2011 NFL Draft logo2011 NFL Draft

2011 NFL Draft: Cam Newton and 20 Players With the Highest Bust Potential

Elliott PohnlFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2010

2011 NFL Draft: Cam Newton and 20 Players With the Highest Bust Potential

1 of 21

    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    2011 NFL draft prospects continue to be under scrutiny for a variety of reasons as the college football season winds down.

    Auburn's Cam Newton has had his name dragged in the mud amidst allegations of his father's involvement in a play-for-pay scheme.

    Washington's Jake Locker has battled inconsistency all season long, and returns to the field Thursday night after sitting out Washington's loss to top-ranked Oregon.

    It's safe to say Locker could use a big game to help his plummeting draft stock.

    Even though the draft is still months away, it's not too early to begin diagnosing the potential busts on the big board.

    As history has shown, gaudy collegiate statistics and absurd 40 times don't necessarily translate to success at the next level.

    Here's a look at 20 players with the biggest bust potential in the 2011 NFL Draft.

No. 20: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

2 of 21

    Harry How/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Late-first-to-mid-second round

    Busted: Paea is a good run-stopper and a reliable defensive tackle.  A bit undersized, he could struggle to get off blocks at the next level. 

    He is a better pass-rusher than he gets credit for, but he projects more as a rotation player along the defensive line in the NFL.

    Forecast: A solid, unspectacular pro career.

    Bust Potential: 5 out of 10

No. 19: Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State

3 of 21

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Mid-to-late second round

    Busted: Jones has been a tackling machine ever since he stepped on the field for Sparty.

    Although he is a little small, Jones has managed to add some muscle to ensure he won't be overwhelmed at the NFL level.

    He isn't great in coverage or overly adept at getting to the quarterback in blitz schemes.

    Forecast: Don't expect Greg Jones to be the next Zach Thomas.  Look for him to contribute mainly on special teams.

    Bust Potential: 4 out of 10

No. 18: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

4 of 21

    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Mid-to-late second round

    Busted: Oklahoma doesn't have a great history of turning out great pro receivers during the Bob Stoops era.

    Broyles might be faster than some of his predecessors, but there is no question his stats are bloated going against the weak Big 12 defenses.

    It remains to be seen if he can get open against the physical bump-and-run coverage at the next level.

    Forecast: He is quick getting in and out of his breaks, so expect Broyles to make at least some impact as a slot receiver.

    Bust Potential: 4 out of 10

No. 17: Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

5 of 21

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Late-first-to-early-second round

    Busted: Austin is one of those potential guys that can help make or break the legacy of NFL general managers.

    His output at North Carolina never matched his true physical ability.

    After sitting out the season due to suspension, don't be shocked if Austin tears it up at the combine to vault up draft boards.

    Until he proves otherwise, Austin looks like another case of potential unmet at the next level.

    Forecast: Talent will get him plenty of chances to succeed.

    It might take a few years before he makes an impact somewhere in the NFL, probably not with the team that drafts him.

    Bust Potential: 4 out of 10

No. 16: Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech

6 of 21

    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Late-first-to-early-second round

    Busted: After a remarkable redshirt freshman season, Williams got off to a slow start this year and has dealt with injuries.  He could decide to return to help his stock.

    Despite his production in 2009, it remains to be seen if he can carry a big enough load to make it through an entire NFL season as a featured back. 

    Forecast: Williams doesn't look like an every-down back in the NFL.  Look for him to fit in a platoon system or possibly even as a third-down back.

    NFL teams don't usually target that type of player in the first or second rounds.

    Bust Potential: 5 out of 10

No. 15: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

7 of 21

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: All over the place. Anywhere from late-first-to-mid-third round.

    Busted: The physical tools seem to be in place but the numbers haven't been during his career at Florida State.

    It hasn't necessarily been his fault, thanks to a young offensive line and receivers. But Ponder's decision-making has remained an issue throughout his entire career.

    He looks like a solid No. 2 NFL quarterback, but nothing more than that.

    Forecast: Amazingly, some mocks have Ponder going in the first round.  He just hasn't done anything to show he will be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

    Bust Potential: 5 out of 10

No. 14: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma

8 of 21

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Somewhere in the second round

    Busted: Can Murray stay healthy?  When he is rolling, few players are better at running and catching the ball out of the backfield.

    NFL running backs don't have a great lifespan and his inconsistency and injury problems at OU raise a red flag.

    Forecast: Murray's future is somewhat cloudy.

    Don't be surprised if he has a couple good years before disappearing from the NFL landscape.

    Bust Potential: 6 out of 10

No. 13: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal

9 of 21

    Draft Projection: Late-first-to-early-second round

    Busted: One of the hottest names of the 2011 draft class, Jordan has really opened some eyes this season.

    With the Pac-10 being a little light when it comes to pro prospects on the offensive line, it remains to be seen if the mercurial rise will continue at the next level.

    Forecast: Still a bit of a project, don't expect Jordan to make a great initial impact in the NFL. 

    Bust Potential: 6 out of 10

No. 12: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame

10 of 21

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Mid-to-late second round

    Busted: Rudolph is the best tight end prospect in the 2011 draft.  Frankly, that's not saying very much.

