2013 NFL Draft Results: Predicting Every NFL Team's Biggest Rookie Dud
Once the NFL draft has completed many fans will search through the different scouting reports, breakdowns, highlight clips and articles posted on the internet of their teams' newest players. Most fans will take an optimistic approach to what these rookies will bring to the table as soon as they walk through the door after signing on that dotted line.
While we all want these players to play to their highest ceiling predicted, truth is, many of these players won't reach our highest expectations of them, at least not right off the bat—especially if we're only taking into consideration the positives said about each individual player. We are, after all, fans of specific teams and want to see the best from each player our team chose.
We'll have rookies that'll let us down and be considered "dud" next season, which is way too early in their careers, mind you. But whether it's because they didn't play well, didn't play at all, or didn't play as well as their draft position had us think they should, it's inevitable to happen for every NFL team with at least one rookie.
This article is going to take a look at one NFL rookie for each team that won't live up to expectations next season.
San Francisco 49ers Tight End Vance McDonald
It's hard to find a lot to be upset with regarding the San Francisco 49ers draft. They got excellent value in the middle rounds with guys like Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, Corey Lemonier, Quinton Patton and Marcus Lattimore.
When you look at their roster, there's not a whole lot of issues throughout the depth chart. But the one interesting pick they made that won't immediately fill the shoes of the player he's there to replace is Rice tight end Vance McDonald.
With Delanie Walker leaving via free agency to the Tennessee Titans on a four-year deal for $17.5 million, there was an open spot to fill alongside standout Vernon Davis. While Walker only caught 21 passes for 344 yards last season, which should have been more if it weren't for a number of drops, he was also a very good blocking tight end.
Vance McDonald doesn't possess the blocking skills or athleticism in the open field to be the same kind of offensive weapon that Walker gave the 49ers last season. McDonald is not an in-line blocker and doesn't have the strength to play inside the box in the running game.
McDonald will try and find mismatches in the passing game as a "joker" tight end but there just won't be enough opportunities for him to make a difference next season.
Colin Kaepernick found a rhythm with wide receiver Michael Crabtree once he surpassed Alex Smith as the 49ers starting quarterback last season. In 10 starts including the postseason with Kaepernick under center, Crabtree caught 61 passes for 880 yards and eight touchdowns. Crabtree finished the regular season with just over 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns in 16 games.
McDonald didn't do a lot to impress those who were down in Mobile, Alabama during the Senior Bowl with his ability to consistently catch the football. He was plagued by drops all week and questions about his catching radius, or his ability to adjust to balls, were brought up.
He may end up being a solid tight end for the 49ers but don't expect much from McDonald next season.
Chicago Bears Linebacker Jon Bostic
The departure of future Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher left a void in the middle of the Chicago Bears defense that had to be addressed this offseason. Unless you're counting on DJ Williams or James Anderson to be the answer to that puzzle, which you shouldn't, then you're looking at the second-round pick from Florida, Jon Bostic.
Bostic is a hammer in the middle of a defense and he'll hit you with some force when he's heading down hill. The problem is he's not the most fluid athlete moving laterally and doesn't possess the short-range athleticism to consistently be a three-down player in the NFL. That's not what you're looking for with a second-round pick at linebacker:
Appears to possess just adequate sideline-to-sideline speed and may struggle to protect the edge against speedier NFL ball-carriers.
A bit stiff in his upper body and can be eluded in the open field. Relies on his eyes rather than athleticism when in coverage and will likely struggle in this area in the NFL, making him likely a two-down linebacker.
When you play in a division that has Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and new arrival Reggie Bush, you need to be athletic and you need to be able to move laterally in the middle of the defense. Even if Bostic improves in this area and shows that he's capable of doing these things, he's having to replace Brian Urlacher, and that's an uphill battle that Bostic doesn't have the wheels for right now.
Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Tackle Tanner Hawkinson
Tanner Hawkinson is a converted tight-end that shows pretty good athleticism for a player who's 6'5" 298 pounds. He's played on both the left side and right side of the offensive line at tackle. The problem is that he's not very strong, doesn't possess good balance and needs a lot of work on his technique.
That's going to be a major problem in the NFL for him. If he thought the players he was facing in college were strong and could overpower him, then how's he going to handle NFL players?
It's an easy answer: He's not.
The good news for the Bengals is they took him as a developmental player and aren't counting on him to play anytime soon. They'll have a chance to see if they can develop that athletic ability and turn Hawkinson into a functional offensive lineman at the NFL level.
It's easy to point at the University of Kansas' record during his time in Lawrence (11-37, 2-32) and make a judgment on his abilities. But Hawkinson did garner Freshman All-American honors after starting all 12 games at left tackle for the Jayhawks back in 2009. He also started every game since arriving on campus, which was a school record.
Hawkinson was picked in the fifth round and doesn't come with a lot of investment, but it won't take long before seventh-round pick Reid Fragel passes him up.
Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin
The Buffalo Bills were desperately seeking a way to upgrade their offense this offseason. They added quarterback Kevin Kolb via free agency and then took quarterback EJ Manuel with their first-round pick. They didn't stop there because they couldn't; after all, they only had two receivers returning that had more than 120 yards receiving last year in Steve Johnson (1,046) and T.J. Graham (322).
So they went ahead and took University of Southern California wide receiver Robert Woods with the No. 41 overall selection and then added Texas' Marquise Goodwin with the No. 78 overall selection.
The problem is that Goodwin isn't going to give you production next season. He was third on Texas' team last season with 26 receptions for just 340 yards and three touchdowns. How is he supposed to give you the same production in the NFL when he wasn't a difference-maker on the field when he was in college, against lesser athletes?
It's easy: He won't.
He's a world-class track athlete that's trying to learn football. It's a safe pick for a developing team that has time to work with him on the finer points of playing receiver in the NFL. It's not for a team that needs him to step in and provide any kind of consistent production:
Limited route tree. Mostly targeted on quick screens and go routes. Struggles to avoid contact when dealing with physical coverage, and gets stuck vs. pressing corners at the line of scrimmage. Breaking routes are rounded with a lack of explosiveness.
If Goodwin is given enough time and is properly developed, he could be an asset to the Bills offense down the road. But that's going to take time. People will fall in love with his speed, but that speed hasn't translated on the field for him yet, and there's no reason to believe that'll happen once he gets to the NFL.
Denver Broncos Running Back Montee Ball
Montee Ball carried the ball 924 times during his four-year career at the University of Wisconsin. That's a load for a running back and despite his accolades in college, which include the Doak Walker trophy in 2012 as the nation's top running back and finishing as a Heisman finalist in 2011, Ball still hasn't been viewed as an elite running back prospect:
Lacks burst in and out of cuts. Does not have pure power to move piles or free himself through better tackle attempts. Volume runner who isn't overly creative or powerful, and benefits from plenty of clear entry runs into the second level.
The Broncos have uncertain futures of current running backs Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee, and also have 2012 third-round pick out of San Diego State, Ronnie Hillman, on the roster as well. So there is an opportunity for Ball to come in and contribute right away.
Ball had an amazing career at the college level but doesn't possess the burst, strength or agility to make a big difference for the Broncos offense carrying the football next season. It's a good example of the name and accolades exceeding the NFL projectability of a player. He's got a nice bio for himself and plenty of name recognition, and even may end up being a contributor, but he won't live up to his name in terms of production and fanfare.
Cleveland Browns Pass-Rusher Barkevious Mingo
Putting Barkevious "KeKe" Mingo in this spot for the Cleveland Browns is strictly because of expectations and draft position. When a player is chosen at No. 6 overall he's going to have to produce right away or the pressure will only continue to mount around him.
Mingo possesses all the physical tools to be an elite pass-rusher in the NFL, but inconsistent production and lack of substantial development during his career has raised questions about his projectability.
Any time you're expecting a player to provide more production in the NFL than you saw while in college there's considerable risk. You're projecting his athletic abilities and talents to develop in your specific defensive scheme enough that you can defend that players' draft position. This is the story with Mingo:
He is a boom-or-bust prospect. Mingo's production dropped as a junior, and he failed to show much overall growth in his game over the course of his career. However, KeKe flashed the talent and projectable skills to be a dominant NFL pass rusher, and a position switch will likely serve him well, as the LSU Tiger was too often asked to play in a tight alignment on the strong side in college—a poor use of his strengths.
Last year the top three drafted pass-rushers were Bruce Irvin, Quinton Coples and Chandler Jones. Irvin was a surprise pick in the first round for the Seahawks and led all rookies with eight sacks in 2012, which put him tied for 29th in the NFL.
Mingo's draft position means the expectation should be more production than we saw from Irvin last season in getting after the passer, but if he doesn't and gets anywhere between seven to nine sacks, is that going to be a disappointment? For some it will and that's why expectations and draft position mean everything.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Mike Glennon
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed a backup quarterback and they found one in the third round of the draft in North Carolina State's Mike Glennon. They currently have Josh Freeman as their starter, who set franchise marks in yards and touchdowns last season, and he's also a free agent at the end of the season.
These moves led Pete Prisco, Senior NFL columnist for CBS Sports, to write a piece on why the Bucs don't seem to have any faith in Freeman as their quarterback:
For months, we've been hearing talk from those around the Bucs organization, and some inside, who say there is friction between coach Greg Schiano and Freeman. The word is Schiano doesn't think Freeman has enough fire in the belly, that he isn't his type of quarterback.
If the Bucs think Mike Glennon is the future answer at quarterback then they're in a world of trouble. If you're looking for a beautifully thrown go-route a few times a game then he's your guy. But if you're looking for someone that can actually move their feet, manipulate a pocket and deliver an accurate pass down the field then he's not your guy.
It's much easier to hit a stationary target than it is one that is moving. Glennon is as stationary as a goalpost on a windless day.
