While long-time NFL superstars like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Antonio Brown, Von Miller. J.J. Watt and Julio Jones continue to dominate the league, some fans are already looking towards the next generation. There’s already a great start with young talents like Carson Wentz, Marcus Mariota, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr and others. These players are just starting to make waves in the NFL, and we can only hope for them that their success continues.
Over the last three NFL drafts, a number of young talents have shown that they have what it takes to be superstars, while some continue to be works in progress. On the other hand, some recent NFL draft picks haven’t come along in any way, and look poised to be out of the league before long. With so many teams struggling to win, it can be all the more difficult for a young NFL star to show his true capabilities, especially if they are stuck on a losing squad.
It’s just the reality of the NFL. Each team has a 53-man roster, and coaches don’t wait around too long. If a player is struggling, they’ll release him and likely dash his hopes of becoming a star. It seems in the NFL you are either a franchise player, or toatlly expendable.
Here are 10 young NFL players who are doomed to be washed up and busts, and five that are going to be superstars.
15. Washed Up: Ryan Kelly
Looking to beef up their miserable offensive line, the Indianapolis Colts drafted Ryan Kelly with the 18th pick in the 2016 draft. Kelly shined at Alabama under legendary head coach Nick Saban, and the Colts sought protection for injured quarterback, Andrew Luck.
Kelly is in his second NFL season, and has had an up-and-down career. Unfortunately, the awful Colts management has held back a fairly talented team. Kelly’s been hurt throughout this season and Luck isn’t likely to play a game in 2017. Kelly was one of the top-ranked offensive linemen prospects in his draft class, but the Colts have not developed him properly. At this rate, Kelly is likely going to wind up a bust, as injuries and poor coaching around him will hold back what could have been a great career.
14. Washed Up: Laquon Treadwell
At first, it made perfect sense for the Minnesota Vikings to draft Laquon Treadwell with the 23rd pick in 2016. They owned one of the NFL’s top defences, had a young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and solid offensive weapons in Kyle Rudolph and Adrian Peterson. All they needed was a true No. 1 receiver.
The good news for Minnesota is that Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have emerged as a top receiver duo threat. The bad news is that Laquon Treadwell has been quite the disappointment thus far. The 6-foot-2 receiver appeared in just nine games last year, catching one pass for 15 yards. Through his first 11 games in 2017, Treadwell had just 14 catches for 152 yards. He simply isn’t fitting the Vikings offence, nor do they need him to play a key role. It’s looking like Treadwell will have a disappointing NFL career now.
13. Huge Star: Carson Wentz
The Philadelphia Eagles paid a huge price to move up and select Carson Wentz with the second pick in 2016. They gave up a total of five draft choices to the Cleveland Browns, including their 2016 and 2017 first round picks, but the move has paid dividends. Wentz looks like the NFL MVP favourite with 2,657 yards, 28 touchdowns and five interceptions through his first 11 games. The Eagles are the top team in the NFL right now, and Wentz has been the main reason why.
He has all the tools to be a huge star in this league. Wentz has tremendous accuracy, the poise in the pocket and has cut down significantly on his turnovers from his rookie year. With an offensive guru in Doug Pederson as his head coach, Wentz will be a perennial star in the NFL for years to come.
12. Washed Up: Malcolm Brown
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is praised as an untouchable, makes-no-mistake genius. Well, he’s had his fair share of questionable draft choices, and 2015 first rounder Malcolm Brown is one of them. Brown has been a huge disappointment since the Patriots drafted him 32nd overall in the 2015 draft. He posted just six sacks and 55 tackles over his first two seasons, and hasn’t generated much of an impact in his third season.
Belichick is known for growing very impatient with his draft choices, and Brown faces a serious risk of being released after this season. Given how much Brown has struggled at the NFL level, nobody should be surprised if 2017 is his final year in Foxborough. The Patriots will want to move on.
11. Washed Up: Paxton Lynch
Lynch was drafted 26th overall by the Denver Broncos in 2016 – after GM John Elway traded up to nab the 6-foot-7, 244-pound Memphis product. But Lynch failed to become the starter in 2016, as career backup Trevor Siemian got the job instead. Lynch appeared in bits of three games to replace an injured Siemian, and had just 497 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He got the start in Week 12 against the Oakland Raiders this season, but suffered an ankle injury and was taken out.
The Broncos have been miserable in 2017, and look poised to land a top-five pick. Surely, they’ll look towards one of the top quarterback prospects, including Josh Allen, Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen. That means Lynch will probably never become the starter in Denver, and likely won’t be a star in the NFL.
10. Huge Star: Marshon Lattimore
Finally the New Orleans Saints have a defence. While quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints offence have taken a minor step off the gas pedal, the Saints defence has been above-average in 2017. You can thank rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore who shuts down half the field for that. The Saints got Lattimore with the 11th pick in 2017, and he’s already been arguably the NFL’s top cornerback in 2017. This team reeled in eight consecutive wins, and will finally snap a four-game losing streak.
Lattimore has all the tools to be the next Darrelle Revis/Richard Sherman/Patrick Peterson. Believe the hype on him. This guy is going to win multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards, and he’s going to be the NFL’s best corner soon. He’s on his way to being a huge star.
9. Washed Up: Kevin White
The Chicago Bears saw so much potential in Kevin White, that they chose to trade away future Hall of Famer Brandon Marshall in the 2015 offseason. To offset B-Marsh’s departure, they drafted White with the seventh pick in 2015. The idea was for him to provide a big weapon to Jay Cutler, and it would turn the Bears offence back into a juggernaut.
But White suffered a fracture in his shin, and missed his entire rookie season. He then fractured his leg in his sophomore year, and was limited to just four games. White also suffered a shoulder blade fracture in Week 1 of this season, and hasn’t returned since. It’s safe to say that White is likely going to wind up as a bust due to injuries, unless he can find a way to stay healthy over a long stretch.
8. Washed Up: Nelson Agholor
In desperate need of a No. 1 wide receiver, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted the speedy Nelson Agholor 20th overall in 2015. With Chip Kelly as his head coach, Agholor was supposed to fit the Eagles’ high-flying offence perfectly. Everything was there for him to be a star in this league. Agholor wasn’t much of a factor over his first two seasons, catching just 59 passes for 648 yards and three touchdowns. He’s gotten a little bit better in 2017, with 33 catches for 458 yards and six touchdowns.
However, the Eagles have been using Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery more in the passing game, and Agholor has been a major non-factor. He’s got good speed and can make the timely catch once in a while, but he’s not going to be a superstar in the NFL at this point. Agholor has had his chances.
7. Huge Star: Myles Garrett
The Cleveland Browns made the right choice in drafting Myles Garrett 1st overall in 2017. The former Texas A&M star has all the tools needed to be the league’s most dominant pass rusher for years to come. Though the Browns haven’t given their fans a whole lot to cheer about in the past two decades, Garrett will spearhead their lengthy rebuilding process. With Jamie Collins also on defence, the Browns are on the right track to restore relevancy to the franchise.
Through his first six NFL games, Garrett had five sacks and 17 tackles. It’s only his first year, and injuries did slow him down in the early going. But for years to come, Garrett is going to be one of the NFL’s elite defensive players. There are no reasons to believe he will be the next great draft bust from the Browns. Garrett is the real deal.
6. Washed Up: Corey Davis
Despite already having a good set of receivers in Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker and tight end Delanie Walker, the Tennessee Titans thought Corey Davis was a can’t-miss product. So they moved up in the draft and selected Davis with the fifth-overall pick. So far, the move has not gone according to plan.
