2010 – Draft Busts?

Pick No 1: Sam Bradford – St Louis Rams

Bradford was the number 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft and is still a starting quarterback in the NFL. Not the usual modus operandi for a draft bust but then again was he worth the number 1 overall pick? I am a Bradford fan, I think he is a capable mid-level NFL starter; the St Louis Rams would probably disagree.

A consensus number pick at the time, there was some debate to see if Suh would be selected instead but after a 1-15 season with poor QB play throughout by the Rams, Steve Spagnuolo pulled the trigger. Looking back at the 2010 draft, Bradford did not have much competition in the other quarterback prospects; Tebow, Clausen, McCoy & Kafka, in fact 10 of the 15 QB’s drafted in 2010 are out of the league. Bradford is the sole starter of the 5 that do remain. He started his career well and set a record for the most consecutive passes without an interception by a rookie (169). By the end of his first season he had thrown more passes than any other rookie QB, breaking Peyton Manning’s record.

In 2011 the recurring theme in Sam Bradford’s career would begin – injuries. Bradford had a shoulder injury coming into the 2010 draft but managed to get through his rookie season unscathed. In 2011 however a high-ankle sprain for Bradford would see the Rams’ record mirror the health of their sophomore QB slipping from 7-9 in 2010 to 2-14. 2012 was a lot more promising, finishing 7-8-1 with 21 TDs and only 13 interceptions. The following season started quite promisingly but Bradford tore his ACL in Week 7 landing on injured reserve for the remainder of the year. The 2014 season spelt disaster for Bradford again has he tore the same ACL against Cleveland in Week 3 of the preseason.

By now Bradford had missed 40% of the games he should have been available for due to injury. 2015 saw Bradford traded to the Eagles in what was a player for player trade for Nick Foles. The Rams had clearly lost their patience in Bradford and rather than go ahead in 2015 into the unknown (the unknown being a healthy or unhealthy Bradford) they decided to go with the relatively known (if inferior) quantity in Foles.

Fans of Bradford point to his 2012 & 2013 seasons, saying if he was healthy his play is that of a top 10 QB – If. The fact of the matter is that he isn’t healthy and his health (or lack thereof) must be taken into account when judging his career. Bradford is still only 28 so he potentially has more of his playing time in front of him rather than behind him. There is no doubt he was a bust for the Rams, as they never saw much of a return on the $80million contract they handed him. The question is, how will he be thought of when his career does come to an end. He has the potential to succeed, but it’s the word again – If – he can stay healthy.
Verdict – Jury Still Out

Pick No 8: Rolando McClain – Oakland Raiders

A troubled, yet nonetheless talented player, McClain’s play on the field has not been the issue. A typical Al Davis “Raider” in the sense that the raw talent was clear for everyone to see but he had some character issues. After two relatively productive seasons, he announced in 2012 after an incident in training that he was “done” and “no longer a Raider”. The Raiders cut McClain in 2013. Five days later he signed with the Baltimore Ravens but unexpectedly retired from the NFL just over a month later.

Almost a year later, the Cowboys came calling for McClain and not many people say no to Jerry Jones. The signing of McClain cost the Cowboys a mere 6th round pick. Despite having retired, the Ravens still owned his playing rights. Up until this point in his career, McClain was considered a bust. However the move to Dallas seemed to focus him and he quickly became a defensive leader for the Cowboys in the absence of injured MLB Sean Lee. He signed a $3 million 1 year contract at the start of the 2015 season after being a highly coveted free agent.

Whilst he might not be playing to the level of a top-ten overall pick, he is most certainly at home in Dallas. I think that if he continues on his current trend we won’t be talking about him as a bust. The fact of the matter is he really has only started to get his career back on track since signing for Dallas. Even then he was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the league substance abuse policy. If you were to judge McClain as a pick for the Oakland Raiders he is most certainly a bust, but he does have time and the talent to be an excellent free agent bargain for the Cowboys. He just needs to keep his head right and focus on his football so that he can shake the bust tag once and for all.
Verdict – Bust

Pick No 11: Anthony Davis – San Francisco 49ers

Drafted as a left tackle, Davis played most of his career at Right tackle for the 49ers. It’s not really a knock on Davis, as we have to remember that the 49ers have a more than satisfactory starter in Joe Staley. Davis has had a pretty decent career but is n my view not worth the 11th overall pick. A lot of teams when drafting will select the best available player rather than a position of need. Even if the 49ers intention was to keep Davis at right tackle, it was a very high pick to take a player for that position. A capable starter, the main reason he could/will be considered a draft bust is that he has taken a career hiatus for 2015 to allow his body to heal. Typically these breaks from the game in my opinion do not work, and in the grand scheme of things it means the 49ers are without their number 11 overall pick from 2010 for a season. The verdict on whether he really is a bust will be how or if he returns in 2016.
Verdict – Jury Still Out

Pick No 25: Tim Tebow – Denver Broncos

The most polarising player in the NFL (well, maybe not anymore as he is now out of the league). Tebow was an outstanding college level Quarterback, finishing third in Heisman voting in 2008 behind Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy. Denver mortgaged their 2010 draft to trade up to get Tebow, sending Baltimore their 2nd, 3rd and 4th round picks to move up to the 25th slot overall.

