Colossal Draft Bust Derek Brown Robbed the Giants of $3 Million

It’s been a while since New York Giants fans had anything to be excited about. In fact, it’s fair to say the team has been an outright disappointment since winning Super Bowl XLII back in 2008. As a result, masochistic Giants fans have spent more and more time re-examining franchise failures from the past, particularly with regards to draft performance.

Arguably the Giants‘ biggest draft mistake of all time came back in 1992 when they selected Derek Brown. The tight end ended up proving a bust in basically all regards, earning his place in franchise infamy. Let’s look back at Brown’s college career, disappointing NFL tenure, and where he ranks in terms of all-time draft busts.

Derek Brown’s promising college career        

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Brown spent four years playing college ball for Notre Dame, from 1988-1991. Despite playing in an era where tight ends were the targets of far fewer passes, Brown proved himself a more than capable receiver. In fact, according to, Brown scored touchdowns on his first two receptions as a freshman. That same year, the team captured a national title.

Brown’s best statistical season came in his senior year. According to Sports-Reference, he caught 22 receptions for 325 total yards that year, while scoring four touchdowns. His performance that year earned him a place on three All-America teams. It also garnered the 6-foot-6 tight end significant interest from teams ahead of the 1992 NFL Draft.

Brown’s disappointing time in the NFL

Tight end Derek Brown with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995
Tight end Derek Brown with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995 |

Ultimately, the Giants selected Brown with the 14th pick of the 1992 draft. The team envisioned him as the quintessential tight end, one equally adept at opening up holes in the defense and hauling down high-wire passes. For reasons that never became clear — except that Brown just wasn’t cut out for the NFL — he never managed to live up to those expectations.

In three seasons with the Giants, Brown played in 33 games but started just seven, according to Pro-Football-Reference. He caught 11 total passes for 87 yards, with a catch percentage of 68.3%. And he failed to score a single touchdown. Brown spent most of his third year playing a limited role on special teams before the disappointed Giants made him available as part of the 1995 NFL expansion draft.

There the Jacksonville Jaguars took Brown with the 47th pick, reports Pro Sports Transactions. He missed the entire 1995 season due to a serious injury in a preseason game. The next two seasons were Brown’s most productive; he caught 25 passes for 225 yards and one touchdown for the Jaguars. The next two seasons involved unexceptional stops with the Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals before his NFL career ended.

Brown’s earnings and legacy as an NFL draft bust

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For an undeniable bust, Brown still managed to make a decent amount of money during his NFL career. In three seasons with the Giants, he made a total of nearly $3.1 million, according to Spotrac. Including his time in Jacksonville, Oakland, and Arizona, Brown netted a total of $5.6 million as an NFL player.

Since retiring from football, Brown has pursued a career as a businessman. In a 2013 interview with, Brown laid out a number of his post-playing ventures. They include working for a food marketing company, operating a number of Quizno’s franchises, working in commercial real estate, and ultimately taking a position with an energy supply company.

Though he’s been out of the world of football for over two decades now, Brown still retains a degree of infamy as an NFL bust. In 2017, ESPN recognized him as the biggest bust in Giants history. Yet Brown doesn’t end up on too many “biggest busts of all time” lists, thanks to the multitude of even higher profile busts in NFL history.

In fact, Brown doesn’t even qualify for the biggest bust of his draft class. That honor undoubtedly goes to defensive end Steve Emtman, whom the Indianapolis Colts took with the first pick.