We are only a few games into the NFL season so it’s too early to know how bad the draft experts got it this year, but they have certainly made many mistakes in the past. Every year leading up to the draft, experts, mainly Todd McShay, Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper, make their predictions about prospects, who will bust, who is a sleeper.
These experts have a tough job, there will always be players who don’t pan out as anticipated and their predictions are usually similar to how teams draft, so its not just them who gets it wrong. That doesn’t get them off the hook though, some of these predictions on this list are outrageous, even without hindsight. Drafting is not an exact science and there’s an element of luck in projecting a player’s career outcome. Nobody saw Tom Brady coming, as he just didn’t look like a star quarterback, but you can’t measure what’s inside a player.
These guys watch hours and hours of film to assess the best in the draft class but based on this list, we may want to reassess calling them experts. Whether these players were overvalued or snubbed by the gurus, here are the 15 biggest mistakes of NFL Draft experts.
15. Aaron Curry – Mike Mayock
Going into the 2009 draft, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock called Aaron Curry the safest pick in the draft. The Seahawks must have agreed with him because they used the 4th overall pick to select Curry and signed him to the largest rookie contract ever for a non-quarterback. Curry struggled rushing the passer and lost his starting position after just one season in Seattle before being traded to Oakland for just a 7th round pick. Curry had a remarkably short and disappointing career for what was apparently the safest pick.
14. Sheldon Richardson – Todd McShay
This is an example of why drafting for talent over need is usually he best decision. Todd McShay, draft expert for ESPN, was baffled when the Jets selected Sheldon Richardson in the first round in 2013. McShay thought the Jets had bigger needs elsewhere and that those holes on the roster should have been addressed before stocking up on an already strong defensive line. All Richardson did was go out and dominate as a rookie, winning Defensive Rookie of the year and terrorizing QBs along the way. Richardson now teams up with Muhammad Wilkerson to form the foundation of the Jets defense that is one of the best in the league.
13. Andre Woodson – Todd McShay
The legend of McShay’s ineptitude as a draft expert can be summed in Andre Woodson. Woodson was a decent college quarterback at the University of Kentucky, not exactly known for their football. Very few NFL teams had interest in drafting Woodson but that didn’t stop McShay from routinely talking up Woodson saying that teams were showing serious interest in him leading into the 2008 draft. These reports turned out to be incorrect as Woodson slipped into the sixth round. Woodson never ended up making a roster in the NFL and McShay is left questioning his sources who told him Woodson would be a high pick.
12. Cam Newton – Nolan Nawrocki
There were a number of scouts who had doubts about the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner but Nawrocki went overboard, attacking Newton’s character calling him selfish, egotistical and entitled. Nawrocki thought Newton would never become a leader and would struggle with the locker room. It would be great to see what Nawrocki has to say now as Newton has gone out and led his team to the playoffs. He is also in midst of his best season yet, doing it all without much of a receiving corps.
11. Akili Smith – Mel Kiper
Kiper was so sure Akili Smith would be a success in the pros that he said Smith would return the Bengals to their glory days with Boomer Esiason. Akili went on to become one of the biggest busts in NFL draft history. With the Bengals, Smith posted a 3-14 record in four seasons before the Bengals moved on from the former 3rd overall pick. The Bengals struggled to move on from the set back of drafting Smith and are only now coming out of the other end.
10. Tony Mandarich – Sports Illustrated
Tony Mandarich was considered a can’t-miss prospect by many and Sports Illustrated agreed, putting him on their cover and calling him the best offensive line prospect ever. Mandarich seemed to possess unnatural strength, which makes sense since he was later found to have been using steroids. The Packers selected Mandarich 2nd overall but grew tired of his attitude and terrible play, cutting him after three disappointing seasons. What made it even worse were the players selected after him, Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders and Derrick Thomas just to name a few. Offensive line tends to one the easier positions to judge in terms of transition to the NFL, Mandarich was a big miss.
9. Mike Williams – Mel Kiper
This prediction was one of Kiper’s worst because of how far he went, saying “I’ll see you at his Hall of Fame induction.” Mike Williams was an athletic marvel who starred at one of the best college teams in the country but he had major red flags off the field including the fact he had sat out the entire season before after being declared ineligible. Williams struggled in his first season with Detroit and never flashed the brilliance that Kiper saw for him. He bounced around the league with a few before finishing his career in the Canaidan Football League.
