Every year around NFL draft time, we start labeling prospects with phrases like "sure thing" and "can't miss." The players given these compliments rarely live up to them, but we ignore history and dish them out anyway.
The 2018 NFL Draft season is no different. We're seeing mock drafts where players with obvious questions marks are being taken off the board way too early — mostly out of would-be desperation. Teams will probably give up a king's ransom for these guys, only to see some wind up out of the league before their first contracts expire.
We call those players "busts."
Here are four such players, and I'm officially putting them on "bust watch."
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield was a great college quarterback — No question. As far as the excitement around him as a pro prospect, I don't get it. We've seen this story before. A short, athletic playmaker with a short fuse and questionable leadership qualities never seems to find his fit under center in the NFL. He's not as strong as Russell Wilson, not as accurate as Drew Brees and not as mature as Case Keenum was coming out of college. Those are — physically and stylistically — the closest comparisons to Mayfield currently in the NFL. Fewer people seem to have to courage to say it as the draft inches closer, but Mayfield looks like Johnny Manziel 2.0.
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Ward has been flying to the top of mock drafts for the last couple of months — largely due to his speed. Looking at his highlights, some of his best plays came against tight ends who couldn't run away from him or quarterbacks who will never throw a pass in the NFL. When he plays on Sundays, he'll be lined up against receivers four inches taller than and just as fast as him regularly. They'll be targeted by the best passers on the planet. I'll be stunned if Ward develops into anything more than No. 3 corner in a nickel package.
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport is drawing rave reviews and being compared of another former Group of 5 great — Khalil Mack, who starred at Buffalo before becoming an All-Pro at two different positions for the Raiders. This is a case of a guy who looks great getting off the bus, good on film and great in workouts. Here's the problem: As good as Davenport looked on film, he wasn't dominant in the way you'd think a player with his supposed talent would be in Conference USA. He drew a lot of matchups against slow, small offensive tackles than he would have in a Power 5 conference. There was film of Mack dominating in a game against Ohio State. That’s not the case with Davenport.
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
I was on the Allen (above, right) train for a long time. I wanted to see another Carson Wentz — due to Allen's pedigree and frame. It's just not there. Physically, Allen has all the tools. On the field, however, the decision-making is not even close and the accuracy is a serious question mark. At best he's a project to sit and learn behind a veteran in the twilight of their career. At this point, I'm baffled that some still have him as the potential No. 1 overall pick.
— Written by J.P. Scott who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on Fox Sports, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report, SBNation and SI.com. He is currently the Site Expert at SlapTheSign.com, the Notre Dame blog on the Fansided Network. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.