The Most Disappointing Player on Every NFL Roster Heading into 2017 Season
When you're a kid, there's nothing worse than being looked at solemnly by your parents and hearing the following statement: "I'm not mad. I'm just disappointed."
Well, it's the same for players in the NFL. There's nothing worse than being a high draft pick and hearing any of the following labels.
And numerous others I can't print here.
Every NFL team has one...even if it wasn't responsible for drafting him to begin with.
The following players are the All-Pros of pariahs. The All-Stars of outcasts. Men on a list no one wants to be on.
They are the most disappointing players on every 2017 NFL roster.
Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins
The Bills declined to pick up the fifth-year option on Watkins after dealing an extra first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to move up and draft him at No. 4 overall in 2014, and that says all you need to know about the first three seasons of his career.
It's not a matter of talent. Watkins has averaged over 15 yards per catch in all three years. In 2015, he scored nine touchdowns and topped 1,000 yards in just 13 games.
But that's the rub—availability. Watkins has missed 11 games over the past two seasons—including half of the 2016 campaign.
2017 is a make-or-break year for the former Clemson speedster.
Tight End Julius Thomas
Thomas and the Dolphins are no doubt hopeful that a change of scenery will get the 29-year-old off this list.
In 2015, Thomas was coming off a 12-touchdown season with the Denver Broncos—it was the second straight year he found the end zone a dozen times.
Thomas parlayed that success in Denver into a five-year, $46 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars—and then fell off the face of the Earth.
Over the past two years, Thomas missed more games (11) than he scored touchdowns (nine).
Given that, it's no surprise the first order of business was re-doing the tight end's contract when the Dolphins acquired Thomas in February. His new deal is worth $12.2 million over two years.
New England Patriots
Wide Receiver Danny Amendola
On some level, this isn't fair. Over four years with the New England Patriots, he has been a steady (if unspectacular) wide receiver. He's won two Super Bowls.
But New England didn't bring in Amendola to be steady. He was supposed to be the replacement for Wes Welker when the Patriots gave him over $30 million in free agency.
In his time with the team, Amendola has missed 10 games and hasn't hit even 650 receiving yards in a season. He did set a best for himself with four touchdowns in 2016, but they were on only 23 catches—a personal worst if you take out his lost 2011.
With Brandin Cooks now in town, that target share isn't going up.
New York Jets
Cornerback Buster Skrine
Most of the disappointments on the New York Jets roster are gone—part of the purge of 2017.
And yet, for reasons unknown to most, cornerback Buster Skrine still has a job.
Yes, Skrine has kicked around the National Football League for six seasons. And no one forced the Jets to hand him a four-year, $25 million free-agent deal in 2015.
Here's the thing though: Skrine isn't very good.
In 2016, he ranked 86th among NFL corners at Pro Football Focus.
That doesn't line up with Skrine's paycheck (his average salary tied for 27th among CBs). Or the expectations the team has for him as a starter.
Wide Receiver Breshad Perriman
For all the success Ozzie Newsome has had as a general manager in Baltimore, more often than not, he's swung and missed when it comes to wide receivers.
After two years, it appears he whiffed badly on Breshad Perriman, the No. 26 overall pick in 2015.
Per Ryan Mink of the team's official website, Perriman expects a big 2017 for himself. "I'm expecting a huge year from me, to be honest with you."
There's been no indication to date that big year is coming, though. Sure, Perriman's fast (4.24 40-yard dash), but he's had trouble both staying on the field and hanging on to the ball when he is out there.
Thirty-three receptions for 499 yards and three scores isn't the sort of stat line one expects from a first-round pick in a season.
That's Perriman's line over his first two after he missed his rookie campaign with a knee injury.
Offensive Tackle Cedric Ogbuehi
The Cincinnati Bengals aren't just hoping that tackle Cedric Ogbuehi can turn around a disappointing career in 2017.
They are counting on it.
While speaking to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Ogbuehi offered a brutally honest assessment of his second NFL season.
"2016 was a s--t year," he said.
Last season, Ogbuehi struggled so badly at right tackle that he lost the starting job entirely, but he's back in the lineup on the left—in the blindside tackle spot vacated by departed Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth.
