We are almost there. March 12th starts free agency, and then just about a month until the draft. By the end of April, we'll finally know who the Colts' new difference makers will be. With all the talk of who the Colts should (or shouldn't) take, one question has been rattling around my mind. In every draft there are busts--much like a crash in an auto racing event, they can be kind of fun to watch (so long as no one gets hurt). So here's my question: which players have the biggest bust potential?
With that in mind, here are my top candidates:
- Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame. This has to be my top pick. Sure there are quarterbacks who will be taken in the first round who almost certainly won't live up to their pick, but this guy is tumbling down draft boards for good reason. For a long time he was considered a lock to be a top 10 pick, but the title game against Alabama exposed him as a middling talent at best. I know one game shouldn't make or break a player, but Alabama was really the only top-flight team Notre Dame played. ND is a huge hype machine. Since 2000, there have been about 45 players drafted from Notre Dame; only three of them have made the Pro Bowl. Of the first and second rounders taken from ND since 2000, only 1 has made the Pro Bowl: Kyle Rudolph, and he was like a third alternate. Add in character concerns, and there's a ton of bust potential. As it stands, I wouldn't take Te'o before the 3rd or 4th round.
- Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama. Eddie Lacy is a solid back, but I have seen some mocks putting him as high as the top of the second round or even breaking into the late first. He's just not that good. He's slower than you might like at the position, and he's rising up draft boards just because of the shortage of quality RB prospects.
- Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. He's been really productive for Notre Dame, but all of the concerns I have with Manti Te'o I have with Tyler Eifert. Tyler is probably going to be more successful than Te'o given that he enjoyed some success against Alabama.
- Matt Barkley, QB, USC. Barkley will probably be a decent NFL quarterback, but I doubt he'll ever become a franchise quarterback. I don't have many objective reasons for saying he's going to bust (save for his declining play this past season); I just don't trust USC quarterbacks. Consider their current alumni: Matt Cassel, Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart. Of those five, the only quality one is a younger Carson Palmer.
- Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU. There is no doubt that Ziggy Ansah has the raw physical tools to become a dominant player. I'm not saying he will bust, just that there is definitely some potential that he might. I don't like the idea of taking a player as high as mock drafts are listing him who has as little experience as he does. It obviously worked out in a big way with Jason Pierre-Paul, so it totally could work. Just worried about taking him that high.
- Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia. Is he a monster on the field for a top program against elite competition? Yes. I worry about his work ethic though. There have been reports that he doesn't put in much time in the weight room; he simply relies on his own natural ability. There are very, very few people who are naturally physically talented enough to succeed in the NFL without lots of work. Again, he will probably succeed, but I'm hesitant.