2007 NFL Draft: Potential Busts
by Trevor Whenham - 02/20/2007
Ryan Leaf. Ki-Jana Carter. Tony Mandarich. Tim Couch. Steve Emtman. All those guys, and dozens of others like them, are horrendous NFL draft busts. They came into the league hyped beyond belief, and they all did almost nothing to earn the millions that they were paid. For some it was injuries that stopped their progress. For others, like Leaf, it was just a case of a temperament that couldn't stand up under the pressure of the spotlight. Some busts eke out a career of several years, bouncing around form team to team, impressing no one, but doing enough to keep finding a job somewhere. Others wear out their welcome quickly and can't find anyone who wants them.
Scouting is an imperfect science; so some guys who make the first round this year will look like they don't even deserve a roster spot on their old college team. Unfortunately, it's very hard to tell at this point which players will disappoint their teams and break the hearts of faithful fans. Just because we can't know for sure, though, doesn't mean that it isn't fun to speculate. Here's my look at five players that will almost certainly end up in the first round of the NFL draft this year and who have a real chance of being underwhelming:
Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame - Quinn will probably be the second quarterback chosen, though he still has an outside chance of being the first overall pick. He has put up solid numbers at Notre Dame, and being coached by Charlie Weis, the man who made Tom Brady what he is, certainly hasn't hurt.
There are reasons for concern, though. He had three off games last season - a terrible showing against Michigan, a total absence of accuracy against USC and a game against LSU in which he was so bad that he probably cost himself the top pick. Unfortunately, those were the only three games he played this year against top-level competition. Not coincidentally, his team lost all three games.
Some of the problems in those games could be put on a questionable offensive line, but that's not enough to excuse the performance. It concerns me that, under the heat of major national attention, Quinn's numbers fell in so many key statistical categories in 2006 - yards, completion percentage, yards per completion. Quinn has skills, but so did Ryan Leaf. It will remain to be seen how well he can utilize those skills on the next level.
If he goes early in the draft then his new team won't have a better offensive line than his old team did, and the guys on the other team who are trying to kill him will be bigger and faster. Quinn has a chance to be a very solid player, but it is far from a certainty.
Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina - Rice's decision to enter the draft this year is one of the biggest mysteries there is. He is an incredibly talented player with a load of potential, but he's only a redshirt sophomore, so he has given up two years of eligibility. He's fast -- but not freakishly so -- and he could stand to be stronger and heavier to stand up to NFL abuse.
He doesn't pile up a lot of yards after the catch in the college game, and he isn't explosive, so there is little reason to believe that he will do better in that regard on the pro level. The biggest problem, though, seems to be his attitude. Coach Spurrier was adamant that Rice needed another year in college, as was virtually everyone else in the world. With another year Rice could have quite possibly been the top receiver on the board in the 2008 draft.
Despite all of that advice, Rice went pro anyway. That's not the first time that he has failed to listen to his coach's advice, and guys who think that they are smarter than their coaches haven't exactly set the NFL on fire. Rice has the potential to be special, but he'll have to get over himself to do it.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma - This is proof that even the most likeable and impressive talents have the potential to fail. Peterson is an incredibly talented player and would appear to have a bright future. Unfortunately, so was Ki-Jana Carter. Like Carter, Peterson has struggled with durability. He missed parts of the last two seasons because of injuries. He runs upright, he doesn't make people miss with fancy moves, and he would rather fight in the middle of the field than go for the sidelines, so he takes more abuse than a lot of running backs do.
If he kept getting beaten down by college opponents then what could happen when he has to play more games against bigger, stronger guys? If he stays healthy, Peterson could be an all-time great, so it makes good sense for a lot of teams to draft him. Whichever team does take him will just have to be aware that this huge stud could end up an injury-riddled bust like Carter.
Ted Ginn, Jr., WR, Ohio State - There is no question that Ginn is electric and talented. The problem for whatever team drafts him, though, is what to do with him. He's small and not very tough, and he has, at times, struggled with route running and with focus, so it seems unlikely that he will be a No. 1 receiver at the pro level. His value, obviously, is as a kick and punt returner. The problem is that even the best kick returners don't have a long shelf life in their prime (Dante Hall, for example, has gone from all-World to just okay). It's seems reasonably unlikely that Ginn will be a total bust, but given his skill set and likely usefulness, it seems likely that a team won't ultimately feel like they received first round value from picking him.
Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas - There are few things that get scouts more excited than a solid pass rusher. Anderson has all sorts of potential and will likely be the first defensive end off the board on draft day. The potential problem, though, is that the junior only had one big year at Arkansas. He was very impressive in 2006, but he still has a lot to learn. He's raw, and he struggled to separate himself his opponents on the offensive line at times. Guys with a much deeper and more impressive stat sheet have failed to live up to expectations at the pro level, and Anderson could join them.