As far as a developmental starter, it's not without question that he could develop into a serviceable player down the road. But chances are they're going to have to make a decision on Freeman before they'll have an answer on Glennon.
In either case, Glennon will have an uphill battle to get on the field and the right decision to keep Freeman would relegate Glennon to a backup only position, which would disappoint fans loving his arm strength and potential.
Arizona Cardinals Defensive Back Tyrann Mathieu
There may not be a player in the country that's under more scrutiny next season for any minor infraction off the field than Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Given his past, it's warranted.
But while many discuss what kind of risk the Cardinals are taking for Mathieu's off the field transgressions, let's not just assume that he's going to bring that same playmaking ability to the Cardinals defense that he showed two years ago for LSU. At least not right away.
While he displayed play-making ability at LSU back in 2011, when he was named the Bednarik Award winner as the nation's top defender and Heisman finalist, he didn't play football at all in 2012 and instead dealt with a myriad of off the field issues.
Mathieu doesn't possess the ideal size for a NFL defensive back at just 5'9" and 186 pounds, but he's shown on tape that he's more than willing to throw his body around to bring down bigger offensive players.
Will that translate to the NFL? That's yet to be seen, but if you're expecting the same playmaking ability from the NFL rookie in 2013 that we all saw back in 2011, you're going to end up disappointed because it's going to take time to adjust to the NFL game.
San Diego Chargers Linebacker Manti Te'o
“Junior Seau was special, not only because of what he did on the field, but because how he made the people of San Diego feel” said Te’o. “I’m looking forward to helping my team win, and helping bring a lot of pride and tradition back to San Diego the way that Junior did.”
It's not to take away the feelings Te'o had towards a player that meant so much to the city of San Diego and what he meant to him personally as a NFL player of Samoan descent. But that's putting a whole lot of pressure on yourself to start mentioning yourself in the same sentence as a player like Seau, especially in San Diego right now.
Te'o doesn't have the ability to step in and turn around a defense that's going through a transition in the front seven like the Chargers are going through right now. The Chargers lost Aubrayo Franklin, Vaughn Martin and Takeo Spikes this past offseason. While they have young and talented players like Corey Liuget, Kendall Reyes and Cam Thomas up front, there's a lot of question marks on that defense heading into next season. Plugging Te'o in right away and expecting him to maintain that defenses status as a top 10 defense in terms of yardage is a stretch.
Manti Te'o could end up being a solid NFL player, but he's not going to be a difference-maker in the middle of the Chargers defense due to his lack of speed and short-area athleticism.
Kansas City Chiefs Running Back Knile Davis
The Kansas City Chiefs made a surprising selection in the third round when they took Arkansas running back Knile Davis with the No. 96 overall selection. Running back could have been deemed a need for the Chiefs because they did just lose Peyton Hillis in free agency, but 2012 fifth-round pick Cyrus Gray had shown flashes, albeit in small doses last year, that he could be a guy to carry the ball some more in 2013.
Davis presents an intriguing option because of the ability he showed back in 2010 when he ran for over 1,300 yards and picked up 13 touchdowns for Arkansas. His 6.5 yards per carry average in the SEC was enough to turn some heads. But a major ankle injury sidelined Davis for the entire 2011 season and his 2012 season was pretty disappointing. He picked up just 377 yards with a 3.4 yards per carry average with two touchdowns last season.
Injuries have been a problem for Davis since high school. He's broken his ankle three times and his collarbone twice, obviously missing considerable time his senior year of high school, freshman year of college and then again his junior year.
Ball security was also a big issue for Davis last season. He lost the ball eight times on just 123 touches. When you combine that with his injury-filled past it's a risky pick that doesn't look promising for the Chiefs.
Indianapolis Colts Pass-Rusher Bjoern Werner
The Indianapolis Colts finished the 2012 season ranked 23rd in the NFL in sacks with just 32 as a team. They recently traded away linebacker Jerry Hughes to the Buffalo Bills and his four sacks from last season, and are also without Dwight Freeney and his five sacks from last season.
The Colts needed to beef up their run defense and bring in some pass rush as well. They used their first-round pick on Florida State defensive lineman Bjoern Werner. While he'll present a developing option for the Colts down the road, he's not going to be able to make up for the lost production from the departures of Hughes and Freeney.
The Colts made a splash in free agency by forking over a whole lot of money to outside linebacker Erik Walden, who's never had more than three sacks in a season.
Thus the responsibility for this lost production from Hughes and Freeney will fall squarely on Werner, which isn't really fair to him, but he's going to disappoint you if that's where you're looking for it. Chuck Pagano has said that Werner will be edge as a linebacker, but that could be a problem. Some scouting reports have said that he's inconsistent on getting around the edge:
Lacks elite length for the position and doesn't have the natural start/stop explosion of some pass rushers. Will lose leverage at times, especially off the snap when he gets too high out of his stance. Has improved his awareness against the run, but still has room to improve his ability to sift through the trash and defeat off-balance blocks.
