Which NFL Teams Draft The Worst LB’s?


Identifying some of the best (and worst) teams in the history of the NFL that know how to deliver on draft day with successful prospects at the linebacker position felt energizing.

There have been so many productive scouting departments that have proven that drafting linebackers is an art form and they have mastered the stroke with their paint brushes.

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies those teams that for one reason or another can not put it all together on draft day and write down the correct name of a soon to be (successful) NFL linebacker.

We looked at three of the teams who have excelled at drafting the linebacker position. 

Below is a list comprised of some of the worst teams in the league at drafting linebackers.


Who Drafts the Worst LB’s?

Philadelphia Eagles

The No. 1 overall selection belonged to the Eagles back in 1949 and they drafted Chuck Bednarik. He ended up in the Hall of Fame and played 14-years with the team (1949-62) and played in eight Pro Bowls.

The most famous linebacker selected since Bednarik was in 1995.

That’s when the Eagles scouting department flew the coop.

The Eagles traded their first-round selection (12th overall) and two second-round picks (both 1995 picks) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and in exchange the Eagles received the seventh-overall selection in the draft along with a third-round pick.

Boston College’s Mike Mamula was the player the Eagles coveted. He was one of the first to train specifically for NFL combine drills and his results showed this by enhancing his value and blurring the reality of his true football ability.

Considered one of the all-time draft busts in league history, the king’s ransom paid by Philadelphia only magnified the mistake of drafting Mamula. He played five years in Philly and made an example out of the team for all others to follow that you do not get caught up if NFL Combine numbers and stick to the game film.


Cleveland Browns

The Browns had much of their success back before the league introduced Super Bowls into the mix of crowning the NFL’s best. Absent of one trip to America’s ultimate sporting event, the Browns had success in all aspects of drafting players nearly at every position.

Since the modern-era of the NFL dating to the 1970’s, the Browns have used their No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft eight times on the linebacker position.

Without question the leader of the pack is Clay Matthews, who was the staple of consistency racking up 1,561 tackles, 69.5 sacks and named to four Pro Bowls. His career in Cleveland lasted more than a decade (1978-93) and was the pros pro in the NFL.

Matthews was drafted in 1978 with the 12th overall pick. The rest of the seven selections have not turned out so well. Chip Banks gets the nod of approval after earning four Pro Bowl invites, but his selection (3rd overall, 1982) leaves a little more to be desired.

Then the bottom completely fell out on the Browns.

Back-to-back selections of Mike Junkin (1987) and Clifford Charlton (1988) helped establish Cleveland as one of the teams not so advanced in the art of drafting linebackers. Craig Powell’s name was later announced in the 1995 NFL Draft with the team’s first selection.

The combined efforts of the three amounted to a pile of….Well you sort of get the idea.

Making matters worse was the fact that Cleveland actually traded away one of the few linebackers they drafted (and got right) when the sent Chip Banks packing to draft Junkin.

Here is one of the better stats you will read today about the fifth overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft.

Junkin and yours truly have the exact same amount of NFL sacks (zero).  We also have the identical amount of NFL tackles (also zero).

How have they done in the new millennium?

The last linebacker drafted by the Browns was Barkevious Mingo, who is one season away from being tossed in the unwanted pile of draft picks. Mingo was selected sixth overall in the 2013 draft and has Cleveland anxiously awaiting his emergence on defense.

It’s too soon to call Mingo a bust, but he’s quickly heading down that road.

About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.