The NFL draft is a high-stakes crapshoot.
Despite hours and hours of scouting, studying and breaking down the draft, teams always manage to blow a first-round pick on a player that never pans out. Whether it's the overall speed of the NFL game as compared to college, a change in scheme's or just a good old fashioned lack of talent, some prospects simply fail to live up to the hype.
Projecting the first round, there are five prospects that are certain to fail in the light of their first-round billing.
Here's a look at the entire first round, highlighting the most likely prospects to go bust at the next level. Note: Busts in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: OT, Luke Joekel, Texas A&M
The Chiefs need a quarterback in the worst way. Unfortunately for them, this year’s class doesn’t have a prospect that deserves the top selection.
In Joekel the Chiefs get the best overall player in the draft and someone that is nearly bust proof. He’s spent the last four years blocking the likes of Von Miller and Damontre Moore in practice; he’s prepared to play at the next level right away.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: QB, Geno Smith, West Virginia
The offensive line is a wreck, but Eugene Monroe is not the issue at left tackle.
Despite the horrid performance this season, the Jaguars have the pieces for a quick turnaround on offense. Maurice Jones-Drew is still an elite back when healthy. Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon are promising receivers that could become a formidable duo. Even tight end Marcedes Lewis has shown flashes of brilliance.
Unfortunately, the Jaguars are desperate for a quarterback in a draft that doesn’t have any surefire prospects at the position. Smith is the consensus No. 1 option, but his bust potential is downright scary for any team taking him at the top of the draft.
Smith put up great numbers at West Virginia, but Brandon Weeden put up great numbers in a similar system. The Jaguars’ hand will be forced if Smith is on the board, but fans can’t be too confident in the selection.
3. Oakland Raiders: DE, Bjoern Werner, Florida State
The Raiders defense wasn’t as bad you would think last season. The primary issue with the unit was a lack of pressure on the passer. The front seven mustered 25 sacks on the season.
With Werner coming in, the Raiders would add an elite defensive end that can get after the quarterback and hold his own at the point of attack against the run. Finding a playmaking defensive end that can command double teams will make everyone else in the front seven better.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: DT, Star Lotulelei, Utah
Chip Kelly will be in a tough position at No. 4 if the first three picks fall this way.
The team’s greatest need is offensive line but none of the offensive lineman on the board are worthy of this selection, they’re really in a prime position to trade down. However, if they keep the pick, going with the best player available is the best idea.
That would be Star Lotulelei. Cullen Jenkins is 32 years old and won’t be around forever. Lotulelei has the potential to make the type of impact that Ndamukong Suh had from the outset of his career.
5. Detroit Lions: DE, Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
In a draft full of pass-rushers Damontre Moore is one of the best.
He lined up at multiple positions in the Aggies defensive scheme last season and was highly productive. He racked up 12.5 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss. The Lions already have Nick Fairley and Suh in the middle of the defensive line. Add a terror like Moore on the edge and Lions will have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
6. Cleveland Browns: DE/OLB, Jarvis Jones, Georgia
New defensive coordinator Ray Horton will look to install a 3-4 defense, and that requires an elite pass-rusher at the outside linebacker position.
Jones certainly looked the part at Georgia. The outside linebacker showed an explosive closing burst that led to 14.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for a loss. The only issue with Jones is a questionable bill of health. Jones transferred to Georgia after USC would not allow him to play due to his spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine (h/t ESPN).
The risk is definitely there, but the Browns desperately need a difference-maker and Jones could be one of the stars of the draft.
7. Arizona Cardinals: OT, Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
When you look at what Kevin Kolb was able to do with the façade of an offensive line he had in front of him, it’s clear the Cardinals can pass on a quarterback in Round 1.
The offensive line allowed 58 sacks last season and no quarterback will change that. Eric Fisher, however, may be able to make an impact. Fisher has the agility and footwork to protect Kolb’s blindside and be the consistent protector the offense desperately needs.
8. Buffalo Bills: QB, Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
This may be a little high for Nassib but teams have shown time and time again that they will reach for a quarterback if they feel he’s the right guy.
New head coach Doug Marrone will be highly familiar with Nassib, who was Marrone’s quarterback at Syracuse. Nassib has been rising up most draft boards as scouts watch more film.
The fact that Nassib spent his college years in Marrone’s system should make for a more seamless transition at the next level. That doesn’t mean he’s worthy of the selection, though.
He may have good tools and the potential to develop into a good quarterback, but being taken in the Top 10 will mean he’s expected to be the guy right away. It would be surprising if he is able to live up to those type of expectations.
9. New York Jets: DE/OLB, Dion Jordan, Oregon
Mark Sanchez is coming off of a horrendous season as the team’s starting quarterback, but selecting another USC quarterback after the Mark Sanchez fiasco would be a publicity disaster.
