April 22, 2009 // NFL Fighting Irish

All Time Notre Dame Draft Busts

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Yesterday we took a look at the biggest Draft Steals in Notre Dame history.  Today we’ll take a 180 degree turn and look at their counterparts – the All Time Notre Dame Draft Busts.  As always, feel free to add to this list in the comments.  I will put together a post at the end of the week with the steals and busts which get left in the comments.

1. Rick Mirer

8001215-chiefs-v-seahawks(1st Round – 2nd Overall) – Seattle Seahawks – 1992
It might not be fair to label a quarterback who broke rookie records for yards, attempts, and completions, but considering the hype surrounding Mirer (pictured right – Elsa Hasch/TSN/Icon SMI) coming out of college, it’s hard not to. Mirer was a golden boy quarterback at Notre Dame and was selected by the Seahawks with the 2nd overall pick in the 1992 Draft. He had an up and down rookie campaign, but could not improve that campaign over the course of an 11 year career that saw him get traded to the Bears for a first round pick only to be cut a year later. To be fair, Mirer played for a different offensive coordinator in each of his first three years which had to impact his development.

2. Derek Brown

(1st Round – 14th Overall) – New York Giants – 1992
Our second Notre Dame Draft bust came 12 picks after our first bust in the same draft. The Giants selected Brown with the 14th overall pick in the draft hoping he’d be able to take over for another former Notre Dame tight end who had a great career for the Giants – Mark Bavaro. Instead, Brown ended up 43 receptions for 401 yards and 1 touchdown… in his entire career. If Mirer weren’t a quarterback, Brown would probably be #1 on this list. In Brown’s defense though, the ’92 Draft produced just one tight end to ever make a Pro Bowl – Mark Chumura.

3. Steve Niehaus

(1st Round – 2nd Overall) – Seattle Seahawks – 1976
Niehaus was a standout for Notre Dame and ended up getting drafted 2nd overall by the Seahawks which was actually the first draft pick in Seahawks history. Niehaus had a stellar rookie season with 9.5 sacks to earn rookie of the year honors, but injuries caused him to start just six games over the next three seasons and he was out of the league by 1979. ESPN ranked Niehaus the 21st Biggest Draft Bust.

4. Walt Patulski

(1st Round – 1st Overall) – Buffalo Bills – 1972
When the biggest #1 overall busts are discussed, Patulski’s name usually comes up. Patulski was a consensus All American and Lombardi Award winner for the Irish in the early 70’s, but like our #3 Draft bust, injuries really stalled his development and cut his career short. Patulski spent just four seasons with the Bills and was out of the NFL by 1977.

5. Irv Smith

(1st Round – 20th Overall) – New Orleans Saints – 1993
Irv Smith became a star at Notre Dame thanks in large part to his famous touchdown catch against Indiana in 1991 when, as a backup, he carried half of the Indiana defense on his back for a touchdown (Watch it Via YouTube) . He ended up having a great career for the Irish which he parlayed into a first round selection by the Saints. Unfortunately he never could make the same impact in the NFL

6. Tony Hunter

(1st Round – 12th Overall) – Buffalo Bills – 1983
Hunter is well represented in the Notre Dame record books at wide receiver. In fact, Michael Floyd just broke Hunter’s freshman receiving yards record this past season. Hunter was the 12th overall selection in 1983, but his career lasted just four years and ended with a 15 catch, 206 yard season in 1986.

7. Kevin Hardy

(1st Round – 12th Overall) – New Orleans Saints – 1968
Hardy was an All World athlete at Notre Dame – a three sport star in football, baseball, and basketball. He was drafted by the Pirates out of high school, but went on to be a two time All American for the Irish on the gridiron. Hardy was selected 7th overall in the 1968 NFL Draft by the Saints, but he never played a game for New Orleans and had just a four year career without ever becoming a regular starter.

