The only certainty about the NFL Draft is "uncertainty." Every pick in the draft is a shot in the dark, with teams choosing players they think have the best chance of being a difference maker. No player is ever a guarantee because teams can't predict the future and college play doesn't translate perfectly into the NFL. Since teams can't just judge the players off of college play, they often look to the Combine, which is a culmination of football and athleticism drills. Almost every top player attends to showcase their skills.
All too often teams overvalue the Combine. Just because a player can run 40 yards in under 4.3 seconds or can bench press 225 pounds 50 times doesn't mean that he will be a great NFL player. They still have to be a good football player, because they aren't doing these drills on game-days. All that matters is their football skills. They might be able to bench press 800 pounds but that doesn't mean they can play football. The contrary may also be true; they might not be able to bench 225 pounds, but could still be one of the greatest players ever.
In the end, the NFL Combine should not be as highly valued as it is, and I will be listing the living proof. The people on this list dominated at the Combine, and if games were won by Combine drills, these players would be Super Bowl champions, but the harsh reality is that it isn't. These players had teams drooling over their athletic abilities only to leave them confused and frustrated when they couldn't perform on Sundays. You can't blame the players though. Of course they are going to try to put up the best numbers possible at the combine, because they want their draft stock to go up, but that's exactly the problem.
Here are the top 15 NFL Combine standouts that were busts.
15 Dri Archer
Dri Archer has world-class speed. At the Combine in 2014 he ran a 4.25, 40-yard dash, the second fastest time since 2006, when the league began using electronic timing systems. Archer only trails Chris Johnson (4.24) who has the fastest time since 2006. At 5'8, 173 pounds, Archer is a very small running back but he answered the questions about his strength with 20 bench press reps. Some of you may say it's too soon to call him a bust. The Steelers, who drafted him, were obviously concerned considering he has 63 total yards in two seasons. He now plays for the Jets.
14 Rae Carruth
Carruth was a wide receiver from the University of Colorado. He wasn't projected to be a high pick until the Combine. At the Combine, he ran an insane 4.17, 40-yard dash time which propelled him up to the 27th pick of the first round in 1997. Unfortunately for the Panthers, there was a reason he wasn't projected to go in the first round before the Combine. Just because he could run fast that didn't mean mean he'd be a productive receiver. Carruth later murdered his wife, and was sentenced to many years in prison, which obviously ended his career.
13 Bruce Campbell
Campbell is currently playing in the Canadian Football League, but once upon a time he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Maryland. As an offensive lineman, any 40-yard dash time under 5 seconds is exceptional. Campbell ran a 4.75, which would place him at the top of the league in terms of speed. His size was also an asset.. Standing at 6'6 and 315 pounds, he is a big boy. His 34 bench press reps attest to his strength.
The Raiders thought that they were getting a solid piece to add to their offensive line but that wasn't the case. Another bad pick for the Raiders, Campbell played only four seasons and never started a game in his career.
12 Darrius Heyward-Bey
Heyward-Bey still seems like he should be a great NFL receiver. The scouts fell for his big build and athleticism and I can't blame them. He looked to be a sure thing when he got drafted 7th overall in 2009. He was a track star at the University of Maryland where he ran a 4.30, 40-yard dash. He performed well in the football drills at the Combine as well.
The Oakland Raiders have since parted ways with Heyward-Bey who now plays for the Steelers. The Raiders dropped the ball with this pick and it set them back. Selecting Amari Cooper may have been their redemption.
11 Matt Jones
Not the running back that plays for the Washington Redskins, but the wide receiver Matt Jones that got drafted 21st overall in 2005 by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Scouts and GMs were extremely high on him. Jones was a 6'6 quarterback at the University of Arkansas but coming into the league he was hoping to become a receiver.
He ran a blistering 4.37, 40-yard dash and his vertical jump was nearly 40 inches. He was a freakish athlete but had little experience playing the WR position. Needless to say, he fell well short of expectations. He had a short career and retired in 2010 after being cut by the Bengals.
10 Fabian Washington
Another player from the 2005 draft, Washington ran a 4.29, 40-yard dash propelling him to the 23rd overall pick out of Nebraska by the Raiders. Weighing in at only 180 pounds, he put up 18 reps on the bench press which is pretty remarkable for a cornerback. Other incredible Combine stats he compiled are 3.90, 20-yard shuttle, 41 inch vertical and a 10'9 broad jump. He played for the Raiders and the Ravens in his career. Washington totaled just six interceptions in his six pro seasons. Washington probably wishes he could re-do his career with all the raw athleticism he was dealt.