Dallas Cowboys Offensive Lineman Travis Frederick
One of the most surprising picks in the first round of the draft was when the Dallas Cowboys took Wisconsin offensive lineman Travis Frederick. It was met with a lot of doubters as many had a mid-round grade on the former Wisconsin Badger.
Based on my random survey of five teams, here is where Cowboys No. 1 Travis Frederick was on draft boards: 4th (1), 5th (2), 6 (1), 6-7 (1)
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) April 26, 2013
While that tweet from Ed Werder was a little harsh on the Cowboys there have also been a lot of people that have said he's not a bad player, he was just over-drafted. Apparently Frederick was one of 19 players the Cowboys had a first-round grade on.
The Cowboys took Frederick with the No. 31 overall pick after trading down with the San Francisco 49ers, who moved up to take safety Eric Reid of LSU with the No. 18 pick. The Cowboys also picked up the No. 74 pick in the third round, which they used on Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams.
The problem with this pick is that even if Frederick turns out to be a solid player, fans will always say they could have still picked him up in the second or third round. It's a lose-lose battle that'll take the Cowboys winning a lot of football games to quiet the doubters, and there's plenty of them right now.
Miami Dolphins Defensive Back Will Davis
Will Davis is a solid coverage corner back that is allergic to tackling. He displays nice athletic ability when the ball is in air and is physical at the line of scrimmage.
But if he's asked to bring down a NFL running back out in space he'd have a better chance tripping him or wrapping him up as he's getting run over. He tackles way too high and is a liability in the run game.
The Dolphins did a smart thing by taking Jamar Taylor with their second pick because Davis needs time to develop. The could afford to take a riskier pick like Davis knowing they had Taylor there already.
The Dolphins will be best served if starting cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall stay healthy all season.
The other problem is the Dolphins traded up to get Davis at the end of the third round, who Mike Mayock had a fifth-round grade on. And Ben Volin tweeted:
So #Dolphins traded a 4th, 5th and a 7th to GB for Utah State DB Will Davis
— Ben Volin (@BenVolinPBP) April 27, 2013
That's an awful lot to give up for a player that needs as much development as Davis needs before he's an every down cornerback.
Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Matt Barkley
Rather than going with a prototypical response to the "Matt Barkley is going to a Chip Kelly offense?" debate, we'll just skip right to the idea that Barkley just isn't a dynamic quarterback. He has more arm strength than he's given credit for but still doesn't have the touch to consistently take advantage of open looks down the field.
It was also cause for concern that he threw 15 interceptions as a senior in 2012, which was a career high. There's also concern about some of the passes he attempts giving him even more trouble once he gets to the NFL:
Highly confident passer who will test tight windows and could get an unwelcomed introduction to the difference in speed between the Pac-12 and NFL levels.
It's not about the system as much as it is about the player. In this case we're talking about a player that a whole lot of people overvalued when the draft process began. When Barkley was selected by the Eagles at the beginning of the fourth round it was good value. A high-profile quarterback who dropped to the fourth round is an easy decision.
But if you're looking at Barkley to be anything more than a low-tier starting quarterback or high-end backup then you're going to be disappointed. He's been described as a player with a low ceiling and high floor. So if your expectations are for a fourth-round quarterback you should be just fine, but if you're thinking you got a steal late in the draft you're probably going to end up being disappointed.
Atlanta Falcons Cornerback Desmond Trufant
The Atlanta Falcons pulled off another big-time first-round trade this year by trading up for University of Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant. The Falcons sent the No. 30 pick in the first round, as well as a third- and sixth-round pick to move up to get Trufant with the No. 22 selection.
The Falcons aren't strangers to moving up in the first round, as shown in their monumental trade for wide receiver Julio Jones last season. "This was our targeted pick," general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "This is who we focused on all throughout the offseason."
The good news for the Falcons is that they addressed a major need at cornerback after losing Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes this offseason. The bad news is they now have a rookie cornerback that's got major shoes to fill and a big-time lineup of receivers he's going to have to cover this season.
Desmond Trufant better have his popcorn ready. Will be #Falcons RCB. In NFC South, that's Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith & M. Colston's side.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) May 3, 2013
As long as Falcons fans are willing to let the rookie take his lumps against that talented group of receivers they'll be just fine. But the Falcons are in a win-now mode and might not be patient enough with a player that might not be ready to take on the likes of those fantastic NFL receivers.
New York Giants Defensive Lineman Johnathan Hankins
Whenever you're taking a two-down player as high as the second round you'd like there to be something there to develop from a pass-rushing standpoint. That doesn't seem to be much of an option with Hankins, although he seems to have the athleticism needed as he moves well inside the box.
The Giants needed help stopping the run as they finished 2012 giving up an average of 129 yards per game on the ground, which put them 25th in the NFL in that category.
