I’ve previously written that revisiting past NFL Drafts is a healthy exercise that works to investigate why certain prospects either outperformed or failed to live up to their draft slot. Each landing spot, scheme, depth chart and player development system is different, and coaching staff turnover can be rapid in the NFL. All of those factors can have a positive or negative impact on a prospect “working out” in the NFL.
Scouting is an imperfect system and development is never linear. While a lot of draft “misses” can come down to character or injuries, occasionally NFL teams will simply miss on a prospect from a player evaluation standpoint. I refuse to label talented players who constantly fail to stay healthy as “busts,” as injuries are extremely difficult to project. To me, busts are players who teams over-drafted and missed on because of talent evaluation.
Today is 2010 NFL Draft day at The Draft Network, as we’ll revisit that class through multiple lenses and articles. This particular one will look into the busts from the class.
The 2010 NFL Draft might be the strongest overall class in recent memory, with 17 first-round selections eventually being selected to a pro bowl or all-pro team. An additional 8 first-round picks were still active on NFL rosters last season, having carved out 9+ year NFL careers. Standout players such as Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Eric Berry, Russell Okung, Joe Haden, Earl Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, Mike Iupati, Maurkice Pouncey, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and Devin McCourty were all selected in the first-round. Rob Gronkowski, Linval Joseph, Carlos Dunlap, Sean Lee, Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, NaVarro Bowman, Jimmy Graham, Everson Griffen, Geno Atkins, Kam Chancellor and Antonio Brown were all selected outside of the first-round.
So while it’s slim pickings to nail down the busts from the class compared to other years, there are still a few notable names that stand out. But first, I’m going to go over a few players who you might expect to see on a “bust” list, but that I don’t believe fit the qualifications.
While Sam Bradford never lived up to his draft slot at #1 overall, a lot of that can be attributed to injuries. Many times during his career, Bradford would be cooking before going down with injury. Add in the fact that he was bogged down by poor coaching for certain stretches of his career, and I don’t think Bradford was a bust from a player evaluation standpoint.
Similar to Bradford, running backs C.J. Spiller, Ryan Matthews and Jahvid Best all showed that they were abundantly talented, but struggled to remain on the field. Once again, the NFL didn’t miss on their talent evaluations. The final questionable pick would be Anthony Davis, who basically walked away from the NFL after 5 seasons. Despite that, he was a solid right tackle who started 71 games including the 49ers Super Bowl XLVII appearance.
Now let’s get into the 2010 NFL Draft busts.
The 10th overall selection, Tyson Alualu was one in a long line of draft misses for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Never really able to generate much from a pass rushing perspective, Alualu only has 21.5 sacks in his 9-year career, despite only missing three games. He’s been a reasonable role and rotational player throughout his career for both the Jaguars and recently the Steelers, but has never even approached a pro bowl level of play. The selection of Alualu in the top 10 was criticized at the time, and that criticism has been proven justified.
Following a storied career as one of the most accomplished college quarterbacks in history, Tim Tebow was selected as the 25th overall pick to the Denver Broncos. During his second season, the Broncos caught fire under Tebow’s leadership on their way to the divisional round of the playoffs. However, his generally poor play led to him having just a three-year career with 16 total starts.
Tebow’s character and work ethic were never under question, and he stayed healthy during his time in the NFL. He just didn’t have the proper mechanics or arm talent to survive as an NFL quarterback.
Taken right after Tim Tebow at pick 26, Dan Williams was a run-stuffing defensive tackle from Tennessee. Despite a career than spanned 7 seasons and 102 games, Williams only produced 221 tackles and 3.5 sacks. His style of play didn’t fit into the modern game, and he failed to ever develop juice as a pass rusher to keep him on the field for longer stretches of time.
For a first-round pick, he never came close to reaching expectations.
I specifically remember the moment that the New York Jets selected Kyle Wilson. After the more heralded Joe Haden was drafted in the top 10, the Jets took Wilson because, as Rex Ryan put it, “he was the superior cover corner.” Big ol’ yikes on that one, Rex.
Wilson became the defensive back that opposing teams would target and pick on for years in New York, becoming more known for his excessive celebrations during the few times he’d force an incompletion. During his 5 year stretch in the Jets lineup, Wilson accumulated just 2 interceptions and 13 pass breakups. To his credit, he was a solid tackler considering his size. But those coverage skills just never translated to the NFL level.