When it comes to evaluating a draft class, five years is usually enough, but there's some players you know almost immediately are studs and who are busts. Even this year's NFL Draft class is no exception: we know Leonard Fournette, Marshon Lattimore, Deshaun Watson, Malik Hooker, Evan Engram, and Ryan Ramcyz are are among the first-rounders bound for stardom while Corey Davis, John Ross, Garett Bolles, and even Jabrill Peppers are among those who still have something to prove or could be busts. That's just the way things work.
Almost two years after the 2016 NFL Draft, let's take today to look at some players who are busts through their sophomore seasons and some who haven't quite lived up to expectations, but still have a chance at turning things around. All of the following players were picked in the 2016 NFL Draft's first two rounds and those no longer on their initial teams are eligible. This is not a re-draft or an evaluation of the best players from that class, either.
If you're ready to think back to your 2016 NFL Mock draft and how badly your evaluations turned out, let's go 20 months into the past and see where things went wrong!
15 Bust: Darron Lee, LB, New York Jets (20th overall)
This is one many Jets fans are going to be happy with, I feel. With the New York Jets announcing that head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan will both return in 2018, Lee's days in Gang Green seem especially numbered. Between on-field struggles and off-field issues, Lee is shaping up to be one of the 2016 NFL Draft's early busts and could wind up on his way out before the start of next season.
While Lee wasn't awful in 2017 and definitely improved over a terrible rookie season, the time is coming where the Jets are likely to re-tool major parts of their defense. Lee's stats of 94 tackles and three sacks in 2017 don't do his play justice. Muhammad Wilkerson is likely to be gone and Lee, who seemed like a perfect fit upon being drafted last year, could be on his way out as well.
14 Still Has Time: Eli Apple, CB, New York Giants (10th overall)
Wait, I'm saying Darron Lee is likely to be a bust while Eli Apple still has a chance to do something productive in the NFL? Apple's main issue this year was an inability to separate things that were happening off the field with his family with what he had to do on the field, a fixable problem that the next coach and new general manager Dave Gettleman may be able to help him with. Ben McAdoo's toxic locker room and the ex-coach's own inability to properly connect with his players also badly hurt Apple's development.
When the Giants were winning, Apple had a strong rookie year and showed flashes of what he was learning from other Giants defensive backs. Now, after being called a cancer and having his manhood questioned, Apple will have to show the next regime he's here to stay.
13 Bust: Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos (26th overall)
On one side, there's still time for Lynch to win the starting job next year with head coach Vance Joseph being retained and him having spoken high of the former Memphis quarterback this year. But for Lynch to not beat out Trevor Simeian or Brock Osweiler in either of the past two years is alarming, as is his durability and on-field decision making.
With the obvious exception of Peyton Manning, John Elway has bombed with his quarterback additions.
If this year showed anything, it's that the Broncos need someone who is above the level of "competent."
If the Broncos add a Kirk Cousins (as I've been suggesting) or one of the three Vikings quarterbacks that will be free agents, Lynch could still hang around as a backup. But as a starter? At this point, no.
12 Still Has Time: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings (23rd overall)
I don't know if I can call Laquon Treadwell a bust at this point even if he's dangerously nearing that territory. But 21 catches for 215 yards and no touchdowns in two seasons isn't pretty, although Treadwell did catch 20 passes and 200 yards this season for an obvious improvement over his rookie season. What's currently hurting Treadwell is the unexpected rise of Adam Thielen in 2016 and the constant injury-forced switching of the quarterbacks.
However... Treadwell was able to build off a horrific rookie season and end up contributing even something in 2017 is optimistic for all parties and an increased role in 2018 isn't quite out of the question. Treadwell may not be the next Randy Moss, but any level of competency and not playing like Kevin White would greatly help the Vikings.
11 Bust: Christian Hackenberg, QB, New York Jets (51st overall)
You knew this one was coming, even if you're one of the people who thinks Hackenberg is being unfairly treated by the New York Jets. This is what it comes down to and why Hackenberg is a bust: in two years playing for the New York Jets, Hackenerg has yet to throw a pass despite being healthy. When Hackenberg is practicing, he's on the scout team, which is the third-stringers and beyond - and even then, he's missing his passes not because his receivers aren't good, but because of his own skills at quarterback.
In each of the past two seasons, the Jets have had numerous opportunities to give Hackenberg a chance at regular season action and haven't done so yet.
If that's not indicative of a bust to you, I'm not sure what is.
10 Still Has Time: Laremy Tunsil, OL, Miami Dolphins (13th overall)
Given the dreaded character concerns surrounding Tunsil's time at Ole Miss and upon entering the NFL (remember the bong video people panicked about?), I'd say Tunsil has been better than expected at the NFL level. That's not to say Tunsil has been elite and played the way Jack Conklin has collectively the past two years (elite in 2016, average in 2017), but he's been good enough and should get even better in 2018.
Truth be told, nearly everyone on the Dolphins regressed in 2017, so we'll give Tunsil a pass - especially given that he had switched from tackle last year to guard this year, an easier move in Madden than in real life. 2018 may not be a rebound year for the team as a whole, but Tunsil should be alright at this time next year.
9 Bust: Roberto Aguayo, K, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (59th overall)
I don't know how Aguayo isn't on here, even if he only has one full season worth of stats. Had Aguayo been a sixth or seventh-round pick like kickers should be, going 22-of-31 (71 percent) on field goals as a rookie would have been acceptable enough, as would the Buccaneers' decision to bring Nick Foles into the fold.
But for the Buccaneers to draft Aguayo 59th overall (!) and cut him after one year is a pretty good indicator of how badly the team messed this pick up.