The question of Hankins value as a two-down player was also brought up in the context of the teams that play in their division:
The Giants are always true to their board, but it's worth wondering how much a player like Hankins will see the field vs. a trio of NFC East teams that tend to spread the field and/or favor option-oriented schemes. If the Eagles really manage to get a play off every 12 seconds, Hankins doesn't seem like the ideal defender to combat a fast break attack of that ilk.
Hankins has plenty of questions surrounding his motor running "hot and cold" and that's going to be a problem in the pass-happy NFC East. It always takes rookie defensive linemen a little while to make an impact in run defense, and considering it's the only thing Hankins currently brings to the table and how bad the Giants need someone to fill that role, it's setting up for disappointment.
The Giants need someone that can step in and make a difference day one and Hankins needs time before he can develop into that player.
Jacksonville Jaguars Wide Receiver Ace Sanders
Ace Sanders is a player that will always make you think he's going to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. He's much like former Ole Miss standout Dexter McCluster, who has yet to make a substantial difference for the Kansas City Chiefs offense.
Much like McCluster, Sanders is heading to an offense that doesn't have a great quarterback situation. Sanders provides great return ability but doesn't show the consistent playmaking ability when he's out at receiver. Sanders had two receptions or less in more than half of South Carolina's games last season.
With his skill set you would have liked to see more production when he was out at wide receiver but he'll present a nice option as a returner. But with Blaine Gabbert throwing him passes don't expect much from him in the receiving game. He isn't that versatile of a receiver:
Significantly undersized. More quick than fast and is a bit of a one-trick pony as an interior receiver. Made most of his plays at South Carolina on quick screens, drag routes and occasional deep balls and is therefore lacking a bit in his route progression.
New York Jets Quarterback Geno Smith
Geno Smith played with more talented receivers in college than he will with the New York Jets. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey gave Smith a great duo in Morgantown that helped him throw for over 4,200 yards last season at West Virginia. The Jets really need last year's first-round pick from Georgia Tech, Stephen Hill, to develop and provide more production than the 21 receptions for 252 yards we saw last season.
It's a great move for the Jets in that they got one of the top quarterbacks in the 2013 draft and didn't have to use either of their first-round picks to get him. The problem for Geno Smith is that he just walked into a circus.
The Jets finally moved on from Tebow mania but if anyone thinks that's going to slow down the odd topics from the New York media, blogosphere and Twitterverse about the Jets, you obviously haven't seen the stir that a headband can cause.
If anyone wondered what an introverted artist that plays quarterback would look like in the media capital of the world twisting every word he says then don't turn away from your television this fall.
This has the makings for a disaster written all over it. Which is too bad, because in the right situation Geno Smith could develop into a really good quarterback. But that situation is not with the Jets as they currently stand.
Detroit Lions Cornerback Darius Slay
When you take a cornerback at the very top of the second round you don't want there to be a number of questions surrounding that player. According to NFL Network's Mike Mayock, there's a "meniscus issue" with Slay:
There are rumors, and I've confirmed it, that he's had a meniscus problem in his knees, causing a lot of teams to worry whether he'd be ready for training camp.
In addition to the knee there are questions surrounding Slay's change-of-direction skills and athletic fluidity out in space. He possesses the straight-line speed as demonstrated at the combine, when he ran the fastest 40-time of any defensive back. But these athletic question marks aren't the kinds of things you're wanting to hear about a player you took five slots from being a first-rounder.
A cornerback's change-of-direction fluidity is his most-important aspect when playing out in space. Slay projects as a possible starter for the Lions defense next season and he's playing in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and a Minnesota Vikings team that just added Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson at wide receiver.
The Lions had a need at cornerback and Slay filled that need, but if you're looking for a "plug and play" player, you'd hope for a more finished product than what Slay brings to the table right now.
Green Bay Packers Offensive Lineman JC Tretter
You know a team has had a good draft when you struggle to find the "dud" in the class. While Johnathan Franklin or Eddie Lacy were screaming to be named as the "dud" strictly because there aren't enough carries to go around. There was just too much value with those guys and the Packers could probably do without Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant or even Alex Green on the roster at this point.
We're going with J.C. Tretter as the "dud" of the Green Bay Packers draft class. The former Cornell left tackle doesn't possess the strength or athleticism to play tackle in the NFL, so he'll most likely be moving inside as a developmental player.
Tretter was taken at the end of the fourth round and the former tight end will have some work to do improving his physicality against better players as he hasn't faced a high level of competition from his days at Cornell.
It would have really gone a long way for Tretter to participate in the Senior Bowl against some of the best competition in the country. But while preparing for pre-draft workouts at IMG training academy in Florida, Tretter broke his nose while competing in a drill with former Missouri Tiger and current New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. Therefore, he wasn't able to head down to Mobile.
"I had a defensive tackle (Sheldon Richardson) locked out, and he tried to spin and lost his footing," Tretter explained. "The back of his head came back and caught the side of my nose and moved it across my face. I had to be rushed to the emergency room and get it straightened."
