NFL 1st- round draft picks bust for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they don’t have the love, desire, work ethic, or mentality to make it. Other times, they are poorly coached, asked to play out of position, or placed in schemes not suited for their skill set. General managers, scouts, and fans often fall in love with measurables from the NFL Scouting Combine. In reality, their game film, and work ethic should be 90% of the evaluation. Height, Hand size, bench press, broad jump, 40-time, 3-cone drill, verticle jump, and Wonderlic test scores are small factors in
Here is a list of 1st-round picks that had amazing combine performances but didn’t break through in the NFL. Leave a comment with which guys busted themselves, and which were put in positions to fail.
Tim Tebow – 2010
Tim Tebow is a great person and leader but was an inaccurate passer. The Broncos didn’t care when they drafted him #25 overall in 2010. He measured 6’3″ 236 pounds, ran 4.71 in the 40, and was good in the broad jump and 3 -cone drill as well. None of those things have anything to do with playing quarterback in the NFL. Tebow was a prime candidate for an NFL position change. Things didn’t work out too bad for him though. He’s an MLB minor leaguer, college football analyst, and engaged to the 2017 Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters.
Matt Jones – 2005
Matt was my former teammate and I like him as a person, but the scouts and decision makers in Jacksonville got it all wrong. He was not a highly touted quarterback prospect out of Arkansas. However, when he ran a 4.37 in the 40 at 6-6 people started getting “bright ideas”. They thought they could teach a fast guy without a lot of quickness to play wide receiver in the NFL. Needless to say, it didn’t work.
Ahmad Carroll – 2004
Ironically, Carroll was a teammate of Matt Jones at Arkansas and with both of us in Jacksonville. Carroll was not projected as a 1st round pick heading into the 2004 NFL Draft. However, he showed out with his measurables. The Packers fell in love with his 4.3 speed, 41-inch vertical, and 10’8 broad jump and drafted him #27 overall. Urban legend says the Packers made him practice in boxing gloves because he held too much. He only lasted with the Packers for 39 games.
Vernon Gholston – 2008
Gholston looked the part. He was big (6’4′, 258), fast (4.6), and strong (37 bench press reps). Teams fell in love the measurables instead of his tape. The film said he was an extremely raw prospect that was a boom or bust pick. He busted. In three seasons he didn’t record one NFL sack.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – 2009
The two most necessary skills to play wide receiver in the NFL: the ability to run good routes to get open, and catching the football consistently. Heyward-Bey had neither one in droves. Yet, Al Davis and the Raiders fell in love with his 4.30 in the 40. They got four seasons 140 catches on 300 targets. The Raiders could have drafted Michael Crabtree instead. I cannot fully knock a man who just finished his 10th NFL season. Heyward-Bey deserves credit for reinventing himself as a special teams player.
Aaron Curry – 2009
It is almost hard to believe Curry was a 1st round bust. He checked every single box. His measurables were off the charts good. His 40-time, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, and shuttle times left scouts with no doubt about his potential. Ultimately, Seattle drafted him #4 overall. Curry ended up washing out of the NFL after 48 games. In all fairness, he wasn’t horrendous. He did finish his career with 244 tackles and 5.5 sacks. The light just never came all the way on.
Tony Mandarich -1989
Mandarich’s NFL Combine stats were absolutely mindblowing. Even if NFL General Managers knew the outcome of his career, some of them would still draft him. He was a 300-pound offensive lineman with good college film, ran a 4.65 in the 40, put up 39 reps on the bench, and had a 30″ vertical. Mandarich was a freakish athlete that looked like Pit-bull but played like a Chihuahua. He is the only player drafted in the top five in 1989 who is not in the Hall of Fame. Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders were taken after him
Mike Mamula -1995
As a defensive end out of Boston College, Mamula was projected as a third-round pick. After his amazing NFL Scouting Combine performance, he propelled himself up to the #7 overall pick by the Eagles. He benched 225 pounds 28 times, had a vertical jump of 38.5 inches, and ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds. He also scored a 49 out of 50 on the Wonderlic. So, how could anything go wrong?
The Eagles only traded their No. 12 overall pick and two second-round selections to the Buccaneers to move up and select Mamula. This trade may have contributed to the reasons it took the Eagles so long to win a Super Bowl.
Leave a comment with which guys busted themselves, and which were put in positions to fail.