Rex Ryan’s defenses are completely centered around rushing the quarterback and Jordan could come in and be the team’s premier pass-rusher right away. The 6’7” defensive end has the build to make the transition to outside linebacker and will create havoc for offensive lines for years to come.
10. Tennessee Titans: CB, Dee Milliner, Alabama
Milliner is the top cornerback in the draft and the Titans should be thrilled if he drops this far.
Nick Saban-coached cornerbacks have a tendency to drop a little on draft day, but anyone who watched Milliner cover Tyler Eifert in the national championship game and shut down SEC receivers on a regular basis know that he has the skills to be a star in the NFL.
11. San Diego Chargers: OG, Chance Warmack, Alabama
Phillip Rivers went through one of the worst years of his career in San Diego last season, but much of that could be blamed on the offensive line. He spent a lot of the season running for his life and throwing off his back foot.
Warmack would not only improve the team’s pass protection, but open up things for Ryan Mathews on the inside.
12. Miami Dolphins: WR, Keenan Allen, California
The Dolphins are likely to be the first team to take a receiver in the draft. The Dolphins went all-in on Ryan Tannehill at quarterback last season and will attempt to add his go-to receiver.
The most highly-touted receiver in this year’s class is California wideout Keenan Allen. The only problem is he just doesn’t jump out when you watch him play. He has good size (6’3, 210 lbs), but he missed three games this season and his production was less than outstanding.
Allen’s stock is high thanks to a highly productive sophomore season, but he wasn’t as dominant as you would like a top-15 wide receiver to be.
Allen may pan out to be a decent NFL receiver, but if he’s taken this early, there’s a good chance he is considered a bust when it’s all said and done.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB, Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
This is a no-brainer for the Buccaneers.
Banks is the perfect selection for a team that traded away Aqib Talib and will need to replace the aging Ronde Barber. Cornerback is the most obvious need for this team and Banks has shown that he is worthy of the No. 13 selection overall.
14. Carolina Panthers: DT, Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
The Panthers used their first-round selection on middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and he should be a fixture in the middle of that defense for years to come. If they are able to secure Hankins in the first round, they can ensure that Keuchly is free to roam for the better part of his career.
Hankins is a 6’3”, 320-pound space eater that would beef up the Panthers run defense and take on double-teams to improve the team’s pass rush.
15. New Orleans Saints: DT, Jesse Williams, Alabama
After missing the playoffs with one of the best offenses in the NFL, the Saints must go defense with this pick and Jesse Williams would be a huge difference maker.
Williams has been the big man in the middle for some dominant Crimson Tide defenses and he is just the type of physical player the Saints need on that side of the ball.
16. St. Louis Rams: OT, Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
The Rams biggest concern coming into the offseason has to be the lack of protection that Sam Bradford had last season.
The obvious solution is to take the best left tackle on the board. That would be Johnson. Johnson has good athleticism and played defensive end and tight end at Oklahoma before sliding in to the tackle position. Johnson may not be the strongest blocker but finding a guy that can protect the blindside at 16 is a good find.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: ILB, Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Te’o is certain to be one of the most polarizing prospects heading into the draft.
On one hand, he was one of the most decorated players in college football and would have won the Heisman trophy if it weren’t for the late-season onset of Johnny Football-mania.
On the other, his production was actually down from his junior season and much of the attention he received came from the overall success of the Notre Dame team. Te’o was a great player, but it’s important to note that he played in front of a defensive line that features some NFL-caliber talent.
Te’o would certainly play in front of a good defensive line in Pittsburgh, but he isn’t the pure athlete that the best inside linebackers were heading into the draft. Those expecting Te’o to be the next Ray Lewis will be disappointed. That could be enough to give him the bust label in the eyes of some.
18. Dallas Cowboys: QB, Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Tony Romo isn’t done in Dallas, but at 33 years old, his time has to be coming to a close.
Fans will want to see the team use a pick on someone that can help right away, but the organization might want to go the Aaron Rodgers-Green Bay route and draft his back up now. Considering Jerry Jones’ Arkansas ties, the Cowboys may feel that Wilson is the perfect candidate to become his predecessor.
19. New York Giants: DE, Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Ansah is widely being touted as the "next Jason Pierre-Paul." Admittedly, there are some similarities between the two.
Both are supremely talented pass-rushers with freak athleticism that will come into the league extremely raw.
That being said, Ansah's lack of production has to be concerning. He only registered 4.5 sacks in his senior season and played on a good defense that didn't allow for teams to double-team him often. Ansah may pan out, but he has to be given time to develop.
