Monday, March 27, 2006

The Bust Factor

Part of the reason the draft is so fun is the fact that so many prospects don't pan out. Those teams that can avoid the "busts" often end up well ahead of the game. NFL scouts try, sometimes in futility, to decide which players have that perfect match of skills and tools. And there is a HUGE difference between skills and tools. Even prospects that seemingly have all the talent in the world, can never develop the proper skills. Of course there's always the what-you-see-is-what-you-get prospect that has impeccable form, but lacks the athleticism or size to compete at the pro level. In most cases the guy with the tools gets picked first. After all you can't teach speed, right?

I'm going to break down a few top prospects that are either can't-miss or set off my bust alarm.

Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland--CAN'T MISS
As hard as I try, I cannot find a flaw in Davis as a prospect for the next level. His raw tools are mind-blowing. We've never seen a tight end with his speed, let alone the strength that he brings with it. Davis also has shown these skills on the field, producing with very poor talent around him. That said, the factor that assures me that Davis will be great is his work ethic. No team should worry that he won't live up to his draft position. Davis will walk into the league as a human mismatch, but seeing him put to use in a precision passing game is downright scary. As he develops his already impressive talent, he could be a transcendent player.

AJ Hawk, LB, Ohio State
The only thing I can do to discount what Hawk has done at Ohio State is say he had a lot of help. Hawk has that deadly combo of tools and skills. He isn't an athletic freak, but he certainly doesn't lack size, quickness or strength. He gets tackles. He fights through the trash. He cover backs and tight ends. He pressures the QB. Hawk is a fit in any scheme.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis
Williams ran for 2,000 yards...twice. Unlike the next guy, he's shown he can carry the load. And also unlike the next guy, there was nobody else around for defenses to key on. Like my other can't-miss prospects, Williams has that deadly combo of all the tools, skills and work ethic to get even better.

Reggie Bush, RB, USC
It's hard to say a player with this much talent will fail, and that is not what I am saying. I just don't think Bush will live up to the #1 overall hype. The player Bush compares to most favorably is Gale Sayers, but the NFL is too fast these days for anybody to be running by defenses like they're standing still. Another factor is durability. Bush can't go out and do his thing on a banged up leg like a Jerome Bettis (or even DeAngelo Williams) can. There's a reason why Sayers only lasted five years. I don't know that Bush will miss, but he can.

D'brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia-- BUST ALERT
Will never be a dominant run blocker, so at best he'll be one dimentional. For all his athleticism, Ferguson still didn't dominate as a pass blocker at Virginia. Might not have a killer instinct. Ferguson seems like a good guy, but you've got to have a mean streak play after play in the NFL. Reminds me a lot of Kwame Harris (49ers).

Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt--BUST ALERT
Call me a skeptic, but when was the last time a quarterback who performed so underwhelmingly in college became an All-Pro in the NFL? A few things that scare me: 59% passer, career 59/36 TD/INT ratio, and of course he's this year's "next Brett Favre" ask Pat Ramsey, Kyle Boller, JP Losman and Rex Grossman how being the next Brett Favre is working out.


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