Biggest quarterback busts

Jamarcus Russell was a No. 1 pick, drafted a spot ahead of Calvin Johnson; Rick Mirer was a No. 2, drafted a spot behind Drew Bledsoe. Getty Images

Every Friday Mel Kiper writes about the NFL through the prism of the NFL draft. For this piece, we asked him to evaluate the biggest quarterback busts since he's been in the business.

I loved Andre Ware. You can ask me right now how I felt about him as a pro prospect, and I'll say it again -- really loved his chances. Yeah, there were concerns about the "Run & Shoot" offense he was coming out of at Houston, but he was accurate, had good enough arm strength and had the necessary height, and his leadership skills were there. In retrospect, you never quite know whether it was the situation a guy was drafted into or if he was forced to start too early or any number of things that contributed to his transition. There are always busts. And you're left wondering if you need to throw away an evaluation method, chalk it up to flukiness or somewhere in between.

I put out my first draft guide in 1978. Since then, the magnitude of the term "draft bust" seems to have grown exponentially. But the reality is still the same: You wonder in every case why it happened and what you may have missed. People discussed my ranking of the best picks from the top 10 a lot, so I thought I'd do a couple pieces on the busts. Let's start today with quarterbacks, from the time I started until now. These are the biggest busts of my time. We'll call it "The Unlucky 13."

Jack Thompson, No. 3 overall to Cincinnati, 1979
Called "The Throwin' Samoan" while on the Palouse, Thompson is one on a long list of quarterbacks Washington State has produced. Unfortunately, a couple of them are on this list. (There are a disproportionate total of busts drafted by the Bengals as well, but more on that next week.) When he left WSU, Thompson was the most prolific passer in NCAA history, but when he finished in the NFL, just five years later, he had about 2,500 fewer yards than he did in his time with the Cougs.