The NFC South is another fairly successful division from the past decade. All four teams have been to at least one Super Bowl since 2009.
The NFC South has seen a lot of great players such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees but there have also been quite a few duds in this division as well. In this article we will discuss each NFC South team’s biggest NFL Draft bust.
First the four teams are the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Atlanta Falcons: Bruce Pickens
The Atlanta Falcons selected cornerback Bruce Pickens with the 1st overall pick in the 1991 NFL Draft out of Nebraska. The Falcons drafted Pickens to pair him with the team’s star player, fellow cornerback Deion Sanders.
Pickens and Sanders were the Falcons backfield tandem for two years until Sanders left to sign with the 49ers following the 1993 season. However this dream tandem never really worked out, Pickens only started eight out of 27 games in Atlanta.
Sanders said that in practice he had observed Pickens getting lost in coverage and it showed on the field. Since Sanders was a lockdown corner and scary to throw to, every team would throw to the inferior Pickens and it devastated the Falcons defense.
After his third season in Atlanta Pickens was traded to Green Bay but his time there was not long either and he was out of the NFL after the 1995 season.
Carolina Panthers: Rae Carruth
The Carolina Panthers selected wide receiver Rae Carruth with the 27th overall pick in the 1997 NFL draft out of Colorado. Here is another bust whose off the field antics made him a bust.
Before that incident Carruth had a good enough rookie season, starting 14 games and catching three touchdowns.
In November of 1999 the mother of Rae Carruth’s unborn child, Cherica Adams was shot in her car and left for dead. She survived long enough to call 911 and get to the hospital where her child was born prematurely before she succumbed to her injuries.
Carruth was found responsible for her murder and sent to prison thus ending his once promising NFL career.
New Orleans Saints: Russell Erxleben
The New Orleans Saints selected kicker Russell Erxleben with the 11th overall pick in the 1979 NFL Draft out of Texas. Nowadays in the NFL it is custom to not draft a special teams player in the first round. The last time it was done was in 2000 and in this situation it did not work out for the Saints.
The Saints drafted Erxleben hoping he would be the team’s star player but that’s hard to do when you’re a kicker and not a quarterback or linebacker.
In Erxleben’s rookie year he missed a game tying field goal against the Los Angeles Rams who went on to win the Saints division and eliminate the Saints out of playoff contention.
In his second year he missed another game tying field goal this time against the 49ers who were not very good at the time. After that game the Saints lost 14 straight and finished the 1980 season 1-15.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vinny Testaverde
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected quarterback Vinny Testaverde with the first overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft out of Miami. Even though Testaverde started for the Bucs for six straight seasons he was never that good as an NFL quarterback.
Testaverde had a 24-48 win-loss record and a 77-112 touchdown to interception ratio. Testaverde is still in the top five for the single season interception stat. In 1988 he threw a whopping 35 interceptions.
After Tampa Bay Testaverde became an NFL journeyman and unlike a lot of busts he managed to play 20 years in the NFL as a backup and finally retired in 2008 at the age of 44.