Offensive Tackle Cameron Erving
As bad as Ogbuehi was a year ago, he wasn't in the same zip code of futility as Cameron Erving.
On only 438 passing plays, Erving was second in pressures allowed by centers in 2016. And he's been in the bottom three at his position in pass-blocking efficiency in each of his first two NFL seasons, per PFF.
With JC Tretter now in Cleveland, Erving will compete at tackle—a spot he would have been 69th at a year ago, per PFF.
You know that a first-round pick hasn't played well when fans are praying he'll be benched.
But with Cleveland's first-rounders the last decade, it's par for the course.
Wide Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey
On some level, Darrius Heyward-Bey deserves to be commended. Despite a limited skill set (running fast) and questionable hands, DHB is about to enter his ninth NFL season.
But Heyward-Bey wasn't drafted to be a hanger-on. Back in 2009, near the end of Al Davis' time at the helm of the Oakland Raiders, DHB peeled off a 4.30 second 40-yard dash at 6'2" and 210 pounds. Davis loved speed, so much so that he made Heyward-Bey the seventh overall pick in that year's draft.
Heyward-Bey did come close to 1,000 receiving yards in 2011, but since leaving the Raiders after the 2012 season, his best campaign was a 21/314/2 stat line in Pittsburgh two years ago.
Given that he's only made 199 catches in his career and has averaged just two scores a season, Heyward-Bey is on the short list for the biggest first-round busts at wide receiver in the past decade.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden
At some point in the future, once cold fusion is common and scientists have figured out how to keep cereal crispy in milk, some brave soul will attempt to solve the mystery of how anyone can think it's a good idea to select a 28-year-old quarterback with a funky throwing motion in the first round of the NFL draft.
It's almost as bizarre as giving a free-agent signal-caller $37 million in guarantees after half a so-so season (ahem, Brock Osweiler).
The Houston Texans didn't make the first of those gaffes back in 2012 with Brandon Weeden, but the now-33-year-old is on the roster as the team's third-string quarterback.
Pray he never sees the field.
Inside Linebacker Jon Bostic
There's been more than a little buzz surrounding inside linebacker Jon Bostic in Indianapolis over the past several weeks. Kevin Bowen of the team's official website even posited Bostic could be a favorite to start in 2017 after head coach Chuck Pagano said he was doing "a great job."
We've seen this before, though. In Chicago. In New England. In Detroit. And in now in Indy.
Back in 2013, Bostic tested well at the combine—so well the Bears took him in the second round at No. 50 overall.
And the 26-year-old has often impressed in practice, showcasing his speed and athleticism—just as he has in Indy.
But the story's been the same each time. His speed and athleticism don't translate to games, and Bostic keeps getting caught out of position.
There's a reason he's been on four teams in five seasons.
Defensive End Dante Fowler Jr.
This shouldn't be taken as an indictment of Dante Fowler Jr. He's an immensely talented young pass-rusher who could still become a star. He's only 22.
It often takes young edge-rushers awhile to get their sea legs in the National Football League. And Fowler's torn ACL on the first day of his first rookie camp was just rotten luck.
Still, Fowler managed just 32 combined tackles and four sacks in his first season in action. His pass-rushing grade at Pro Football Focus last year slotted him 68th among edge-rushers.
He was the third overall pick in 2015, so it's hard to call that start anything but disappointing.
Linebacker Kevin Dodd
It speaks well to the Tennessee Titans that Dodd is a bit of a reach. The team's done a relatively good job of turning over the roster in recent years—a roster that had more than a few holes.
And it's not exactly fair to lump Dodd in with these guys. The 2016 second-round pick played sparingly last season after foot surgery slowed his development.
It's deja vu in 2017, though—and that's where the disappointment comes in.
Dodd had surgery on the same foot in January, missing all of OTAs as a result. The hope is he'll be ready for the start of training camp, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, but that's far from a sure bet.
And Dodd can't get better if he isn't on the field.
Cornerback Bradley Roby
This one should get some conversation started.
Roby isn't a bad player. He is the third cornerback in Denver's vaunted No Fly Zone defense, and the Broncos thought enough of him to draft him in the first round in 2014 at No. 31 and to exercise his fifth-year option for 2018.
