NFL Insider's Report: Who Are the Most Disappointing Players This Season?
Every NFL team enters a new season with hopes of winning a division title, making a run through the conference and eventually being crowned Super Bowl champions. In order to win games, teams need reliable players who show up weekly and perform at the highest levels.
Some players are performing up to or even above expectations. Players like Patrick Mahomes, Todd Gurley and Tom Brady won't be found on this list.
Instead, we're going to take a look at the NFL's most disappointing players as listed by NFL scouts, coaches and general managers. Who came into the season with hype and isn't living up to it? Which players are on the verge of being labeled a bust?
Let's find out.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...well, Bortles ain't fooling anybody ever again." — AFC Scouting Director
Blake Bortles looked like a different quarterback during the 2017 season as he led the Jacksonville Jaguars to an AFC Championship Game appearance and parlayed his growth into a contract extension that kept him entrenched as the team's starting quarterback.
After half a season in 2018, the Jaguars have already benched Bortles for Cody Kessler during a game and are once again being ridiculed by NFL media types for not seeing the writing on the wall and addressing the need at quarterback either in the draft or free agency.
Bortles, with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season, is likely to ride out the year as the team's starting quarterback, but it's obvious to everyone that Jacksonville must add a starting-level quarterback this offseason.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
"The Titans are really lucky they have Dion Lewis. Derrick Henry is showing that he's never going to be more than a battering ram complementary back." — NFC Scouting Director
Derrick Henry was expected to have a breakout season after torching the Kansas City Chiefs for 156 yards in the playoffs last season. But that one game seems to be fool's gold. Henry had only 28 yards the following week against the New England Patriots, and throughout the 2018 season, he's been consistently average while never rushing for more than 60 yards per game.
Henry is a massive man at 6'3" and 250 pounds, but his lack of agility and breakaway speed that showed up often at Alabama during his college days continue to hold him back in the NFL. When able to gash a bad rushing defense—like Kansas City last season—he can have a big day, but NFL defenses can too easily stack up to slow him down on a weekly basis.
The former second-round pick is looking like he will never become the starting running back many expected.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
"You can't blame him for everything going wrong, but [Derek Carr] has to be the most overrated quarterback in the game. If you look at it that way, he's incredibly disappointing." — NFC Coach
Calling Carr "the most overrated quarterback in the game" is harsh, especially coming off a performance against the Indianapolis Colts in which he completed 75 percent of his throws for three touchdowns and no interceptions. But, this is a widely held opinion of Carr. He's struggled in spots, but negative opinions of Carr seem to be more tied to his head coach or organization.
Looking for clarity, another evaluator was asked about Carr. "It's disappointing that he hasn't taken the steps you thought he might after his sophomore season, but he has been hurt and they changed coaches. It's too early to say he's not a good quarterback, though."
Opinions do seem to be somewhat split, but there's an agreement that Carr hasn't lived up to the expectations placed on him after his breakout 2015 season.
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
"You can't put it all on him, but Johnson is having a very 2016 Todd Gurley season. He's talented but getting wasted in that offense with a rookie quarterback and bad scheme." — NFC Scouting Director
David Johnson was a future face of the NFL when the 2016 season ended, but then a wrist injury shut him down for 2017. Now, coming back off that injury, Johnson has struggled to get going and reclaim his spot as one of the league's most dynamic playmakers.
Averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, Johnson hasn't been able to cut and explode for the breakaway runs that were a feature of his career under Bruce Arians. And you can't blame it on a knee injury, since it was his wrist that kept him down.
League insiders point to a bad offensive scheme (and fired offensive coordinator) but also to a rookie quarterback whom NFL defenses don't yet fear. Similar to Todd Gurley in 2016 with rookie Jared Goff under center, there is a hope that Johnson will bounce back in 2019 with second-year Josh Rosen and a change made at offensive coordinator.
Case Keenum, QB, Denver Broncos
"When will someone finally point out that John Elway isn't good at his job? Paid Case Keenum $36 million and he's a backup quarterback. You pay a guy that much, he better be a f--king starter." — AFC Scout
Case Keenum was a feel-good story in 2017, but after signing as a free agent with the Denver Broncos, he has struggled. With 10 touchdowns to match his 10 interceptions this season, Keenum has been average but is the highest paid player on his own team and the 19th-highest paid quarterback in the league.
On a team with a good defense and solid run game, Keenum led the Minnesota Vikings to a playoff run in 2017. The Broncos thought they'd get the same thing with their own stout defense, but Keenum's inability to get the offense going lands him on the list.
Reuben Foster, LB, San Francisco 49ers
"Injuries and the off-field distractions are taking their toll. He's being overshadowed by a rookie third-rounder [Fred Warner] right now." — AFC College Scout
Reuben Foster was like a comet hitting the San Francisco 49ers defense in his rookie season, but his sophomore campaign has been a slump so far. Foster has just 29 tackles in six games and has been overshadowed by the more productive Warner so far this year.
There is still time for Foster to bounce back and end the 2018 season on a high note. The key for him is staying healthy and out of trouble. If he can do that, Foster can pair with Warner to give the 49ers the best linebacker duo they've had since NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis were running down offenses together.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
"I've told you this before—they need to move on from him in the worst way. I don't care that he was the No. 1 pick. Everyone there is going to be fired anyway. Get him off the field before you have to pay out that 2019 guarantee [$20.9 million] and move on." — AFC Coach
Opinions on Jameis Winston are strong. The former top pick hasn't lived up to the franchise quarterback status in Tampa—either on or off the field. Now, coming off a four-interception performance and being outplayed by journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick again, Winston's future in Tampa looks bleak.
The Buccaneers have picked up Winston's fifth-year option—the aforementioned $20.9 million—but can rescind that option and move on this offseason. It might even be in their best interest to try to trade him now while there's still value instead of hoping he'll sign as a free agent and the team will receive a compensatory selection in return.
Whether you're a Florida State fan, a Buccaneers fan or a neutral observer, it's time to accept that Winston isn't working in Tampa.
Marcus Peters, CB, Los Angeles Rams
"It's funny because everyone thought he'd be the one to make the Rams defense so great, but he's been very quiet this year." — NFC Scout
Marcus Peters was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in a transaction that shocked the NFL world after the Kansas City Chiefs decided they would move on from his services. Peters, paired with the talent already assembled on the Rams defense, was expected to put the team over the top.
The Rams are in fact over-the-top good with an 8-0 start and a solid defense, but Peters has been hardly heard from with just one interception. That might be a good thing—Peters made too many waves in Kansas City for his on- and off-field antics. A quiet Peters might be a good one, but NFL evaluators are still gloating that he's not been the All-Pro corner many expected. Or maybe they're just hoping he won't be.