We are now less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Every year, there are players taken high in the draft that never meet expectations and, in fact, dumbfound all of us. So what players have the potential to frustrate their fan bases the most?
Here is a look at a best guess of which who might be a bust in this year's draft:
5. DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
I want to like Cameron Heyward. He has a great work ethic, is a humble kid and has had a rough upbringing by having to deal with the loss of his former father and well known vet of the NFL himself, Craig "Ironhead" Heyward.
The problem with Heyward is that his game was very reliant on bull rushing his opponents in college. For a defensive end, he does not have great quickness or agility on the NFL level. If you have been watching the very good ends the last few years in the NFL, they can all get off of the snap very quickly and have at least a speed rush around a tackle in the repertoire.
This same bull rushing style that Heyward used in college will not have a very high success rate against the quality and strength of the offensive linemen that he will face in the NFL. I actually think he might be a better fit for some teams as an interior lineman, but if that were the case, he could lack the size to be really effective.
I am rooting for him, and I hope I am wrong, but I just don't see a top notch DE in the NFL here.
4. DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
I could write many of the same things here. We once again have a strong and powerful defensive end that hasn't shown a burst around end, or off the snap as you would ideally like.
Clayborn had a very good junior year, but got lost a little in large spots of some games during this past senior season. If he can be game planned out of a game in college, there is a better than average chance that the same could happen on the pro level.
The days of a powerful, bull-rushing defensive ends just doesn't cut it in today's pass happy NFL. More teams are taking big offensive tackles that have the pass protection skills to be able to keep their quarterback upright.
3. DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina (kind of)
I know, I know, there are more than just defensive ends in this year's draft, but if you scan down the big boards of who is projected as the top players, it seems that defensive ends really do grow on all sorts of trees depending on what part of the country you live in (palm trees, pine trees, oak trees, etc.).
Here is the problem with Robert Quinn: He has been out of competitive football for an entire year. Why do you ask? Off the field issues. Seems he got caught up in a bad decision to go to a party bankrolled by an agent. Oops.
Aside from the lack of judgement though, it is just extremely tough to sit out of a competitive football environment and not get behind (just ask Maurice Clarett). In today's win now NFL, if you start out behind and don't perform, you may never get further opportunities.
You won't get an argument from me on how good of an athlete Quinn is, but that is not going to be enough.
2. QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
This is a classic case of a guy riding the storm of being in a system. Missouri has gone to a pass happy spread attack, and the same attack that vaulted Chase Daniel into the spotlight. The jury is still out on Daniel until he can get beyond the shadows of Drew Brees, but I am not convinced about either guy.
Ever since Mizzou switched to the spread attack, the passing game has been one of quick reads and short passes. The result: a lot of completions and a safer, gentler form of American football. Gabbert has not had a chance to even showcase what he can do in a pro set, meaning scouts are going solely on what they think he can do.
Despite having a built in advantage of being in the right system, Gabbert still threw for nine interceptions against only 16 touchdowns last year. Without some serious improvement, it is going to be hard to make it with this type of touchdown to interception ratio.
1. QB Cam Newton, Auburn
I know this isn't the first time this has been written, but I am not sold on Cam Newton at all. Never would I say that I couldn't be wrong on any of this, but this all just seems like a case of everyone getting caught up in the hype that is the Cam Newton story.
Cam Newton is a big guy, and can run really well. He came out of nowhere to take the college football world by storm and win the Heisman. He is a once in a generation athletic wonder.
Unfortunately, being a great athlete does not mean that you will be a great quarterback, or NFL player. Newton's accuracy is not the greatest, and may never be. He was able to use his running threat as a gateway towards getting guys open in college. Teams were forced to be honest with their pass coverage, and run towards Newton when he tucked it to run.
The result: a lot of spying and soft coverage to make sure that the boy wonder was accounted for.
The NFL has faster and stronger players being directed by better coaches. I fear that these points in combination with Newton's lack of judgement on many fronts throughout his college career and beyond will spell a big bust.
Coming in the next few days: Five Players who Could be a Steal in this Year's Draft
Follow Phil Harrison on Twitter @peharrison.
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