But that doesn't mean the Broncos don't wish they'd gotten more than a player who ranked 83rd at his position a year ago, according to Pro Football Focus.
Roby's had his moments—he returned both his interceptions for touchdowns last year—but he's also far and away the weak link in the Denver secondary.
Kansas City Chiefs
Offensive Tackle Eric Fisher
Not a lot of NFL teams look back with fondness on the 2013 draft. The first round is replete with disappointments. The top 10 is overflowing with them.
And it all starts at the top.
Eric Fisher was the No. 1 overall pick that year, a little-known tackle from Central Michigan who rocketed up draft boards by shining in the predraft process that spring.
He didn't shine much after that.
At least he has started to show some signs of improvement over the past couple of years. In 2016, he graded 34th overall at his position and ranked 11th in run blocking, per PFF, and he was named a Pro Bowl alternate.
It beats a blank—but it's a far cry from what a team expects from a first overall pick.
Los Angeles Chargers
Cornerback Jason Verrett
As Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com reported, all new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn wants for Christmas—in August—is a healthy Jason Verrett.
"He's not allowed right now to participate in team drills," Lynn said. "He can do some one-on-ones in individuals and things like that, but he can't do any team drills. ... It's kind of wait-and-see, but yes, I'd love to have him back for training camp."
It's not hard to see why Lynn wants Verrett on the field so badly. His one relatively full season (2015) ended with a trip to the Pro Bowl. He has true shutdown potential.
But he also has a penchant for getting hurt. He's missed 10 or more games in two of his three seasons (half the 48 possible games of his career).
Defensive End Mario Edwards Jr.
Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie told 95.7 The Game (via Jimmy Durkin of the San Jose Mercury News) that Mario Edwards is champing at the bit to take a huge leap forward in 2017.
"He's extremely motivated," McKenzie said, "because he wants to show the league that he's a dominant football player. Not just a solid football player, but that he's dominant. He's healthy, he's strong, he's in a good mindset, so he's ready to roll, and we are extremely anxious to see him get going in the season."
While Edwards has shown flashes of the ability that made him a second-round pick in 2015 when healthy, he has missed half of the possible 32 regular-season games, including 14 games with a hip injury in 2016.
Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence
Lawrence's career has been a series up and downs. Sadly, there have been more of the latter than the former.
The 25-year-old, who was a second-round pick of the Cowboys in 2014, was a non-factor as a rookie, largely because of a foot injury that wiped out the first half of that season.
In Year 2, Lawrence appeared to have his lightbulb moment. From Week 10 to Week 16, Lawrence had at least a sack in six of seven games. It looked like the Cowboys had found an anchor for their defensive line.
The chain on that anchor broke in 2016. Lawrence spent the first four games on a suspension and the rest on the side of a milk carton, posting just 11 tackles and one sack for the year.
New York Giants
Guard D.J. Fluker
At least there's a bright side here—Fluker didn't do his disappointing in the Big Apple.
Not yet, anyway.
A first-round pick of the Chargers in 2013, Fluker spent four nondescript years with the organization prior to joining the Giants in free agency. He's at least been durable, missing only five games in his NFL career.
He hasn't been especially good, though.
In 2016, Fluker ranked outside the top 50 guards in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, and his run-blocking grade (46.0) was toward the bottom at his position.
Fluker is still just 26, and the Giants brought him in on a one-year prove-it deal.
To date, though, Fluker has only proved he shouldn't have been taken 11th overall.
Defensive End Vinny Curry
In early 2016, Vinny Curry inked a five-year, $47.3 million extension with the Eagles. He recorded 12.5 sacks over the two seasons before that, and the belief was Curry would thrive in the 4-3 front defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was implementing.
Yeah, about that.
Rather than an explosion, the Eagles got a fizzle from the 29-year-old in the form of just 2.5 sacks (his lowest single-season total since 2012) and shoddy run defense.
His contract was bad enough for Bleacher Report's Justis Mosqueda to label it "the worst defensive line contract in the sport."
Ouch. Tell me how you really feel.
Running Back Matt Jones
Remember when Matt Jones was good?
