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Top 5: Musts and Busts

It has been a few days now since the draft took place and what an insane event it was! Trades happening everywhere as Quarterback needy teams gambled their future on a class many deemed to be average at best whilst defensive studs fell into the waiting hands of patient and lucky franchises.

I previously listed the 5 Must have players who I feel would be a success regardless of where they ended up but it has taken a bit longer to select my 5 at the other end of the scale.

A bust for me is a player who does not live up to the expectations placed on them and so it has a lot to do as to where they are selected in the draft and also where they end up; for example Andrew Luck as talented as he is, has failed to deliver a Superbowl appearance so far due to the desolate roster he’s been provided to steer. It also has a fair bit to do with what was given up to select them. Robert Griffin III was taken second overall for a wealth of picks as the Redskins moved up to take him but after a strong rookie season ended in serious injury he never translated to being a franchise player. As a high pick with lots spent on him for his potential, to not get anywhere close to the level expected means a bust to me.

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NFL News Desk Admin – Flickr

Therefore, Reuben Foster who is to my mind a top 3 talent in this draft yet also has off-field risks (diluted drugs sample etc) fell to the end of the first round and so suddenly he looks a smaller gamble and more likely a steal. Anyway, let’s get started…

1. Mitchell Trubisky – Quarterback, UNC

Oh dear. He of course may well prove everyone wrong; no-one predicted Tom Brady, Russell Wilson or more recently Dak Prescott to turn into the elite playmakers they are. More likely, the Bears have gambled their future on someone without the ability to elevate a franchise.

Many have pointed to the deal with Mike Glennon. I do feel he’s had a rough time of it in the NFL; he’s got a career QBR rating of 84.6 and has a decent TD:INT ratio of 2:1 having thrown 30 touchdowns to only 15 interceptions. His accuracy in the pros (59.4%) is also higher than that of last season’s MVP Cam Newton yet he’s never truly been given the reins to a franchise.

Many thought it was odd the Bears drafted another Quarterback so high, though it must be said Glennon is only guaranteed £16 million (not that high for an NFL starting QB) for the first season which they can get out of for next season if he fails. So with hindsight he is just an expensive bridge quarterback so they can red-shirt and educate a rookie until they are pro ready.

Regardless though, the Bears are put in a very difficult decision if Glennon plays at a high level however unlikely that is considering the pieces around him.

Trubisky started only 13 games in his entire college career. That’s not nearly enough games for a pro team to truly evaluate him as a next level player at arguably the hardest position in sports. He threw a career total of 572 passes in college; Carson Wentz in his lone rookie season threw 607.

It should also be pointed out that at UNC (a basketball school predominantly) who don’t play elite level defences like Alabama etc. he produced a record of 8-5. Likewise, against these relatively lower quality college teams he still failed to average a career accuracy of 70%. A final nail in the coffin for me is the player he failed to beat out at the position during his college career was Marquise Williams; an undrafted free agent who is effectively out of the league by the age of 24 was considered better than Trubisky by his college coaches.

I may be completely wrong but none of this strikes me as a potential game changing play-caller especially considering the fact they gave up so many picks to move up one spot in the draft to go ahead of a team that didn’t want him in the first place. Especially considering the fact Watson was available (a player who torched a Nick Saban defence across two National Championship games) if they wanted to reach for a QB. They’d have been better off providing replacement weapons for Glennon or building up the defence again that Chicago is famed for especially because next years draft class with Sam Darnold is meant to be quarterback strong whilst Kirk Cousin is likely to be available as well should Glennon fall flat.

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Mitchell Trubisky’s Instagram

2. Christian McCaffery – Running Back, Stanford

This is an odd one because McCaffery is almost unanimously loved by all scouts and analysts who covered the draft and college football. I preface by saying I think McCaffery has incredible athletic skills highlighted by his electrifying combine; the 6 cone drill in particular.

He’s certainly an exciting weapon with sure hands and insane agility but I don’t really know how the fit works. He’s certainly a great addition for the Panthers special teams given the loss of Ted Ginn Jnr and he’ll give them an option in the slot (Cam Newton wont be complaining about extra weapons!).