8. Tom Carter

(1st Round – 17th Overall) – Washington Redskins – 1993
Carter had a long career and produced some decent stats (27 career interceptions), but if you ask most Redskin fans about some of their biggest draft busts in the last 20 years, Carter’s name is usually towards the top of the list. Carter was also listed by NBC Sports as one of the biggest Notre Dame Draft busts . Despite the strong interception total, Carter was known for getting beat just as often.

9. Jim Seymour

(1st Round – 10th Overall) – Chicago Bears – 1969
Seymour rewrote the Notre Dame receiving record books while he was with the Irish. He led Notre Dame in receiving for three seasons from 1966-68 before being selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1969 Draft by the Bears. Seymour caught just 21 passes for 385 yards and 5 touchdowns in three seasons with the Bears before he was out of the NFL.

10. Brock Williams

(3rd Round – 86th Overall) – New England Patriots – 2001
I4884229_notre_dame_v_lsut might be a stretch to label a third round pick a bust, but when you consider that Williams actually left Notre Dame with a year of eligibility remaining it’s not that much of a stretch. Notre Dame fans remember Williams for getting burned often early in his career before having a strong senior season. With a year of eligibility remaining, Williams declared for the draft and ended up having a great performance at the combine. After being a third round selection by the Patriots, Williams suffered an ACL injury and never materialized in the NFL.

Honorable Mention: Darius Walker

(Undrafted) – 2007
Darius Walker surprised everyone in 2007 when he decided to declare for the NFL Draft after the 2006 season as a true junior. Walker had the Notre Dame career rushing mark in his sights and wasn’t considered to be an elite prospect. He lacked ideal size and speed for the NFL level and as a result, he went undrafted in the ’07 Draft. He bounced around a bit as a free agent, but appears to be at the end of his NFL career already. Walker might not be able to be considered a bust since he wasn’t actually drafted, but his story definitely qualifies as the most bizarre Notre Dame Draft story.

Comments to this Article

  • C-Dog commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 7:42 am

    With Mirer, definite bust, but you never know at quarterback. I’d bet if you look at all QBs drafted in histroy by all teams from all schools, the stats would show more busts than other positions. I’d never waste a draft pick on a QB unless I could trade for a couple players.

    Darius Walker’s case was odd in that he left early, but I bet he saw the next year coming. He’s a smart kid. Just hope he ends up with his ND degree.

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  • Paul commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Hey Darius, Come up to Canada, you would be a star in the CFL. Small, shifty backs thrive with the larger field. I know it’s not the NFL, but you can make a pretty good living if your good.

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  • somebody commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 11:05 am

    C-Dog, Darius has been around all semester and is finishing his degree right now. He’s graduating in a few weeks.

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  • JC commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Frankie,

    How about some of the successful 1st round guys? Like Tim Brown. I always love hearing about Tim.

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  • domer.mq commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 11:47 am

    You’re on a roll with these lists of ND players lately. Nice job. Really enjoying it. I’d completely forgotten Brock Williams. I saw that name and it was like I “flashed” and it was all bad.

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  • Matt commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    If you are going to put Darius Walker on there then you have to put Maurice Stovall. Darius had a couple of good games for the Texans and wasn’t even drafted. On the other hand Stovall was a third round pick I believe and has yet to make any impact for the Sucanneers.

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  • rich m commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    How about Ken Mcafee

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  • rick higgins commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    how about the Rocket?

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  • Kyle commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I don’t think Darius qualifies as a bust when he wasn’t even drafted.

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  • Frankie V commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    @ JC, I plan on doing a post with some of the successful picks as well.

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  • John commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    http://collegefootball.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=937921

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  • Jay T. commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I remember watching Mirer as a rookie with the Seahawks.
    He looked good and if I remember correctly he was either 2nd or 3rd place (along with the Bus) as rookie of the year in the NFL.
    But, it was all down hill after that…………. I often wondered with all the coaching changes if it hurt his game and he lost confidence…………

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  • Kyle commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I blamed Dennis Erickson for Rick Mirer’s decline. He ruined everything he touched in the NFL.

