Thanks to the virtually countless number of moving parts at play, it’s pretty hard to definitively predict how the opening round of the NFL Draft is going to pan out when everything is said and done.
We typically have a good idea of which players are in the mix to go near the top by the time the big night rolls around, and while the league usually takes a long, hard look at the writing on the wall when determining which players it will invite to attend the event in person, its prophetic powers have routinely left a bit to be desired.
In 2023, Will Levis became the latest person to fall victim to an overabundance of hype, as his predraft comments about wanting to avoid a torturous wait in the green room came back to haunt him after he ended up unclaimed following the conclusion of the first round.
There’s no use in mocking Levis for falling victim to that fairly unforeseen drop, and while he undoubtedly wishes things would’ve panned out differently, he can take solace in knowing plenty of other players—including Randy Moss and Aaron Rodgers—were more than able to get some redemption while proving the doubters wrong over the course of their careers.
Levis may have experienced one of the more drastic slides in recent memory, but it’s not even close to being the worst one in the history of the draft when you take a look at some of the other players who saw their stock take an absolutely massive hit.
Which player experienced the worst slide at the NFL Draft?
You can’t talk about dramatic NFL Draft slides without mentioning Larmey Tunsil, who appeared to be a shoo-in to be selected in the top five until a video of him smoking weed out of a gas mask bong surfaced 10 minutes before it kicked off in 2016.
However, he “only” dropped to the 13th spot, which is certainly better than a fate that’s befallen a couple of notable names: not getting drafted at all.
That includes Vontaze Burfict, who is a bit of an interesting case.
The linebacker obviously had what it took to make it in the NFL based on how he played at Arizona State, and he easily could’ve gone in the first round in 2012 based on his prowess on the gridiron.
However, his contributions on the field were severely overshadowed by a number of issues that raised an unreal number of red flags.
He didn’t do himself any favors with his abysmal showing at the NFL Combine (where he also failed a drug test), and his reputation as a loose cannon with a notable lack of self-control meant no teams were willing to risk wasting a draft pick on him by the time everything was said and done.
The Bengals opted to take a chance on Burfict by signing him as an undrafted free agent, and while many of the concerns surrounding him were manifested in the form of dirty hits and other controversies that spawned a steady stream of ejections, fines, and suspensions, he made over $30 million before seemingly reaching the end of his career in 2019.
In 2015, La’el Collins also befell a similar fate—albeit for some very different reasons.
It seemed like the LSU product had the potential to go in the top ten, but NFL teams who were in search of an offensive tackle opted to turn elsewhere after he was interviewed by police in connection to the shooting death of a pregnant woman he’d previously been involved with just a couple of days before the draft took place.
Collins wasn’t considered a suspect and was never charged in a case that remains unsolved, but it was enough to keep NFL teams away (which probably had something to do with the fact his agent said he’d refuse to play for any franchise that selected him after the third round).
He ultimately agreed to sign with the Cowboys after the draft and has done pretty well for himself when you consider he’s made close to $50 million over the course of six seasons.