However, they class him as a running back. The motto for the Panthers is ‘Keep Pounding’. They build their offence around power running with a 1-2 combination of Cam Newton (6’4 244lbs) and Jonathan Stewart (5’10 235lbs). Their offence line wasn’t the best last year – seen by the number of hits put on Newton – though they’ve done their best to try to sure it up with addition of Matt Kalil to play alongside his brother.

Chris McCaffery however measures in at (5’11 202lbs). He’s a lot weaker physically than a Jonathan Stewart and there is nobody that can convince me that Panthers preferred him to other top 10 running back Fournette. I have no doubt McCaffery can be a change of speed 3rd down back like a Sproles whilst doubling up as a slot receiver and so he will no doubt be a useful weapon but he’s neither a number 1 receiver nor an every down back; especially for this style offence. So to take him top 10 to my mind is too high regardless of what he brings.

I’m an Eagles fan so I love what he brings to our offence but he is not a top 10 pick. We appear to have got our future replacement for him in Donnel Pumphrey all the way into the 4th round whilst the Saints got a similar – though higher rated – back in Alvin Kamara in the 2nd round.

Similarly, if he becomes an Edelman or a Wes Welker that is great news for the Panthers but I still don’t think you use a top 10 pick on a small slot receiver especially considering the size/speed of linebackers and safeties in the modern game.

I think McCaffery will be a solid player so in that sense he wont be a bust as such; not a Manziel or Justin Gilbert level bust anyway! However he wont in my mind live up to being 8th overall in a draft loaded with running backs.

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Christian McCaffrey’s Instagram

3. John Ross – Wide Receiver, Washington

I understand the need to take a wide receiver earlier than anticipated because after the top 3 rated (Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross) it kind of falls off beyond that with no obvious number 1 or 2 receivers for the season opener. The Titans shocked everyone taking Davis with the 5th overall and the Chargers finally got Phillip Rivers some help taking Williams at 7th and so I think the Bengals went into panic mode.

Their biggest need is to give Andy Dalton some protection after an already struggling offensive line let one of the league’s top left tackles – Andrew Whitworth – and top guards – Kevin Zeitler – flee in free agency. The problem is this was the wrong draft to have a need in that area hence the explosion of money thrown at guards and tackles during free agency.

The Bengals do need to provide Dalton with targets and certainly a receiver with elite speed – see Ross’ 4.22 second 40-yard dash – to play across from the insanely talented AJ Green with Tyler Eifert returning looks good for the Bengals. The problem I have with this pick though is the Bengals need a stronger, younger defence as well and imagine a Vontaze Burfict partnership with Reuben Foster who was still available! Or lining up Jonathan Allen – also still available – with a Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.

John Ross is an okay player but he’s a speedster with raw route running which doesn’t translate immediately to the NFL where timing is key, windows are smaller and skillsets are elevated to an elite level. Couple this with Ross’ significant injury history; torn meniscus in the right knee, micro-fracture surgery, torn ACL in the left knee and shoulder injuries.

Whilst it should be commended that he has recovered from the injuries and is still a rocket sprinter it should be massively concerning that he has sustained that many significant injuries BEFORE playing in the NFL against truly big hitters. I’d also be concerned that should one of those knees go again what type of player would Ross be if he were to lose a step?

Again he could be a solid player but I’d worry he becomes a less talented Sammy Watkins or even worse; a Kevin White. Time will tell but in my mind the Bengals should’ve taken the risk in Foster’s ‘off-field concerns’ against Ross’ skillset and medical history.

John Ross
John Ross’ Instagram

4. Adoree’ Jackson – Cornerback, USC

I was tempted to go for Marlon Humphrey before Jackson because he was graded anywhere between Marshon Lattimore talent and a second rounder. Considering the Ravens could have taken OJ Howard or Reuben Foster as relative steals at the 16th overall it appears a strange pick but the Ravens need corners – the division contains Antonio Brown, AJ Green and Martavis Bryant – whilst I feel I can trust Ozzie Newsome at talent evaluation.

