Don't be shocked if these guys go early in the draft... and fail to meet expectations
It never fails. Every year as the NFL draft approaches, talking heads and sportswriters start labeling prospects with terms like "sure thing" and "can't miss." The players that receive these plaudits rarely live up to them, but that doesn't seem to stop the words from getting tossed around.
The 2019 NFL Draft season is no different. We're seeing mock drafts where players with obvious question marks are being selected way too early. We're hearing about people trading away known commodities to make room for these unproven talents. Some of these players will end up out of the league before their first contracts expire, or never quite live up to where they were drafted.
We call those players "busts."
Here are four such players, and I'm officially putting them on "bust watch."
Kyler Murray, QB Oklahoma
I don't get it — I really don't. He's an undersized quarterback who is going to scramble and take hits. That doesn't work out well — ask Cam Newton, who is built like a tight end and still takes a beating. Be that as it may, it looks like the Cardinals are going to roll the dice on Murray just because he played in an offense in college that is conducive to what the new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, will run in Arizona. That doesn't seem like a great plan.
Full disclosure: I had Baker Mayfield on this list a year ago. I was wrong about him. That said, It's hard to argue that Mayfield's success as a rookie isn't playing a role in Murray's draft stock. They're not the same player, mentally, physically or stylistically. It would be foolish to expect the same results.
Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
I've seen mocks that have Gary going in the top five. That seems awful high for a guy expected to get to the quarterback by consistently beating the best offensive tackles on the planet, yet couldn't do that in college against guys who will never cash NFL paychecks. He was supposed to be an elite pass rusher coming out of high school. He then proceeded to log a grand total of 10.5 sacks in college. Somehow, he is supposed to magically reach his full potential in the NFL. I'm not buying, and neither should your favorite team.
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
If you like big, strong, fast wide receivers who can run in a straight line and not do much else, Metcalf is your guy. The talking heads fell in love with his freakish physique at the NFL Scouting Combine, all the while ignoring the neck injury that kept him out for half of the 2018 season, poor route-running and sub-par cone and shuttle drill times. There are probably a half dozen better prospects at the wide receiver position, but it looks like Metcalf will be the first off the board.
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Fants is getting a lot of attention because he's big, he can run and he can catch — just like an oversized receiver! Bottom line: that's exactly what he is. He is athletically gifted, but the question is whether or not he can fit into modern passing schemes that require shorter, more compact routes while also not being a liability as a blocker in the run game. There's a reason a lot of scouts like his teammate, T.J. Hockenson, more than Fant at the NFL level. Hockenson is more versatile and much more polished as a tight end — as are a handful of other prospects in the draft. Some team is going to spend an early pick on Fant, landing themselves a very good athlete with a limited skill set.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.