When arguing the point against him being a bust, Tebow fans point to his success in at the college level and his first season in the NFL, where Tebow took over from Kyle Orton. Mostly they focus on that come from behind playoff win against the Texans. Tebow detractors point to a career QBR of 75.9, his awful throwing mechanics, a career completion percentage of 47.9 and the fact that he rarely threw more than 20 passes per game.

Early on in his Broncos tenure, Tebow’s rushing was highly impressive but towards the end of 2011 teams had figured out that if you stop him running, his passing ability was not enough to dig his team out. This was evident when the Tebow-lead Broncos fell to the Patriots in the playoffs 45-10 where he completed 9 out of 26 passes, rushed 5 times for 13 yards and took 5 sacks. He finished that season with the lowest completion percentage in the league, which had sceptics wondering whether or not he could sustain his ability to pull out wins whilst his throwing statistics were so poor.

The signing of future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning in 2012 essentially ended the Tebow experiment in Denver and he was traded after only 2 years to the New York Jets in exchange for 4th and 6th round picks – a price tag which pointed to how little the Broncos valued him. The Jets used Tebow sparingly, mainly on special teams and in the wildcat offense. Tebow fell to 3rd on the depth chart behind Greg McElroy (who is now also out of the league) when starter Mark Sanchez went down injured.

He was released at the end of the 2012 season before the Patriots surprisingly picked him up, (or rather unsurprisingly when you realise that that Josh McDaniels the man who drafted him in Denver is the Pats offensive coordinator). He only remained on the Patriots roster for the off-season where he finished with a 47.2 QBR and a completion percentage of 36.7%. Tebow claimed he had put in a lot of work to improve his mechanics before he signed with the Patriots, but the same issues of holding on to the ball too long and telegraphing where he was throwing the ball were evident. In 2015 he signed with the Eagles to compete with Matt Barkley for the 3rd QB role. Neither really impressed for the Eagles and Tebow was cut and Barkley traded to the Cardinals for a 7th rounder. Tebow is now a free agent again and is publically outspoken in his self-belief of being an NFL QB. A vision it appears that NFL teams do not share.
Verdict – Bust

Pick No 25: Kyle Wilson – New York Jets

Wilson, a Boise State alumnus, started his NFL career as a long-term replacement to either Antonio Cromartie or Darelle Revis. He struggled adjusting to the NFL and failed to dislodge either Cromartie or Revis – a tall task nonetheless. Due to the talent outside that the Jets had, Wilson was played primarily as a nickel corner. He became more known for giving up penalties in key situations rather than his coverage skills.

Widely derided by Jets fans, Wilson’s only season as a starter came when Revis was injured for the season. He finished his Jets career with only 3 interceptions, which effectively came to an end when the Jets drafted Dee Milliner in 2013. Unlike most draft busts, Wilson never missed a game in his time with the Jets but was not retained and signed for the New Orleans Saints. When Wilson was released, he was the last remaining player drafted by the Jets from the 2008-2010 drafts. A poor record for a team that failed to take advantage of poor division competition with the Dolphins and Bills floundering for success and nobody really putting up a challenge to the Patriots. Wilson epitomised the poor backroom decisions of the Mike Tannebaum era.
Verdict – Bust

Pick No 30: Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions

Best’s situation was an unfortunate one, dogged by concussions throughout his college career. The Lions released best in 2013 due to his frequent concussion issues. Undoubtedly one of the most talented running backs in the 2010 draft. He was considered a risk for a team looking to rebuild and in need of a running back. He had talent to be a risk worth taking which unfortunately did pay off in what resulted in being a poor running back class. The proceeding running backs taken in the 2nd round were Dexter McCluster, Toby Gerhart, Ben Tate and Montario Hardesty. A running back with elite speed be clocked a 4.35 40 yard dash in the Combine.

He was used mostly in his first season as a receiving back rather than a traditional between the tackles back. Looking even more impressive in pre-season in 2011 than he had done in 2010 he suffered 2 concussions that would land him on injured reserve for most of 2011. He did not play another down in the NFL after he spent 2012 on IR also. If he had remained concussion free there is little doubt he would be one of the most dangerous running backs in the league.

Verdict – Bust

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