10 biggest NFL draft busts in Tennessee football history

The Tennessee Volunteers have produced many legendary players into the NFL, but a few early draft picks had careers that didn't pan out after leaving Knoxville.

Tennessee sophomore quarterback Heath Shuler (21)
Tennessee sophomore quarterback Heath Shuler (21) / Rex Perry / The Tennessean / USA TODAY
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 10
Next

2017. No. 14 overall. Derek Barnett. Derek Barnett, DE. player. . 9. 54. . Derek Barnett, DE

Philadelphia was also able to recover from the mishap of drafting a Tennessee pass rusher and win a Super Bowl. In Barnett’s first season, he racked up 5.0 sacks and the Eagles beat Tom Brady’s Patriots in the Super Bowl. Barnett played all three games in the playoffs and recorded a sack. 

Barnett had a moderately successful seven-year career with the Eagles and made the playoffs with Houston in 2023, but a 6.5 sack season in 2019 was his most productive year. Using the 14th overall pick in a draft where Marlon Humphrey, Tre’Davious White, Jonathan Allen, and T.J. Watt should have been a catastrophic miss, but Philly’s roster was so loaded in 2017 that it didn’t matter. 

Obviously, Barnett was more effective than Todd Kelly, who came in at No. 10, but the draft capital of a top 15 pick is the differentiator that pushes Barnett to No. 9 for me.