Few players have the infamous draft bust status and are stuck forever on the Wall of Shame. An even smaller minority are reminisced in the Hall of Fame.
There’s an obvious massive gap of players somewhere in between.
But I have taken on the challenge, conducting a list of 10 rookies that have the most simultaneous potential to become legendary superstars and doomed draft busts in alphabetical order.
In either case, they’ll receive coherent attention, and it could be a very positive motivation, paving the way to become the next Dan Marino or Jerry Rice.
On the other side, the boasted spectacle might backfire, turning what could have been a meticulous valuable team contributor into an unforgettable derailing draft bust, joining the likes of Ryan Leaf, Brian Bosworth, and Charles Rogers.
While I may miss the mark on a few, at least it won’t come at the expense of wasted millions, years of regret, and wrenching heartache.
1. Tyson Alualu, DT (Jaguars)
Tyson Alualu was an immense reach to be taken with the 10th overall pick, especially by a run-of-the-mill franchise.
In spite of this, Alualu has the potential to severely alleviate the bleeding that took place last season on the Jaguars’ defensive front.
He has the skills set and an excellent mindset to become an elite NFL player. It all depends on whether he can handle the pressure, and my gut suggests he’ll flourish.
2. Eric Berry, S (Chiefs)
Often considered the second coming of Ed Reed, Berry has a dangerous blend of terrific instincts, excellent ball skills, mind-blowing quickness and a hard-hitting truck-like ability.
While it’s very uncommon for a safety to be taken in the top five, Berry has the undeniable God-given talent and potential to become an all-time great.
3. Sam Bradford, QB (Rams)
Sam Bradford suffered a right shoulder injury in the first game of the ’09 season against Brigham Young, one play after becoming Oklahoma’s all-time leading passer.
Bradford returned to the field three weeks later against Baylor, but witnessed a season-ending injury to the same shoulder just a week later in the Red River Rivalry game.
There’s no question he has great leadership, accuracy, and quick delivery, but a potentially injury-prone first-overall-pick going to the worst team in the NFL doesn’t make for a good recipe, at least on paper.
4. Dez Bryant, WR (Cowboys)
Dez “Diva” Bryant found his wish granted when he was drafted by nearby Dallas.
Bryant is a standout receiver with cunning abilities and unlimited potential. However, his yearning for the spotlight could go amiss, making him the next Terrell Owens, but without the playing time. Miles Austin can help guide him the right direction.
5. Anthony Davis, OT (49ers)
Corresponding to Dez Bryant, Anthony Davis is also a significant risk for character issues. Head Coach Mike Singletary has illustrated he’s not tolerating distractions, so I have a feeling Davis will overcome adversity, and become a great addition on the opposite side of rookie Mike Iupati.
But it’s likely to be a bumpy ride along the way.
6. Joe Haden, CB (Browns)
Merge together Joe Haden’s striking physicality, great instincts, terrific ball skills, and outstanding ability in jamming receivers and you may have the next Champ Bailey.
However, Haden lacks ideal size, needs work on tackling, and dealt with performance issues at the Combine.
In addition, he heads to a team with a bad draft history, a secondary that offers little help, and a division that is home to Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antonio Bryant, and Chad Ochocinco, and that’s just to name a few.
7. Ryan Matthews, RB (Chargers)
Ryan Matthews is explosive, elusive, and extremely productive.
But he played college in the WAC at Fresno State, which is a conference that’s jam packed with powerhouse offenses, but non-existent, abysmal defenses.
In addition, Matthews was a huge stretch, taken with the 12th pick overall, especially considering he would have still been avaliable in the latter part of the first round since teams like Houston had more important needs address like the secondary.
Furthermore, he has little to no experience in the passing game, which is a large component that seems to be fading away by the second with Vincent Jackson expected to miss the first 10 games of the regular season.
I could be later proven wrong, but the cons significantly outweigh the pros at this time.
8. C.J. Spiller, RB (Bills)
C.J. Spiller can’t carry the Bills with 20-25 carriers per game, but he’s a tremendous situational big-play home run threat.
He resembles Reggie Bush and Felix Jones, but brings potentially even more versatility and exuberance to the equation.
While he won’t have great protection in front of him, and albeit I can’t envision stardom quickly in the road ahead, Spiller should prove to be very successful as a versatile and lethal asset in a deadly trio, should Marshawn Lynch stay in Buffalo.
9. Tim Tebow, Wildcat QB (Broncos)
He didn’t play in an NFL-friendly system in college and he’s not all that accurate. He begins his career with a chip on his shoulder and he’s an obvious experimental project. These are the negatives that stack up against Tim Tebow.
However, Tebow plays with a ton of heart and passion. He’s very versatile, deceptively quick and elusive, fearless in the pocket, and a tremendous leader on and off the field.
While it’s likely he won’t start right away, it’s evident that he will earn playing time at some point this season, and you can be sure it will electrify the crowds with something completely extraordinary.
Hands down, this will go down as either the dumbest or smartest move by a head coach in NFL History. I don’t see a place in between in this case.
10. DeMaryius Thomas, WR (Broncos)
DeMaryius Thomas has very similar attributes to Tim Tebow. They have excellent work ethic, superb leadership, terrific athleticism, amazing versatility, are great additions for the locker room, and both come from a wacky offensive system in college.
Not only is Thomas a lower risk than Tebow, but he was also projected to go late in the first round.
But just like Tim, DeMaryius Thomas has a ton of pressure, as he tries to fill Brandon Marshall’s place.
This will likely force him to plummet down the toilet, or allow him to quickly triumph, vastly exceeding expectations.