The names of every player who could possibly be taken in the 2016 NFL draft are on the walls at 32 team headquarters around the league. The order of those names is different depending on each team’s assessment of the player. Some of those names might even have stars next to them.
The fact of the matter is that most of the names on those draft boards will be unrecognizable to the general public by this time next year. Other names will be remembered years from now, but not without the word “bust” forever associated with those names.
These 10 players have the most bust potential of the 2016 NFL draft class. They’re generally placed in order of where they’re expected to be drafted starting with later picks.
(Draft Breakdown videos were used to review players’ game tape)
Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Germain Ifedi could be drafted anywhere from the middle of the first round to late in the second round. If he doesn’t improve his technique and discipline, some team will regret using such a high pick on him.
Multiple scouts say that the 6’6″, 324-pound Ifedi has a habit of “leaning and lunging.” He doesn’t seem authoritative the few times he gets to the second level. What’s also concerning is that he failed to win the left tackle job for the Aggies last season. He moved from right guard in 2013 to right tackle in 2014, but apparently hit his ceiling in trying to be the blindside protector.
One NFC scout told NFL.com that Ifedi should have stayed in school another year.
Artie Burns, CB, Miami
Artie Burns’ ACC-leading six interceptions in 2015 will be the shiny object that catches some team’s attention and makes him a second-round pick or maybe even a late first-round pick.
Burns’ ball skills are undeniable. However, one of his interceptions came against FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman in the first week of the season. Another came against Florida Atlantic in the second week of the season. Another came in the third week against Nebraska, a tougher opponent than the first two. But the receiver ran the wrong route on the play.
The 6’0″, 193-pound junior will have to improve his tackling skills to avoid flaming out in the NFL. He dives at ankles too much and ball carriers can take him for a ride before going down. Against Nebraska he was unblocked on a blitz but overpursued and barely got his hand on Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr.
Artie Burns feels like a CB the NFL will miss on by drafting him too high. He’s limited and should be in a zone scheme. Not a do it all CB
— Justen Gammel (@gamscout) April 1, 2016
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Emmanuel Ogbah is the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and an NFL Scouting Combine star, placing among the top three defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.63), vertical leap (35.5) and broad jump (121).
The 6’4″, 273-pound Ogbah led the Big 12 with 13 sacks and was second with 16.5 tackles for loss. However, his motor is questionable and he’ll need to develop a wider range of pass-rushing moves.
According to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, Ogbah worked out better at defensive end than linebacker at his pro day. If he can’t convert to linebacker in the NFL, he’ll probably have to add a few pounds to consistently produce as a defensive lineman.
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Will Fuller was the fastest receiver at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.32-second 40-yard dash, but that’s no precursor to NFL success.
Only six receivers have run faster 40s at the combine than Fuller since 2006, but that list includes no-names such as Marquise Goodwin, Jacoby Ford and Yamon Figurs.
Fuller has the potential to be a big-play threat in the NFL. He averaged 20.3 yards per reception in 2015. Over the past two seasons he’s caught 138 passes, including 29 touchdowns. The problem is he’s also dropped nine passes in each of the last two seasons, according to NFL.com, and his 6’0″, 186-pound frame could make him useless as a run blocker and on routes over the middle.
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Kevin Dodd had a breakout junior season and put his name firmly on the map with three sacks and five tackles for loss against Alabama in the national championship game. He’ll have to prove, however, that he’s not a one-year wonder and that his numbers weren’t inflated by playing opposite Shaq Lawson.
Lawson led the nation with 24.5 tackles for loss and added 12.5 sacks. He had 20 sacks in his collegiate career. Dodd entered 2015 with no sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. With most of the blocking attention focused on Lawson, Dodd had 24 tackles for loss last season and 12.5 sacks.
Despite the concerns that he rode Lawson’s coattails, Dodd is probably the safest pick on this list. His performance against Alabama was a culmination of a stretch in which he went five games with at least one sack. He could be hitting his stride and jumping into the NFL on an upward trajectory.
Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Leonard Floyd boosted his stock at the NFL Scouting Combine by placing in the top five among linebackers in the 40 (4.6), vertical leap (39.5) and broad jump (127).
Those numbers, combined with his length, make the 6’6″ Floyd an intriguing prospect as a pass rusher.
The problem is that only 244 pounds fill out Floyd’s frame, and occasionally he looks like he’s on roller skates when he’s pushed backward by a blocker. He sometimes loses composure when he’s beat, which can lead to penalties.
Floyd’s combine performance and unique body make some people forget that he never had more than 6.5 sacks in any of his three seasons at Georgia, and those 6.5 sacks came in 2013 followed by six in 2014 and 4.5 last season.
Wearing the No. 84 with that slender build, Floyd looks like a wide receiver. That’s not a good look for a linebacker.
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Mackensie Alexander wouldn’t include himself on a list of potential draft busts. He said at the combine that he’s the best cornerback in the draft.
Confidence is an important trait for a cornerback, but Alexander might not have enough of the other traits necessary for a successful NFL career.
The redshirt sophomore had no interceptions and 11 pass breakups in two seasons at Clemson. That’s partly because he shut down receivers and quarterbacks avoided throwing the ball his way. However, his lack of ball awareness could hurt him.
Against Florida State last season, Alexander was so focused on covering his man that he didn’t see Dalvin Cook running with the ball until it was too late. Cook ran for a 75-yard touchdown in the first minute of the game.
Alexander’s lack of size (5’10”, 190) also could work against him at the next level.
Wish Artie Burns would play with some Mack Alexander aggressiveness. Or Mack Alexander had Artie Burns size.
— Jeff Hyde (@PhinsScout_NFL) April 7, 2016
Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
Darron Lee helped Ohio State win the national championship in 2014 with two sacks and three tackles for negative yardage in a 42-35, national semifinal win over Alabama.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Lee led all linebackers in the 40 (4.47) and broad jump (133).
Lee can rise to the occasion and he’s rising on draft boards because of that. But can he handle the daily grind of the NFL?
A redshirt sophomore, Lee has only two seasons of linebacker experience under his belt. He had 6.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in 2014 and 4.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss last season. Of his 4.5 sacks in 2015, 2.5 came in the first two weeks of the season including two against Hawaii, which hasn’t won more than four games since 2011.
At 6’1″, 232 pounds, Lee will have to bulk up to be successful in the pros. The team that drafts him might end up wishing he stayed in school for another year.
Jared Goff, QB, California
Every quarterback class has at least one bust, and Jared Goff is a candidate for busthood this year.
Goff threw 13 interceptions in 2015, the most in the Pac 12, and threw 30 in his three years at California. He was 13-23 in his career as a starter and played primarily out of the shotgun. He’ll need to get used to playing under center in the NFL.
Another one of Goff’s worrisome stats has been one of the major talking points of the draft season. His hands measured just nine inches at the NFL Scouting Combine. He will join Ryan Tannehill and J.P. Losman as the only quarterbacks drafted in the first round since 2003 with nine-inch hands or smaller.
That’s not great company. Tannehill isn’t necessarily a bust, but he hasn’t had a winning season in his four-year career and hasn’t proven worthy of the No. 8 pick the Dolphins used to take him in 2012.
Goff could go even higher than that and could be even more of a disappointment than Tannehill.
Universally the pro comparison scouts used for Jared Goff to me when asked, was Sam Bradford.
Take that how you will.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) April 8, 2016
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Mississippi
Robert Nkemdiche can play any position on the defensive line and appears to have game-changing talent, but his college production doesn’t match his skill set. He had just six sacks and 16 tackles for loss in three seasons while never forcing or recovering a fumble.
The 6’3″, 294-pounder also comes with questions about his desire and character concerns following an arrest for marijuana possession after he fell from a hotel window. Nkemdiche was suspended for the Sugar Bowl because of that incident.
Nkemdiche reminds some of Ndamukong Suh. His headache factor might not be as high as Suh’s but his talent also could fall short of that standard.