"That's something that will definitely be talked about,” Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said after Aguayo missed two kicks in a preseason game and was subsequently cut. “You're a kicker, you gotta make your kicks. ... He kicked off well but ... that was a good situation for our competition (at the end).”
8 Still Has Time: Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns (15th overall)
I did not expect to be writing this after Coleman's unforgivable drop in Week 17 against the Pittsburgh Steelers to clinch the Browns' "perfect" season, but this is what it comes down to.
Coleman's quarterbacks in 2016 were Robert Griffin III (who McCown caught 14 passes for 165 yards from), Josh McCown (10-of-22, but 161 yards and all three touchdowns), and Cody Kessler (9-of-19, 87 yards).
All three of those players are better than DeShone Kizer, who was 23-of-55 (41.8 percent) for 305 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions while throwing to Kizer this season and led the NFL with 22 interceptions. When I can properly defend someone on the Cleveland Browns, I will, and Coleman still has the potential to make plays...just not with Kizer at his quarterback.
7 Bust: Su'a Cravens, LB, Washington Redskins (52nd overall)
This is a tough one because Su'a Cravens missed the entirety of this year for personal reasons, citing treatment for Post Concussion Syndrome that led him to considering retirement. In today's age with all that we know about concussions and CTE, a player wanting to weigh retirement early in his career because of concussions is not a bad thing. However, Cravens missed an entire year, bothered the team with a Snapchat video saying he had permanent damage to his eye, and texted his defensive backs "peace out" as his way of leaving.
Cravens had flashes as a rookie, intercepting a pass, recording a sack, and even deflecting five passes. Will we see that again? Maybe. Do I think Cravens is ever going to be the player Washington imagined when they drafted him? No.
6 Still Has Time: Reggie Ragland, LB, Buffalo Bills (41st overall, now a Kansas City Chief)
Normally, you'd call a second-round pick being let go after one season an immediate bust, but what makes Ragland different is A.) the cut came from a regime change and the Bills considering tanking, which obviously didn't work out and B.) Ragland caught on with the Chiefs as a fill-in linebacker and had some key plays this year under Andy Reid. If Ragland bounced around from practice squad to practice squad, maybe calling him a bust would be fitting, but the guy was able to make things happen for a playoff team and could work his way into more playing time next year either in Kansas City or somewhere else.
Things could have gone much, much worse for the former Alabama linebacker, so this is a well done job by Ragland to show why he was drafted so highly somewhere else.
5 Bust: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Arizona Cardinals (29th overall)
Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer have both retried, Larry Fitzgerald could be soon to join them, and the Arizona Cardinals may decide to break everything down and start anew. If this is the route the new coach takes, Robert Nkemdiche could be one of the first players to go after contributing absolutely nothing in his first two years in the league. Nkemdiche has 12 tackles in two years and has barely played for the Cardinals, a fact that may not change depending on who is hired to replace Arians in the coming weeks.
Nkemdiche could easily catch on with another team - am I the only one thinking he'd be a perfect fit in New England? - but if this is the last we've seen from him in Arizona, it was quieter than expected.
4 Still Has Time: Germain Ifedi, OL, Seattle Seahawks (31st overall)
Saying Germain Ifedi still has a chance to do something in this league is bound to upset Seahawks fans, but how many players on this team have really shown anything in the past two years? No, you don't get to count Russell Wilson or Doug Baldwin.
Point is, the Seahawks depended on their veterans for too long and after missing the playoffs, it's looking like they may finally understand that things have to change.
For example, add a running back that doesn't need to be incentivized in some form.
But as for Ifedi, offensive linemen can catch on later, especially in today's NFL where so many of these kids are coming from option and spread offenses in colleges. Now, if Ifedi struggles next year, that's when we can call him a bust.
3 Bust: Kevin Dodd, DE, Tennessee Titans (33rd overall)
If you really want to upset a Tennessee Titans fan, go to them and ask how they feel about Kevin Dodd. The first pick of last year's second round, Dodd has one sack and 12 tackles in two years. Not good! It doesn't help his case that the Titans have had winning records both years without his contributions and while that may not sound like it'd hurt him too much, think about it like this: the Titans are winning despite their former (high) second-round pick not producing, which is worse than losing because of it. That shows that Dodd is expendable and not worth keeping around.
I don't know if the Titans will cut him yet, but Dodd could be one of those training camp/preseason cuts - and let's be honest, no one would be surprised.
2 Still Has Time: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11th overall)
I was a bit too high on Vernon Hargreaves III coming out of Florida, but I do think there's still a chance he can be a productive corner in this league. Obviously, the Buccaneers all took a major step back this year and decided to keep Dirk Koetter around in a move that is still somewhat confusing, so why not see what VH3 can do next year?
However, if the Buccaneers do what I've been suggesting and go out in free agency to add several players to their secondary, Hargreaves might be in trouble. But, Koetter coming back after drafting him can help his case and, in a 2018 Buccaneers season that could potentially see more come out in Jameis Winston's alleged groping case, the play of VH3 could be a storyline to watch.
1 Bust: Kamalei Correa, LB, Baltimore Ravens (42nd overall)
Say what you want about the Baltimore Ravens' offense being why the team missed the playoffs yet again despite having so much momentum in their direction, but their defense certainly didn't do any favors and Kamalei Correa is a major reason why. Correa is lost on so many plays and when he does make something happen, it's because another Ravens defender already began the process of tackling or grabbing onto the player.
And if you're a Ravens fan, I wouldn't be shocked if you're sitting here wondering who Correa is.
After years of the linebackers and defensive backs being the faces of the Ravens team, Correa is a silent face who could be on another team next year. Come back, Zachary Orr, and save the Ravens' linebacking corps!
Which of these players do you think is the biggest bust? Who do you think still has the best chance? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!
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