Following an outstanding senior season at Oregon in 2001, the Detroit Lions drafted quarterback Joey Harrington with the third overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. The move was made because Harrington was viewed as a player that could become the Lions' franchise quarterback. He was expected to end the Lions' issues at QB, but as you all know, they certainly did not go away.
During his rookie season, Harrington made 12 starts and appeared in 14 games. He completed only 50.1 percent of his passes and threw for 2,294 yards, 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Over the next two seasons he started 32 games and averaged a completion percentage of 55.9 and threw for an average of 2,964 yards, 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. The Lions did improve their record from 3-13 to 5-11 and to 6-10 over those three seasons, but progress didn't seem to be made at the quarterback position.
In 2005, things hit the fan when Harrington was benched in favor of Jeff Garcia. Harrington still started 11 games, completing 57 percent of his passes and throwing for 2,021 yards, 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Lions' record regressed to 5-11, however, and in the offseason the Lions traded Harrington to the Dolphins.
While Harrington certainly had his issues and didn't seem to have the mental make-up of a starting QB in the NFL, what led to him being the third biggest bust since 2001 had just as much to do with the Lions as him. Switching coaches after his rookie season and going to the West Coast Offense didn't help, nor did the internal strife over Harrington between Matt Millen and Steve Mariucci. Mariucci wanted to make Harrington a backup for a while to let him learn from the sidelines, but Millen essentially forced Harrington to stay in the starting lineup. Millen's vision was to improve Harrington's supporting cast while the coaches tried to develop Harrington, but neither really happened. In fact, Millen's desire to put playmakers around Harrington resulted in the Lions drafting the top two busts on this list, which you probably can already guess.
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