Every year people watch the NFL draft hoping that their team's pick in the first round will be the start of a future Hall of Famer's career. While the first round is capable of producing some great players, it can also showcase a number of young players who are destined for failure. It is just inevitable that some of the highly touted athletes in this year's draft are not going to live up to the hype being thrown their way.
Who is going to be this year's set of first round busts?
These are the five future first rounders that I think are most likely to fall short of expectations.
Being that I'm a Hawkeye alumnus, I really hope that I'm wrong about this pick. That said, I think that the praise Clayborn has received from draft pundits comes from memories of his 2009 season. In 2009, he had 63 total tackles and 11 sacks. His numbers this year dropped across the board. He had 52 total tackles and only 4 sacks. This pattern is concerning.
There is also a physical reason to worry about Clayborn. He is a big man at 6'3'', 281 pounds. On paper that looks great, but he is being drafted as a defensive end, not a defensive tackle. In the NFL he will more than likely gain weight, not lose it. He runs a 4.78 40 now, but can he do that with added weight? He also had conditioning problems this year which affected Iowa's season. Take a look at his fourth quarter demeanor during the Northwestern game. He was gassed and had a hard time staying on the field.
I'm critical of J.J. Watt for some of the same reasons that I'm critical of Adrian Clayborn. He is another over-sized defensive end. His 40 time is recorded at 4.81, so he is not the fastest defensive end out there. Most are impressed by his size. He is 6'5'', 290 pounds.
Again, the fact that he is enormous sounds great, but only if you are looking to convert him to defensive tackle. There are a number of big defensive ends that carry their weight well, like Julius Peppers. However, there have been a number of past draft picks at this position that ballooned in weight and were too clumsy to play the position. Remember guys like Michael Haynes, Courtney Brown, and Jon Harris? No? Well, neither do I.
Aldon Smith is an underclassman who recently declared for the draft. At 6'4'', 263 pounds, he is a strong outside linebacker with a lot of potential. But, he is also a young player who only has two seasons of college football under his belt. He has yet to show how good he can be, which makes him a bit of a gamble. His numbers dropped from his freshman season to this year, but he also played 3 fewer games. He has above average physical intangibles, but that is not enough to risk a first round pick on.
While he is not a lock to be selected in the first round, the hype surrounding this kid is starting to make him a legend, or a myth. Be speculative of combine numbers. Remember that a good player must have skill first. I don't know that he has that part down yet.
Jake has fallen off many first round draft boards, but the fact that he is being discussed as a first round talent confuses me. What in the world has Jake Locker done throughout his college career to make him so sought after in this year's draft? I'm really perplexed. I know he is athletic and has a good 40 time, but what else about him makes people think that he will be a good pro? This year he was in the bottom half of the NCAA in passing yards, completion percentage, and yards per attempt. He is 101st in completion percentage, yet he is a possible first round draft pick? Really?
I have never seen a college quarterback with worse stats get pegged as an elite draft pick for his position. Kiper and McShay see something in this kid that I don't. He is a poor man's Tim Tebow, and that is being generous. I know that I'm putting a lot of emphasis on stats and that he didn't play for a very good team, but he should have performed a lot better to warrant the type of kindness that sports writers are giving him.
Most people have differing opinions on how good Locker is going to be in the NFL, but it seems like everyone is buying that Gabbert is going to make a great pro and again, I don't know why.
He is skipping his senior year of college to enter the NFL because Mel Kiper Jr. believes he is the best quarterback prospect in this year's draft. Gabbert has bought into his own hype, which I believe is over inflating his ego. This year Gabbert threw for 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. These are not stellar numbers. Throughout college, he played in a spread offense. Most spread quarterbacks have a hard time finding success at the pro level.
He has not proven to me that he is a very accurate passer. In the Insight Bowl, Gabbert threw for 434 yards. His numbers were good, but he had a hard time connecting with his receivers on attempts longer than 20 yards. I don't think that he is going to transition well into the NFL. He needs a lot more experience and he is just another unknown element that has generated a ridiculous amount of attention based on one of Mel Kiper Jr.'s faulty infatuations.