This pick however, in my mind, is crazy. Corey Davis appeared to be a reach at the 5th overall. He’s a strong route runner, sure hands and a big body. He also played against suspect opposition for Western Michigan and has not worked out for any teams due to ankle injuries. When you draft a receiver at 5th overall they better be Julio Jones reincarnated because whilst Mariota needs help this seems like a risk especially when you have a sure thing like OJ Howard on the board. However, most have Davis in a toss up for best talent overall at wide-out alongside Mike Williams so I will wait to see how strong he returns from injury before judging because certainly it was a need to further develop their promising young QB.

This pick however seems ridiculous. Sure the Titans need another cornerback even with the addition of Logan Ryan via free agency. But OJ Howard has fallen to you at 18th who is an absolute steal at that value. He’s a receiver in a tight end’s body who they could move around [in order to still accomodate Delanie Walker]; think Jimmy Graham. He’s also more than competent at aiding the run game due to his blocking skills and if there’s anything we learnt from the bruising O-line and double-headed monster (DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry) the Titans like to run the ball. Howard was the best available player and they passed on him.

Fine, they want to improve their cornerback play. I understand Gareon Conley to a lot of teams became untouchable due to recent allegations but Jackson was still a long way down the board. Tre’Davious White, Kevin King and Quincy Wilson were all available and ranked higher than Jackson. Similarly, if the Titans aren’t quite sure it is their window due to the strength of the Patriots in their conference why not take a punt on Sidney Jones who most had as the best corner overall prior to his injury even if they needed to trade down to do so. Jackson on the other hand isn’t even a surefire lockdown corner but more of a jack of all traits expected to play special teams and maybe even some offence which is nothing like what the doctor ordered.

Before the draft I felt they were in the best position with a strong defence, massive offensive line, workhorse running backs and an extremely talented quarterback yet still possessing two picks in the top 20 in draft deep in secondary talent; their main weakness. They should still be competitive due to the relative weakness of their division but I feel they missed out on these strong picks to really elevate themselves into contention for the AFC.

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Adoree’ Jackson’s Instagram

Patrick Mahomes II – Quarterback, Texas Tech

This was an odd move again by the Chiefs. The strength of the Chiefs defence should mean they are in a win now mode. They are probably a number one receiver and a running back away from really competing to make a Superbowl appearance. You need only watch their playoff game against the Steelers to see how legit their defence is holding the likes of Bell, Brown and Roethlisberger to only 18 points! The reason they lost; they could only manage 16 against a relatively inexperienced secondary.

It may well be the case that Alex Smith’s ceiling has been reached and the divisional round is the furthest he can take them. Taking a developmental QB from an ‘Air Raid’ offence who is miles away from being pro ready wont change that so they’d have taken Deshaun Watson. Similarly, Trent Dilfer won a Superbowl…

Based on that it would appear the Chiefs traded numerous picks to get into the top 10 to select a developmental prospect to sit and learn under Andy Reid who has previous experience of doing this. What makes no sense with this is that whilst he has a longer injury history, Alex Smith is 33 which is significantly younger than Eli and Big Ben whose teams waited until later rounds to pick up other talented playmakes Davis Webb and Josh Dobbs.

Mahomes II may prove me wrong and turn into a Superbowl winning gunslinger should he ever emerge and become the Chiefs man behind centre but it just seems unlikely even though many suggest he has the highest ceiling of all young quarterbacks in this draft class.

With the defence they have built up over time and with a fantastic coach, the Chiefs should be in a win now mode. They could have added Reuben Foster to replace the ageing Derrick Johnson who is not getting any younger. That would have made for a terrifying core when combined with Justin Houston.

They could also have added – sorry if I’m getting boring – OJ Howard who along with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce might finally be able to give the offence the kick it needs to truly advance deep into the postseason. If he wasn’t a pick they liked I think they should have rolled the dice on Dalvin Cook (who amazingly fell to the second round!) who gives them a number 1 running back and someone who can take passes out of the back field a la Jamal Charles of old.

We wont be able to judge Mahomes II for a few years but for what they gave to move up I think they missed a big opportunity to really take advantage of their current window regardless of the strength of the team in New England; one they will come to rue.

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Patrick Mahomes II Instagram

 

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