One of the most notorious draft busts in NFL history, not many remember Tim Couch‘s time with any team other than the Browns. But on this date 14 years ago, Couch signed a one-year deal with the Packers. After being selected first overall by the Browns in the 1999 draft, Couch started parts of five seasons in Cleveland. The team finally threw in the towel on him by releasing him in June of 2004. A week later, he signed with Green Bay.
Couch was already being hailed as the next great quarterback before he even entered college. ESPN once ranked him as the sixth-greatest high school player of all time. The heavily recruited Couch ultimately chose to play at Kentucky, where he went on to be a star. After three seasons at Kentucky where he set numerous records, Couch declared early for the NFL draft.
The Browns were preparing for their first season in the league as an expansion team after the original team left for Baltimore in 1996. They were looking for a quarterback to guide them as they started over and ultimately decided on Couch. Although Couch had his moments and even led the Browns to a playoff appearance in 2002, he mostly struggled. He threw for more interceptions than touchdowns and a sub-60% completion rate during his time in Cleveland. He was benched for Kelly Holcomb before ultimately being cut.
Couch’s time with the Packers ended up being brief. He struggled during camp and the preseason, in which he was often booed by the Lambeau Field fans, and suffered a shoulder injury. Just before the season was set to start, he was released by the team, effectively ending his NFL career.
His short run with the Packers was far from a glorious end to the career of one of the most high profile draft picks of his generation. The mention of Couch’s name is still enough to elicit shudders from Browns fans everywhere. It’s nearly impossible to find a list of the league’s biggest draft failures that doesn’t have Couch’s name on it, and his name will forever live on in infamy.