9 Chris Henry
Henry was a running back from the University of Arizona who got drafted at no.50 in the 2007 draft by the Tennessee Titans. Although he wasn't taken in the first round, he was amazing at the Combine. Henry was a tremendous physical specimen, putting up 26 bench press reps and running a 4.40, 40-yard dash He certainly seemed to be NFL ready. Unfortunately for him, he only ran for 122 yards and 4 touchdowns in his career, which ended in 2010.
8 Tye Hill
Hill was remarkably athletic. Standing only 5'10, he ran a 4.34, 40-yard dash, and had an explosive 41 inch vertical jump. Additionally, his broad jump was 10'9 which is very impressive for someone as short as Hill. He was drafted out of Clemson at no.15 overall by the Rams in 2006. He played for a handful of different teams but spent the bulk of his career with the Rams, which was cut short due to injuries. Some players just aren't cut out for the NFL grind.
7 Troy Williamson
Coming from the same draft class as Matt Jones in '05, Troy Williamson was also a receiver. He came out of the University of South Carolina and was the 7th overall pick by the Vikings. Troy Williams, also known as "alligator" was a track star in high school and college. He used his track skills to clock in an impressive 4.32, 40-yard dash time. He also recorded a vertical jump of 37 inches. He only played five years in the league thanks to his unreliable hands, scoring a paltry four touchdowns.
6 Brodrick Bunkley
Bunkley was a beast at the Combine. He put up 44 reps on the bench press which is one of the highest ever and he also ran a 5.01, 40-yard dash which is respectable for a 300-pound defensive tackle. Bunkley, from Florida State, was drafted 14th overall by the Eagles in 2006 and then held out until he got a six-year deal he had been seeking. In his seven-year career he only racked up 8.5 sacks which should have been doable in two years for him. Bunkley never fulfilled his potential and it's a shame because he had real potential.
5 Mike Mamula
Mamula is the classic example of a Combine star who couldn't fill his expectations. Coming out of Boston College he wasn't supposed to be a first rounder. The Eagles traded up in 1995 from pick no.13 to no.8 to get Mamula. The smart thing to do would've been to stay put and draft Warren Sapp who dropped due to failed drug tests. Mamula was a good player but maybe a 3rd or fourth rounder, not a first rounder. Although he wasn't a total bust, he also wasn't worthy of such a high pick. He could have been taken a few rounds later. The Eagles reached for him when they could have waited.
4 Aaron Curry
Curry was a huge bust for the Seattle Seahawks in the 2009 draft. For a 6'2, 254-pound outside linebacker, he put up impressive numbers at the Combine. Running a 4.56, 40-yard dash with 25 bench press reps, and a 37 inch vertical. Curry didn't last long in the NFL, playing three seasons in Seattle and two in Oakland before retiring. Today he is the defensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers. One of his problems he admitted, was that he was more about himself than the Seahawks. With an attitude like that, it's no surprise that he didn't succeed.
3 Tim Tebow
Ahh, Tim Tebow, where do I start? The guy had it all as a Florida Gator, two National titles and a Heismann, but he couldn't find a home in the NFL. Many GMs wanted to convert him to a tight end or running back but he decided to stay as a QB. He impressed in the quarterback drills at the Combine with his new and quicker release leading him to get drafted by the Broncos 25th overall in 2010. He was a backup on the Broncos and every other team he has played for.
Most recently he was signed by the Eagles but ended up getting cut. He also ran a 4.74 40-yard dash which helped his stock. Tebow has always been a fan favorite but that has nothing to do with his play in the NFL.
2 Vernon Gholston
Gholston played his college career for the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Jets added to their collection of draft busts with the sixth pick overall in 2008. Gholston is the player that young prospects should look to as an example of what 'not to be.' In Gholston's three seasons with the Jets, he recorded zero sacks and no real stats. As a big defensive end running a 4.67, 40-yard dash, the Jets fell in love with him. Unfortunately games on Sundays aren't decided on your Combine performances. Gholston tried to make a few comebacks in the league but none were successful.
1 Tony Mandarich
Mandarich is the poster child for combine frauds. He is a former offensive tackle from Michigan State. Taken 2nd overall in the 1989 draft by the Packers, Mandarich was called "the best offensive line prospect ever," by Sports Illustrated. Mandarich ran a 4.65, 40-yard dash, and had 39 bench press reps which was unheard of at the time. It all sounded too good to be true. That's because it was, Mandarich was a steroid-fueled monster. Standing at 6'6 and tipping the scales at 330, he was dubbed, "the Incredible Bulk." In his career, he was an alcoholic addicted to painkillers and teams quickly found out. Mandarich was relegated to backup status for most of his career due to his poor play.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!