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Is Reggie Bush a Draft Bust?

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With all the renewed interest in Reggie Bush recently, I decided I wanted to dive in to one of the bigger issues when it comes to Reggie: is he a draft bust? And while it may be easy to point out the lofty expectations on him and how he has failed to meet them, a draft bust is a completely different beast.

So today we're going to tackle whether or not Reggie Bush is an utter bust who should be looked down upon as such, or whether some people are simply misusing the term.

Make the jump to read on.

In order to figure out whether Bush is a bust we all need to know: what is a draft bust anyway? So I went scouring the internet for a good definition of a draft bust. From what I could find on the internet, the most common definition of a bust is:

A draft bust occurs when a highly touted draftee does not meet expectations.

Uh oh. That would actually describe Reggie to a tee. However, just because a player does not live up to expectations does not mean they are a horrible player. So to test this out, I decided to compare Bush to proven running back busts from the past two decades.


Reggie Bush vs. Lawrence Phillips

Lawrence Phillips was just like Reggie in that he had a very successful college career. Unlike Reggie, however, his starring role in the 1996 National Championship game improved his draft stock. Phillips would end up being drafted 6th overall by the Rams in the 1996 NFL draft. His stats are as follows:

Season Team Rushing Receiving Fumbles
G GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
1999 San Francisco 49ers 8 0 30 144 4.8 68T 2 15 152 10.1 47 0 2 0
1997 Miami Dolphins 2 0 18 44 2.4 8 0 1 6 6.0 6 0 -- --
1997 St. Louis Rams 10 9 183 633 3.5 28 8 10 33 3.3 17 0 3 2
1996 St. Louis Rams 15 11 193 632 3.3 38 4 8 28 3.5 11T 1 2 2
TOTAL 424 1,453 3.4 68 14 34 219 6.4 47 1 7 4

As you can see, he spent only two years in St. Louis even though he was drafted 6th overall. On top of that, he never had more than 700 yards from scrimmage in a season and only started 20 games. Say what you will about Reggie, but he had two seasons with at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage. For comparison purposes, here are Reggie's stats:

Season Team Rushing Receiving Fumbles
G GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2010 New Orleans Saints 8 6 36 150 4.2 23 0 34 208 6.1 20 1 2 1
2009 New Orleans Saints 14 8 70 390 5.6 55 5 47 335 7.1 29 3 4 2
2008 New Orleans Saints 10 9 106 404 3.8 43 2 52 440 8.5 42T 4 3 2
2007 New Orleans Saints 12 10 157 581 3.7 22 4 73 417 5.7 25 2 8 3
2006 New Orleans Saints 16 8 155 565 3.6 18 6 88 742 8.4 74 2 2 2
TOTAL 524 2,090 4.0 55 17 294 2,142 7.3 74 12 19 10

Conclusion: Reggie > Lawrence Phillips.

Reggie Bush vs. Vaughn Dunbar

Now this is a bigger discrepancy, because Dunbar was the 21st overall pick and we're comparing him to the 2nd overall pick. However, Dunbar was a hit in college. In 1991, he was voted a first team All-American, finished 6th in the Heisman voting results and ranked 2nd in rushing yards. He declared for the draft and was taken 21st overall by the Saints. Regardless of draft position, no first round pick should have these kinds of stats:

Season Team Rushing Receiving Fumbles
G GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
1995 Jacksonville Jaguars 14 6 110 361 3.3 26 2 2 11 5.5 8 0 -- --
1995 New Orleans Saints 1 0 0 0 -- -- 0 0 0 -- -- 0 0 0
1994 New Orleans Saints 8 0 3 9 3.0 3 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
1993 New Orleans Saints 0 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
1992 New Orleans Saints 16 8 154 565 3.7 25 3 9 62 6.9 13 0 3 3
TOTAL 267 935 3.5 26 5 11 73 6.6 13 0 3 3

Conclusion: This isn't even a contest. Reggie > Vaughn Dunbar.

Reggie Bush vs. Cadillac Williams

Ok, so I may be cheating a little on this pick. Williams is still playing and is still on the team that drafted him, albeit in a limited role. However, he was top five draft pick and hasn't lived up to expectations based on his college career. Does this sound familiar? It's why I chose Williams as a comparison for Reggie. So let's take a raw look at numbers for the two players to see if my comparison fits. First Williams:

Season Team Rushing Receiving Fumbles
G GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 9 125 437 3.5 45T 2 46 355 7.7 20 1 1 1
2009 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 15 211 823 3.9 35 4 28 217 7.8 22T 3 1 0
2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 1 63 233 3.7 28 4 7 43 6.1 25 0 1 0
2007 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 4 54 208 3.9 20 3 3 17 5.7 8 0 2 2
2006 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 14 225 798 3.5 38 1 30 196 6.5 21 0 3 3
2005 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 14 290 1,178 4.1 71T 6 20 81 4.1 15 0 3 2
TOTAL 968 3,677 3.8 71 20 134 909 6.8 25 4 11 8

And again, Reggie:

Season Team Rushing Receiving Fumbles
G GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2010 New Orleans Saints 8 6 36 150 4.2 23 0 34 208 6.1 20 1 2 1
2009 New Orleans Saints 14 8 70 390 5.6 55 5 47 335 7.1 29 3 4 2
2008 New Orleans Saints 10 9 106 404 3.8 43 2 52 440 8.5 42T 4 3 2
2007 New Orleans Saints 12 10 157 581 3.7 22 4 73 417 5.7 25 2 8 3
2006 New Orleans Saints 16 8 155 565 3.6 18 6 88 742 8.4 74 2 2 2
TOTAL 524 2,090 4.0 55 17 294 2,142 7.3 74 12 19 10

Reggie is a much better receiver (as expected), while Williams is a better rusher. If I had to compare Reggie to another player, Cadillac fits the bill in terms of career structure. Both players had good/great rookie seasons, and just weren't able to come back from injury well.

Conclusion: Reggie Bush = Cadillac Williams

So after all that gobbledygook, is Reggie Bush a draft bust? In my opinion: no. He didn't live up to expectations, but the stats show it could definitely be worse. It's clear to me that the Saints could be worse off with a back whose major character flaw is dating a Kardashian. And if he could stay healthy for a long period of time, he might be able to further separate himself from known draft busts. Reggie may divide Saints fans, but he's not a bust - at least not yet.

So what do you think? Do you agree that Bush isn't a draft bust and just hasn't met the lofty expectations placed upon him? Or do you think that Reggie was the worst draft pick in Saints history? Perhaps he's really just somewhere in the middle. Please leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments.