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The NFL Draft is long over and training camp gets closer every day. Optimism runs high...but so does fear. Fear of failure, fear of underperforming 21-year-olds, fear of...the bust. No, not this crime against humanity. This kind of bust is even worse. Much, much worse.
Rick Mirer, Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, everyone the Cleveland Browns draft, Andre Ware, Tony Mandarich, Ki-Jana Carter and Matt Leinart. Those names haunt the nightmares of NFL GMs, past and present. Will any of this year's crop of rookies add his name to the list of infamy?
As previously mentioned, the Cleveland Browns have taken horrible drafting to Jedi-level, so we will start there. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Baker Mayfield, was the Browns first-rounder this year. He may be a decent QB, but Cleveland likely will not have the supporting cast that he enjoyed at Oklahoma.
Remember how dominant Johnny Manziel was in college? The Browns took him in the first round of the 2014 draft. When last seen, he was riding the bench for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL That may not happen to Mayfield, but, given Cleveland's history, he most likely won't be the saviour that the Dog Pound is hoping for.
Next is Rashaad Penny, who went to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round and he was picked ahead of players like Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Derrius Guice. He is a back that should have been taken in the 2nd round. Penny had a great career at San Diego State, but he played behind a very strong Aztec offensive line. He also played in the Mountain West Conference, where their defenses made the Big-12 look like the Steel Curtain. Making it worse for him is the fact that the Seahawks have a terrible offensive line. He will get beat up early and often. It could be a long season in the Pacific Northwest.
The Buffalo Bills took Josh Allen from Wyoming with the 7th pick overall, despite the fact that Josh Rosen from UCLA was still on the board. He threw for 3203 yards and 28 TDs in 2016, but last year he threw for just 1812 yards and 16 TDs against Mountain West defenses (see above). Allen does have a big arm, which many scouts like, but he is not very accurate and he was taken by the Bills, who have not had great luck with signal callers the last few years. He seems to trending the wrong way and quite likely will end up proving to be unworthy of the seventh pick.
Because of a trade, the Cleveland Browns get an extra chance to screw up the first round. Instead of selecting pass rushing machine Bradley Chubb with the 4th overall pick, they grabbed cornerback Denzel Ward of Ohio State. The Browns do need some defensive help, but I’m not sure he is the guy. He made some big plays at OSU, but those were often against slow tight ends or less mobile quarterbacks. In the NFL he will be pitted against receivers that will almost always be faster and taller. He was also drafted by the Browns, which is already a strike against him. He will probably be relegated to the nickel package and he could even struggle in that.
Our last player on bust alert is Calvin Ridley, who was drafted 26th overall by the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are always looking for quality receivers to help with their high-octane offense, but Ridley may not be the guy to get it done. He had a very disappointing combine and is a bit older than many of the other receivers that came out of college this year. He is still just 24, but most receivers seem to have their best years in their mid-20s, so he is getting a bit of a late start. He was a big deal at Alabama, but everyone he'll face from here on out was an elite college talent. NFL corners may have a field day against him.
There you have it. Will any of these picks hit Ryan Leaf status? Probably not. Although, the fact that the Browns have two of the top four picks certainly increases the chances. Must be something in the water in Cleveland. In fact, since Buffalo's Josh Allen is on this list, maybe it's Lake Erie! There's lake-effect snow, why not lake-effect drafting?