Former Lions’ Hometown Star Named One of NFL’s Worst Busts

Charles Rogers

Getty Charles Rogers looks on during a Lions game on Thanksgiving.

The Detroit Lions have had an up and down draft history with more good than bad, so it would stand to reason that they would have one of the worst picks of all time on their side.

Recently, CBS Sports contributor John Breech took a shot at naming the worst draft picks of all time. Naturally, the Lions had a selection on the list, and it was a player who most in the state were pulling for to succeed in a big way. Former Michigan State wideout Charles Rogers was named high on Breech’s list for what he wasn’t able to do once he made the big time.

Breech wrote:

“Back in the early 2000s, the Lions apparently thought they could succeed in the NFL by using all their first round picks on wide receivers, and that run started with Charles Rogers, who ended up being a total bust. With the second pick in 2003, the Lions knew they were going to take a receiver and with a pick that high, there were only really two options: Rogers or Andre Johnson. Instead of taking the Johnson — who might end up in the Hall of Fame — the Lions decided to go with the hometown hero in Rogers, who went to high school in Michigan and attended Michigan State. Johnson ended up being selected by the Texans with the very next pick. Rogers would only play in 15 games over three seasons before flopping out of the NFL due to multiple issues including injuries and drug problems. To add insult to injury, Rogers lost a court battle in 2010 and was ordered to pay the Lions back a total of $6.1 million out of his $9.1 million signing bonus.”

Obviously, Rogers flopped big time after being given his shot in the league, but he had endured a tough life and had recently begun to make sense of things only to sadly and unfortunately pass away late in 2019.


Charles Rogers’ Stats

After playing at Saginaw High School in Michigan, Rogers took his talents to Michigan State where he was one of the most electric wideouts in college football during the brief time he was there. In just two seasons with the Spartans, Rogers piled up 2,821 yards and 27 touchdowns.

He won the Biletnikoff Award as the top wideout in college football in 2002 and was also a consensus All-American for the team the same year.

More than that, Rogers was a human highlight reel while playing with the Spartans. Perhaps his most amazing catch came in 2002 against Notre Dame when he made an impossible-looking snag in the back of the end zone just barely getting one foot down (above). In 2001, Rogers outran nearly the entire Irish team en-route to a stunning Michigan State win.

Following his career at Michigan State, Rogers went on to the NFL and was the No. 2 pick by the Lions in the 2003 NFL Draft. His career started with a bang, as he hauled in two touchdowns in his first game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Rogers would finish with 440 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns in just three seasons in the NFL. It was a stunning fall for a player who looked like the next big thing. Sadly, for Rogers, injuries and personal problems had prevented him from truthfully taking off for his hometown team and making an impact.

Rogers will remain one of the most decorated football players to ever pass through Michigan State, and his legend will live on for all who watched him play there, and for a brief time, in the NFL as well. That’s true even if his career didn’t go exactly as planned.


Other Lions Draft Busts

The Lions have not been perfect when it comes to the NFL Draft. In fact, they’ve been just the opposite. Rogers is far from the only bust they have had to endure. Names like Andre Ware, Joey Harrington, Mike Williams, Aaron Gibson and others have created a narrative that the team simply cannot find good talent early in the draft.

Lately, the Lions have done a better job at being consistent when picking, but they will have to find a way to avoid making the mistakes they have found all too common in previous drafts. The good news? This year, the Lions have plenty of picks to work with and plenty of cracks at getting things right in the meantime.

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