8. Mike Mayock’s Top 10 Prospects for 2013
1. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
2. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
3. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
4. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
5. Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
6. Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
7. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
8. Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
9. Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
10. Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Wow, you pay people a lot of money to scout football players and then you see the first round of the 2013 draft and wonder, why do they pay money for this? To his credit this was just a bad draft all around but there is no getting around Mayock’s top 10 prospects leading into the draft, which included five offensive lineman that have all disappointed up to this point including Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher. Other top prospects Mayock liked were Sharrif Floyd ranked second and Dion Jordan who has been a mess.
7. Jimmy Clausen – Mel Kiper
There were a lot of red flags with Jimmy Clausen heading into the draft from his disappointing college career to issues with his attitude but Kiper insisted that his talent was worthy of being ranked as the no.4 prospect. Even after the draft when Clausen fell much deeper than anticipated, Kiper insisted that Clausen was the 4th best prospect. Clausen didn’t reward Kiper’s confidence as he struggled mightily when he has started for the Panthers and Bears and now looks like a career as a backup may even be out of reach. Kiper said that if Clausen wasn’t a successful pro QB he would be done. Well I guess that means you are done.
6. Darren McFadden – Todd Mcshay
When McShay falls in love with a player, he doesn’t mess around. McShay called McFadden the no.1 player heading into the 2008 draft. McFadden possessed some great skills but struggled with injuries and consistency. The Raiders seemed to agree with McShay taking him 4th overall, ahead of some future studs such as Jerod Mayo and Joe Flacco. Oh wait, they couldn’t take Flacco in the first because of a mistake they made the year prior. Despite one decent season where he rushed for over 1,000 yards, McFadden has been a huge disappointment consistently missing time every year with injuries.
5. David Carr – Mel Kiper
Kiper loves his comparisons to hall of famers, but comparing David Carr to Troy Aikman turned out to be quite the stretch. Carr never compiled a winning record while in Houston and never threw for more than 16 touchdowns in a season. Perhaps the most impressive record Carr holds is how often he was sacked. Carr didn’t have the team around him that Aikman did but he was also never going to be that good. Aikman was a 6-time pro bowler that won three superbowls for the Cowboys, the Texans would have loved to get half of that.
4. Robert Griffin III – Mike Mayock
As the Rams traded their second overall pick to the Redskins so they could select RGIII, Mayock stated that it didn’t matter what the Redskins gave up. Going into the draft RGIII was considered a can’t-miss prospect with many questioning if he should be taken over Andrew Luck. Despite Griffin’s steller rookie season it has all gone downhill quickly after severe injuries and an inability to learn to play from the pocket have left Griffin as the the third string QB in Washington.
In retrospect it was one of the more lopsided traded in NFL history, even if Griffin turned out to be a starting caliber quarterback. The Redskins gave up three first-round picks and one second round pick for to take RGIII and those picks after a number of other trades turned into Alec Ogletree, Janoris Jenkins, Greg Robinson, Michael Brokers and a number of other picks. Even worse in all honesty, the Rams could have done even better with these picks, setting their team up for years. Mayock surely regrets this call.
3. 2012 Seahawks Draft – Mel Kiper
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) February 5, 2014
Mel Kiper graded the Seahawks 2012 draft a C- and pointed specifically to what he considered two of the worst picks the entire draft, selecting Bruce Irvin 15th overall and most egregiously, calling their selection of Russell Wilson the worst pick in the draft. Irvin has never caught on as a dominant pass rusher but has carved out a role in the NFL and has had some success. Wilson however, led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl win and was one bad play call away from another win. The Wilson pick was one of the best draft picks, maybe ever considering the position he plays and his immediate success and influence on their team.
2. Blaine Gabbert – Todd McShay, Mike Mayock
Both McShay and Mayock fell in love with something about Blaine Gabbert because they both projected him as the top quarterback in the draft, ahead of Cam Newton. Newton took the league by storm setting rookie records and is currently leading the Panthers to an undefeated record while Blaine Gabbert is so bad that he was released by the Jaguars and can’t get a start over Colin Kapernick. It’s hard to know what these guys saw in Gabbert who put up average stats in his college career against weaker competition, while Newton was dominating college football.
1. JaMarcus Russell – Mel Kiper
JaMarcus Russell, maybe the biggest draft bust in NFL history, had at least one huge fan leading into the 2007 draft, Mel Kiper. Kiper who as we have seen on this list, is no stranger to exaggeration, compared Russell to John Elway and said that by three years into his career he would be one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Russell’s career did not resemble Elway’s in the slightest. He struggled with conditioning, accuracy and leadership before being released in 2010, finishing with a 7-18 record with the Raiders and an 18-23 touchdown to interceptions ratio. Despite Kiper’s claims that Russell would bring excitement to the Black Hole, he did the opposite and set the franchise back for years.
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