As we get closer to the 2017 NFL Draft, it’s fun to look back at homeruns and swings-and-misses from drafts in the past. While Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell are obvious example of major draft “busts,” ESPN recently listed the biggest draft bust for each franchise’s history. Coming in for the Saints, Kicker turned convict, Russell Erxleben.
This pick is as much a part of Saints infamy as the bags that fans used to wear over their heads. No kicker or punter has been drafted higher than Erxleben over the past 50 years in the NFL, and he was a total bust. A strong-legged All-American punter at Texas, Erxleben still holds a share of the NCAA record for longest field goal off a tee (67 yards). But he didn't even win the kicking job in New Orleans and made just 4 of 8 field goal attempts in his career, while spending five seasons as the Saints' punter. To make matters worse, Erxleben threw a game-losing interception in overtime of his first game against the Falcons after a snap sailed over his head.
Obviously Johnathan Sullivan is another name that comes to mind as a major draft busts for the Saints, after the Saints traded two first round picks to select Sullivan 6th overall in 2003. At least Sullivan, though, didn’t have Erxleben’s history off-the-field once he get out of football.
Erxleben retired from football permanently in 1998, and was then arrested in 2000 and sentenced to 7 years in a federal prison and to pay back $28 million in restitution for securities fraud. He was arrested yet again in 2013 and sentenced in 2014 to 7 more years in prison for a different, unrelated financial scam.