In the NFL we often judge draft picks sooner than we should. This is especially true the higher the guy was drafted. We expect first round picks to come in and be immediate stars. However, this is rarely the case as the NFL is a much different game than college. For every top pick that has become a star in the league, there is another one that has failed to live up to the potential. The position also plays a big role in the transition to the NFL. A quarterback will have a much tougher time adjusting than say, a running back.
The 2016 NFL Draft produced some guys that are looking to be the future face of the league and some other guys that are looking to be the face of practice squads. Now clearly only one year into these players’ careers it is unfair to label anyone a bust, but that’s what we do in sports media and what us fans do! We jump to conclusions way too fast and do not have the patience to see how things go. The players we have failing, could very well prove us wrong in a year from now, and we'll gladly eat crow if they do, because we sure don't root for anyone to fail.
With that being said, here are 8 players from the 2016 Draft failing and 7 that are going to be future superstars.
15 Failing: Artie Burns
Burns was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round, 25th overall. He played his college ball at Miami and excelled. The Steelers have one of the most dominant offenses in the game, but their defense has needed work over the past few years. They have not had a legit corner since Ike Taylor, so they decided to pick Burns after he had a very good combine pushing him into the first round on most teams’ boards.
Thus far, he isn’t the worst corner from the 2016 class, but he is far from the best. No rookie corner gave up more touchdowns than Burns last year and he is below average when it comes to tackling. Maybe he'll adjust better in his second year.
14 Future Superstar: Tyreek Hill
Tyreek Hill is looking like a Devin Hester that can also run a route and catch a pass.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Hill in the fifth round, 165th overall. His domestic abuse issues off the field are the reason he dropped that low in the draft. Well it’s looking like the Chiefs struck gold with this kid. He is a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball. He accounted for 10 touchdowns his rookie season and scored them in a wide variety of ways. He had 6 receiving, 3 rushing, 1 on a kick return, and 2 punt returns. Don’t be surprised if next season we see him throwing touchdowns to himself.
13 Failing: Germain Ifedi
Over the past couple seasons it looks almost as if the common citizen’s tax dollars have went to the Seattle Seahawks defense. The Seahawks have invested tons of money to create one of the best defenses in the league. While that has worked out pretty well, there is a guy named Russel Wilson on the other side of the ball who might have something to argue there. Because of so much money going to the defense, the offensive line has been a revolving door for opposing defenses to get to Wilson.
The Seahawks traded down with the Broncos (more on that later) and selected Germain Ifedi 31st overall to close the first round. He was one of the worst offensive linemen last year, giving up 38 total quarterback pressures and being flagged for 8 penalties. Good luck Russel!
12 Future Superstar: Michael Thomas
As a receiver, getting drafted to a team that has Drew Brees must be a lot like getting that gift you always wanted for Christmas as a kid.
The New Orleans Saints selected Thomas in the second round, 47th overall. Thomas was added to an already pretty good offense with Brees and Brandin Cooks. He very quickly became Brees’ go to guy as he was targeted more than any other player on the Saints as a rookie. His catch rate of 77.3 ranked him fourth in the league and made him PFF’s (Pro Football Focus) sixth-highest graded wideout in 2016.
With Brandin Cooks's departure to the Patriots, look for Thomas to become the focal point of the Saints’ offense. Perhaps the Saints traded Cooks because they're a lot higher on Thomas.
11 Failing: Joshua Garnett
A few years ago, the San Francisco 49ers had the most dominant offensive line in the league. Actually, that seems like an eternity ago. The 49ers went from Super Bowl contenders to top 10 pick in the draft seemingly overnight. Attempting to reestablish that strong offensive line, they selected Joshua Garnett, a guard from Stanford, with the 28th overall pick.
Garnett was abysmal in his rookie year. He was often dominated in both rushing and pass blocking. According to PFF, he surrendered 33 total quarterback pressures, which was the 10th most amongst guards. It’s tough to produce when the talent around you isn’t that great, but Garnett hasn’t shown any signs of being worth the first round pick that he was. We'll see if he can protect Brian Hoyer in Year 2.
10 Future Superstar: Jordan Howard
Regardless of how atrocious the Chicago Bears can be, doesn't it always seem like they have a great running back?
It was said after the 2016 Draft that the Bears could have had the biggest steal after snagging Jordan Howard in the fifth round, 150th overall. Well, after one season, it is looking like they in fact did. Howard started the season behind Jeremy Langford on the depth chart, but after Langford suffered an ankle injury, Howard was pushed to a starting role. He did not look back.
If not for the spectacular rookie season of Ezekiel Elliot, we may have been talking about Jordan Howard as Rookie of the Year. Despite not starting the first two games of the season, Howard still finished his rookie campaign with 1,313 yards and 6 touchdowns on 252 carries. The Chicago Bears may have had more quarterbacks than we can keep track of, but running back has always been a strong position for them and that doesn't look like it's going to change for some time.
9 Failing: Paxton Lynch
I get it, Paxton Lynch hasn't played enough to consider him failing at this point, right? Well that is exactly the problem. The Denver Broncos traded up to grab Lynch in the first round, 26th overall. General manger John Elway must have really liked what he saw from Lynch. After the retirement of Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler looked to be the quarterback of the future for the Broncos. Well Osweiler may not even make the cut for the Cleveland Browns this season who may eventually start one of their hot dog vendors at quarterback.
