10 NFL Draft Busts You Should Not Give Up on Yet
With the NFL draft now less than a month away, many football fans will be keeping their eyes on future prospects that could help their team. For fantasy owners, we’ll be mining the draft for future stars that can have an immediate impact on our squads.
With each draft comes promise. However, sometimes promise leads to disappointment. The following 10 players (ranking down from 10 to one) have been built up for years in the eyes of scouts but have failed to live up to expectations coming out of the draft.
Time is running out for these guys, but don’t give up hope just yet. There is still time for these players to turn around their careers, and that could come as soon as next year. So, when preparing for draft day remember these once-promising prospects, as they may soon break out.
10. Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
After three rather quiet years in the league, it’s now-or-never time for the one-time first-round pick Pettigrew to make the impact many were calling for when he came out of college.
As teams try to take Calvin Johnson out of the game, Pettigrew could eventually become a more trusted option for Matt Stafford in the passing game heading into 2013. While he has disappointed in years past, I get the feeling Pettigrew will finally put it all together this year and be a serviceable tight end.
9. Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
While the Seahawks' trade for Percy Harvin will drop Tate’s value down a bit, there is still a chance Tate can make for a serviceable wide receiver, regardless.
Although Harvin will likely get the bulk of the targets from Russell Wilson, Tate could surpass Sidney Rice on the depth chart. Tate is the youngest and healthiest wide receiver on the team, and as Wilson matures into the complete quarterback, he’ll get Tate more involved in the game plan.
8. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
After being drafted with the 13th pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Floyd never got going in his rookie season in Arizona.
A lot of factors can be attributed to Floyd’s pedestrian rookie season. First, Floyd never really had a competent quarterback throwing him the ball, as the Cardinals had a revolving door of underperforming signal-callers trying to get him the ball. Second, most receivers take time to develop, and an up-and-down season is par for the course when discussing the impact of wideouts.
With a year of NFL experience under his belt and perhaps a better quarterback to work with, Floyd could hold some value in the later rounds of drafts.
7. Jon Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs
Just like Floyd, Baldwin has not reached his full potential either because of erratic quarterback play. Well, now that Baldwin will have a serviceable quarterback in Alex Smith throwing to him, Baldwin finally might break out in 2013.
Although he has only posted 41 receptions for 325 yards and one touchdown in two years, there is a reason why Baldwin was a first-round choice. At his size and with his athleticism, Baldwin should only get better with Smith.
6. Ben Tate, Houston Texans
Sure, Tate is hamstrung by the fact that he plays behind Arian Foster, but if given enough carries he can still make for a serviceable backup running back.
According to the Houston Chronicle's John McClain, Texans coach Gary Kubiak has stated that he plans to give Tate more carries this year in an effort to keep Foster fresh. If you own Foster, it is practically mandatory that you handcuff him to Tate. But as it is, Tate is still a player you’ll want to roster. And if by some chance he gets traded, Tate’s value would reach the stratosphere.
5. Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins
With Reggie Bush taking his talents out of South Beach, Thomas has a great chance for increased carries in 2013.
Although I expect Lamar Miller to get most of the carries, this has timeshare written all over it. Although not the fastest back in the league, Thomas does have a knack for the end zone, as he did rush for four touchdowns in 12 games last season.
Miller could be the one who gets the carries in between the 20s, with Thomas playing the role as the goal-line back. Regardless, Thomas should have value on draft day and could be viewed as a No. 4 or 5 running back.
4. Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals
Williams’ stock has been severely diminished due to injuries, with many questioning if he’ll stay on the field for a full season.
Well, it may be hard to overlook the injuries, but Williams does possess a lot of talent and athleticism. For a short while last year, Williams was the Cardinals’ lead back, and he showed some great explosiveness in the backfield.
While new free-agent signing Rashard Mendenhall is slated to get the bulk of carries in Arizona next year, Williams should not be forgotten. After all, Mendenhall has not been the picture of perfect health in the last few years either. At least Williams, 22, has youth on his side.
3. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots
After using a second-round pick on Vereen in 2011, it’s about time the Patriots got something back on their early round investment—rather than the occasional outburst we have seen in his first two years in the league.
Vereen showed in limited carries last year he can be a useful back. Although he got only 62 carries, Vereen did score four total touchdowns and average four yards per carry. Vereen is multi-dimensional back, as he can both effectively run the ball and catch it out of the backfield.
While Stevan Ridley is No. 1 on the depth chart, don’t be surprised if Bill Belichick divvies up the carries next year and prominently features Vereen in the mix. Remember, Danny Woodhead is gone and that is now one less back to account for.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Ingram has been feast or famine for most of his two years in the NFL, but there is still hope that he can be the running back everyone hoped he could be.
Down the stretch last year, Ingram finally showed signs of promise. In his last eight games, Ingram received more than 10 carries in all but one contest. This came after Ingram only received 54 carries in the first eight games.
Ingram capitalized on the extra carries by rushing for 424 yards and four touchdowns in the last eight games.
So, with the way he finished the season and with Sean Payton coming back to coach, expect Ingram to come to camp re-energized and have his best campaign yet.
1. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Perhaps no running back in the league has been more disappointing to own for the last couple of years than Mathews.
Drafted with the No. 12 pick in the 2010 draft, Mathews came into the league with a lot of fanfare, but between injuries and inconsistency he has not lived up to the hype. However, with a coaching change in San Diego, perhaps Mathews can gel with new head coach Mike McCoy.
If he is healthy this summer, Mathews should be looked at as a great rebound candidate worthy of being your No.3 or flex-play running back.