2013 NFL Draft: Projected First-Rounders Who Won't Live Up to Hype
Bust. It's always been the keyword cast down upon players in all sports by armchair quarterbacks and talking heads when a highly-touted prospect doesn't work out.
The word is both ridiculously harsh and appropriate. When a team drafts a player in the first round in any sport, he's expected to be a long-term contributor to the franchise—especially in the NFL.
Unlike the NBA and MLB, the NFL coaches and scouts have legitimate game tape to watch, as the league's rules prohibit players from entering the draft until three years after high school graduation. Ostensibly, that should make NFL busts far less frequent than those in other sports.
As most know, it doesn't exactly work that way. For every Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, there are seemingly five Blaine Gabberts and Brandon Weedens.
Which draft prospects will wind up being busts in 2013? Here is a look at a few guys who won't live up to their first-round hype.
Matt Barkley (QB, USC Trojans)
Following a senior season that left a ton to be desired, look for Barkley to become a major source of media pontification the next few months. Some will even say the former Trojans quarterback will wind up falling to the second or third round. Those pundits will be dead wrong.
As we've seen in recent years with the drafting of Gabbert, Weeden and Christian Ponder, teams are no longer afraid to take risks in April. The new slotting system makes taking a quarterback exponentially safer, as being wrong is no longer a crippling blow on the salary cap.
Barkley will be the next player to join that list of guys taken far higher than their skill-set indicates. Though a consistently accurate passer in the intermediate routes, Barkley's accuracy drops off markedly down the field.
The Trojans' signal-caller is also way too aggressive early in drives. Eight of his interceptions came on first downs where USC had between eight and 10 yards to go, throwing the ball to the opposing team once every 19.75 passes in those instances.
It's not that he's all bad, either. Barkley had a storied career at USC and has more reps under center than just about any prospect in his draft class. He's also considered a strong leader and helped his team stay optimistic during tough times this season.
Nevertheless, statistical evidence and Barkley's physical skills point to him being a guy who will need to sit for a year or two before becoming a starter. With the ascent of rookie quarterbacks putting patience at an all-time low, something tells me Barkley will be hoisted into a starting lineup way before he's ready.
Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia Bulldogs)
Other-worldly athleticism. That's all you hear about when evaluators give thoughts on Ogletree. It isn't how he changed the game at Georgia consistently or how his leadership left an imprint on his teammates like Manti Te'o.
Don't get me wrong, it's impossible to deny Ogletree had a brilliant 2012 campaign. He led Georgia with 99 tackles and was one of a select few Bulldogs defenders who actually showed up against Alabama.
Still, Ogletree is a guy who has been great for exactly nine games in his entire collegiate career. A foot fracture marred his 2011 campaign and he was suspended in 2010 following a misdemeanor theft charge and for the first three games of 2012 for a violation of team rules.
Teams won't remember that when he hits the weight room. Though he's listed at just 237 pounds, the 6'3" linebacker is a powerful specimen and has jaw-dropping speed for his position.
If that sounds familiar, it's because Aaron Maybin, Vernon Gholston and countless other linebackers have wowed coaches with their unbelievable physical tools only to become massive busts.
I'm not saying Ogletree will join that list, nor do I hope he does. It's just far too big of a risk to take someone with exactly one season of greatness and Ogletree's history of character and injury problems.
Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon Ducks)
Like Ogletree, expect Jordan to be a physical marvel who helps out his draft stock and locks up a top-15 selection by mid-March. Unlike Ogletree, though, Jordan has been a three-year member of Oregon's defensive line rotation and has been a key starter the past two seasons.
The top-shelf production just hasn't been there. He has just 18 sacks in his collegiate career and only five this past season. For a kid whose main calling card is his potential as a pass-rusher, that's a little disconcerting.
While Jordan has a big frame and is listed at 6'6", he weighs in at only 239 pounds and even looked noticeably small at the collegiate level. That was especially apparent against the run, where Jordan had the habit of disappearing and sometimes lacked ball awareness when he did break into the backfield.
His lack of size and run deficiencies wouldn't be so bad if he was going to be an outside linebacker at the next level. However, just about all projections have him as a down lineman.
To avoid being overpowered by even middling tackles, Jordan will need to add at least 20 pounds of bulk by September. Adding weight is doable, but certainly not ideal for someone teams will expect to be a star in the NFL.
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