5 Biggest Texas Tech football NFL Draft busts

With the NFL Combine under way in Indianapolis, football fans across America will soon be turning their attention to the NFL Draft. So let's take a look at five Texas Tech football players who were busts after being high picks.

Byron Hanspard
Byron Hanspard / Getty Images/GettyImages
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No.1: DT Gabe Rivera

Just about every Red Raider knows the tragic story of Gabe Rivera, perhaps the best defensive player to ever suit up for the Red Raiders. That's why it's no shock that he tops this list of Texas Tech NFL Draft busts.

A 300-pound defensive tackle who could outrun most of his college teammates, he was a physical force the likes of which the program hasn't seen since. From 1979-82 he amassed 321 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 11 pass deflections, and 6 fumble recoveries.

That included 105 tackles in 1982, a record for a Red Raider defensive tackle. He was the Aaron Donald of his era and most assumed he'd dominate the NFL like he did the college ranks where he was a 1982 All-American and that year's SWC Defensive Player of the Year.

In the 1983 draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers took him with the No. 21 overall pick (1st round). That's still an infamous pick for that franchise because still on the board at that time was Pittsburgh native and future Pro Football Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino.

As a rookie, Rivera racked up two sacks in his first six games. But on October 20, 1983 he was paralyzed in a car accident as he drove drunk.

It was a sad and abrupt end to the career of one of the most promising players to ever come from Texas Tech. As a result, Rivera will always be considered an NFL bust as fans will always wonder what "Senor Sack" could have done in the NFL had he not suffered such a horrific injury.

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