2014 NFL Draft: 10 Top Prospects Who Won't Live Up to Expectations
The 2013 college football season is now over. The national champion has been crowned, the bowl games have been played, and players are now deciding whether to declare for the draft or return to school.
There are four months from now until the 2014 NFL draft. This means that all of those who have declared for the draft will be heavily scouted, and opinions good or bad will be formed.
For those who are highly praised, a high draft pick is likely in their future, but in every draft there are busts, as well as players who do not live up to expectations.
This is on those players. These 10 may not necessarily be busts, but they will have to work a lot harder to silence doubters, as their playing ability may not make it in the NFL.
10. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I've watched more film on Johnny Manziel than any other player, and I certainly watched his amazing come-from-behind win against Duke. Doing so made me realize two things.
First, I've been overly harsh on him. I've had him topping lists like these in the past, and he doesn't belong there. Yes, he is undersized and his skill set will not be easy to translate, but if Russell Wilson could make a seamless transition, it's not far-fetched to believe Manziel can.
Second, the hype has not lessened from his freshman season, and Manziel has used it to his advantage. He became the team leader at Texas A&M, and even with another good quarterback, the team does not have nearly the success they did this year with Manziel.
Having said all of that, the sheer amount of scrutinizing and hype means that barring several Pro Bowls, an NFL career is naturally going to be a disappointment, and that's a very high ceiling for any player to achieve, especially a presumptive top-five pick.
For that reason only, he stays on this list. As long as he lands on the right team (perhaps the biggest issue for him going forward), he should have a successful NFL career.
9. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Marqise Lee is a tough player to put on here because he was a force his first two seasons at USC. No one gets over 1,700 yards in a season without having a great deal of talent.
Lee battled through injuries and a new quarterback his junior year, and it seemed to have a bad effect on him, as he wasn't near the dominant force he once was. As a result, teams will wonder whether or not 2012 or 2013 Lee was the one they will see in the NFL.
Given the lackluster season, his declaring for the draft was a bit of a surprise, even though it would be a shock if he fell out of the top 20 with the speed and playmaking ability he brings.
He's a polished player and a great route-runner, so he will be a starter in the NFL. Being the No. 1 or No. 2 receiver is a big jump though, and if he is only second-wideout good, then that's not what teams expect from him, and his career will be underwhelming.
8. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Will Sutton is a tough one to scout because his junior year seemed to be on a different level than his other three seasons. Despite that, he is an intriguing prospect for teams going forward.
In 2011, he hit double-digit sack totals, and despite his stout frame, he was compared to Geno Atkins going forward. The other three seasons, however, included both games where he showed great promise and games where he was disappointing.
I don't mind the stout build and size limitations at the next level because great defenders can work around it. I do mind the concerns that he can be a hot and cold player. When he's on, he's great, but when he's off, he does not make an impact.
You can't take plays off in the NFL no matter who you are, and even as a second-round projection, if he is someone who may not give 100 percent on every play, then that's going to show up, and his career is going to be underwhelming at best.
7. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Loucheiz Purifoy has been the guy with tremendous abilities at Florida, and he had a reputation as a shutdown cornerback. It looked like he would be one of the first cornerbacks off the board heading into his senior season.
Watching him this year, however, instead of an elite shutdown cornerback, I saw a player who tended to misread coverages, as well as miss tackles. He had enough quickness to fix mistakes in college, but he will not be able to do that in the NFL.
He is projected to be selected in the first two rounds, and with the way he played the past two years, after rewatching film, I see a player who needs to become a lot more technically sound to make an impact in the NFL.
It's hard to project him as a future No. 1 cornerback when I cannot even consider him the best cornerback on his own team.
6. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
This year's batch of offensive tackles is shaping up to be formidable, though it likely will not have three in the top four again. Taylor Lewan is among the most well known in that first-round batch.
His reputation has been great throughout his career at Michigan. In fact, he has been regarded as the next Jake Long, which is fitting as they are both Michigan offensive tackles.
That's a lot to live up to because Long was a first overall pick and started off his career as a force. Lewan, on the other hand, was solid but nothing special his senior year, yet is still pegged as a high first-round selection.
Will he be able to live up to that? He looks the part of a prototypical offensive tackle and understands the position, but there are times when he can struggle against a blitz or get penalized. Those are things NFL coaches can exploit, and it will be tough for Lewan to work past them if he has not already.
5. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
There are many players in college football who are feared more for their reputation than their actual play. For much of his career, Jackson Jeffcoat was this player. He had talent, but it never completely came together.
This season, Jeffcoat finally had a double-digit sack total and was the playmaker that Texas was hoping he would be, and he enters the NFL draft on a high note.
Despite the increased production, his stock as a prospect isn't all that high. He is a bit of a tweener right now and would have to develop as either a defensive end or outside linebacker. He also is not a guy who can outmaneuver tackles if he does rush past them on the first attempt.
He could go anywhere in the first three rounds right now depending on how he performs at the combine. Should he go on Day 2, it could be a nice pickup as long as he's allowed to develop.
If Jeffcoat is a first-day or early second-day selection, he will have to adjust quickly. He had the time to do that at Texas, but can a team afford to wait for him to reach his potential like Texas did?
4. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Due to the increasing trend of not selecting running backs in the first round, the first one taken is going to have a lot riding on his shoulders, even if they are picked early in the second round.
As of right now, the first back taken looks to be Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey. He put up nearly 2,000 yards in each of the past two seasons and was one of the most productive running backs in the country during his career.
Productivity is a double-edged sword for a running back, however. With all of the touches he got in two full seasons at Arizona, there may be some wear on the tires, plus he's never been an elite speedster.
What's more is that Rich Rodriguez is his coach, and he was for running back Steve Slaton as well. The two appear to be carbon copies of each other, and in fact, Rodriguez said Carey reminded him of Slaton, per Al King of Chat Sports.
Slaton showed promise as a third-round pick before fizzling out of the year, and Carey looks like he will follow a similar pattern. That's fine if he's a third-round pick, but if he's the first running back taken, that will be a disappointment.
3. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
I haven't been a fan of Bradley Roby as an NFL cornerback yet, and his performance this season did nothing to change that. In fact, it only confirmed my suspicions that, if selected in the first round, he would be a bust.
He had an opportunity to redeem himself in the Orange Bowl against Clemson. If he performed well covering Sammy Watkins, that would have been huge for his draft stock.
Instead, he missed the matchup due to a knee injury. Whether sitting out was necessary or simply preventative, the fact remained that Watkins lit up the Ohio State defense without Roby, and we don't know how he would have done with him.
In the end, it simply means Roby ended his season on a disappointing note, and for that matter, it never really went above that level.
He has started sliding down draft boards and went from the first cornerback in the draft to a second-round selection and barely a top-five cornerback. Yes, he has great speed and good intangibles, but he struggled in playing the position this year, and for me, that's a deal-breaker.
2. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
The top three wide receivers in the NFL draft this year seemed to be a given. Sammy Watkins is a special talent, Marqise Lee showed talent despite a down year, and Mike Evans, despite being only a sophomore, has a very high ceiling.
Kelvin Benjamin has been shooting up the draft charts and has come close to those three on some mock drafts. When I watch him, however, I don't see the talent that the other three have.
Benjamin is a big red-zone target at 6'5", and he can be a guy who makes the jump-ball catches. He's not a straight-line speedster, however, and more importantly, he's still raw as a route-runner and receiver.
He has not officially declared for the NFL draft, but if I were to pick a big receiver, it would be Evans by a mile. Benjamin could be great if he returns to school for his senior year, becomes more polished alongside QB Jameis Winston and turns into a first-rounder next year.
Should he declare now, however, he will have to develop too quickly for where he is right now, and he would flame out. Draft grades are all over the place for him, and it's because we don't quite know how much upside and potential he has just yet, nor do we know how well he would do in the NFL.
1. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Derek Carr was one of the many quarterbacks who rose up draft rankings over the course of this season. Of the quarterbacks that did so, he's the one I don't see successfully moving to the NFL.
Yes, he put up monster numbers at Fresno State and had the top passing attack in the country. Yes, he has great size, and yes, he has a football pedigree. That's where the positives end.
Watching him throughout the season, especially against USC's defense, he frequently plays from the shotgun and throws bubble screens, allowing for his completion percentage to be higher. Those types of quarterbacks have to work much harder in the NFL because they are not used to that style of play.
That alone convinces me he won't live up to expectations, but his footwork is far from polished, and he is not exactly the most comfortable quarterback under pressure either.
He can have all of the intangibles and numbers a franchise quarterback could want, but he has to perform at the next level. I just don't see it with Carr, and any team selecting him in the first round would come to regret it.