CineSport— The Jets' Kyle Wilson, the Eagles' Brandon Graham and the Cowboys' Felix Jones all need strong seasons to avoid being NFL draft busts. CineSport's Noah Coslov & Sporting News' Russ Lande discuss.
How to avoid being an NFL draft bust:
1. Play well
2. Stay healthy
3. Stay out of trouble
Granted, #1 is a given and #2 can’t be helped outside of conditioning, but if you become an NFL draft bust because of off-the-field issues, then you earn absolutely no sympathy from fans.
Every year we see a player get drafted, only to throw away their promise off the field. Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones (6th overall, 2005) was involved in numerous of field problems, culminating in the infamous Las Vegas shooting incident and subsequent one-year suspension in 2007. After stints in Tennessee and Dallas and many more off field problems, including another suspension in 2008, Jones has calmed down and has been playing well as a Bengal.
Ryan Leaf (2nd overall, 1998) was supposed to be the next big thing in San Diego. But after his first year was nothing short of a failure, Leaf spiraled out of control. He was suspended for getting in a shouting match the General Manger and breached his contract by playing flag football. After winning four games in three years as a starter, he was released by the Chargers and never bounced back.
Terrelle Pryor had the chance to be a first-round pick when he left Ohio State. But after a scandal erupted involving Pryor receiving improper benefits (including everything from tattoos to cars) he was forced to leave school early. He was taken by the Raiders in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft, but he will never get to develop as much as he would have if he had spent another year in school. Pryor was essentially a bust before he even entered the NFL.
At one point Janoris Jenkins (39th overall, 2012) was Florida’s premier defensive player and an inevitable first-round pick, but after a slew of off-the-field issues, he was dismissed by the Gators. He was able to play his senior season at Division II North Alabama and salvaged his NFL potential, but he cost himself a pretty penny for his actions. Cornerback Stephon Jackson, taken 10th overall by the Bills, received a $7.2 million signing bonus, while Jenkins is looking at a signing bonus between $1 and 2 million.
NFL draft busts are inevitable; they will always happen. And while on-field injuries are beyond the control of the players, off-the-field incidents are completely preventable.