With a record number of NFL draft picks and Pro Football Hall of Famers, USC football was bound to have a few draft busts along the way.
Every year, a couple of hundred players are selected in the NFL Draft. Though not every player goes into his professional career with the same expectations.
For some guys, including a host of USC football players, the bar is set high due to their outstanding play in college. First round picks are especially the recipient of such pressure to perform.
Whether it be through injuries, poor luck or an overall game that doesn’t translate to the next level, some players never quite reach those expectations. Fair or not, they’re labeled busts.
Let’s walk through a list of Trojan greats who didn’t quite replicate their collegiate success in the NFL, starting with No. 25…
1st Round (9th Overall), 1999
The winner of the 1998 Butkus Award for being the nation’s best linebacker, Chris Claiborne is a key member of USC’s Club 55. In fact, you can make a great argument that he turned in the best Trojan career of anyone who has worn the No. 55 jersey.
So it’s not surprising that expectations were high when the Detroit Lions drafted him ninth overall in the 1999 NFL Draft, far ahead of college football stars Jevon Kearse and Andy Katzenmoyer.
But while Claiborne didn’t have an NFL career to be ashamed of, totaling 565 combined tackles over an eight-year career, his time as a pro didn’t reach the magnitude of his dominant 1998 season at USC.
According to Pro Football Reference’s approximate value metric, Claiborne’s two best seasons came right out of the chute. He started 13 games for Detroit in 1999, a year highlighted by three recovered fumbles.