Tretter is a developmental player that will have time to prepare for his shot down the road at taking one of the interior offensive line spots for the Packers. But like any mid-round offensive lineman, especially those who haven't faced very good competition in college, there's a good chance they don't ever develop.
Carolina Panthers Running Back Kenjon Barner
Just for namesake alone, people will optimistically believe Kenjon Barner will be a difference-maker at the NFL level because they saw what he could do at Oregon in Chip Kelly's fast-paced spread offense.
The problem is his individual skills don't translate nearly as much as the perceived notion that he can bring that same game-changing speed to the Carolina Panthers. Barner is fast, there's no denying that. He rushed for over 1,700 yards on 278 carries for a 6.4 yards-per-carry average while picking up 21 touchdowns running the ball—not to mention the 256 yards he picked up as a receiver out of the backfield.
But Barner's fondness of bouncing plays to the outside before he gets past the first level of the defense isn't going to work at the NFL level. You've got to press the hole and get to the second level before you bounce plays outside, and Barner is going to learn that lesson very soon. He's not a great runner between the tackles and doesn't have the physicality to consistently take hits in the box.
With his speed and quickness out in space, it'd be natural to think Barner could find a role as a third-down back. But he's a liability in pass protection and isn't a natural pass-catcher:
His lack of great size and strength limits him as a blocker and on top of that he was very rarely asked to block at Oregon. He lacks the skill set and the experience to be a good pass blocker early in his career so he is going to need some time to get coached up in this area.
Barner is an intriguing option that has a nice athletic skill set but it's going to take a major development for him to ever be more than a third or fourth option for a NFL team.
New England Patriots Outside Linebacker Jamie Collins
Jamie Collins is a one-dimensional pass-rusher that doesn't provide much of anything in the way of run defense. He's a converted strong safety that is only adequate in coverage.
The New England Patriots took him in the second round with the No. 52 overall selection in the draft, which was their first pick in 2013 after trading down out of the first round.
Collins used his quickness and explosive ability to get past offensive tackles while playing at Southern Mississippi last season. This helped him nab 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks as a senior in 2012. His problem is that he doesn't disengage well from blockers and isn't a factor when locked up while blitzing or attempting to shed blockers in the run game:
Can be eluded in space by quicker ball-carriers or in the backfield by mobile quarterbacks. Must speed up his hands to win battles against pro linemen, slow to disengage.
Collins needs major time to develop and will have to be used in very limited doses next season as a rookie for him to be in the best position to be successful. If he develops better use of his hands there's a role for him down the line. But don't expect too much from Collins as a rookie.
Oakland Raiders Offensive Lineman Menelik Watson
The ultra raw Menelik Watson gives the Oakland Raiders a developmental tackle with extremely high upside. Watson grew up in England and found his way to the United States through basketball, then boxing, before eventually landing at Saddleback Junior College for football, which eventually took him to Florida State.
It's not your prototypical path to the NFL, but it worked for Watson. He's a rare physical specimen with great size and athleticism at 6'5", 310 pounds.
He doesn't have a lot of experience playing football and therefore his technique could really improve. That's always a scary thing to hear about an offensive lineman, especially one taken as high as the top of the second round. There's not as much of a financial investment in second-round picks, but those are gold in building a NFL franchise.
You should be getting starters on minimal four-year contracts that will allow you to spend money elsewhere on your roster before the second contracts for those second-rounders come back up. The Raiders did well to pick up the second-round pick they used on Watson (No. 42) by trading down with the Miami Dolphins from No. 3 to No. 12. They used the No. 12 pick on cornerback D.J. Hayden.
But the Raiders have a lot of holes on their roster and they'll need Watson to develop, and develop quickly if they're going to turn their team around and get back into contention. It just seems like a risky pick for a team that can't afford to miss on any picks.
St. Louis Rams Linebacker Alec Ogletree
Much has been made about Alec Ogletree's speed and athleticism coming from his linebacking position. The converted safety became a first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams and looks to be a weak-side linebacker in their 4-3 defense.
The Rams have solid tackling linebackers in James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar and now they've got speed in Ogletree.
While Ogletree will make highlight reel plays by getting sideline to sideline with his speed he really struggles with physicality inside the box. He doesn't disengage from blocks well and this is going to create a problem for him and the Rams defense:
Overruns a lot of plays between the tackles, struggles to recover. Has a lot of issues dealing with second-level blocks from the offensive line, rarely can work over top of them, winds up walled off.
If the Rams can find creative ways to move Ogletree around where he's in space more often than not, they'll be in better situations more often than not.
For as much praise as Ogletree gets for his speed and athleticism, which is rightfully deserved, there aren't enough questions brought about his physicality in being a first-round linebacker heading to a very physical division.
His speed will help against the read-option from the 49ers and new Seahawks offensive weapon Percy Harvin, but they can both also be a physical smashmouth team that he won't be able to run around. It's football and eventually being able to physically dominate your opponent comes into play, and it's there that he'll struggle.