Trevor Siemian showed flashes of being the guy as well, but is clearly not the answer. The fact that Lynch could not beat out a guy who was drafted in the 7th round and played at Northwestern is what puts Lynch on the failing list as of now.
8 Future Superstar: Dak Prescott
We have come to the steal of the 2016 NFL Draft ladies and gentlemen.
The Dallas Cowboys selected Prescott in the fourth round, 135th overall. Tony Romo was injured in the preseason and the rest is, well history. Dak took over the team and led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the top seed in the NFC. They would eventually lose to the Green Bay Packers due to some magic from Aaron Rodgers.
Prescott started his career off with a bang after throwing for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl. What makes him such a good player is not just his physical talent, but his leadership as well. There never seems to be a moment too big for him and he is always in control of his team. The Cowboys look to have found their guy to replace Tony Romo.
7 Failing: Roberto Aguayo
A kicker?! Yes, a kicker.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose to draft a kicker with their second round pick in 2016, taking Aguayo 59th overall. Now Aguayo was no doubt the best kicker in college, but he was still a kicker and a kicker should never be taken in the second round. A kicker shouldn't be taken in the second round of a fantasy football draft let alone a real NFL franchise.
Aguayo attempted 31 field goals and connected on just 22 of them, good for just 71%. He even missed two of the 34 extra point attempts he took. Those are not good numbers for any kicker, but a kicker selected so high in the draft should be damn near automatic. It will be interesting to see if Aguayo wins any games for the Buccaneers in the future, but he is definitely failing at this point.
6 Future Superstar: Joey Bosa
For most of the 2015 college football season everyone expected Bosa to be the number one overall pick. However, as is the case most of the time, quarterbacks find themselves being selected higher than what most people thought. After Jared Goff and Carson Wentz went one and two, the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers took Bosa third overall. There were questions early as Bosa sat out some time during camp, but once his deal was in place and the games started it was clear why he went third overall.
Bosa appeared in just 12 games his rookie season, but still racked up 41 tackles and 10.5 sacks. He was also a great edge setter against the run, but there is no stat to showcase that. The Chargers defense desperately needed a tone setter and Joey Bosa looks like that guy one year into his career.
5 Failing: Robert Nkemdiche
Once upton a time Nkemdiche was widely viewed as the clear cut number one overall pick in the 2016 draft. However, as the draft drew closer, his off the field issues came out and he saw his stock plummet.
It wasn't a surprise that the Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals selected him in the first round, 29th overall. This is a few years after they grabbed Tyrann Mathieu after many people passed on him due to drug problems. Some experts thought Nkemdiche would be another steal by the Cardinals, but that doesn't look to be the case just yet. He appeared in just five games last season and totaled a whopping one tackle.
4 Future Superstar: Jalen Ramsey
Jalen Ramsey was regarded as the top defensive back coming out in the 2016 Draft and for good reason. He was a guy who played all over the field for the Florida State Seminoles. Because of this, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him 5th overall. The Jaguars defense has been abysmal for years now, but they finally seem to be heading in the right direction and Ramsey is a big part of that.
During his rookie season he had his bad plays just any rookie will have, but he also showed flashes of why he was the 5th overall pick. Each week he was assigned to the opposing teams best receiver. That is both saying and asking a lot from a rookie defensive back. He finished his rookie year with 14 pass deflections, 65 tackles, and two interceptions.
3 Failing: Laquon Treadwell
The Minnesota Vikings are the only team in the NFL since 2010 to not have a 1,000 yard receiver.
Many experts argued that Laquan Treadwell was the best receiver in the 2016 NFL Draft. After his poor 40 yard dash, however, some people had some questions. At this point, it is looking like Vikings should have thought twice about the pick when they selected him in the first round, 23rd overall. Treadwell simply did not see the field too often during his rookie year. He appeared in just nine games and caught one pass for 15 yards. Blame head coach Mike Zimmer, blame the check down king Sam Bradford, or blame Treadwell himself, but there is no early sign that he is going to be a star receiver.
2 Future Superstar: Ezekiel Elliott
Zeke is actually already a superstar to some, rather than a future superstar. It began with his crop-top suit at the Draft and led all the way to him jumping in a Salvation Army prop after a touchdown. Some people argued that the Cowboys should have went in a different direction with the 4th overall pick, but those same people are biting their tongues now.
Now I understand that you or me could probably very well rush for 1,000 yards behind that Cowboy offensive line, but Zeke is still a talent like we haven't seen at running back in some time. He does it all. He can run between the tackles, catch the ball out of the backfield, and is very solid blocker. He led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards on 322 carries and 16 total touchdowns. He is just scratching the surface due to the combination of his skill set and the line he will be running behind.
1 Failing: Jared Goff
Remember when Jared Goff was drawing comparisons to Aaron Rodgers? Do you also remember when Goff was labeled by Richard Sherman because he didn't get out of bounds?
Goff was selected first overall by the Los Angeles Rams after they traded away their first round picks for the next century. Okay, it wasn't that many picks, but it was still entirely too much. This is what the Rams gave up to move up and get Goff: a first-round pick (2016), two second-round picks (2016), a third-round pick (2016), a first-round pick (2017) and another third-round pick (2017). Tennessee took them to the bank!
Goff rode the bench for most of the year, but eventually would find the field in Week 11. First overall picked quarterbacks are supposed to come in and start day one and be the franchise guy. Goff did not look like that guy after his rookie year. He finished the season with 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. That is just simply not going to cut it for a number one overall pick.