2011 NFL Draft: 5 Players Who Could Bust and Who They Compare with in the NFL
With all of the talent that seems to surround this year's NFL Draft, have we overlooked some glaring flaws in the top prospects?
There are flaws in every player, but why can't NFL scouts and personnel see them before it's too late? In recent years we have seen guys such as JaMarcus Russell, Aaron Maybin, Larry English and Darius Heyward-Bay go from "impact player" to "total bust" in a matter of months.
So who are some of the guys who have the biggest bust potential in this year's draft?
Note: I have not included Ryan Mallett on this list because I do not consider him a first round pick, and thus he would not be considered as big a bust as the mentioned prospects.
Be sure to check out my latest two round mock draft here.
5. Jimmy Smith
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Jimmy Smith has prototype size for an NFL cornerback (6'2"/205 lbs.), but finished his collegiate career with only three interceptions. This can be attributed to teams throwing away from Smith, but still: only three interceptions. There are also numerous character concerns surrounding Smith. He reportedly did not admit to all of the drug charges at the NFL Scouting Combine, which undoubtedly drew red flags.
Smith plays fast and he plays to win. He has the skill, speed and size to be one of the top corners in the NFL. It's all a matter of growing up and putting it all together on the field. He compares well with Antonio Cromartie. Both play a very physical game and are considered "large" for cornerbacks.
4. Blaine Gabbert
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Let me say first and foremost that I am a big Blaine Gabbert fan. However, I am not blind to the fact that he has arguably the most bust potential in the entire NFL Draft.
Gabbert is another product of the spread offense, but he didn't post the gaudy stats that we are used to seeing.
Why is this?
First, the offense only calls for one or two reads. If the deep route isn't there he will either check it down or take off running. Second, he uses the rock-n-throw motion. By which I mean Gabbert takes his drop and immediately comes forward throwing the ball without time to set his feet. I doubt that this is a fault of his own, but rather more of a knock on the system.
I would compare Gabbert with Mark Sanchez. Both have the arm strength and speed to get the job done, but can struggle with accuracy and decision making.
3. Nick Fairley
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Depending on who you ask, Nick Fairley is a can't miss playmaker or he is a bust waiting to happen.
Fairley has been scrutinized for his overaggressive style of play, which led to numerous penalties for the Auburn defense. However, it may be a good sign rather than a bad one. Wouldn't you want a guy with a mean streak instead of a big softy?
Other concerns with Fairley include his size (he measured smaller than expected at the Combine, which may have taken him off the board's of a few 3-4 teams), as well as his "one year wonder" status. Prior to the 2010 season Fairley hadn't done much of anything, but then stepped up his game before entering the NFL Draft. This raises concerns and flags. Fairley looks to be a Top 10 pick, so teams need to be sure he can produce year in and year out.
A reasonable comparison to Nick Fairley would be Albert Haynesworth. Both players can dominate a game when they set their minds to it, but they can also be a massive headache when they lose concentration. Hopefully Fairley doesn't start stomping faces at the bottom of the pile.
2. Cam Newton
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Like the majority of this list, Newton is a one year wonder. His Heisman Trophy winning campaign doesn't hide that either. Newton is unfamiliar with taking snaps under center, not accustomed to the NFL play calling system (see him on Gruden's QB Camp), and has little experience making multiple reads.
However, Newton has tremendous playmaking ability. He has a cannon of an arm, he can take off running in a heartbeat and according to his biggest fan (Trent Dilfer), he puts more spin on the ball than any quarterback in the class.
From a skill standpoint, Newton is almost a mirror image of Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman. Although, Newton has Vince Young's bust potential.
1. Da'Quan Bowers
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
I've long preached my dislike of Da'Quan Bowers. The definition of a one year wonder, and an injury concern to boot.
Bowers did absolutely nothing of note before the 2010 season where he posted solid numbers. However, you have to go beyond the stats. Pull up any YouTube highlight of Da'Quan Bowers and you see him almost walk into the backfield for a sack or tackle for a loss. At times you see him bull-rush a tackle right into the quarterback, then he'll take the next five plays off. He is incredibly inconsistent, enough to make me shy away from him as a Top 5 pick.
The bust potential has increased due to his knee injury. According to some reports it is totally healthy, other say it is totally shot. For now it's a matter of how much you like or dislike him.
I would compare Da'Quan Bowers with the late Gaines Adams. Both have/had the skills to terrorize coordinators and quarterbacks, but in the end it's a mental game too. Also, both wore #93 at Clemson, making my comparison more accurate than anything, ever.