10. WORST: CHAD JOHNSON (OCHOCINCO)
Johnson’s freshman year of college was spent not playing football at all, at Langston University. In 1997 he transferred to Santa Monica College, and again in 2000 he moved to Oregon State University. While there, he led the Beavers to the Fiesta Bowl where they won against Notre Dame, and that year he broke the school’s record for longest touchdown reception with a 97 yard play.
In his 11 years with the NFL, Johnson only played one with the Pats. Thank goodness. It could even be said that he was a very good player when he was with the Bengals, but for some reason the change of home fields did not agree with him. He was selected to the Pro Bowl six times, with his career best 1,369 yards in 2006, and scored 10 touchdowns in 2003, all while playing with Cincinnati. With the Pats, however, he only managed 276 yards and scored one touchdown.
Basically, he spent a lot of time on the bench. They did let him play in the Super Bowl XLVI, but he had a disappointing one catch for 21 yards.
9. BEST: DEION BRANCH
This Georgian darling played two seasons of football for Jones County Junior College before heading off to the University of Louisville. With Branch on the field, the Cardinals won the 2000 and 2001 Conference USA Football Championships, moving on to the Liberty Bowl both times. Due to his remarkable performance that season, he was named to the All-Conference USA, and was also voted MVP and Outstanding Offensive Performer for the Cardinals. These are only a few of the honours he received during his NCAA career.
His most recent 2.5 seasons have been with the Patriots, and before his 4.5 seasons with the Seahawks, Branch began his NFL career with the Pats and played four seasons with them; these were undoubtedly the best seasons of his career. In fact, 213 of his 518 career receptions were with the Pats; his career best 998 yards were run during his 2015 season with the Pats; during the 11 games he played with the Pats in 2010, Branch had 48 receptions for 706 yards, as well as five touchdowns. His career best 14.7 yards per reception occurred during those 11 games as well.
And both of Branch’s Super Bowl wins have been with the Patriots. It’s obvious that this man thrives as a Patriot!
8. WORST: BRANDON TATE
Another promising college recruit who was a serious letdown.
At the University of North Carolina, Tate was a star. He ended his freshman year as 22nd in the country for kickoff returns, and his sophomore year saw him place second in the Atlantic Coast Conference for kick returns, as well as third for punt returns. Among other shocking plays and stats in his senior year, Tate set the ACC records with his 109 kickoff returns and 2,688 kickoff return yardage.
Tate joined the Pats in 2009 as a third round pick, with a four-year contract and a $755,000 signing bonus (which is extra surprising considering he tested positive for marijuana at the Combine). But, thanks to a knee injury from the prior season, he didn’t actually see the field until Week 7, in October. In only his second game as a pro, he suffered another knee injury that cut him out for the rest of the season. In his second season with New England he perked a bit, playing 16 games and started in 10. His 24 receptions, 432 yards, 41 kick returns for 1,057 yards, and three touchdowns just weren’t enough though, and the Pats cut him at the end of the season.
To sum up, he was damaged goods who wasn’t able to reach his anticipated potential.
7. BEST: STANLEY MORGAN
Hailing from Easley, South Carolina, Morgan was an undeniable football star who played for the University of Tennessee during his NCAA career. He had the ability to play just about any position he was told, but during his freshman and sophomore years he was used primarily as a wide receiver. In 1974 he was named to the All-SEC team as both a wide receiver and running back. During his senior year he earned 1976 All-SEC honours as a running back and receiver, thanks to the 11 touchdowns he scored that year.
His record-setting abilities didn’t stop in college. Super Bowl XX saw Morgan catch six passes for 51 yards, and mouths dropped all over the stadium. In 13 seasons with the Pats he set the team record for receptions, yards, touchdowns, and yards per catch! The numbers are mind boggling: 534 receptions, 10,352 yards, 67 TDs, and 19.4 Y/R. Morgan says he thinks that he could have done even better. “I just wish we threw the ball a bit more, but I am sure you will hear that from ever receiver.” MORE yards? It seems this guy is the definition of an overachiever!
6. WORST: HART LEE DYKES
He started his college career by cheating; Oklahoma State paid him at least $23,000 to attend and play for them, and also gifted him a sports car during his time there. For a guy who was so highly sought after by so many top universities, and then made a first round pick in the 1989 NFL Draft, he sure left a sour taste in pretty much everyone’s mouths.
Despite the high hopes New England had for him, Dykes only spent two seasons with the team before “retiring” due to injuries. During those two seasons he managed seven touchdowns and an average of 16.2 yards per reception. Not too shabby. Unfortunately, several injuries, including a torn anterior crucial ligament and two broken kneecaps forced him to retire much earlier than anyone expected.
It can’t be said that he was the worst wide receiver the Pats ever had, but he was certainly the most disappointing, for reasons completely unrelated to his abilities.