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  • C-Dog commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I’m glad to hear Darius is going to get his degree. Smart move. And the suggestion that he try the CFL, that’s a great one. Flutie and Rocket had great CFL careers.

    McAffee goes on the list of guys who used the NFL to save money for another career. Dr. Ken can fix your teeth.

    How about the Honorable Allen Page?

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  • JC commented on April 22nd, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Thank you Frankie, your the man! Great job on these profiles.

    [Reply]

  • Mike commented on April 24th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    How about Jim Seymour’s AA mate, QB Terry Hanratty? Backed up Bradshaw at Pittsburgh – as a kid I waited to see him get on the field – it was a long wait.

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  • John K. Walker commented on April 29th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    McAfee had tremendous hands and was a huge blocker, but just too slow for the NFL. Ismail, on the other hand, was about the fastest cutting runner in football history, but the NFL (unlike the NCAA, the CFL – where he did thrive for a while — and the AFL before that) doesn’t have flankerbacks, and he wasn’t big or tough enough to be an effective wide receiver.

    Though only of many Heisman QB’s who weren’t top pros, John Huarte must be listed, although he was better than people think, wrongly associating him with Gary Beeban of UCLA. Also, Hanratty actually alternated with Terry Bradshaw for several years in Pittsburgh — and even appeared in a “tastes great / less filling” Miller Lite TV commercial!

    And as much as I liked him, what about Reggie Brooks (who Beano Cook declared should have won the Heisman after the USC victory in his senior year)? Bettis was basically his blocking back, but once again, size matters more in the NFL, and Brooks’ career (I believe it was with the Bengals) didn’t go very far.

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  • luvtheirish commented on May 8th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Jim Seymour was the greatest college receiver I ever saw play in person. He had hands that could catch a pea shot through a brick wall!

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  • TGEM7 commented on June 2nd, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Let’s not forget about Demetrius Dubose LB. Another honorable mention for the draft bust list.

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  • Rick commented on November 3rd, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    How about Mike McCoy and Vegas Ferguson? Or two time All American, no-pro, Tom Gatewood? Best reverse-bust: Rocky Bleier. Paul Hornung WAS a bust, his first four years. Vince changed all of that. The Rocket was the biggest, though.

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  • dustin commented on April 21st, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Reggie Brooks I think he should be number 3

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  • Terry commented on April 25th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    What about Ron Powlis? All the acolades and did nothing in the pros.

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  • MikeP commented on May 27th, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Any receiver getting picked by the Bears was going to be tagged a ‘bust’.The Bears still can’t recognize receiving talent,and after a 60 year search may have finally found a franchise QB in Cutler.So don’t be unfair to Jim Seymour.The Bears would have cut Jerry Rice by his second year.

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  • Gary Malloy commented on January 3rd, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    If you are going to write articles about people and give your OPINIONS on who was good or a flop. Get the BASIC FACTS correct. Rick was drafted in 1993 a year after Derek Brown was drafted.

    Rick in fact had great success in his first two years in Seattle. I will not name, names here but when Seattle changed coaches it basically ruined Rick’s career. The new Seattle coach brought not only his personal problems to the Seahawks and that team, he was completely over his head as a professional coach. Rick became the scape goat for that coach and his horrible time in Seattle. Check the records.

    With regard to Derek Browns career at Notre Dame he had the great pleasure of graduating from one of America’s finest universities and was the starting tight end on a national championship team. But the truth of the matter is that Derek was completely underutilized at N.D. Notre Dame has so many great running backs during Derek’s career and he was such an incredibly great blocking Tight End that he was never developed as the pass catching Tight End (High School Player of the Year) out of Merit Island, High School that he should of been.

    If you are going to write about people and their lives, then know what you are talking about.

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  • Paul Brekke-Miesner commented on June 25th, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Kevin Hardy also was a victim of knee injuries which curtailed a promising pro career.

    [Reply]

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