2012 NFL Draft: Predicting the Biggest Busts in the First Round
The first round of the NFL Draft is the most popular action-less sporting event on television. On April 26th, dedicated football fans will sit in front of their televisions with silly anticipation. They will be wearing their football jerseys, eating their football food with their football friends. It's the springtime Super Bowl.
All the excitement is over the future of their beloved franchise. They wonder, will they get their quarterback of the future, or have to settle for another offensive lineman? Will they finally get a shutdown corner, or will they reach for an unproven defensive tackle?
These fans have such strong feelings about who their team selects in the first round because of the impact it will have on their franchise down the line.
For instance, the Oakland Raiders notoriously drafted JaMarcus Russell with the first pick of the 2007 draft. He is now unemployed, drinking "purple drank" someplace in the South.
Meanwhile the Raiders just gave up their 2012 first round pick to acquire Carson Palmer.
The following are the Russell-like duds NFL teams should avoid in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
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Michael Brockers will be selected just before the midway point of the first round. At 6'6" 305 pounds, he has enough size and weight to hold down the middle of any defensive line. Whether or not he can continue to develop his skills in the NFL is another story.
Having only registered 25 tackles and zero sacks in 2010, Brockers became a starter in 2011 and accumulated 54 tackles and two sacks.
His statistics indicate two things: First, he is not going to give quarterbacks nightmares, and second, he potentially will continue to get better as he ages.
But really, how much upside does this guy have? He has put himself in a position where gaining more than two sacks can be considered progress. This is not saying much.
At best Brockers will be solid against the run. But picking a two-down run stuffer in the first round cannot be justified. Brockers is doomed to be a bust.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
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The Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals will all consider selecting Lamar Miller towards the end of the first round. He is a talented back, but is not worth the first-round price.
Miller will be a bust in the NFL because his speed is his only threat. In college, all of his big plays were a result of him outrunning the defense to the end zone. He hardly relied on jukes or power moves to make his way down the field.
He also lacks the do-it-all factor that should be required of a running back picked in the first round. Chris Polk and Doug Martin, who were completely under-the-radar until the Senior Bowl, are more complete backs who can run inside and outside the tackles, catch passes and block.
Miller is the sixth running back on my list after Trent Richardson, David Wilson, Chris Polk, Ronnie Hillman and Doug Martin.
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
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Luke Kuechly is projected to be the first inside linebacker selected in the draft. He will most likely land somewhere in the middle of the first round. Possible suitors are the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.
Luke Kuechly gobbled up 532 ball carriers in his three seasons at Boston College. Due to his slim build (6'3" 237 pounds) and straight up stance, football analysts have concluded that it is his instincts that make him so dominant.
While Kuechly played the part of a brick wall in college, his talent will fade in the NFL.
In college, his speed did not hurt him because he was able to use his football smarts to get himself to the ball carrier. Players in the NFL are bigger, stronger and faster. Kuechly will know where he needs to be on every play, but he lacks the athleticism needed to manipulate his way through blockers at the next level.
Mentally, Kuechly is a football stud, but physically it just is not there.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
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The Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins all need a new quarterback before next season starts. Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn will most likely be available in free agency and Robert Griffin III will be available through the draft (assuming the Colts pick Andrew Luck No. 1 overall). That leaves three out of the four quarterback-less teams satisfied.
In a move that will scream desperation, the fourth team will be forced to take Tannehill in the first round.
Tannehill has good size and athleticism, but lacks the intangibles needed at the position. In his two seasons as a starter, Tannehill has about a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio. Throwing 15 interceptions in a season, as Tannehill did in 2011, is not acceptable for someone expecting to be picked in the first round.
Tannehill will be a bust for one of two reasons. Either he will be forced to start prematurely as a rookie, or he will be a backup trying to adjust to the NFL. In each case, Tannehill will not immediately succeed, and therefore is a wasted first-round selection.
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
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The most overhyped defensive player in this year's draft is Quinton Coples. Right now he projects to be a border line top-10 pick.
A 6'6", 285-pound body, combined with freaky athleticism always warrants a defensive end high praise on draft day. However, there is concern because his potential overshadows his production. Coples only recorded a pedestrian 7.5 sacks in 2011-2012, which was 2.5 less than the year before.
In college he never recorded more than 10 sacks a season because he does not have the technique necessary to separate himself from offensive linemen. He needs to stay low and learn to play behind his long arms if he wants to justify a top-10 selection.
The only reason Coples should be considered a first-round pick is because of his versatility. He has lined up at defensive tackle and defensive end throughout his career. Even though he is thought of as an off-the-edge pass-rusher, his true talent is shooting the gaps inside.
Coples will be a bust because scouts have misinterpreted his strengths. If a team is looking for a true defensive end, they should go with the more explosive Melvin Ingram.