Shortly after the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft, I offered my initial impressions of the first 10 overall picks. At that time, I commented that seven of those players raised red flags as potential underperformers. Out of those seven, I identified three as the most likely busts. Out of those three, I identified one as the most likely Top 10 Bust. Without further ado, I offer you Mitch “My Mom calls me Mitchell” Trubisky.
As a follow-up to the first ever T10B Mock Draft, I offer my initial assessment of the top 10 overall picks from the 2017 NFL Draft. After all, these players are the only ones drafted high enough to become Top 10 Busts. As of now, I predict that the top of this draft has the potential to be one of the worst ever. At the same time, this might be one of the deepest drafts ever. Don’t be surprised if many later-round picks surpass the careers of the players highlighted in this post.
For the first time, I’ll use my analytical skills to predict the first 10 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Now, others can judge me just like I’ve judged them. Will I be right? Of course not. However, I fully appreciate that there’s more value in the prediction than in the evaluation. In that regard, I’ll offer my version of a 2017 Mock NFL Draft.
Given their propensity to trade future draft picks in the early 1990s, the Dallas Cowboys developed a quantitative tool to help them make better decisions. Commonly referred to as Jimmy Johnson’s Trade Value Chart, the methodology actually came into existence because of team executive Mike McCoy. Specifically, McCoy developed a numerical value for each draft position such that proposed trades could be evaluated quickly and objectively. Still in use today, that chart reflects how teams seemingly value future draft picks. Similarly, I created the T10B Football Index (TFI) as a mechanism to value future picks based on expected production. McCoy showed what teams are willing to do. In comparison, I’m trying to show what teams should do.
With only a couple days to go before the start of the NFL season, I feel compelled to put a stake in the ground regarding potential 2016 NFL Draft Busts. Unlike last year, I waited until the end of the preseason this year. It seems like I had more time to write when I didn’t have a J-O-B. Oh well, at least it’s a good excuse. Prior to the start of training camp this summer, I thought the most likely (although still improbable) busts included #1 pick Jared Goff, #9 pick Leonard Floyd, and #10 pick Eli Apple. However, based on his extended holdout, #3 pick Joey Bosa has become my overwhelming favorite as a potential Top 10 Bust. Jameis Winston received that same designation last year so Bosa shouldn’t be too worried. Or should he?
In an earlier post, I evaluated the trades made by the Rams and Eagles to move up to the first two spots in the 2016 NFL Draft. At that time, I commented that #1 overall pick Jared Goff needed to match the career of Eli Manning and #2 overall pick Carson Wentz needed to match the career of Philip Rivers to be worthy of those trades. Since then, Philadelphia traded QB Sam Bradford so the bar for Wentz has been lowered to Jay Cutler. With respect to these comparisons, Wentz has a reasonable chance to meet the target whereas Goff doesn’t. Even on an absolute basis, I predict the #2 pick will outshine the #1 pick throughout their careers.
Before I provide my assessment of this year’s draft, it’s only fair that I revisit my evaluation of potential 2015 NFL Draft busts. At this point, there don’t appear to be any likely Top 10 Busts from last year’s draft. However, two players seem to be on their way to becoming stars. As the only two rookies selected to the 2016 Pro Bowl, #1 pick Jameis Winston and #10 pick Todd Gurley have started their careers very solidly. I’ll take credit for calling Gurley a worthy top ten pick. Then again, I have to admit that I thought Winston would be a bust. Overall, I give myself a B- for my predictions. Just like most of the top picks in the 2015 Draft, I had moments to remember and moments to forget.
On the eve of the 2016 NFL Draft, much of the drama surrounding the top two picks has subsided. Over the last two weeks, both the Rams and Eagles traded up in order to secure a potential franchise quarterback. Arguably, it will take several years before anyone can properly evaluate the trades. However, I believe the evaluation can begin already based on the expected value of the draft picks involved. For example, the Rams will win if their pick matches the career of Eli Manning. Similarly, the Eagles will win if their pick matches the career of Philip Rivers. Is either case possible? Certainly. Probable? Certainly not.
Influenced by impressive combine results, the St. Louis Rams took Baylor OT Jason Smith with the #2 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Despite high expectations, Smith ended his four-year career as the least productive offensive lineman ever taken with a top 5 overall pick. While he seemingly deserves to be labeled a Top 10 Bust, his lack of production can be attributed to a history of serious head injuries. In particular, he suffered two season-ending concussions during his first three years in the league. Smith recovered from the first one, but never started again after the second. It’s uncertain how good he might have been without the injuries, but it’s unfair to label him as an all-time bust because of them.
Prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, I identified Jameis Winston as a potential Top 10 Bust. In particular, I labeled him as an interception-prone QB lacking the maturity needed to lead an NFL franchise. Winston proved me wrong by having a productive rookie year on the field and avoiding problems off of it. Of note, he earned a spot in the Pro Bowl and became the inspirational leader of the significantly improved Buccaneers. If his career stalls for whatever reason (e.g. over confidence, decline in work ethic), Winston still may end up being a bust. For now, however, it appears that Tampa Bay made a good choice with its #1 overall pick.