For the 2012 NFL draft class, the upcoming week is supposed to be the beginning of their careers as NFL players. Some draft picks, however, have failed to establish a role with their team yet, or even worse, have already been released from their team’s roster.
The following players are either well-touted draft selections who have not lived up to the hype this preseason, or players who were great disappointments by failing to even make their team’s 53-man roster.
Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd
As the 13th overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft, it was reasonable to expect that former Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd would step right in as the No. 2 receiver for the Arizona Cardinals and form a dynamic combination in the downfield passing game with Larry Fitzgerald.
Thus far, Floyd is off to a slow start. Floyd had just five catches in five preseason games, and it appears that barring injuries, he will remain the fourth or fifth wide receiver on the depth chart this season.
This has been billed as the Cardinals simply bringing Floyd along slowly, which may not be a bad thing for the rookie; he likely will still emerge as the split end they want him to be across from Fitzgerald. To this point, however, he may not have even established his place on the depth chart ahead of LaRon Byrd, an undrafted rookie who made the Cardinals’ final cut after catching 12 passes in an impressive preseason.
San Francisco 49ers WR A.J. Jenkins
There was not a more head-scratching first-round pick than the San Francisco 49ers reaching on selecting Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins at No. 30 overall. It does not appear that the answer to that puzzle will be solved in his rookie season.
Jenkins is buried deep down the 49ers’ depth chart at wide receiver, behind Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn Jr. and Kyle Williams. As a result, Jenkins may struggle just to be on the 46-man active game-day roster this year.
Jenkins actually had a solid preseason, catching eight passes for 122 yards, but that may not be enough for him to make a rise up the depth chart. The 49ers are likely wishing they used their first-round pick on a player who could have a more immediate impact, rather than reaching on a player unlikely to see the field much as a rookie.
New England Patriots DE Jake Bequette
Even after Friday’s cutdown to 53 men, the New England Patriots still had eight defensive rookies on their roster. One of them, however, may not have made the cut had he not been a third-round pick this year.
Former Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette is a solid prospect, but he did nothing to stand out this preseason. While first-round pick Chandler Jones made a name for himself immediately, and undrafted rookie defensive linemen Justin Francis and Marcus Forston performed well enough to battle their way onto the team, Bequette did not receive many preseason reps and is unlikely to contribute this season.
On a defense that has Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Trevor Scott, Jermaine Cunningham and Francis all also playing at defensive end, Bequette could quickly get lost in the shuffle. The Patriots may wish they had drafted a player at another position of need, such as wide receiver or offensive line, rather than using their final pick until the sixth round on Bequette.
Dallas Cowboys WR Danny Coale, Buffalo Bills OLB Tank Carder and Seattle Seahawks OLB Korey Toomer
Draft picks fail to make final cuts every year, but mostly all of them are sixth- or seventh-round selections. Any time a team invests a pick within the first five rounds on a player, that player is certainly expected to be good enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
That was not the case, however, for three fifth-round picks. Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Tank Carder was selected with the No. 147 overall selection, and by the time the Seattle Seahawks had selected linebacker Korey Toomer at No. 154, the Dallas Cowboys had taken wide receiver Danny Coale at No. 152.
All of those players, however, are now out of a job.
The biggest surprise among them is Carder, who was a very productive linebacker at TCU and could have been selected a round earlier without anyone wondering why. Coale was the biggest disappointment, as he had a chance of earning the No. 3 wide receiver spot behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, but failed to make the roster at all.
Toomer may have been a reach from the get-go, but nonetheless, he joined the Seahawks in their weakest unit, the linebacker corps, and was expected to be on the 53-man roster. Instead, he lost out on a backup job to the unspectacular trio of Mike Morgan, Malcolm Smith and Heath Farwell.