It feels like it was a million years ago, but in 2016, Jones entered his second NFL season and was the lead back for a Redskins team that made the playoffs the year before. Over the first seven games, Jones averaged 4.6 yards a carry and looked headed for a 1,000-yard season.
Except for one thing—the fumbles. After putting the ball on the ground five times as a rookie, Jones fumbled three times in 2016.
Washington benched him halfway through the campaign, and we haven't heard a peep from Jones since.
Check that—Jones requested a release in July, per Rick Snider of the Washington Post, after being leapfrogged on the depth chart by, well, everybody.
Wide Receiver Kevin White
This "award" could go to about every receiver on the Bears roster not named Cameron Meredith.
The salsa-dancing Victor Cruz, who signed with Chicago in May, once appeared headed for superstardom. But after a torn patellar tendon in 2014, he's a shell clinging to a roster spot.
Like Cruz, Rueben Randle began his career in New York. Unlike Cruz, the 2012 second-round pick hasn't enjoyed much in the way of success—either in the Big Apple or Philadelphia.
But Kevin White is a homegrown disappointment after being drafted seventh overall in 2015.
Since then, the Bears have only gotten 19 receptions for 187 yards over four games from him.
White missed his entire rookie season because of injury, but he's reportedly 100 percent entering Year 3, per Steve DelVecchio of Larry Brown Sports. So at least he has a chance of shaking off the disappointment label.
Offensive Tackle Greg Robinson
Once upon a time, Greg Robinson was a superstar-in-waiting—a 6'5", 332-pound, wildly athletic offensive lineman from Auburn whom the Rams selected No. 2 overall in the 2014 draft.
There was one minor complication. Robinson's terrible at blocking people. Over the first three years of his career Robinson has struggled mightily, including a grade of 62nd among qualifying tackles last year at PFF.
The Rams moved him to guard and then flipped him to right tackle when they signed Andrew Whitworth. Then L.A. traded him to Detroit for a box of Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts.
Frosted, of course.
The Lions were only willing to do that after Taylor Decker got hurt.
Can you feel the love?
Green Bay Packers
Linebacker Clay Matthews
This no doubt strikes many as blasphemy. Matthews is a popular athlete who has one of the highest profiles among defensive players in the NFL.
But his popularity doesn't change the fact that his production has fallen off since he signed an extension in 2013 that (at the time) made him the league's highest-paid linebacker. In the four seasons before the deal, Matthews piled up 42.5 sacks
In the last four campaigns, that number has fallen to just 30.5—including only 11.5 the last two years combined.
Matthews is spending more time at inside linebacker out of necessity, so that's part of the reason for the dip. Part of it might be age, though—Matthews is 31.
In any case, the Packers are paying him for elite production that he hasn't had in recent years.
Quarterback Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford is coming off the best season of his six-year NFL career. He led the league in completion percentage, set a career best in total passing yards and threw 15 more touchdown passes than interceptions in 2016.
So, what's the problem?
Bradford is being lauded for his best season even though by today's standards, it wasn't that great. He came up well short of 4,000 yards and tossed just 20 scores.
Yes, it was his best year. But Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick in 2010.
He will have made about $100 million once his current contract expires. He'll make even more after.
That's not bad for a player with a grand total of zero winning seasons in the NFL.
Offensive Tackle Jake Matthews
A year ago, you could have argued that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan merited a look here.
Not so much anymore.
Even including Jake Matthews is a stretch. The fourth-year pro played decently for the Falcons in their run to Super Bowl 51 in February and was a respectable 30th among tackles at Pro Football Focus.
That's good but not great. If his name were Jake Jones, it'd be good enough.
But Jake is a Matthews. The son of Bruce—arguably the best interior lineman to ever play. That pedigree and a great collegiate career vaulted Matthews to the sixth overall pick in 2014.
Relative to that draft slot, Matthews has disappointed.
Offensive Tackle Matt Kalil
Matt Kalil's agent deserves a raise. And a bonus.
Since the Vikings drafted him fourth overall in 2012, Kalil has done…well, not a whole heck of a lot. He was OK as a rookie but mediocre at best and terrible at worst for three years after. Last season, Kalil barely played before injuring his hip.