Baltimore Ravens Linebacker John Simon
John Simon is a reach in finding a "dud" in an otherwise very Ozzie-type draft—meaning Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, meaning solid. It's tough finding that "dud" when you realize you're talking about the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. But the Ravens' top three picks in the draft all project from an athletic standpoint better to their respective positions that Simon does to his.
Simon projects as an outside linebacker for the Ravens and has already been getting the Jarret Johnson comparisons—Johnson being the former outside linebacker for the Ravens who left via free agency before last season for the San Diego Chargers:
"Yes, toughness and style, work ethic, attention to detail, guys that love ball," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Simon and Johnson..."He's our kind of guy. Jarret Johnson was a Raven, and he always will be. So it's probably a good comparison."
Simon came from Ohio State where he was coached on the defense by former NFL outside linebacker Mike Vrabel, the former New England Patriot and Kansas City Chiefs standout.
Simon needs to get faster and develop more "burst" if he's going to play outside linebacker. He shows the physicality needed to play the position but isn't an explosive enough of an athlete to compensate with that physical ability.
Without properly developing a more explosive first step and quickness the pass-rushing aspect of Simon's game won't translate to the NFL level. If there's any knock on his ability it's that.
Washington Redskins Defensive Back David Amerson
The good news for the Washington Redskins is that they really improved their secondary during this draft. They picked up solid safeties in the fourth and sixth rounds in Fresno State's Phillip Thomas and Georgia's Bacarri Rambo. The bad news is their first pick, cornerback David Amerson out of North Carolina State, is a huge boom or bust candidate.
Amerson came into last season as a legitimate first-round prospect after picking off 13 passes in 2011. At 6'1" and 205 pounds, Amerson possesses the physical presence to be a big-time playmaker at cornerback. When you add in the 4.44 40-yard time he had at the NFL combine, it's easy to see why NFL teams had him on their radar.
There are questions about his change-of-direction burst in coming out of his back pedal and some even wonder is a switch to safety would be his best position. But a lackluster 2012 season that routinely saw him get burned down the field for long touchdown passes doesn't seem to bother Redskins head coach Mike Shannahan.
“We’re going to coach him the way we want to coach him,” Shanahan said. “He’s going to fit into our system. We think we can give him some opportunities he hasn’t had in the past.”
The Redskins need Amerson to work out as a cornerback because they invested two additional picks at safety in this same draft class. Amerson took one good season of production at North Carolina State and managed to turn that into a second round draft choice. We've seen three years of production and two of them haven't been great.
The Redskins apparently like to gamble.
New Orleans Saints Offensive Tackle Terron Armstead
The New Orleans Saints let starting left tackle and two-time Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod sign a five-year, $35 million deal with the Chicago Bears this offseason. That means it's time for 2010 second-round pick Charles Brown to stepup and take over that left tackle position heading into next season.
So where does that leave 2013 third-round pick Terron Armstead? It means he's the developmental tackle that'll have just a short time to compete with Brown and show the Saints organization that he'd be able to take over the left tackle spot in 2014.
The problem for the Saints is that isn't going to happen so they better hope Brown works out this season. The scouting reports on Terron Armstead talk highly of his athleticism and ability to get to the second level of a defense. But they also talk of his weaknesses in getting bull-rushed and lack of lower body strength. That's a huge red flag because he's not facing a high level of competition at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. If he's having trouble with his lower body strength and getting bull-rushed at that level, how's he going to fare in the NFL?
Armstead is a developmental player that possesses all the athletic ability needed to be an above-average NFL offensive lineman, but he's lacking in a few key areas that'll need substantial development before they'll stick him out there to protect Drew Brees against the NFC South defensive fronts.
Seattle Seahawks Defensive Lineman Jordan Hill
Jordan Hill is another player that's going to be picked on because of a solid Seattle Seahawks draft. The good news is the Seahawks don't need Hill's services next season as they're pretty deep along the defensive line right now.
So the 6'1", 303-pound defensive lineman out of Penn State will have the proper time to develop as most rookie defensive lineman will need. Hill will need that time to develop better use of his hands in disengaging blocks in the run game as a smaller defensive lineman at just over six feet tall.
Hill doesn't possess elite upper body strength or explosiveness to consistently drive NFL offensive lineman back, so he'll need to develop more burst and quickness in order to be a 1-gap penetrating defensive lineman.
Lacks elite upper-body strength to overwhelm offensive linemen. Needs to improve snap anticipation. Dangerous in space and in 1-on-1 situations but not as effective in a crowd, where he can get lost or pushed around.
Don't look to Jordan Hill to make any kind of an impact for the Seahawks next season. Because of his size, unless he really develops some explosiveness as a penetrator, then you're most likely looking at a career rotational pass-rusher along the defensive line.
Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le'Veon Bell
Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 48 overall pick in the second round. He'll compete with Jonathan Dwyer and Issac Redman for the starting running back position.
