The NFL draft is like a box of chocolates... okay, no it's not. Boxes of chocolates always have a key that tells you what type of candy you're about to eat, rendering the famous Forrest Gump quote inaccurate.
But for all of the film study, analysis, interviews with former coaches and experience in evaluating prospects, NFL teams truly never know what they're gonna get when drafting prospects at the draft. A player could have all the athletic ability in the world and end up being a total bust.
It's those players, the guys with a lot of talent but major bust potential, that I'm interested in here. So grab a box of chocolates, make yourselves comfortable and let's review the highly regarded prospects with the most bust potential at this year's draft.
Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
He's such a good athlete, they gush. Given his size and speed, he's the prototypical rush linebacker in today's game, they rave. Have you seen his Sports Science video? they ask.
I know there are NFL teams and draft pundits who absolutely love Dion Jordan, and I get it. There aren't many human beings that stand 6'6", weigh 250 pounds and can run a 4.6 40-yard dash or post a 32-inch vertical jump, after all.
But where was the production? In 2012, Jordan accumulated 44 tackles (10.5 going for loss), five sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception. The year before wasn't much different (42 tackles, 13 for loss, 7.5 sacks).
For all of his potential, has he really proven to be a game-changer worthy of a top five pick?
I don't think Jordan will be around for long on Thursday night, but if there is a player that screams "bust potential" to me, he's certainly one. All the athleticism in the world can't make up for a natural feel on the game or actual production on the field.
Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Ryan Nassib is Jake Locker is Jeff George is insert "another quarterback with a lot of potential and a strong arm" here.
To be honest, I'm not sure when exactly Nassib became a "first-round talent," but apparently we've reached that point, as Nassib is being projected as high as No. 8 to the Buffalo Bills.
I know he has a cannon, but he also has average height and athleticism for the position, and his gunslinger mentality could lead to more than a few interceptions at the NFL level. I know he took a major step in 2012, passing for 3,749 yards, 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and leading Syracuse to an 8-5 record, but I'd rather have Geno Smith, EJ Manuel or Matt Barkley.
Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Sure, he wasn't used in the ideal role at LSU. Like Jordan, his athleticism is off the charts (4.58 40-yard dash, 37-inch vertical leap), though he's not quite as big as Jordan at 6'4" and 240 pounds. But when I look at Mingo as a football player, I wonder if all that athleticism will translate to NFL success.
In fact, I wonder if he relies on his athleticism too much.
He's still pretty thin and will need to bulk up. He's never set a forceful edge and isn't proficient at shedding blocks. It's possible he'll never be a great three-down player and will only be effective as a rushing specialist on passing downs. He took a step back his junior season, which is always a concern.
Mingo has all of the ability in the world, but there are legitimate red flags here. For a player likely to be a top 10 to top 15 selection, drafting him comes with plenty of risk.