2012 NFL Draft: 10 NFL Draft Prospects with Serious Bust Potential

Brian LendinoCorrespondent IIJanuary 15, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: 10 NFL Draft Prospects with Serious Bust Potential

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    We love to talk about the NFL Draft.

    More specifically we love to talk about NFL draft busts and more for comedic relief than anything else.

    A few recent draft busts include the likes of JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, Charles Rodgers and Troy Williamson.

    The 2012 NFL Draft may be one of the strongest classes in regards to on-field talent but like any other draft, it will have its share of blowouts and busts.

    The following slides will highlight 10 players who have all been mentioned as potential first round snags that have what we call bust potential. 

Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State

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    Vontaze Burfict has all the physical tools to make a name for himself in the NFL, but he has a clear attitude problem.

    The junior standout from Arizona State is a freakish athlete that possesses the necessary size to be a Pro Bowl defender in the NFL.

    Burfict has drawn comparisons to future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis because of his passion for the game.

    However, he’s very undisciplined on the field. He occasionally blows assignment and is no stranger to sucking in too thin on play action. One of Burfict’s biggest flaws is his knack for playing past the whistle and picking up unnecessary personal fouls.

    He’s a very talented defender but if he doesn’t learn to create some sort of balance and level-headedness within his game we may never see Burfict become the player that he’s capable of in the NFL.

    Vontaze Burfict is a talented football player, I can't say it enough, but he let’s his penalties effect his performance and that to me is a huge red flag, giving Burfict a lot of bust potential. 

Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

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    Alshon Jeffery is the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect in the 2012 draft class.

    I mean just look at his numbers from 2010 to 2011: 88 receptions to 49 receptions, 1,517 yards to 762 yards and nine touchdowns to eight.

    He certainly has the potential to be great but he has a tendency to disappear. I understand that he had major quarterback issues and lost his running back to injury but there is no question that Alshon Jeffery fell invisible at times when he was called upon to be the lead man in his offense.

    He’s not thought of as the fastest guy in the world—he runs between a 4.5 and a 4.6—but compensates with eye-popping circus catches and is best in jump ball situations.

    Jeffery is good, but defenders are bigger and certainly faster in the NFL.

    If Jeffery is called upon to be the lead guy in an NFL offense we may see him disappear again and not live up to the standard set by fellow SEC receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones. 

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

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    Let me start by saying that I’m a huge Trent Richardson fan but we are all aware of how difficult it is for a running back to live up to the hype.

    Trent Richardson is far and away the best running back in the 2012 class and his 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns will likely garner him a top five overall selection come April.

    Richardson is a beast, we know that, but so were Cedric Benson, Reggie Bush and CJ Spiller coming out of college and none of them have lived up to the expectation of their lofty selections.

    Not to mention, the NFL is becoming a pass heavy league.

    Richardson is a very strong pass blocker and an above-average receiver out of the backfield, so that will help, but there is a strong chance that we don’t see Richardson become the next Adrian Peterson or Darren McFadden.

    The track record of top 10 drafted running backs alone raises enough questions to give Trent Richardson bust potential. 

Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

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    Luke Kuechly has the tough task of being compared to two highly skilled, highly athletic athletes at middle linebacker in the aforementioned Vontaze Burfict and Dont’a Hightower.

    In his years at Boston College, Kuechly became known as one of the surest form tacklers in all college football.

    His tackle numbers from 2009-2011 read 158, 183 and 191—good for either second or first in the entire nation.

    Production is nice on the collegiate level, and Kuechly’s certainly will warrant him a first round pick but in the NFL you need to be athletic and that’s an area that he undoubtedly lacks in.

    He lacks sideline-to-sideline speed that you’re accustomed to seeing from players like Brian Urlacher and also the inability to shed blockers like you would like an NFL middle linebacker to do.

    Kuechly was brilliant in college and did it primarily under the radar but he’s likely to be overdrafted come April and I would not be surprised if he didn’t pan out in the NFL. 

Janoris Jenkins, CB, Northern Alabama

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    Janoris Jenkins is one of the finest pure athletes there is in the 2012 draft class but character concerns could derail his career.

    Many forget, but Jenkins story leading to the NFL is one of much turbulence and travel.

    He’s a former All-SEC cornerback at Florida but Urban Meyer dismissed him from the team for multiple run-ins with the law including a misdemeanor marijuana charge.

    Like Terrelle Pryor, he flirted with the NFL supplemental draft but opted to attend D-II Northern Alabama.

    At Northern Alabama he produced a rather successful season as both a cornerback and punt returner but let’s take that with a grain of salt.

    Against D-II competition, Jenkins looks like a man amongst boys because when it all boils down, he’s still an elite D-I athlete. Nevertheless, Jenkins’ production at Northern Alabama will cause a lot of teams to turn his way, possibly even overdraft him.

