The life of an NFL scout can be quite hard when it comes to analyzing draft prospects. Almost every player has ridiculous amounts of athleticism. Almost every player was dominant during their college careers. Almost every player showcases the ability to play football at a very high level. Unfortunately for draft scouts, there will always be players that fail to live up to the expectations placed upon them; whether it's because of technical flaws, injuries, or an inability to make good decisions off the field, there will always be busts. Here are some of the more notable busts from this last decade:
The former Oregon Duck had NFL teams head over heels with his rare combination of size and speed. His productivity matched his measurables, racking up 23.5 TFL over his last two seasons in college. The Dolphins selected Jordan 3rd overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, expecting him to terrorize offenses the same way he did in college. Unfortunately for Miami, things did not go as planned for them.
Jordan has missed more games than he’s played in, thanks to subpar performances, a series of failed drug tests, and a failed physical. Currently a free agent, his chances of being signed by any NFL team today are very slim. I will never be the type of person to judge somebody for smoking marijuana, but when you take into account all of his mishaps and his lack of productivity while on the field, Dion Jordan is a certified bust.
The 2-time Biletnikoff award winner was projected to be one of the NFL’s premier go-to-guys at the WR position heading into the 2012 draft. Showcasing the ability to beat corners on the deep route as well as the ability to bully them physically, Justin Blackmon was all the rave heading into that year’s draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars would draft him 5th overall, and he instantly became a productive player for them in his rookie season. His success in the league would not last long though, as his career quickly became a flash in the pan.
Months after Blackmon was drafted, he was arrested for aggravated DUI while visiting his alma mater, Oklahoma State; that arrest ended up foreshadowing the struggles he would face in the NFL, as the talented wide receiver failed to get his act together off the field. After a couple more incidents involving failed drug tests and DUI arrests, Blackmon would find himself out of the league by the end of the 2013 season.
Formerly ranked the No. 1 player in his high school graduating class, expectations for Nkemdiche were sky high. He would go on to play for the Ole Miss Rebels in college, showing flashes of his potential, but never dominating how the scouts expected him to. Despite his inconsistent play and his off-field incidents in college involving fights and wild nights at hotels, the Cardinals still drafted Nkemdiche in the first round of the 2016 draft.
Drawing comparisons to Reggie White as a Grayson High recruit, Nkemdiche has failed miserably to live up to the expectations placed upon him. After spending 3 seasons with the Cardinals, Nkemdiche was released when he showed up to training camp “out of shape” leading into the 2019 season. He now finds himself on the outside looking in; a free agent that NFL teams are shying away from.
Trent Richardson was the No. 2 ranked RB in his HS graduating class, breaking Emmitt Smith’s rushing record at Escambia High School in Florida. His success would continue in college, highlighted by his 2011 season where he finished third in Heisman voting after rushing for 1,679 yards that year, helping lead Alabama to a national title. Richardson was a powerful RB, and his bruising style was the reason he was selected 3rd overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.
He had an impressive rookie campaign with the Cleveland Browns, rushing for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, things would only go downhill from there. After 2 mediocre games for the Browns during his 2nd season, the team would get fed up with him, shipping him to the Indianapolis Colts.
Richardson would never find his footing in the NFL again after his rookie year. It wasn’t because of a lack of talent though, it was because of his lack of vision. Richardson would become known for constantly hitting the wrong holes, running into the backs of his offensive linemen rather than running to daylight. His NFL career would only last 4 seasons.
Despite lacking the size that most NFL teams desire from their QBs and his reputation for partying too hard in college, the Cleveland Browns decided to draft the player formerly known as “Johnny Football” 22nd overall in the 2014 draft. The 2012 Heisman trophy winner had a phenomenal highlight tape in college that was enough for Cleveland to take the bait and draft him.
Cleveland has never had good luck when it comes to selecting QBs in the draft, and Manziel was not able to break that curse. This time however, it was less on Cleveland and more on Johnny’s erratic behavior off the field. He struggled with alcoholism throughout his NFL career, and was also charged with domestic abuse after allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend. The combination of terrible off-field incidents and terrible on-field performances would lead to his release after the 2015 season.
Unlike the other players on this list, Roberto Aguayo was actually selected in the 2nd round by the Buccaneers. However, when you take into account his position, he was selected very high for a kicker. Hard to fault Tampa Bay for their thought process though, as the 3-time All-American rarely missed any kicks in college. Aguayo’s records at Florida State will be hard to break, but he did not see the same amount of success in the NFL.
He would go on to have an abysmal rookie season in 2016, going 22-31 on field goals (71%), which was the lowest percentage of all starting kickers that year; not even taking into account the 2 extra points in which he missed as well. Aguayo would end up being released by the Buccaneers during the preseason heading into his second year, after he missed a field goal and an extra point in week 1.
The New York Jets assumed they would be getting a shutdown corner to replace Darrelle Revis when they drafted Milliner at No. 9 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. His track record made him stand out amongst the other corners in the draft that year. He was a five-star CB and one of the top players in his class coming out of high school. He was also an impact player for Alabama during his 3 years there, finishing as a Jim Thorpe award finalist and 2-time national champion. The amount of success he had from high school to college made him highly-touted as a prospect, but he never lived to the hype.
Injuries were the biggest reason as to why Milliner failed to deliver in the NFL. His durability issues were a problem heading into the league, as Milliner underwent 5 different surgeries while in college, including surgeries on both of his shoulders. It’s impressive when considering how much he achieved in college while going through the pain that he did, but those surgeries foreshadowed his short-lived NFL career.
He was able to toughen his way through those injuries in college, but his body shut down on him once entered the pros. After a rookie season where he struggled to find his footing, Milliner would only go on to play five more games, getting released after three snake-bitten years in the league.
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft was a force to be reckoned with at West Virginia. White stands at 6’3”, weighed in around 215 pounds, ran a 4.35 40 and he repped 225 pounds 23 times; an absolute tank of a man to say the least. The JUCO transfer had defensive coordinators up all night, trying to figure out a gameplan to stop him in college. Bears fans were happy to receive Kevin White, expecting him and Alshon Jeffery to form a deadly receiving duo.
Fast forward to where we are today, and White now finds himself on the free agent market; that isn’t very likely to change either, as he’s yet to even score a touchdown in his 5 year career. White’s career progression has been halted due to a series of injuries, and it’s likely that he won’t get another chance in the NFL because of that.
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