Before we even begin this article, it's way too soon to definitely call these players draft busts (except for Johnny Manziel), as it's only two years into their careers and there's still plenty of time for them to turn it around. However, with that being said, that doesn't mean we can't take a look at players drafted early in 2014 who might be on the verge of making a team's biggest draft mistakes list.
It wasn't easy to find 15 players who really struggled from the 2014 NFL Draft. Some of the best defensive players in the league at the moment were drafted in this year, including Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr and Aaron Donald. In terms of star players on the offensive side, there are a bunch of Pro Bowl talents who were selected, like Blake Bortles, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans and Derek Carr. Needless to say, this draft had plenty of star power.
However, there have been a few players who have had slow starts to their career and, with this list, we're gonna take a look at 15 2014 Early Round NFL Draft Picks Who Already Look Like Failures. Enjoy!
15 15. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, 58th Overall - New Orleans Saints
Want to know a pretty good indicator for finding a draft bust? If a player is no longer playing in the NFL, there's a pretty good chance that they weren't what a team was hoping for when they drafted them.
While Stanley Jean-Baptiste is technically still in the NFL, on the practice squad of the Seattle Seahawks, he's only got into four NFL games (none of them starts) and recorded no stats that we can list here. All four of those games were with the Saints in his rookie year, where he played on special teams. He was released during the pre-season in his second year, before signing with the Lions and never getting past their practice squad. Jean-Baptiste remains on the Seahawks practice squad after being released by the Lions, but time is running out for him to make a name for himself in the NFL.
14 14. Bishop Sankey, 54th Overall - Tennessee Titans
Bishop Sankey was the first running back drafted in 2014, one pick ahead of Jeremy Hill and three ahead of Carlos Hyde. Sadly for the Titans, both of those running backs have looked light years ahead of Sankey in their progression. In two years, Sankey has amassed a paltry 762 rushing yards, while finding paydirt a grand total of four times. Even though he remains on the Titans' roster, he's been so unimpressive that the Titans drafted another running back early (Derrick Henry, 45th Overall) in 2016 and signed veteran running back DeMarco Murray to a sizeable contract worth $25 million over four years.
Rumors have already started to surface that the Titans may consider cutting Sankey in training camp or shipping him to another team for a late round draft pick. Keep in mind, they still have David Cobb on their roster, who they drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, so something has got to give.
13 13. Davante Adams, 53rd Overall - Green Bay Packers
If you're a fantasy football fan, you likely had Davante Adams highlighted during your pre-draft research, especially after Jordy Nelson was injured before the season. If you're a Green Bay Packers fan, you likely weren't too stressed went Nelson went down, as you felt confident in Aaron Rodgers and his ability to make a star out of new wide receivers, especially a highly touted one like Davante Adams. Well, both of those sets of fans were horribly disappointed with Davante Adams last year. Despite starting 12 games in the potent Packers' offense, Adams managed a terrible 483 yards and a single touchdown reception.
After a bad season filled with dropped passes and poor route running, Adams is already running out of time to prove himself in Green Bay. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is already reporting that Adams may find himself being cut in training camp if he doesn't impress.
12 12. Paul Richardson, 45th Overall - Seattle Seahawks
Paul Richardson hasn't been very lucky in his short NFL career. After a listless rookie year, where he only managed 271 yards and a single touchdown, despite starting six games, Richardson was injured in a playoff game against the Carolina Panthers. The ACL injury was severe enough to keep Richardson out for a big chunk of his second season, before he made his debut in week 10 against the Arizona Cardinals. His bad luck continued there, as he hurt his hamstring while making a 40 yard catch, which happened to be his first and last of the season. He was then placed on injured reserve.
While Richardson can still turn things around, if he continues to deal with injuries, he'll have the 'injury-prone' label stuck to him and that can be tough to shake off. He's healthy now and working with Russell Wilson in training camp, but this is likely a make or break year for the young receiver, especially with the loads of young talent the Seahawks have at the position, like Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin.