    I’m not completely sold on Jenkins’ cover ability on the NFL level because of his evolving character concerns. Who knows, though, he may just be a better punt returner. 

Quinton Coples, DE/OLB, North Carolina

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    To me, Quinton Coples has more bust potential than any other player on this list.

    Standing at 6’6”, 280 pounds he carries all the measurables you would like to see in an NFL pass rusher but in every game I’ve watched of his he always disappears for long periods during the game.

    In North Carolina’s bowl game against Missouri, Coples was nowhere to be seen and was constantly getting his lazy effort exploited on every play.

    He certainly has the raw talent to be a serviceable left end in a 4-3 defense but I think that he may have already hit his peak.

    His lax personality will never fly in an NFL defensive unit and that’s going to hinder him from being elite.

    Coples has been projected anywhere from a top 15 pick to Seattle all the way to the early second round

    I think someone is going to take a shot on him in the first round—maybe Buffalo or Seattle—and regret it immensely. 

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

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    Dre Kirkpatrick is easily the second best cornerback behind LSU’s Morris Claiborne and rightfully so, he’s a monstrous 6’2” and is very good in run support.

    However, he’s not the fastest corner in the world and I’m afraid he doesn’t have the jets to hang with the speediest receivers down the field in the NFL.

    Also, he’s very limited in regards to what defensive scheme he can produce in. He’s a press guy and a good one at that because of his size but fans will look at him always expecting more.

    After watching one of the best players on the nation’s best defense in 2011 people are going to look at Kirkpatrick as a No. 1 type cornerback and he’s just not that guy.

    Dre Kirkpatrick fits better as a No. 2 corner in a scheme that lets him be physical off the line of scrimmage.

    He’s a top 10 player that relates more to a Malcolm Jenkins or Nate Clements rather Nnamdi Asomugha or Darrell Revis. 

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

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    I’m going to start by saying that I’m speaking about Ryan Tannehill specifically but this goes for every single quarterback in the draft not named Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.

    Someone is going to overdraft this kid because of how weak the 2012 quarterback class is. Simply put, without Matt Barkley or even Landry Jones the quarterback supply just doesn’t meet the demand.

    However, that is no excuse to reach for a quarterback who was a starting college wide receiver no more than two years ago.

    He’s shown that he’s certainly capable of playing quarterback, throwing for over 3,700 yards, 29 touchdowns and posting over a 61 percent completion rate but his accuracy and arm strength aren’t exactly NFL caliber.

    Reports have also shown that Tannehill has a broken bone in his foot that may require surgery and will be cause for him to miss the Senior Bowl—which would have been a final test for him to pass before the draft.

    Ryan Tannehill isn’t an elite quarterback in this draft, nor will anyone size him up to be, but it’s likely a team reaches to the early second round to grab him.

    He simply won’t produce a career to justify that selection. 

Devon Still, DT, Penn State

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    Devon Still was the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and for good reason, he had a monster season for Penn State’s defensive line recording 17 tackles for loss.

    Still is widely regarded as the best defensive tackle in the 2012 class but that hasn’t come without its share of criticisms.

    A lot of his skills are still raw. For instance, CBSSports’ NFL Mock Drafts place Still at No. 8 overall to the Carolina Panthers, but point out that he hasn’t yet harnessed his initial quickness to be a good pass rusher on the next level.

    Still hasn’t quite hit his pinnacle yet and has used a strong senior campaign to boost his draft stock all the way to the opening of the first round.

    He’s raw, and when ever you see a guy rise the draft boards based mainly on their potential you always have to be concerned about bust potential. 

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

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    Before you blow up on me, think about it. Having to live up to expectations of being the next Peyton Manning is going to be like hiking Mount Everest in a Speedo (you’re welcome for the visual).

    Luck is one of, if not, the best quarterback we’ve seen in the last 10 years and his numbers at Stanford, while good, don’t do him full justice.

    He threw for 3,517 yards with 37 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions with an over 71 percent completion clip.

    Luck’s presence at the line of scrimmage is above all though. He checks reads and changes calls at the line of scrimmage with NFL-level poise.

    He didn’t have a true go-to receiver at Stanford, either.

    Andrew Luck is everything you want in an incoming NFL quarterback so why is he on a list of players with bust potential.

    Well, it’s because of that pedestal that we’ve already put him on as the second coming of Peyton Manning. If he doesn’t become Peyton Manning, we as fans will count it as a failure.

    If he becomes half of Peyton Manning, say Matt Ryan who was also drafted in the top 3 overall, he’s likely to be headlined as a failure.

    It’s not fair, but that’s the nature of the beast.