There's fewer spectacles in sport that are bigger than the National Football League (NFL) Draft. The National Hockey League and National Basketball Association have a two-day draft with only the first night televised nationally, while Major League Baseball has a mid-summer draft that presumably draws a smaller audience than re-runs of Fraiser. Football, however, more than any of the other major North American sports, commands year-round coverage not only on the NFL Network, but on major networks and radio stations throughout the United States - and even in Canada, where NFL off-season coverage often overshadows actual games being played in the Canadian Football League.
And where NFL coverage is ever-present throughout the summer, the draft is the pinnacle. Pundits spend months talking about prospects and where they might be drafted, while the NFL Network has even started to televise the combine - yes, you can now watch people jump, run, and lift things. It doesn't end after the three-day draft, however. Analysts and armchair General Managers spend countless hours discussing if every pick in the draft was the right choice, which leads us to this list. In the past five years, there have been some very good drafts (2014) and some abysmal ones (2013). Here are the 15 biggest busts in the past five years.
15 Corey Davis
We anticipate plenty of criticism for including players taken in the 2017 NFL Draft even though they haven't yet had the opportunity to prove themselves in the league, but there's typically at least five to ten busts in each first round and what better way to encourage debate than by predicting a failed draft pick. So let's start with fifth overall pick in 2017, Corey Davis, who also happens to be the NCAA's career receiving yards leader. Maybe not exactly the best place to start predicting busts.
14 Patrick Mahomes
Sticking with the 2017 NFL Draft, we come to quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the second passer taken in the draft behind only Mitchell Trubisky. Mahomes spent the past three seasons at Texas Tech, where he compiled a 11,252 passing yards and 93 touchdowns against 29 interceptions. He's considered by scouts to have the best potential among the top quarterbacks taken in the draft, though most would acknowledge he's also the most raw quarterback in the draft class. As most headlines label Mahomes, he's a "boom-or-bust" player.
13 Josh Doctson
Josh Doctson was expected to make an immediate impact in the passing game for the Washington Redskins last season. The team was retooling its wide receiving corps and the opportunity was there for Doctson, a first-round pick, to come in and become a consistent deep-threat target for quarterback Kirk Cousins. After all, he did record 1,326 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior with Texas Christian University in 2015.
12 Dante Fowler
It's much easier for the average football fan to label offensive players as busts. There's more statistics available and it's easier to discern whether or not a wide receiver or running back is doing his job well. However, busts on the defensive side of the ball are just as common, especially if they're a top-five pick who enter their first training camp with incredible fanfare. That was the case with defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who was selected third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2015 NFL Draft.
11 Kevin White
A 6-foot-2, 190-product of West Virginia University, Kevin White really only had one year to prove himself at the college level. After joining the school for his junior season, White recorded just 507 receiving yards; the following year, however, he led the team in the stat with 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. That was all the Chicago Bears needed to see to make White the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
10 Evan Engram
In finding the third and final potential bust of the 2017 NFL Draft, we come to tight end Evan Engram, who was selected 23rd overall in the draft by the New York Giants. Engram has an impressive combination of catching ability and athleticism and projects more as a receiving tight end than one who can block well, which is fine, but New York may not have been the best offense for him.
9 Laquon Treadwell
If you're in a fantasy football league, especially if it's a keeper league with annual rookie drafts, chances are you share our disappointment with Laquon Treadwell. The former Mississippi wide receiver was selected 23rd overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and was thought of as a fantasy sleeper by many analysts and pundits. Yet, the Boston native spent the majority of the season on Minnesota's special teams unit. He only had one 15-yard reception all season.
8 Tavon Austin
This one might be a bit divisive as Tavon Austin has been an important part of the Los Angeles Rams offense in the past few seasons, but, more than anything, that tells you just how awful the Rams' offense has been. A product of West Virginia, Austin was selected eighth overall by the Rams in the 2013 NFL Draft. The team needed a high-impact receiver and anticipated it had that in Austin, but that hasn't been the case.
7 EJ Manuel
From a potentially divisive player to one we can all agree on - EJ Manuel. If you had expected the Buffalo Bills to draft a franchise-changing quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft, then chances are you have nobody but yourself to blame, but it doesn't take the sting away if you're a Bills fan. A Florida State alumnus, Manuel was selected 16th overall by the Bills in the abysmal 2013 draft and hasn't yet resembled the star he once was in college.
6 Justin Gilbert
You have to feel bad for Justin Gilbert. It's not his fault he was unable to live up to the tremendous expectations that come with being the eighth overall pick in the draft or the recipient of the 2013 College Football Performance Award as the top defensive back in the country. Gilbert was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and that's all you need to know about his career. He was part of the impressive 2014 draft class, which is cited as one of the best drafts of all-time - OBJ, Aaron Donald, Mike Evans, Khalil Mack, and Sammy Watkins are just a few of the players taken in the top-15 - but is one of the few busts.
5 Dion Jordan
As mentioned, defensive end Dante Fowler appears to be well on his way to being a bust, but as top-five picks go, defensive end Dion Jordan is already there. The former third overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft was a star at the University of Oregon, but has been a disaster in the NFL.
4 Nelson Agholor
Nelson Agholor is similar to Laquon Treadwell in that he seemed to be drafted by the perfect team in the perfect situation to thrive; however, it hasn't worked out for the former USC star. In college, Agholor finished his senior campaign with 1,313 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. He also had two punt return touchdowns. Those kind of numbers made him an attractive pick to the Philadelphia Eagles, which made him the 20th overall pick in the 2015 draft.
3 Greg Robinson
The Rams have made some terrible picks in recent years, but none were worse than offensive tackle Greg Robinson, who they selected with the second overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. After trading their pick to Washington two years prior allowing the Redskins to select Robert Griffin III, the Rams were blessed with an abundance of high picks in the next few drafts, but terrible asset management has the team still near the bottom of the pack.
2 Johnny Manziel
You knew it was coming. Sure, Johnny Manziel wasn't a top five or ten pick like many of these players, but let's be honest, he's the name you recognize most on this list. At Texas A&M, Manziel was a star who was thought of as a dual-threat quarterback. And, although he had question marks about his arm and his off-field troubles, he was viewed as a high-potential quarterback who could one day be an impact starter. That thinking couldn't have been any more wrong.
1 Jared Goff
There's still hope in Los Angeles for Jared Goff, because that's really all they have. The team invested plenty in the quarterback when they traded up to get him in the 2016 NFL Draft, making a statement as they moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles with something they haven't had in over a decade - a decent quarterback. At least that was the hope. Goff hasn't proved himself as anything more than a backup as of yet, nor has he really been given the opportunity.
However, the fact he wasn't able to push past Case Keenum on the depth chart last season is a little concerning. Making matters worse is the play of Carson Wentz, who the Rams passed on in order to select Goff. When he did earn playing time toward the end of the season, Goff threw for 1,089 yards and scored five touchdowns compared to seven interceptions for a horrible quarterback rating of 63.6.
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