    He has good hands but only average speed and blocking ability.

    Forecast: Don't expect Rudolph to make much of a splash at the next level.  He looks like a reliable No. 2 tight end, and nothing more.

    Bust Potential: 6 out of 10

No. 11: Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina

11 of 21

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Late-first-to-early-second round

    Busted: Like several of his talented North Carolina teammates, Carter's NFL future hinges on his performance at the combine.  It's never a great idea to bet the farm on a project, even if that project has reportedly been clocked at 4.39 in the 40.

    Forecast: Carter looks the part, but that doesn't mean anything.  Don't be surprised if he has a few lost seasons before putting it together.

    Bust Potential: 6 out of 10

No. 10: Cameron Heyward, DL, Ohio State

12 of 21

    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Slipping quickly. Looks like a second-round selection at the moment.

    Busted: Heyward can play end or tackle, but he hasn't done either particularly well this season.

    His inability to fight off double teams and have an impact against the Big Ten's best offensive lineman is cause for concern.

    Forecast: At this point, Ironhead Craig Heyward's son looks like nothing more than a depth guy at the next level.

    Bust Potential: 7 out of 10

No. 9: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

13 of 21

    Draft Projection: Mid-to-late first round

    Busted: Miller has been one of the best pass-rushers in the college game during his career at College Station.

    Despite his athletic skills, he would only have true value in a 3-4 scheme.

    Forecast: Until he shows he can do something other than rush the passer, Miller will have a hard time seeing the field in the NFL.

    Bust Potential: 7 out of 10

No. 8: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

14 of 21

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Early-to-mid first round

    Busted: Quinn's talent cannot be ignored, but his season-long suspension should be cause for alarm.  Don't forget what happened to Mike Williams after he sat out a year before being eligible for the draft.

    Forecast: The pass-rush specialist should have a nice NFL career.

    It just won't happen right away.

    Bust Potential: 7 out of 10

No. 7: Akeem Ayers, LB/DE, UCLA

15 of 21

    Harry How/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Mid-to-late first round

    Busted: The classic 'tweener, Ayers has incredible size for a linebacker but might be better suited to playing defensive end.

    He is very comparable to Cincinnati Bengals' defender Michael Johnson, who still can't seem to settle into a position in the NFL.

    Forecast: Ayers looks like a player who might have a hard time fitting in an NFL defensive scheme.

    The success of his pro career will largely depend on where he ends up.

    Bust Potential: 7 out of 10

No. 6: Jonathan Baldwin

16 of 21

    Draft Projection: Mid-to-late first round

    Busted: Baldwin can run a go-route as well as anyone, but that's about all he can do.  His career has been marred by inconsistency and by playing in a run-oriented attack.

    Forecast: The weakness of the receiver class is the main reason Baldwin gets first-round consideration.

    Don't be shocked if he never makes an impact in the NFL.

    Bust Potential: 7 out of 10

No. 5: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

17 of 21

    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Mid-to-late first round

    Busted: Speed, speed and more speed.  If Lewis had more coverage skills, he would be a good looking safety.

    The lack of ideal size could hurt his chances in the NFL.

    Forecast: Lewis could be a tremendous special teams player and a coverage linebacker. 

    Unless he lands in the right system, don't expect him to be a competent starter.

    Bust Potential: 8 out of 10

No. 4: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

18 of 21

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: High-to-mid first round

    Busted: Clayborn has been a disappointment as a senior.  Sure, he faces double teams. but he plays on one of the better defensive lines in the country and still can't get to the quarterback.

    He doesn't do anything great and relies on brute strength to get to the quarterback.

    That won't work in the NFL.

    Forecast: Clayborn will get plenty of chances to show he is worthy of being a top-15 pick.

    Unless he learns to use his hands more, he could be a colossal bust.

    Bust Potential: 8 out of 10

No. 3: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

19 of 21

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: All over the place. Early-to-late first round.

    Busted: The physical tools are in place for Locker to be a star.

    The inability to make throws while standing in the pocket will be a problem in the NFL.

    Forecast: History is filled with would-be star quarterbacks who never figured things out in the pros.

    Mobility and a strong arm will only carry Locker so far.

    Bust Potential: 8 out of 10

No. 2: Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn

20 of 21

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Late-first-to-mid-second round

    Busted: Don't be fooled by those absurd statistics.

    Cam Newton looks like a glorified version of Vince Young, with a prettier release.

    There is a big difference between running a spread offense and executing precise throws in a West Coast attack.

    Forecast: A big-time project, coaching could make all the difference in Newton's NFL career.

    Bust Potential: 8 out of 10

No. 1: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

21 of 21

    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Draft Projection: Early-to-late first round

    Busted: Jones has had problems with drops and doesn't seem to have breakaway speed.

    His size and strength helps him in the SEC, but that won't do much good at the next level.

    Forecast: Someone is bound to nab Jones around the No. 10 slot or so, even if he runs a 4.6 40 at the combine.

    If you want a mediocre possession receiver, then Julio's your man.

    Bust Potential: 9 out of 10

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices