Once the NFL season comes to a close every team turns their attention to the upcoming NFL Draft. The first round pick for each team is a pivotal decision within the organization. First round picks can make or break you so what you decide to do with that pick has high rewards/consequences. Teams who have had a poor year the season before have the most pressure on them to land a franchise player because they obviously need the talent from the first rounder to improve their team in order to compete for a Lombardi trophy.
Teams with a late first round selection don't have as much pressure to land a "gem", but they still need to land a first round talent in order to maintain their status of one of the best teams in the league. The 2016 NFL Draft was highly anticipated with a couple trades before the draft even started. Some teams stole the show in the 2016 draft, like the Dallas Cowboys, while others did not do so well. We look at the 2016 NFL Draft and discuss the way too early prediction of the 15 players that could already be draft busts.
15 WR Laquon Treadwell: Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings selected the wide receiver from Ole Miss, Laquon Treadwell, in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Coming off a huge final season at Ole Miss the Vikings were excited to get this kid with their first pick of the draft. He had 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns and the Vikings were ready for him to be that player for their franchise, but his rookie season was not one to remember. Treadwell only started in one game this past season, but appeared in 9 overall. He only had one reception for 15 yards in 2016, which is not what the Vikings were expecting. His rookie season was miserable and there may be a cause for concern, but the Vikings are losing receivers in free agency so Treadwell will have to step up. After a season like his rookie season, all eyes will be on Treadwell going forward.
14 LB Darron Lee: New York Jets
The New York Jets have been known for their defense for the past five years, but the players that have made up this defense aren’t getting any younger. The Jets needed a young linebacker and that’s what they addressed in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. With the 20th overall pick the Jets selected Darron Lee out of Ohio State. They figured he would come in and help out their defense right away. Darron Lee was the worst performing linebacker from the 2016 NFL draft. He struggled in all areas and was close to abysmal in coverage. QB's had a 132.9 QB rating when throwing into his coverage in 2016, that's bad...that's really bad. Playing in 13 games, Lee totalled 73 tackles and 1 sack. He really does have to improve in year two, otherwise New York will be complaining about another wasted 1st round selection.
13 OT Germain Ifedi: Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the best teams in the NFL over the past couple of seasons and it has been because of Russell Wilson being their leader and letting Marshawn Lynch run behind his offensive line. Within the year Lynch has retired, the Seahawks biggest need was offensive line so they went out to draft an OT in the first round of the 2016 draft. Ask any Seahawk fan what the Seahawks biggest weakness was in 2016 and all of them will say the offensive line and Germain Ifedi was a big reason for that. Seattle drafted him hoping he would be a difference maker right away and that simply wasn’t the case. The Seahawks may have drafted a dud in Ifedi.
12 QB Jared Goff: Los Angeles Rams
The 1st overall pick in the 2016 a potential bust? Yes, there is a good chance Jared Goff turns out to be a bust. Coming out of California there was a lot of hype with Goff and I really did not see why. He was not that great in college so I had a hard time understanding why the Rams traded up to the number one overall spot in order to draft him. Goff was supposed to sit this whole season, but with the way Case Keenum played, it was impossible not to play him. He started 7 games for Los Angeles and ended the year with a 54.6 completion percentage with 1,089 yards. He threw 5 touchdowns and had 7 interceptions with 5 fumbles. If you watched him in the Thursday night game at Seattle you saw him missing wide open receivers left and right. For the Rams sake I hope he pans out, but I just do not see it.
11 WR Josh Doctson: Washington Redskins
The 22nd overall pick in the 2016 was the speedster out of TCU. Josh Doctson put up crazy numbers in his senior campaign at Texas Christian University so it was not a surprise he went in the first round of last year’s draft. In his senior year he posted 78 catches for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns in only 10 games. The issue for Doctson in his first year in the NFL was an injury, as he only was able to play in two games for Washington in 2016. He is a very skilled young player, but starting off your career with a hamstring injury is not the way you want to start. Injuries are always a big reason for players to pan out to be “busts” and it would be a shame if that was the case for such a talented player like Josh Doctson.
10 OG Joshua Garnett: San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers landed two first round picks in the 2016 NFL Draft with Joshua Garnett being their second selection. The offensive guard out of Stanford was a top talent coming out and was someone the 49ers wanted badly. The 49ers traded a second-, fourth-, and sixth-round pick to Kansas City for him, which is a steep price. So it remains to be seen if the return on investment plays out. After one season I would say it has not. It was a rocky start for Garnett, who didn’t find his way into the starting lineup until halfway through the year. Coming out of Stanford, Garnett was known to be an exceptional run blocker, but not so great at pass protection and that is exactly what we saw in 2016. He needs to improve in his pass protection if he is going to want to be among the best guards in the league.
9 DT Kenny Clark: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers decided to address their need on the defensive side of the ball in the first round of the 2016 draft. They selected the defensive tackle out of UCLA, Kenny Clark. The 315 pound DT piled up 75 tackles and 6 sacks in his final season at UCLA, which was enough to impress the Packers enough to be taken in the first round. This Green Bay team had one weakness in 2016 and it was their defense, yet Clark only started two games for them this season. For a team who struggled as much as Green Bay on defensive you would figure they would give their first round selection more opportunities, but that was not the case. With a unit that wasn’t successful and the limited opportunities Kenny Clark received, it has to raise some questions. The Packers may have stuck out on their 2016 first round selection.