11 11. Cyrus Kouandjio, 44th Overall - Buffalo Bills
It hasn't been an easy transition to the NFL for Cyrus Kouandjio so far. The young Bills tackle has already had two coaching staffs show a lack of faith in him and that's not a great sign for a young player trying to make a mark in the NFL.
After struggling under Doug Marrone in his first year, Kouandjio was given a new lease on life when Rex Ryan took over in 2015. After starting two games at the right tackle position, and performing poorly, Ryan demoted Kouandjio to a third stringer for the team.
He'll likely have another chance to prove himself in 2016, as Seantrel Henderson has been dealing with injury issues, which could open the door for Kouandjio to claim the position and turn his career around.
10 10. Kyle Van Noy, 40th Overall, Detroit Lions
Here's the good news for Kyle Van Noy: he's looked very good this summer and the Lions believe that the linebacker will take the next step in the third season of his career.
Unfortunately, that hasn't helped him avoid this list, as his first two seasons have been total write-offs. In his first season, he suffered a sports hernia in training camp which stunted his progression (he was switching positions) and only allowed him to get into eight games. In 2015, he played in 15 games, but didn't start any of them and only managed a single sack. Not an impressive number for a player who had 13 sacks as a junior in college.
While Van Noy can work himself off this list with a big 2016, it's still a pretty big 'what-if' at this point. Lions fans will hope he proves us wrong.
9 9. Marqise Lee, 39th Overall, Jacksonville Jaguars
In a draft year that saw the Jacksonville Jaguars find their two starting wide receivers for the foreseeable future, it's kind of shocking to realize that the first wide receiver they drafted in 2014 has been mediocre so far. While Allen Robinson (taken 61st overall in 2014) and Allen Hurns (undrafted in 2014) have become one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league, Marqise Lee has been invisible.
Lee has started nine games in his first two years, finishing with 613 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Hurns and Robinson have been electric, both finishing with over 1,000 yards and 10+ touchdowns in 2015. If Lee plans to find success in the NFL, it likely won't be in Jacksonville.
8 8. Marcus Smith, 26th Overall - Philadelphia Eagles
Marcus Smith has played both inside and outside linebacker during his first two years in the league. Sadly, he's failed at both positions. He's managed to play in 21 games so far, starting none of them, and has managed only six tackles to go along with 1.5 sacks. Those aren't numbers worthy of a first round selection in the NFL Draft.
Smith will be playing for a new coaching staff in 2016 and it looks like they're going to try him out as a defensive end. Time will tell if Smith can excel at the new position, but he'll need to make a big impression for the Eagles to keep him on their roster past 2016.
7 7. Dee Ford, 23rd Overall - Kansas City Chiefs
So far, Dee Ford has only been impressive in a single NFL game. In December of 2015, against the San Diego Chargers, Ford had to fill in for an injured Justin Houston and did a great job, notching three sacks and breaking up a pass in the end zone with the game on the line. Apart from that? The edge rusher has 2.5 sacks in 29 other games.
With Justin Houston likely out for the entire 2016 NFL season, the Chiefs desperately need Dee Ford to become the player they envisioned during the 2014 NFL Draft. He's only started five games so far, so a lot of his potential appears to be untapped, but the time is now for Ford to make an impact. If he doesn't, he might be on the free agent market going into 2017.
6 6. Johnny Manziel, 22nd Overall - Cleveland Browns
If you knew that Johnny Manziel was drafted in 2014, then you knew that he'd be on this list. Quite simply, Johnny Football was an absolute trainwreck with the Cleveland Browns before they released him, appearing to be more interested in partying in Las Vegas than becoming a top-tier NFL QB.
