2011 NFL Draft: Top 10 Players Most Likely to Become NFL Busts

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IMarch 21, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Top 10 Players Most Likely to Become NFL Busts

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28:  Defensive lineman Nick Fairley of Auburn looks on during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    It happens every year. Some players just do not make the transition to the NFL from the college ranks.

    They get termed "NFL busts" and get added to the ever-growing lists that pop up every year around draft time.

    So which of this year's first-round draft picks will not make the cut?

    That is not an easy question to answer. If it were, there would not be any draft busts. All we can do is speculate and hope our team does not pick the guy we think is going to bust out.

    Important note: This piece is not attempting to predict who WILL bust, it only focuses on POTENTIAL. So save your angry mob pitchforks and torches for another slideshow.

    Ready?

    Here we go.

1. Nick Fairley

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28:  Defensive lineman Nick Fairley of Auburn looks on during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Nick Fairley was considered a possible first overall pick back in January, but now he is falling down the draft boards.

    The reasons are his combine results did not live up to what the scouts expected to see. This is a two-edged sword because every scout knows you have to go with game tape first and combine a distant fifth.

    That being said, his performance just did not live up to what they expected to see, which raises questions.

    Second, Fairley only broke out and made a name for himself this past season. Players who only have one successful season in college always are bust potentials because of the "fluke" factor.

2. Cam Newton

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Cam Newton participates in the vertical jump during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Like Fairley, Cam Newton had one successful season in college, which raises the red flag. In addition, Newton has a history of making poor decisions and being investigated by the NCAA.

    To anyone who says the NCAA did not punish him, pull your head out of your rear-end. The NCAA is arbitrary and capricious. Whether they choose to punish someone or not all comes down to their own cost-benefit analysis.

    Plus, Newton is a project quarterback who needs to be coached up properly. If Newton's development is not handled correctly, he will bust out just because of other people's mistakes.

3. Ryan Mallett

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Quarterback Ryan Mallett #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks looks to pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Ryan Mallett may have a cannon for an arm, but he has Jimmy Clausen's attitude and a whole bunch of questions about his off-field activities he has not addressed or denied.

    Having a cannon for an arm does not mean anything if you do not have what it takes between the ears to make it as a professional.

4. Julio Jones

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Former Alabama teammates Mark Ingram (L) and Julio Jones look on during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Julio Jones is incredibly athletic and tough. He did his combine drills on a broken foot and still lit the place up.

    However, Jones has inconsistent hands. Game tape shows he will drop the ball. Braylon Edwards showed you can have the dropsies and still be successful in the NFL, but Jones should not bank on another player's career to see how his will unfold.

5. Stephen Paea

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    PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 06:  Derrick Coleman #33 of the UCLA Bruins runs from Stephen Paea #54 of the Oregon State Beavers at the Rose Bowl on November 6, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Stephen Paea "won" the bench press at the combine. Go look at the history of prospects who excelled at bench press and/or broke records in that category.

    It is not good.

    Still, like Jones, just because other people failed does not mean he will.

    That does not mean I am going to start walking under ladders, breaking mirrors and letting a herd of black cats cross my path.

6. Adrian Clayborn

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Defensive end Adrian Clayborn #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the Insight Bowl against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.  (Photo by Christian
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Adrian Clayborn once was considered a top 10 draft pick, but now he is falling into the back half of the first round.

    This is a warning for any fan. When prospects go from being talked about as top picks to middle of the first round, there are warning flags going up everywhere.

    Clayborn did not have the kind of 2010 season all the scouts thought he was going to have coming off of his 2009 season.

    In Clayborn's defense, he faced more double-teams in 2010, but a pro-level player has to be able to overcome those at the college level. It will not get any easier once he gets into the pros.

7. Jonathan Baldwin

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Jonathan Baldwin #82 of the Pittsburgh Panthers watches as teammate Dion Lewis #28 fumbles the ball at the goal line against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Jonathan Baldwin is being mocked in a lot of first rounds around the Internet, but his pro day was not very good, according to some scouting reports.

    He reportedly did not show enough explosiveness off the line, meaning he may not be able to separate from pro cornerbacks.

    Baldwin also already reportedly is showing flashes of a big ego and attitude. When you have not accomplished one thing in the pros, that is a bad thing.

8. Kyle Rudolph

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    SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 03: Kyle Rudolph #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs after making a catch against the Washington Huskies on October 3, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Washington 37-30 in overtime.  (Pho
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Kyle Rudolph is top-rated tight end in the draft, but that means very little because of two reasons.

    1. He still is not projected to be drafted until well into the second round in most mock drafts.

    2. He is from Notre Dame.

    Notre Dame has not had good luck turning out top draft picks who are successful in the NFL in recent years.

    It is what it is.

9. Prince Amukamara

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 1: Defensive back Prince Amukamara #2 of Nebraska runs with the football during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Like Adrian Clayborn, Prince Amukamara's stats in 2010 did not live up to expectations. There always are reasons for this, but it also always raises a red flag.

    Amukamara is expected to go in the top 10, so there will be a lot of eyes on him and a lot of expectations.

10. Jake Locker

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25: Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Locker answers questions during a media session at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    It was expected Jake Locker and Andrew Luck would duel for the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft.

    Yeah, that is just not going to happen, and not just because Luck went back to school for 2010.

    Locker's stats and performance raised a lot of questions in 2010. His pro day was considered a good thing and is moving him back up the draft boards, but remember the first rule of prospecting—always watch the game tape.

    Locker did a lot of running, which could be part of the problem, but it also could mean he is checking down too fast, abandoning the pocket too fast or just trying to be too much like Michael Vick.