8 OT Laremy Tunsil: Miami Dolphins
The player who was projected to go 1st overall in the 2016 NFL Draft for months leading up to the draft: Laremy Tunsil. The offensive tackle out of Ole Miss saw his life flash before his eyes on draft night when right before the draft began a video went viral of him smoking marijuana through a gas mask. This made many teams erase him off their draft boards immediately and Tunsil fell from the 1st overall projected pick to being selected 13th overall by the Miami Dolphins. This was not the way Tunsil wanted his NFL career to start, but it was the position he had to accept because he couldn’t change the fact that it happened. He started 14 games for the Dolphins in ’16, but injuries were part of his rookie campaign. Because of all the distractions and injury history there is a chance Tunsil could be a bust.
7 QB Paxton Lynch: Denver Broncos
When the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl last season they knew it would be Peyton Manning’s last game, which meant the Broncos had to find their next QB for the future. Their first pick in the 2016 draft? You guessed it, a quarterback. With the 26th overall pick the Denver Broncos took a chance on Paxton Lynch out of Memphis. In his final season at Memphis he threw for 3,778 yards and throwing 28 touchdowns in the process. Throughout the whole year he only threw 4 interceptions. The Broncos went with Trevor Siemian as their starter, but when he went down with an injury that held him out of 2 contests we saw Lynch get his chance, and he looked brutal. The Broncos better hope Siemian is the answer or they land Tony Romo this off-season because Lynch is not what Denver expected him to be.
6 DL Robert Nkemdiche: Arizona Cardinals
For the third time in four years, the Arizona Cardinals are getting precious little return on their first-round draft investment. Their first round pick in 2016 was defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche out of Ole Miss. The rookie only saw action in 5 games all season and had one tackle all season. Head coach, Bruce Arians, has said he is very disappointed in Nkemdiche because of his maturity. Coming out of college, there were red flags on Nkemdiche because of his maturity and if he could handle being a professional. Many draft scouts called him the biggest boom or bust in the entire draft and this is the exact reason why. If Robert Nkemdice doesn’t grow up soon, he will soon be titled as a first round draft bust.
5 DL Shaq Lawson: Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills went with one of the best defensive ends in the ’16 class for their first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. They selected defensive end Shaq Lawson out of Clemson. Lawson saw his rookie season be limited due to injuries. He only started one game in 2016, but saw action in 10 games total. In those games he only had 7 tackles and two sacks. Starting your rookie season plagued by injuries is a recipe to end up being a bust in the NFL and that may be the road Lawson is on. The Bills need to be hopeful the 19th overall pick in the ’16 draft can get healthy and stay healthy, but if he doesn’t do that he will fall into the dreaded list of first round busts.
4 DL Sheldon Rankins: New Orleans Saints
The 12th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft was Sheldon Rankins out of Louisville. The New Orleans Saints were very excited about their new defensive tackle that is until he broke his fibula in the preseason. A broken fibula suffered in the preseason kept Sheldon Rankins off the field well into his rookie season, and he struggled after he finally return. He didn’t start a single game in 2016, but saw action in 9 games off his injury. He did record 4 sacks on the year which isn’t horrible, but when you are the 12th overall selection in the draft, they want you to be a major difference maker right away. The injury held him back from being able to showcase that, but injuries are a reason to end up on the bust list. We won’t see the real Sheldon Rankins until the 2017 season.
3 3. DT Vernon Butler: Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers went with a defensive tackle with their first round pick in 2016, drafting DT Vernon Butler out of Louisiana Tech University. A highly anticipated talent coming out in ’16, Butler only saw action in 10 games. The Panthers first round rookie selection of a season ago didn’t make a big splash. He ended his rookie campaign with 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks, which isn’t what the Panthers were expecting out of their first round pick. He does have talent in front of him, but the fact that he saw action in 10 games and only ended the season with 13 tackles and not even 2 full sacks in concerning. After one year, Butler could be considered a bust.
2 CB Vernon Hargreaves: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vernon Hargreaves was a highly anticipated player coming out of college and the Tampa Bay Bucs drafted him with the 11th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He started all 16 games for them, but only came away with one interception. Other teams attacked him early and often and he had no answers in order to stop them. He was the subject of a league-high 113 targets, 80 of which were converted into receptions. That volume led the rookie to surrender 1,069 yards receiving overall, which was among the worst in the league for cornerbacks. Hargreaves has a lot of work to do in the off-season if he wants to have a successful NFL career.
1 CB William Jackson: Cincinnati Bengals
The 24th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft was the corner back from Houston, William Jackson. Thought to be one of the best corner backs in the 16’ class, the Bengals were very excited to get him with their first round pick. During his final collegiate season, Jackson led the NCAA and set a school record for pass breakups in 2015 with 23. He also added five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. The Bengals thought they were going to see some of that in his rookie season, but an injury prevented that from happening. Unfortunately, a torn pectoral muscle suffered in training camp would effectively end Jackson’s rookie season. We have not seen Jackson play yet in the NFL so we can’t say he was a good selection, therefore he ends up on this list.