The List: Worst No. 1 picks of all time
By Jeff Merron
Page 2 staff

LeBron James and Marc Andre-Fleury probably don't have to worry about ending up on this list.

Carson Palmer? We got no idea; he's going to have to actually step on the field before we even hazard a guess. And as for Delmon Young? Well, we got no idea about the baseball draft.

Still, it's safe to say that this is one list that no hot prospect wants to make. It's Page 2's list of the 10 worst No. 1 draft picks of all time in any of the four major professional sports. (At least Sam Bowie can be thankful that he was picked No. 2 overall.)

1. LaRue Martin, 1972 NBA Draft
The 6-foot-11 center averaged 5.3 points per game and 4.6 rebounds in his four NBA seasons, all with the Portland Trail Blazers. With the No. 2 pick, the Buffalo Braves selected Bob McAdoo out of North Carolina. Other first-round picks: Paul Westphal, picked 10th by the Celtics, and Julius Erving, selected 12th by the Bucks.

2. Aundray Bruce, 1988 NFL Draft
The defensive end, a former Auburn star picked by the Falcons, played 41 NFL games over the next 11 years and recorded only four INTs and 32 sacks. The Falcons could have had another defensive lineman, Neil Smith, whom the Chiefs picked with the second overall choice. Smith played in six Pro Bowls.
Brien Taylor
After flunking out of the Yankees' system, Taylor played in the minors with Seattle.

3. Brien Taylor, 1991 MLB Draft
The next great pitching phenom went to the Yankees, in typical New York largesse. Taylor got a huge signing bonus ($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 he 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.

4. Brian Lawton, 1983 NHL Draft
The Minnesota North Stars passed on Pat Lafontaine and Steve Yzerman to pick Lawton, the first and last No. 1 out of a U.S. high school since the entry draft began. Lawton, selected as an 18-year-old out of Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I., played for seven NHL teams and five minor-league clubs over the next decade. His best season with the North Stars came in 1986-87, when he scored 21 goals and had 23 assists.

Steve Emtman
Steve Emtman won the Outland and Lombardi trophies at Washington, but his NFL career was derailed by injuries.
5. Steve Emtman, 1992 NFL Draft
Emtman was the best defensive lineman in college football in 1991, and the junior skipped his final season at the University of Washington to turn pro. The Colts bit, selecting Emtman with the No. 1 pick in the draft and following that up with Texas A&M linebacker Quentin Coryatt at No. 2 overall. Indy got little return on its ownership of the first two picks.

Emtman played nine games his rookie season before blowing out his knee. He returned the following season, only to injure his other knee. He had a slew of operations and played only 10 games over the next six years before retiring with eight career sacks. (Coryatt didn't fare much better, playing just 97 games and amassing eight sacks in an eight-year career.)

6. Greg Joly, 1974 NHL Draft
The first player ever drafted by the Washington Capitals, Joly was touted as the next Bobby Orr -- but it wasn't to be for the young defenseman. As an 18-year-old on the worst team in NHL history (the Caps went 8-67-5), Joly scored only one goal in 44 games. He had just 97 points total in his NHL career.

"I felt sorry for Greg," teammate Bob Gryp said years later. "If he had played on a good team and been allowed to break in slowly, he probably would have become a very good player, maybe even an All-Star."

Ki-Jana Carter
Ki-Jana Carter was selected by the Bengals. Enough said.
7. Ki-Jana Carter, 1995 NFL Draft
After being picked by the Bengals (as if that weren't enough of a jinx), the former Penn State running back battled injuries and started only 14 games in six NFL seasons, running for a career total of 1,055 yards. Meanwhile, Cincy passed over Steve McNair and Warren Sapp, who also went in the first round.

8. Pervis Ellison, 1989 NBA Draft
The 6-10 swingman from Louisville was 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. Among the first-rounders the Kings passed up: Glen Rice, Mookie Blaylock, Tim Hardaway, and Vlade Divac.

9. Bill McGill, 1962 NBA Draft
The Chicago Zephyrs liked the looks of Bill "The Hill" McGill, a 6-9, 225-pound center out of Utah. But McGill would play only five seasons for five different NBA and ABA teams, averaging 10 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Among the players Chicago passed on: John Havlicek, selected seventh (the final first round pick) by the Celtics.

10. Kenneth Sims, 1982 NFL Draft
Sims, a defensive tackle from Texas, looked good to the Patriots. But his eight seasons in New England were mediocre, at best. Among those the Pats passed on: Jim McMahon and Marcus Allen.

Also receiving votes:
Alexander Daigle
Alexander Daigle has worn six different NHL sweaters.

  • Alexandre Daigle, 1993 NHL Draft: Supposed to be the next Mario Lemieux, Daigle was picked by Ottawa in 1993. The Senators passed on Chris Pronger, Paul Kariya and Adam Deadmarsh, among others, and signed Daigle to one of the richest rookie contracts ever. His best NHL season thus far: 51 points.

  • Steve Chilcott, 1966 MLB Draft: The Mets did a pretty good job of building a future winner in the mid-1960s, but sometimes the formula didn't add up. Steve Chilcott is exhibit No. 1. The Mets picked him over Reggie Jackson, who went No. 2 to the A's. Chilcott played six minor-league seasons before suffering career-ending injuries.

  • Walt Patulski, 1972 NFL Draft: The Bills thought Patulski would be a better addition to the team than, say, Franco Harris.

  • Shawn Abner, 1984 MLB Draft: The Mets' top pick 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 with 11 HRs and 71 RBI. Nine picks later in 1984, the A's selected USC's Mark McGwire.



    The List: NFL Fantasy Finishes

    Schoenfield: Top 10 sad retirements

    The List: Best teammate feuds

    The List: Greatest coaching moves

    The List: Biggest postseason distractions

    The List: Most painful losses in baseball history

    The List: Worst coaching decisions

    The List: Greatest NFL playoff upsets

    Email story
    Most sent
    Print story

    espn Page 2 index