.

Robert Griffin III's NFL Career

Robert Griffin III had an amazing rookie season with the Washington Football Team. He would take them to an NFC East division title. Griffin III would also win the 2012 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

After his rookie season, Robert Griffin III would fail to have a winning season in Washington. In the three years that he spent in Washington he would pass for 8,097 yards, 40 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. The relationship between Robert Griffin III and Head Coach Mike Shanahan was the reasoning behind his departure in Washington.


Since leaving Washington, Robert Griffin III has failed to get his career back on track. He would spend one season in Cleveland where he would record 886 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Since leaving Cleveland he has served as a back up to Lamar Jackson in Baltimore.

2. JaMarcus Russell

Oakland Raiders would select JaMarcus Russell with the number one overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Russell played three seasons at LSU and recorded one good season. JaMarcus Russell would lead the LSU Tigers to three straight bowl games in his three years at starting quarterback.

Russell's junior year was his best statistical year for the LSU Tigers. He would lead LSU to the Allstate Sugar Bowl and defeat Notre Dame 41-14. Here is how JaMarcus Russell earned being picked number one overall in the 2007 NFL Draft.

JaMarcus Russell's Stats at LSU:

  • Completion Percentage: 61.9%
  • Passing Yards: 6,625 yards
  • Touchdowns: 52
  • Interceptions: 21

JaMarcus Russell's College Football Awards:

  • 2006 Manning Award

The stats and awards make fans wonder how he got selected with the number one overall pick but this draft was thin at the quarterback position.

JaMarcus Russell's NFL Career:

JaMarcus Russell may have put together three of the worst seasons by a number one overall pick. JaMarcus Russell would only start one game in his rookie season and threw four interceptions in his rookie year. The Raiders would give him a chance in his second year in the NFL.


In the 2008 NFL Season, JaMarcus Russell would throw for 2,423 yards, 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. This gave the Oakland Raiders hope for Russell. He would only make nine starts in the 2009 NFL Season. JaMarcus Russell only through for 1,287 yards and three touchdowns.

Russell would rack up 11 interceptions in the 2009 NFL Season which led to him being benched. After the 2009 NFL Season JaMarcus Russell would not step a foot on an NFL field. The Raiders made the biggest mistake in their franchises history by drafting JaMarcus Russell.

1. Ryan Leaf

Ryan Leaf would be selected with the second overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. San Diego Chargers would select Ryan Leaf after the Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning. Leaf would put together a great junior and senior seasons at Washington State.

Ryan Leaf's senior season is what won him the number two pick in the 1998 NFL Draft behind Manning. Leaf would lead Washington State to the Rose Bowl to meet Michigan. Washington State would fall to the Wolverines 21-16. Here are the stats and awards Ryan Leaf accomplished at Washington State.

Ryan Leaf's Stats at Washington State:

  • Completion Percentage: 53.8%
  • Passing yards: 7,433 yards
  • Touchdowns: 59
  • Interceptions: 24

Ryan Leaf's College Football Awards:

  • 1997 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year
  • 1997 Sammy Baugh Trophy

Ryan Leaf carried Washington State all the way to the 1998 Rose Bowl game but fell just short.

Ryan Leaf's NFL Career


The only award that Ryan Leaf won in his NFL career was the biggest bust in NFL history. Leaf would play two seasons with the San Diego Chargers and would fail miserably as a starter. In his rookie season, Ryan Leaf would throw two touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

In Ryan Leaf's second season with San Diego he would have a better year when it comes to touchdown passes. He would throw 11 touchdowns but would also throw 18 interceptions. Ryan Leaf would be released by the Chargers after the 2000 NFL Season.

Leaf would spend sometime with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being released before the season started. Ryan Leaf would be signed by the Dallas Cowboys where he would spend his last season in the NFL. Leaf would end his NFL career with 3,666 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.

Published 08 Jan 2021, 12:17 IST
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