We've had a chance to see the 2012 draft class in action for just one season, but it's never too early to make outrageous, premature judgements on what we've seen so far from these players. Right?
So let's take a look at five players from the 2012 draft class who aren't looking like the players we thought they'd be, at least not after one season. Some of these guys were considered "the answer" for their teams' issues at a specific position, but each of these guys still have questions about them heading into 2013.
The optimistic side of every fan is going to make all the excuses in the world for each of these players. We know it's only been one year and some of these guys were dealing with injuries, but they still left a lot to be desired based on the expectations for them heading into their rookie seasons-—whether it's fair or not.
The bottom line is that if each of these guys play at the level they did last season, we're going to be using the "b-word" about them before too long. No, not that one. The other one.
Any time your first-round pick is only active for three regular-season games in his rookie season there's reason to doubt the success of the pick.
A.J. Jenkins didn't catch a pass last season for the San Francisco 49ers despite being drafted No. 30 overall out of Illinois in 2012. Jenkins sat behind Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree last season.
The 49ers went out this offseason and traded for former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who will feel right at home back in the NFC West after playing seven seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Considering Crabtree and Manningham will be back with the 49ers, it's an uphill battle for Jenkins to crack that threesome when you throw Boldin in the bunch.
From the looks of it last year, Jenkins didn't make a great impression right away either.
A.J. Jenkins is not ready for the hill. Pretty easy to see, as Jim Harbaugh saw, too, that rookie is out of shape at first 49ers camp.
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) May 11, 2012
It doesn't look like it's had a huge impact on whether the 49ers are going to be successful or not—obviously they are. But even the good teams miss on picks, and it looks like the 49ers missed on this one.
Melvin Ingram didn't have a good 2012 season.
The former No. 18 overall pick in the 2012 draft out of South Carolina was supposed to be the answer for the pass-rushing issue that the San Diego Chargers have had since they realized that Larry English wasn't going to work out. Ingram finished the 2012 season with just one sack and 41 tackles.
Well, now it's been reported that Melvin Ingram tore his ACL in offseason activities.
Melvin Ingram sustained a torn ACL in his left knee during OTA practice today. No other information was released.
— San Diego Chargers (@chargers) May 15, 2013
That's a devastating injury to both Ingram and to the Chargers. He was coming off a pretty disappointing season, and now he's going to miss the entire 2013 season with this injury.
The road to reclaiming the optimism about his abilities for the Chargers defense just became much more difficult.
SD one of teams that can least afford this RT @utgehlken Torn ACL feared for SD outside linebacker Melvin Ingram
— Sigmund Bloom (@SigmundBloom) May 14, 2013
According to Ian Rapoport, the Chargers brought in free agent pass-rusher Dwight Freeney for a visit, but a deal had not yet been reached.
Ingram looks to be following the same footsteps as former Chargers first-round pick, outside linebacker Larry English. English has 8.5 sacks through his first four NFL seasons, although he did have twice as many as Ingram did as a rookie, two.
Brandon Weeden may have been a rookie quarterback last season but we can't treat him like a rookie quarterback. He's going to turn 30 years old next October.
Weeden was taken with the No. 22 overall selection in the 2012 draft by the Cleveland Browns.
He's older than Alex Smith, Matt Flynn, Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers. That's just to name a few. He's an aging vet without the pleasure of using the term 'vet' to describe uncanny experience and a depth of NFL knowledge.
Weeden finished last season completing just 57 percent of his passes and threw 14 touchdowns to 17 interceptions for the Browns.
He's going to have to have a fantastic 2013 season to avoid being called a "bust". The Browns still need to find their quarterback of the future, and preferably, not a guy who won't see his second contract until he's almost 33 years old.
"Campbell's clearly bigger than Brandon Weeden. He made (third-string passer) Thaddeus Lewis look like a shrimp," wrote Doerschuk, who added that the seven-year veteran passer "definitely had better sessions than Weeden" on Thursday. Campbell displayed a strong, deep ball on long strikes to receivers Travis Benjamin and Jordan Norwood.
It was interesting during the 2013 NFL draft that we never got the "best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson" line dropped on Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack. At least not in the way that it was during the 2012 draft when people were describing former Stanford guard David DeCastro.
DeCastro was the No. 24 pick in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2012 NFL draft.
DeCastro suffered a knee injury during the preseason and missed the majority of the 2012 season. He came back in time for the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 15 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
Considering DeCastro only played in a handful of games, it's tough to make too much of a conclusion of what he'll provide for the Steelers in the future. After a decent game against the Cowboys, this is what Peter Damilatis of Pro Football Focus had to say about DeCastro's game against the Bengals in Week 16:
DeCastro’s 86.7 Pass Blocking Efficiency was a league-low for guards last week, and he was equally overmatched in the ground game. Time and again he simply whiffed on defenders, and his -1.9 run block grade helps explain why Pittsburgh running backs gained just 34 yards on 14 rushes to the right side.
DeCastro was hardly the only Steeler to have an off game against the Bengals, but Pittsburgh fans will have all offseason to wonder if he will be part of the problem or solution to their offensive line woes.
This little piece of one article doesn't mean that DeCastro will or won't be awesome for the Steelers moving forward. But he doesn't seem to be that slam-dunk pick that many were predicting.
Without a great 2013 season, it looks like the "best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson" talk was a little too premature, probably like this article.
The St. Louis Rams needed to add some offensive weapons around quarterback Sam Bradford this offseason. They lost running back Steven Jackson to the Atlanta Falcons via free agency, as well as wide receivers Danny Amendola to the New England Patriots and Brandon Gibson to the Miami Dolphins.
That means that former No. 33 overall pick, the first pick in the second round of the 2012 draft, wide receiver Brian Quick, must step up in 2013. Quick finished the 2012 season with just 156 yards receiving on 11 receptions but did add two touchdowns.
The Rams still have Chris Givens and Austin Pettis on the roster at wide receiver, who picked up 698 yards and 267 yards receiving last year, respectively. The Rams also added free agent tight end Jared Cook to bolster the passing game. Then they made the big move by bringing in the playmaking receiver out of West Virginia, Tavon Austin, with their first-round pick.
But they didn't stop there in adding at the wide receiver position, bringing in Austin's teammate at West Virginia, Stedman Bailey, with their third-round pick.
What does this mean for Quick? It means competition.
There's going to be an odd-man out in this equation, and there's a good chance that it's Quick. Austin, Pettis, Givens and Bailey could all push Quick down the depth chart. That wouldn't bode well for the former No. 33 pick and his ability to dodge the "bust" label.