C.J. Spiller and Others Who Will Seal Their Fate as Draft Busts in 2012-13
Every year there are players who become NFL draft busts and the 2012 season will be no different.
Last season brought us guys like Aaron Curry, Vernon Gholston and Larry English, if they weren't considered busts already. Looking ahead to 2012, Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller is at the forefront.
Going No. 9 overall in the 2010 NFL draft, Spiller only saw more time in 2011 after Fred Jackson went down. However, as expected, Spiller is not alone in 2012. So, along with him let's check out the busts for this upcoming season.
Mark Sanchez: QB, Jets
The 2012 NFL season is make-or-break for Mark Sanchez.
Although the man has led the New York Jets to two straight AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010, Sanchez has seen minimal improvement through each regular season. Last year was better, but the Jets failed to make the playoffs and the pressure has only mounted.
For one, the cross-town rival Giants won the Super Bowl so Jets fans have every reason to become excessively impatient. Secondly, the addition of Tim Tebow created an insurmountable amount of buzz.
Considering how big Tebowmania was in Denver, if Sanchez flops even during the preseason Tebow's name will take to new heights in the Big Apple. Going No. 6 overall to the Jets in 2009, Sanchez was significantly outplayed by Matthew Stafford in 2011.
Although Stafford played in just 13 games through his first two years, the man hit over 5,000 yards last season. As for Sanchez, he's been healthy and has yet to compile over 3,500.
Nick Fairley: DT, Lions
Nick Fairley had one disappointing rookie campaign with only 15 tackles and one sack through 10 games played.
He dealt with injuries last season and his offseason was even worse. Fairley was arrested twice in 2012 and although he's taken responsibility since, it still doesn't bode well for the upcoming season.
As the No. 11 overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, Fairley was expected to immediately dominate alongside Ndamukong Suh. Detroit desperately needed to upgrade the front seven and Fairley was positioned well.
The NFC North remains unproven defensively after all four units were horrendous in 2011, and Fairley had an opportunity to really standout. Already on thin ice for this season, another unproductive/unhealthy season and Fairley becomes a major bust.
Knowshon Moreno: RB, Broncos
The Denver Broncos seemingly had their franchise running back in Knowshon Moreno after the 2009 NFL season.
As a rookie, Moreno compiled 1,160 total yards and scored nine touchdowns. In 2010, Moreno saw a slight decline on the ground but still managed to nearly match his rookie production with 1,151 yards and eight touchdowns.
Worst-case scenario at this point is Moreno being that consistently reliable No. 2 back most teams need these days. Then 2011 happened and Moreno took a nosedive. With only 280 total yards and one touchdown before getting injured, the season was a lost cause.
Veteran Willis McGahee quickly took over the spotlight early in the year and now the Broncos have rookie Ronnie Hillman to also compete for playing time. Don't expect much from Moreno this season because Denver will be tossing the rock a little more anyway courtesy of Peyton Manning.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: WR, Raiders
In the 2009 NFL draft Darrius Heyward-Bey was the No. 7 overall pick by Oakland and the first receiver taken.
Still, Heyward-Bey has yet to compile more than 1,000 receiving yards (975 in 2011) and score more than four times (also 2011). As a rookie, Heyward-Bey caught just nine passes for 124 yards and in 2010 he collected only 366 yards on 26 receptions.
Now granted, Heyward-Bey hasn't had the luxury of a true franchise quarterback dropping back, but he's also not the first receiver to be in that situation either. As a top-10 pick, the Raiders did take him too high, but the bust potential also comes with the territory.
Calvin Johnson had five different quarterbacks before Matthew Stafford got healthy and Larry Fitzgerald had Kurt Warner after his prime. Provided that Carson Palmer recaptures his previous form, then perhaps Heyward-Bey has potential.
However, the production hasn't been there regardless and in 2012 Heyward-Bey's odds of busting are quite significant.
Sam Bradford: QB, Rams
After winning the 2008 Heisman Trophy, Sam Bradford returned to college for the 2009 season and played in just three games during his junior year.
Still, Bradford was taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in the 2010 NFL draft. And after that season, Bradford looked the part of a franchise quarterback in winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Then the 2011 season began and Bradford immediately fell off the map. Playing in only 10 games last year his numbers plummeted as did the Rams' season. St. Louis also had horrendous pass protection and Bradford was sacked 36 times (55 total sacks allowed of all Rams quarterbacks in 2011).
Nevertheless, coming into the NFL as a Heisman winner and overall No. 1 selection, he's held to a higher standard.
For Bradford's sake let's hope the Rams can improve in 2012. If, however, he fails to make those around him better, then St. Louis will need to start re-analyzing its quarterback situation.
C.J. Spiller: RB, Bills
A top-10 pick in the 2010 draft, C.J. Spiller is certainly a versatile player for the Buffalo Bills.
As a rookie Spiller amassed 1,629 total yards but more than 1,100 of those yards came from returning kickoffs and punts. Rewind back to the 2011 season and Spiller compiled exactly 1,100 total yards and did develop more on the ground with 569 rushing yards.
But that opportunity only came to light because of Fred Jackson's injury. Jackson had compiled 1,376 total yards through not even 10 full games. Therefore, you can expect Jackson to once again be the feature back while Spiller remains used in a limited role.
The good news is that Spiller has been reliable when given opportunities, and his diverse skill set benefits as a back and double-duty return specialist. It's certainly reasonable to consider him a bust because Spiller was the No. 9 overall selection.
That said, the man can also sustain a decent NFL career because of his entire repertoire. Spiller may not ever live up to his top 10 draft status, but impacting the game in multiple ways is the next best thing.
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