The NFL Draft is the most exciting off season event in all of sports. Nothing else gets as much hype and as much media attention. It's completely understandable why too; in the NFL teams can turn everything around very quickly. But to do that, they have to hit on their draft picks. If you get the right players at the right position, it won't take long to go from picking in the top five to being a perennial playoff team.
Few fans actually have the time to pour through scouting tape to get an idea of the quality of every player. As a result, there's demand for news outlets to employ people who can do that for everyone else; draft "experts." Of course, many fans love putting quotations on "experts" as a way of expressing frustration with how often they're wrong.
That's something that happens quite a bit. Granted, not every expert will agree on every player, but there's still a general consensus opinion regarding nearly every player in the draft from them.
As every fan knows, it won't take long to find examples of the experts being wrong. Though, in their defense, NFL GMs are wrong quite a bit too. Even still, it's frustrating for fans to be misled by the people who are paid to inform.
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15 Johnny Manziel
There were quite a few draft analysts who were saying Manziel was going to be a top ten pick. Mike Mayock even had him as his number one quarterback overall. The direct comparison wasn't made often, but fans were led to believe that Manziel could be a similar player to Russell Wilson. In the sense that Wilson overcame his size and has a unique ability for making plays when it doesn't seem like there's an obvious one. Granted, the bulk of Manziel's issues were completely unrelated to football. Even when he was on the field though, he showed some promise but not close to what fans were expecting.
14 Louis Nix
Louis Nix III was touted as a talented, powerful nose tackle who could go as high as the late first round. In Mike Mayock's positional rankings, he listed Nix as the 3rd best defensive tackle. This was above Ra'Shede Hageman (4th) and Dominique Easley (5th) who were drafted 37th overall and 29th overall respectively.
Of course, Louis Nix III ended up being taken at the end of the 3rd round by the Texans. Their fans believed they had gotten a crazy steal. Instead, the nose tackle was released a little over a year later, prior to the 2015 season.
13 Bruce Irvin
The Bruce Irvin pick blindsided many people. Many of the experts put a second or third round grade on him, only for Seattle to pick him in the middle of the first round. The pass rusher was far from the most well rounded player, but there was clearly a disconnect between NFL scouts and the media on how valuable a quick first step is. Irvin has been a very good player ever since coming into the NFL. In fact, his talent earned him a 4 year deal with Oakland that pays out an average of just under $10 million a year. That's quite a haul.
12 Derek Carr
Derek Carr was considered to be a notch below all the top tier quarterbacks in the 2014 draft. Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater were the top three and in the weeks leading up to the draft, all the experts were debating what order they would be selected in. The only thing most could agree on was that Carr was the 4th best quarterback going into the draft. Looking back now, there's a very good argument to be made that he's the best in the class. He's proven to be a franchise guy for Oakland.
11 Dontari Poe
Draft experts had concerns over Poe. Some felt he was just the old story of the "workout warrior" who only showed up for the combine and would be overrated as a result. Most mock drafts had him going in the top 15 still. But this is because the majority of mock drafts are done to show who the writer believes will be taken, not who they think should be. Poe has proven his doubters wrong. He's been one of the top nose tackles for the Chiefs in the NFL. He doesn't play a glamorous position and as a result doesn't get a lot of media attention. But make no mistake; Poe is one of the NFL's best interior defensive players.
10 Jimmy Clausen
Jimmy Clausen was highly regarded by Mel Kiper in particular, who considered him one of the best players in the draft. Kiper constantly talked him up as being one of the most talented quarterbacks in that class. Jimmy Clausen's first year was one of the worst rookie seasons in recent memory. Not only that, but Carolina completely gave up on him almost immediately. This isn't at all what fans were supposed to get out of the second round pick. It never felt like Clausen was a player who could ever have an impact on the NFL once fans saw him in action.
9 Nick Fairley
The decision by the Houston Texans to draft J.J. Watt 11th overall over Nick Fairley resulted in one of the absolute best headlines ever. Culturemap.com published an article titled "Texans will rue the night they took Pizza Boy J.J. Watt over Nick Fairley." Of course, in the weeks leading up to the draft many experts felt that Fairley could be a top five selection. They felt he could be a real game changer. Well, five years later, Fairley is with his third team and really isn't anything more than an above average rotational defensive lineman. I think it's safe to say that he was a bit oversold to the fans.
8 Tyrann Mathieu
Mike Mayock of NFL Network was more positive about Tyrann Mathieu than most. However, he considered him to be nothing more than a slot corner and a return guy. After being selected in the 2013 draft, Mathieu went to Twitter and said that he'll remember Mayock's comments about him. Of course, Mathieu is now one of the star players on an elite NFL defense. There were a lot of people who were skeptical about his ability to transition his flashy college game to the NFL, but he's been a true playmaker since coming into the league.
7 Allen Robinson
The 2014 wide receiver class could, and likely will, go down as the best ever. The combined group shattered records and many players have already become household names. Odell Beckham remains the crown jewel of that receiver class and it's gonna be hard to see anyone taking that away anytime soon. However, Allen Robinson is something special. If you look at his statistics, it's hard to argue against him being the second best receiver to come out that year. After only starting eight games his rookie year, Robinson broke out this past season with 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. His yardage total was sixth best in the league and second in his class. His touchdown total was tied for the best in the NFL. Not only was Robinson undersold by analysts heading into the draft, but he continues to be undersold two years into his career. The Jacksonville wide out is quickly becoming one of the NFL's top receivers, yet he struggles to get recognized as such.
6 Travis Frederick
Travis Frederick was a heavily criticized pick immediately following the 2013 NFL draft. Many felt he was going to be selected in the second or third round. The Cowboys taking him 31st overall raised many eyebrows. Ever since then, Frederick has been one of the NFL's best centers on of the best offensive lines. It's usually hard to justify taking a center in the first round, but Dallas would certainly make this selection 10 out of 10 times if they had a do-over.
5 Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson was criminally undersold coming out of college. Many took the narrative that his ceiling was low largely because of his height. They said he didn't have the build required to make it as an NFL quarterback. In fact, as many will recall, the entire Seahawks 2012 draft was heavily criticized by analysts. The majority gave it the lowest grade (or at least in the bottom three) of every team that off season. One of the prime reasons for that was Russell Wilson wasn't needed by Seattle because they had already signed one-game wonder Matt Flynn. In the NFL, franchise quarterbacks don't just fall into your lap. Russell Wilson is the exception to that.
4 Melvin Gordon
It might be a little too early to tell with this pick but fans and experts alike were expecting great things from Melvin Gordon. Many went on the record saying he was going to be a special player. Instead, Gordon played in 14 games and recorded a paltry 3.5 yards per carry. He only managed to rack up 641 rushing yards and 192 receiving yards. Gordon absolutely can still have an amazing career. However, one thing he can't change is what happened his rookie season. Many felt he would be an immediate impact player. That didn't happen.
3 Aaron Curry
Typically linebackers don't go in the top five. Usually those picks are reserved for the premium positions, like quarterback, edge rusher, or offensive tackle. But when you have a guy like Curry - a prospect who has all the physical traits you could want in a defender, you just have to take him when you can. In this case, it was fourth overall to Seattle. Curry was a massive disappointment. He was said to be a safe pick, which means that he shouldn't fail. His problem was his football IQ. Being able to think through everything quickly is an ability that matters. No matter how well you tackle or how well you can swat a ball away, it doesn't count for anything if you can't actually put yourself in a position to have an opportunity to do it.
2 Trent Richardson
Trent Richardson is a strange case. It started with him being called the best prospect since Adrian Peterson. They felt he would be a rock that an offense could lean on and build around.
The strange part was that Richardson's rookie season was pretty good. He had a poor 3.6 yards per carry, but many chalked that up to all the goal line carries he got. After all, he finished with 12 total touchdowns. Cleveland made a very good move when they dealt him to Indianapolis in exchange for a first round pick. It only took a short while for everyone to realize that Richardson was actually pretty bad at football. Since his rookie year, Richardson has yet to beat his unimpressive 3.6 YPC and is the poster child for why ball carrier vision is something that matters.
1 Cam Newton
Going into the 2011 draft, many experts felt that Cam Newton wasn't talented enough to warrant going 1st overall. In addition, they felt his character concerns made him an even bigger risk.
The decision to take Cam with the first pick has been perhaps the best front office decision in recent memory. Newton is a leader for the Panthers and the NFL's best young quarterback. Newton has been a very good player ever since entering the league and is the reigning MVP.
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