But is Kalil playing in Carolina on a prove-it deal? Heck no! Because his agent is good.
For reasons known only to the Panthers and Miss Cleo, the Panthers thought it wise to have Kalil join his brother, Ryan, in Charlotte on a five-year, $55.5 million deal with $31 million guaranteed.
Did I mention how good his agent is?
New Orleans Saints
Linebacker Stephone Anthony
Per Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, head coach Sean Payton said third-year linebacker Stephone Anthony has impressed some in minicamp.
"... I think the more and more he's getting reps in this scheme, the more and more he's getting more comfortable with not only the calls, but identifications of offensive formations and keys—run or pass," he said. "I think that's going well."
Anthony had a solid rookie year under then-defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in 2015, topping 100 tackles. But when Dennis Allen became DC, Anthony vanished, making just 16 tackles in limited duty last season.
Anthony is here because he didn't just lose his starting gig, but he was a first-round pick who lost that job to a journeyman (James Laurinaitis) and wound up buried on the Saints depth chart.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Running Back Doug Martin
After his rookie-year explosion was followed by a pair of injury-marred seasons, Martin came up big when it mattered most, topping 1,400 yards on the ground in 2015. That got the 28-year-old a lucrative contract extension.
But Martin followed up with another injury-marred season. In eight total games, he only broke the 50-yard-rushing barrier four times, and his year ended with a suspension.
That suspension will cost Martin the first three games in 2017. It could cost him much more than that—it voided the remaining guaranteed money for 2017.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert
Believe it or not, someone once made a Blaine Gabbert hype video.
And it is GLORIOUS.
Back in the wild days that were 2011, the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to take Gabbert with the 10th overall pick in the draft.
After three mostly awful seasons in Jacksonville, Gabbert was traded to San Francisco for a half-eaten bag of Doritos. After three similarly ungood years in the Bay Area, Gabbert landed in Arizona as Carson Palmer's backup.
It's not entirely Gabbert's fault that he's a considered a bust—the Jags traded up to take him out of Missouri, where he lost both his bowl games. But he's still going to be judged based on where he was taken, and he failed miserably at being a franchise savior.
Los Angeles Rams
Wide Receiver Tavon Austin
There isn't a more complete disappointment in this article than Tavon Austin. He checks all the boxes.
Top-10 draft pick? Check. Eighth overall in 2013.
Minimal production? Check. Career highs of 58 receptions and 509 yards in 2016.
Injuries? Check—at least to an extent. Austin has played in at least 13 games each season, but he's missed time in three of four years.
And the coup de grace? Despite all that, the Rams re-upped Austin on a four-year, $42 million extension last August—because of course they did.
Austin's still in his prime at 27, and the Rams have an offensive-minded head coach in Sean McVay. Austin is also dangerous in space. Or so they say...he rarely seems to get there.
San Francisco 49ers
Defensive End Tank Carradine
This is another one that's a little unfair. The San Francisco 49ers knew when they drafted Carradine in the second round in 2013 that he was going to be slow to develop. He had torn his ACL the year before and redshirted as a rookie.
And it's not his fault that the 49ers selected defensive ends Arik Armstead (2015), DeForest Buckner (2016) and Solomon Thomas (2017) in the last three drafts. The depth chart along the defensive front got crowded quickly.
Carradine has 57 tackles and four sacks in three years of spot duty, but those are hardly the numbers the Niners hoped for. Carradine's a cautionary tale about the perils of drafting injured players early.
He still has some value to the team as a rotational 3-technique tackle, but between the injury and the superior talent ahead of him on the depth chart, we may never know what could have been.
Offensive Tackle Luke Joeckel
In the dark days of the 2013 draft, offensive tackle Luke Joeckel saw his expected status as the No. 1 overall pick usurped by Eric Fisher.
As it turns out, Joeckel, selected second overall by the Jags, wasn't any worthier of the slot than Fisher.
Many pundits (including this writer) billed Joeckel as arguably the safest pick in that year's draft, but four rocky years with the Jaguars culminated in a move to guard in 2016 before a season-ending injury.
That the Seahawks look at Joeckel and see an upgrade speaks to just how bad their line was a year ago.