Though Marcus Mariota and the Titans offence has been great, Davis has been a non-factor. He only has 20 catches for 215 yards and hasn’t found the end zone all season. The Titans haven’t needed Davis to succeed, either. They’re on the verge of ending their nine-year playoff drought without Davis being an impact player. At this point, it’s head-scratching why Tennessee chose an injury-risk player with the fifth pick, when they needed help on defence. Davis is unlikely to succeed in the NFL, unless he has some tricks up his sleeve.
5. Washed Up: Will Fuller V
As was the case with the Vikings and Laquon Treadwell, Will Fuller was the ideal pickup for the Houston Texans in the 2016 draft. They had an elite defence, a top-notch running back in Lamar Miller and a top wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. They just had to find a good weapon to complement Hopkins, so they drafted the speedy Fuller with the 21st draft pick in 2016.
Fuller showed some promise in his rookie season, despite the disappointment of Brock Osweiler throwing to him. But injuries have slowed down Fuller’s development in 2017, and he hasn’t made much of an impact. Though Houston appears to finally have a legit No. 1 quarterback in Deshaun Watson, Fuller hasn’t fit Houston’s offence that relies more on Hopkins and Miller as their top play-makers.
4. Huge Star: Marcus Mariota
After starring with Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks, the hype on Marcus Mariota was through the roof. The Titans made a franchise-changing pick when they selected Mariota second-overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Mariota struggled in his rookie year (like most rookie quarterbacks), but bounced back last season with 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He’s by far the NFL’s fastest quarterback, and displays Michael Vick-like athleticism. Mariota has few flaws in his game, and has shown he is the franchise quarterback this team needs.
Mariota could soon become the NFL’s best quarterback. He’s been sloppy throughout the 2017 season, but will soon bounce back. The Titans could very well win multiple Super Bowls with Mariota, who is coming into his own nicely.
3. Washed Up: Marcus Peters
Peters showed early flashes of being the next great shutdown corner in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl in his first two seasons, and helped the Kansas City Chiefs reach the playoffs both years. Peters also racked up a whopping 17 interceptions through his first two NFL seasons. However, Peters has fallen back to earth in the 2017 season. With safety Eric Berry done for the season, Peters and the Chiefs secondary has fallen apart – hence why they’ve lost five of their last six games.
Last week, Peters’ had a mere 80.9 grade from Pro Football Focus – just 27th among NFL corners. With the Chiefs struggling so badly, they got desperate and signed washed up veteran Darrelle Revis hoping he could be a staple in the secondary. Right now, Peters’ first two years look like a complete fluke, so don’t expect him to be the star we saw in 2015 and 2016.
2. Washed Up: Jameis Winston
That’s it. I was wrong. And I’m sorry. I thought Jameis Winston could be the next big thing, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made me look silly for questioning them in taking Winston over Mariota with the top pick in 2015. However, Winston is now in year three of his career and has not taken that next step. He’s cleaned up his attitude in the NFL (thankfully), but continues to show that he’s not the franchise QB this team needs. He went from meh in 2015 to very good in 2016 to mediocre, even before his injury that’s kept him on the sidelines for several weeks now.
Winston’s already prone to injuries, which is not good for a young quarterback. In a brutally tough NFC South Division, Winston doesn’t have what it takes to pace his Buccaneers past the Saints, Falcons and Panthers. I’m just not buying it anymore. He’s probably going to be a bust, if anything else. I’ve seen enough.
1. Huge Star: Jared Goff
So the Los Angeles Rams fired Jeff Fisher (after years of 7-9 seasons), and are now winning ball games with new head coach Sean McVay. Who could have possibly thought they would do better by firing Fisher?
Well, the Rams have benefited from Wade Phillips turning that defence into a juggernaut, and from Jared Goff emerging as a top-flight quarterback. The first pick of the 2016 draft is on the verge of passing for 3,000 yards, and has 18 touchdowns against just 15 interceptions on the season. Goff has given the Rams their first legitimate No. 1 starter since Kurt Warner — who last played for this team nearly 15 years ago. Goff is only a sophomore, and is the next big thing in the NFL. Buy his tremendous start to the season, because he is legit.
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