While he does possess the size and strength to be a consistent runner at the NFL level Bell doesn't possess the speed or vision to make big plays in the running game. The NFL is about speed on defense and running backs have to either have a little "wiggle" or outstanding vision nowadays, and Bell doesn't provide above-average ability for either:
As the season progressed, Bell's lateral agility declined. Bell proved capable of handling a tremendous amount of touches. To become a full-time back though, Bell will need to continue to improve his ability as a pass catcher or become a more consistent blocker, in addition to improving his vision as a runner.
Bell will get his touches and may very well end up being the starting running back for the Steelers next season, but he's not fast enough to break tackles and won't have the same success running through tackles against NFL linebackers that he did while in college.
Houston Texans Defensive Lineman Sam Montgomery
There are few players that are more likely to end up as "duds" than former LSU and current Houston Texan defensive end Sam Montgomery. It has less to do with how he performs on the field as much as it does his general point of view towards the game of football. Montgomery made headlines for a lot of the wrong reasons over the past year.
There's the infamous photo posted by LSU's strength coach, Tommy Moffit, calling out Montgomery and a few of his teammates for being lazy. This probably isn't the type of thing a player wants attached to their name, but if the shoe fits...
Then there was the genius comment that Montgomery made about taking plays off against lesser competition. It's not only that he's admitting to taking plays off, but he's actually saying it out loud, to the media!
“You know, some weeks when we didn’t have to play the harder teams, there were some times when effort was not needed,” Montgomery said. “But when we had the big boys coming in, the ‘Bamas or the South Carolinas, I grabbed close to those guys and went all out."
Then it came as no surprise that when the draft came around that a "once projected top 10 pick in 2013" would fall to the very end of the third round. Then Mike Mayock of NFL Network pretty much summed up what we already knew during the draft:
"He's a guy who on tape is a solid, solid second-round pick. But a lot of teams didn't like his interview process. Teams didn't like his profile as far as who the kid was and what he was all about. They weren't sure he was focused on football, and a lot of teams quite frankly took him off the board."
Tennessee Titans Defensive End Lavar Edwards
Lavar Edwards has played on some very talented defenses at LSU and showed his athleticism down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl.
Edwards lacks the physicality at the point of contact to be a factor against NFL offensive lineman once he's engaged. He does not shed blocks and becomes nonexistent in rushing the passer of defending the run if a blocker gets their hands on him.
He must use his quickness and agility to get around a block or beat a lineman upfield in bending the edge to make a play behind the line of scrimmage. He displays his athleticism out in space when chasing ball carriers from behind. But if you're not able to shed blocks and you're only making tackles by chasing guys down from behind then you're a liability on the field:
First punch does not jolt and the placement can get too wide. Allows blocker to absorb and redirect rather than continuing and finishing the backwards momentum. The counter to finish the penetration is lacking. Don’t see the consistent shed to release, seems content to rush while engaged.
Edwards might have an opportunity to develop into a rotational defensive lineman on passing downs in the right system. But saying a defensive lineman can be effective when he doesn't have offensive lineman getting their hands on him is like saying a quarterback is effective only when there's no pressure and he has a clear lane to throw the football.
Edwards has a lot of developing to do before he'll step foot on the field as an every-down player.
Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson
Cordarrelle Patterson's inclusion on this list has as much to do with him as a player as it does the Vikings offense and quarterback situation.
The Vikings traded up with the New England Patriots to No. 29 in order to get Patterson and parted ways with the No. 52, No. 83, No. 102 and No. 229 picks in this draft. That is a massive investment for a receiver that, while extremely talented, isn't without question or concern:
His skill set is what you look for in a prototypical wide receiver, but reportedly there were concerns about immaturity on and off the field. Patterson still needs to learn route running and offensive concepts after playing only one season at Tennessee.
The Vikings offense will still revolve around NFL MVP running back Adrian Peterson, and with the new addition of wide receiver Greg Jennings coming over from the division rival Green Bay Packers, hopefully it will help take the sting off of losing Percy Harvin earlier in the offseason.
The Vikings gave wide receiver Greg Jennings a five-year, $45 million deal this offseason and looked to pair him with second-year tight end and 2012 Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph. When you add Patterson to the mix it seems like a ton of weapons for a quarterback that really needs to take that next step next season to justify all of these moves.
Christian Ponder has plenty of weapons at his disposal now and whether or not he's got the ability to take advantage of all of them remains to be seen.
But considering the number of picks the Vikings gave to trade up for Patterson, his role in a run-first offense with a big-time receiver and tight end already there, it's hard to see Patterson making a big enough impact as a rookie that'll justify all of the compensation the Vikings gave up for him. Especially considering the number of wide receivers that were drafted after No 52: Guys like Keenan Allen, Terrance Williams, Stedman Bailey, Markus Wheaton and Aaron Dobson.
That's not to say that any of these players have the ceiling or current abilities of Patterson, but it was an awfully large investment for a player that's hopefully your fourth best offensive option when he walks on the field.