Potential NFL Draft Busts
by Trevor Whenham - 04/16/2008
With the NFL Draft just around the corner we are again faced with one of the unquestionable truths of the thing - every NFL Draft prospect with first round potential sounds like a can't miss star, but many of them are going to miss, and some are going to miss badly. It's not always easy to pick out the flops - as hard as it is to believe, people thought that Ryan Leaf was a future hall of famer. Reggie Bush isn't a flop yet, but he sure isn't the game changer we all knew he would be. You can't always spot the duds, but a few of the players that are likely to go in the first round strike me as having real potential to be disappointing. Here are four guys that wouldn't make me happy if my team were to call their name on Saturday.
Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State - This guy sets off all sorts of alarms for me, and not just because I hate the Buckeyes. He's the best pass rusher in this draft, but then this isn't much of a pass rushing draft, so I'm not convinced that that means he is actually destined for greatness. I saw him play several times this year, and a couple of things concern me. He can certainly rush when things set up for him - he is the only guy to get a sack against Jake Long last year. When he doesn't get things his way, or when he has to drop into coverage, he looks disinterested and out of place. He's not very consistent as a result, and he doesn't strike me as one of those guys with natural instincts.
I'm also concerned about his base of experience. He's a junior, but he only has one good year and one decent one under his belt. He was irrelevant as a freshman, and a broken hand forced him to redshirt his second season. I'm not sure that he has shown enough to prove that he's a talent guy as opposed to a system one. Finally, I have to pick this guy out from the crowd just because it's always a safe bet to choose the pass rusher as the underperformer. Just look at some of the guys that have gone high the last few years - Jamaal Anderson, Gaines Adams, Jarvis Moss, Mario Williams, Kamerion Wimberley. None of those guys has been a total disaster, and they all have done enough to make us think that they have the potential for a bright future, but they haven't exactly revolutionized their team or changed the fates of their defenses.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal - Obviously, I love watching this guy and the crazy things he can do as much as the next guy. He's ridiculously athletic, and he's magic when he finds some open space. There is just so much to be concerned about. The guy is tiny and light. More significantly, he doesn't look like he can add a lot of bulk to his frame, and his game would probably suffer if he did. Because of his size he isn't a particularly good blocker. He also doesn't always concentrate particularly well, and has a frustrating habit of dropping passes that he should be catching. I'm concerned also by the ability of his college flashiness to translate to the pro game. Bush is the most visible of the guys who haven't been able to do the same tricks against the superior NFL competition, but there are many others as well. Jackson may prove me wrong, but there is just too much going against him for me to bet on his success.
Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma - It was once a given that this guy would go in the first round, but now it's far from a sure thing. I can't say I am surprised. There are three big things that scare me about this guy. First, his ridiculous act at his pro day - he complained that his time was too slow in the 40 because the school forced him to run on a slow surface. That kind of whining doesn't bode well. There's also the fact the he skipped the Combine because of a quad injury, and he has a knee injury that came after the Fiesta Bowl two years ago. In other words, his durability must be questioned, and receiver is not a good spot for a guy with fragile legs. Finally, I really don't like the fact that his stats - receptions, yards and touchdowns - were all worse in his junior year than as a sophomore. That's concerning, and especially since it's not like the passing game took a step back. That doesn't give me a lot of confidence that he can blossom into a top pro.
Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas - I will be surprised if this guy turns out, and I will be man enough to admit I was wrong in the unlikely event that he does. There is no question that he is a ridiculous athlete, or that he has great hands. There is just too much not to like. If you hear the guy talk you would think that he is the greatest player ever born - that's exactly what he would tell you. Maybe I'm just tired of mouthy corners with bad attitudes, but Talib doesn't excite. There is a bigger concern, though. What makes this guy so appealing is the impressive highlight reel he has - he has put together some incredible plays. To do that, though, he is a guy who takes big risks. When they work out they payoff in a big way, but when they don't he is out of position and in trouble. The level of competition is just a bit higher in the NFL than the Big 12, and I just don't see him getting rewarded as often in the pros as he is used to. I also don't see him responding well when he does get burned. There are so many first round corners out there this year that Talib just doesn't seem worth the risk.