The sad part, from a football perspective, is that Manziel showed flashes of the playmaking ability that made him a legend at Texas A&M in the NFL. The sadder part, from a life perspective, is that Manziel obviously needs help with his addictions, to the point that his father has said he's worried that his son won't live to see his 24th birthday if he doesn't get any help. We truly hope he does get the help he needs to get his life back on track, regardless of his football career.
5 5. Ryan Shazier, 15th Overall - Pittsburgh Steelers
It's been a tough couple of years for Ryan Shazier, as he's dealt with injuries and being pre-maturely labelled as a bust. He's started 17 games thus far and has looked terrific in some of those games. Sadly, if he continues to deal with injuries, similar to our entry on Paul Richardson, he'll inevitably become a draft bust and a player who never lived up to his potential.
After missing four straight games in 2015, Shazier took to social media to deal with being labelled a draft bust or injury prone, saying:
How can you talk about someone in their field of work, but if you tried you'll have an 0% chance of be successful in what they do.— Ryan Shazier (@RyanShazier) October 16, 2015
While, we don't claim we'd be better than 0% successful in the NFL, we also believe that the talented young linebacker should focus on the game instead of what fans, and sites like ours, have to say about him. If he stays healthy in 2016, we'll gladly remove him from our list.
4 4. Eric Ebron, 10th Overall - Detroit Lions
With Calvin Johnson retiring, the Detroit Lions desperately need Eric Ebron to become a weapon for them. If that isn't motivation enough, how about being labelled as a bust?
lol!— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) May 21, 2016
Despite his sense of humor, it's hard to argue with PFF's claims. He's started 15 games (played 27 in total) and only has six touchdowns, despite being a massive 6'4" tight end who had the benefit of defenses focusing on Megatron. Now, with Ebron and Golden Tate as Matthew Stafford's top two options, Ebron will need to have a huge season in Detroit. Then he can really laugh at PFF.
3 3. Justin Gilbert, 8th Overall - Cleveland Browns
Johnny Manziel hasn't been the only problem for the Cleveland Browns from the 2014 NFL Draft. Their earlier pick, Justin Gilbert, hasn't fared much better than his partying teammate.
On the field, he's been poor, with only one interception in two seasons and three games started. Off the field, it's been even worse, as multiple Browns teammates have openly stated that he needs to mature... and fast.
Despite new Browns' coach Hue Jackson stating that he's been sensational this summer, we remain skeptical. One thisng is certain, Gilbert is running of out time to become a starting CB in the NFL.
2 2. Greg Robinson, 2nd Overall - St. Louis Rams
The Rams are hoping that a move to Los Angeles will be what the doctor ordered as it pertains to their young tackle, Greg Robinson. Though he hasn't been a colossal failure, he still has been far from worthy of being the number two selection of the 2014 NFL Draft. Look at any re-draft, from any publication, and you'll see that Robinson has tumbled down the draft board, not even being selected in the first round by some sites. There's good reason for these sites to be unimpressed. He's already allowed plenty of sacks and was tied for the third most penalties in the NFL last year.
While it's unfair to say that he's definitely a bust at this point, it's more than fair to say that he's on the path to becoming one.
1 1. Jadeveon Clowney, 1st Overall - Houston Texans
As we've already seen on this list, bad luck with injuries doesn't offer you an exemption from this list and there's no better example of that than Jadeveon Clowney. In two years in the league, he's only managed to play in 17 games (starting 11), where he's had 4.5 sacks. To put that number in perspective, Khalil Mack, the number five pick in this draft, had five sacks in a single game against the Denver Broncos last season.
While it's unfair to compare Clowney to Mack, as Mack has become one of the top defensive players in the league, it does beg the question about whether that fact makes Clowney a draft failure. If the fifth overall pick completely outplays the first overall pick, does that makes the first overall pick a failure? We believe so. Also, only having 4.5 sacks opposite J.J. Watt seems incredible, as he will see a double team on every single down.
There's still plenty of time for Clowney, but he'll need to stay on the field, and be productive, to get himself off this list.
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