At 19, the Giants can't expect Ansah to be a factor right away or they had better prepare for him to be a bust.
20. Chicago Bears: OT, Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
Jay Cutler draws a lot of heat for his play, but the truth is that the Bears protection is at the heart of the offensive issues in Chicago.
Thomas is a guy that has played both tackle and guard in college and will be able to fill in at either position. Given the relative weakness of the unit last season they could need his versatility.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: DE/OLB, Barkevious Mingo, LSU
The Bengals already have some outstanding pieces along the defensive front. Adding Mingo would make the front seven elite.
Geno Atkins is already one of the best defensive tackles in the league, so it’s a perfect situation for an elite pass-rusher to consistently see one-on-one blocking. Mingo would bring an instant spark to the Cincinnati front.
22. St. Louis Rams: OG, Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
The Rams have the luxury of two first-round selections. In this scenario, that would mean they can turn one of the team’s greatest weaknesses into a true strength.
Cooper is a road-grading guard that can clear running lanes for Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson while creating a clean pocket for Bradford. Pairing Cooper and Johnson would give the Rams an excellent guard-tackle tandem for the foreseeable future.
23. Minnesota Vikings: WR, Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
The Vikings can’t continue to depend on Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin to do everything.
As super-human as AP was this season, he’ll need more help next year and the injury-prone Harvin can’t be counted on to stay healthy. Patterson is a tremendous athlete that can stretch the field vertically and make the Vikings a much more dynamic team.
24. Indianapolis Colts: S, Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Chuck Pagano was with the Baltimore Ravens for many of Ed Reed’s best years. Vaccaro could be Pagano’s next ball-hawking safety.
The Colts offense is really starting to take shape but the defense could use some young talent to build on. Vaccaro could team with Antoine Bethea to form a strong duo of safeties.
25. Seattle Seahawks: DT, Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
The Seahawks have put together a fearsome pass rush, but still could use another run-stuffer to strengthen the interior. The Falcons showed that the Seahawks could be defeated with the run game. Michael Turner was able to run rampant.
With Sheldon Richardson still on the board, the Seahawks would be forced to pick the Tigers defensive tackle.
26. Green Bay Packers: OL, Barrett Jones, Alabama
If the Packers want to take the next step as a team, the offensive line needs some attention.
Jones was a versatile lineman at Alabama that played multiple positions throughout his career and should be able to play either guard or center at the NFL level. Jones’ intelligence and well-roundedness would make him a day-one starter somewhere for the Packers.
27. Houston Texans: WR, Terrance Williams, Baylor
Andre Johnson has never really had a consistent No. 2 receiver that alleviates the pressure he sees from opposing defenses.
With Williams, the Texans could finally have that receiver that can draw attention away from Johnson. Houston was a great team when it was playing with a lead last season, but were punchless when trying to come from behind. Adding more offensive weapons is a must.
28. Denver Broncos: S, Eric Reid, LSU
The Broncos were one of the most well-rounded teams in the league this season, but the Ravens exposed one fatal flaw in the playoffs—they could use an upgrade at the safety position.
Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith torched the Broncos deep multiple times to upset the Broncos after a wildly successful regular season. Reid is a physical safety with good ball-skills that could step in and provide an upgrade right away.
29. New England Patriots: DE, Alex Okafor, Texas
The Patriots spent a first-round selection on defensive end Chandler Jones last year, but they should continue to build the front seven with their first-round selection this year.
Okafor is a stout defensive end that can rush the passer and offer support against the run. His athleticism makes him the kind of versatile defender that Bill Belichick loves and could play a role in a number of different fronts.
30. Atlanta Falcons: TE, Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
The Falcons are one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the NFL thanks to the trio of Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez.
After the 2013 playoffs, it’s very likely that the trio will be down to two as Gonzalez is likely to retire. Fortunately, the Falcons will have their choice of tight ends in this scenario. Both Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert are tight ends that have the size and athleticism to split out wide or line up as traditional tight ends.
With Eifert the Falcons will be able to continue doing what they do with Gonzalez now.
21. Baltimore Ravens: LB, Alec Ogletree, Georgia
With Ray Lewis set to retire, the Ravens will be looking to replace the inside linebacker that has been a key part of the defense since 2000.
Ogletree is one of the top inside linebackers in the draft and would be a great value if he falls all the way to the Ravens toward the end of the draft.
32. San Francisco 49ers: DT, Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The 49ers are built around having an incredibly stout front seven. There are plenty of superstars along the front lines for the defense, but Justin Smith is getting long in the tooth and the ‘Niners don’t have anything behind him and Ray McDonald.
Floyd has the size and athleticism to be successful in the 49ers 3-4 alignment and would prolong the effectiveness of Smith by providing the team a platoon option for the aging tackle.
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