By Jeff Merron
Page 2

ESPN's 25th anniversary celebration is officially over (though you can still buy the book, including scintillating lists by yours truly), but we still dig the idea.

So, with months and months to go before the next major meat market, we thought we'd sate your draft jones with the worst 25 picks of the ESPN era.

25. Kurt Miller
In 1990, the most celebrated MLP draft pick was Todd Van Poppel, selected 14th by the A's. Van Poppel was a bust, but not as big a bust as Miller, a pitcher who was selected 5th by the Pirates. Miller pitched a grand total of 80 major league innings over five years with the Marlins and Cubs, finishing his career with 2 wins, 7 losses, and a 7.48 ERA.

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24. Lancaster Gordon
With the 8th pick in the 1984 NBA draft, the Clippers decided that Louisville's Lancaster Gordon was a better bet than Gonzaga's John Stockton. Gordon averaged 5.6 ppg in little more than 3 NBA seasons.

23. Anthony Bell
According to draft guru Mel Kiper, when the Cardinals, picking 5th overall in 1986, took the Michigan linebacker, some draft attendees busted a gut with laughter. And they turned out to have the right idea.

22. Bruce Pickens
The Falcons took the Nebraska CB with the 3rd pick overall in 1991. Among those they passed up: Ricky Watters.

Rashaan Salaam
Rashaan Salaam didn't exactly pan out in the NFL.

21. Rashaan Salaam
The 1994 Heisman Trophy winner seemed like a great pick for the Bears, as he was (surprisingly) still available when Chicago picked him in the No. 21 slot. But after setting a Bears rookie rushing record in '95, he fumbled and smoked his way to obscurity, playing his last NFL season in 1997. Multiple comeback attempts failed.

20. Russell Cross
Golden State had the 6th pick in the 1983 draft, and took Russell Cross, a 6'10" forward from Purdue. He played 45 games during his only NBA season, averaging 3.7 ppg.

19. Akili Smith
The 3rd pick overall in the 1999 draft, Smith wasn't even good enough to play for lowly Bengals. Lifetime passer rating after four NFL seasons: 52.8.

18. Ki-Jana Carter
The Bengals picked the Penn State RB first in the 1995 draft. He battled injuries and started only 14 games in six NFL seasons, for a career total of 1,055 yards.

17. Shawn Abner
The Mets took Abner with the 1st pick in the 1984 draft; he made his major league debut with the Padres in 1987 and played only 392 games in six seasons, finishing with a career .227 BA and totals of 11 HR and 71 RBI. Nine picks later in 1984, the A's selected USC's Mark McGwire.

16. Jon Koncak
The 7-footer from SMU went to Atlanta as the No. 5 pick in the 1985 NBA draft. He played 11 NBA seasons -- 10 with the Hawks -- compiling a career average of 4.5 ppg.

15. Pervis Ellison
The 6'10" swingman from Louisville was the No. 1 overall NBA pick in 1989, selected by Sacramento. Over the next 11 seasons, he averaged about 40 games a year, and finished with career averages of 9.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

14. Jim Druckenmiller
The first QB selected in 1997, with the 26th pick by the 49ers, set a record, of sorts, with the fewest career passing yards (239) by a first-round pick in the Super Bowl era. ESPN's Mel Kiper said at the time that the Virginia Tech star should have gone higher: "Druckenmiller is by far the best QB in the draft, and should have gone in the top ten."

Pervis Ellison
At least we got to enjoy Pervis Ellison's different hairstyles.

13. Todd Blackledge
The Chiefs wanted a QB, and with the 7th pick in 1983 took Blackledge. While Jim Kelly and Dan Marino stood in the wings.

12. Todd Marinovich
"Robo QB." The Raiders, perhaps out of loyalty to his father, Marv, a former Oakland lineman and coach, took the mediocre USC QB with their first pick (24th overall) in 1991, and handed him a three-year, $2.27 million contract. He played only eight games during his two years in the NFL.

11. Steve Emtman
Emtman was the best defensive lineman in college football in 1991, and the junior skipped his last year at Washington to go pro. The Colts selected him as the No. 1 pick overall. He played nine games his rookie season, injured one knee, then the other, had a slew of operations, and played only 10 games over the next six years before retiring with eight career sacks.

10. Brian Bosworth
A great, colorful All-America linebacker for Oklahoma, but he failed a drug test and left college early for the NFL draft. The Seahawks took him in the 1987 supplemental draft, and gave him a 10-year, $11 million contract. He only lasted three years in the NFL.

9. Alexandre Daigle
Supposed to be the next Mario Lemieux, and Ottawa picked him first overall in the 1993 NHL draft. Best NHL season: 51 points.

8. Brien Taylor
The 1st overall pick in the 1991 baseball draft got a huge signing bonus from the Yankees ($1.55 million, about $1 million more than the second-highest signing bonus at the time). He was a flamethrower, but hurt his shoulder in a brawl and never recovered, and never made it to the majors. Among the first-rounders picked behind Taylor: Dmitri Young, Doug Glanville, Manny Ramirez, Cliff Floyd, Shawn Green, Eduardo Perez, and Pokey Reese.

7. Kenneth Sims
The Texas DT was the 1st overall pick in the 1982 NFL draft, but played eight mediocre seasons for the Patriots. Among those the Pats passed on: Jim McMahon and Marcus Allen.

6. Tony Mandarich
The Packers, with the 2nd pick overall in the 1989 draft, passed up Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders, who went 3, 4, and 5, for Mandarich. He held out, and got a four-year, $4.4 million deal, a huge sum for a lineman. SI called him "the best offensive line prospect ever," but later called him "The Incredible Bust." Mandarich played seven mediocre years in the NFL.

Ryan Leaf
"What more did I need to do to be No. 1 on this list?"

5. Art Schlichter
The Colts selected Schlichter, a QB, 4th overall in the 1982 draft, and he almost immediately gambled his way out of the game.

4. Heath Shuler
The Redskins used the 3rd overall pick in the 1994 draft on the QB, but eventually gave the starting job to Gus Frerotte, the 195th overall pick in the 1994 draft.

3. Chris Washburn
With the 3rd pick in 1986, the Warriors selected the 6'11" N.C. State center. Only a few months into his first season, he went into drug rehab. The Warriors traded him to the Hawks after he averaged 3.8 ppg in 35 games that season. He slid from there, playing only 90 minutes total for the Hawks in 1987-88. He never played again in the NBA. Could have had: Ron Harper, Dell Curry, Dennis Rodman.

2. Ryan Leaf
The poster boy for bad draft picks was selected 2nd overall by the Chargers in the 1998 draft. Leaf had taken Washington State to the Rose Bowl, but was a total bust in the NFL, and played only three seasons with a horrible passer rating. Could have had: Charles Woodson, Fred Taylor, Randy Moss.

1. Sam Bowie
In 1984, the Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick. The Trailblazers, with the No. 2 selection, passed on Michael Jordan. They passed on Charles Barkley. They passed on John Stockton. Because their scouting told them that seven-foot Kentucky center Sam Bowie was the man. He averaged 10 ppg in an injury-riddled career.