Not every player I love pans out, but if there is one thing I pride myself on, it's that for many years I've been pretty good at spotting frauds in the top half of round one. I haven't see this many "No, no, no! What the **** are you doing!!!" type picks in the top half since 2009, a year that was infamous for a wretched top 12 picks but took off like a rocket afterwards.
Beginning with 2009, here are some players that I thought would be big mistakes and caused bad front offices to fall in love with them for all the wrong reasons:
2009: Tyson Jackson, Aaron Curry, Aaron Maybin
2010: Tyson Alualu (4th round grade), JPP (although I had a feeling the Giants would make that pick work)
2011: Christian Ponder (4th round grade)
2012: Morris Claiborne*, Dontari Poe, Dre Kirkpatrick, Melvin Ingram
*I didn't think Claiborne would suck, but I thought he was just an "okay" prospect and thought Janoris Jenkins was far superior. Claiborne had just 1 pick and 8 passes defensed last season. Too early to tell, but Claiborne, Poe, Kirkpatrick, and Ingram were all disappointments in 2012. Kirkpatrick basically didn't even play (just 4 tackles) and Ingram had just 1 sack all season.
So which players make up the landmine group in 2013? In order of (likely) appearance:
I think Floyd follows the classic example of teams getting overly excited about athleticism and then allowing group think to take over. Floyd is a fluid athlete, but his combine results hardly blow you out of the water. His 40 time was nearly 3 tenths of a second slower than 4th rounder Henry Melton in 2009. .27. A few tenths of a second may not sound like much, but in relative terms it's an eternity. Floyd is an above average athlete, but he's not a freak of nature. His ten yard split was so so as well. Datone Jones is actually a superior athlete with more production to boot, but is generally considered a late 1st rounder.
Floyd also has short-ish arms and showed no ability to rip or swim at Florida. He's fast but not ultra quick- he's not exploding into gaps before guards can stop him. He's outstanding at extending to disengage- meaning that he's a terrific run defender in a 2-gap system. I think he'd be a really nice player as a 3-4 end, but the talk about him being a 10 sack a year 3-tech is absolute nonsense. This guy had 4.5 sacks combined over 3 seasons, and doesn't have the kind of extreme tools that justify such an aggressive projection.
Supposedly "everyone" has Floyd in their top 5. Might this be a case of good GMs passing along bad info to help Floyd get overdrafted? I wonder.
Floyd is not a horrible player, and for 3-4 teams I think he's easily worth a 1st round pick. I just think his hype has gotten way out of hand, and I would be floored if he met his pre-draft hype during his career, especially as a 3-tech.
There are things I like about Dion Jordan, and I think as a 3-4 OLB he could maybe justify his hype. I'd be intrigued by Jordan as an ultra unconventional 4-3 SAM LB in Carroll's defense. I don't think he's much like Julian Peterson, but I could see him doing good things in a similar kind of role.
Where I get hung up are the comparisons between Jordan and some of the elite 4-3 ends in the NFL. Jordan could add weight of course, but he's very tall and doesn't have a ton of meat on his bones, making him vulnerable to leverage and power blocking. Also, Jordan's arm length is just average (33 7/8") despite being 6'6" tall. And while Jordan is impressive for his height, people are freaking out like he ran a 4.40 or something. 4.60 is good, but hardly god-like.
Again, not knocking his athleticism. It's pretty good, and his 10 yard split was nothing to diss. I'm just not seeing the "omg" inducing athleticism that everyone is freaking out about. I think a lot of Jordan's value comes from how "Pete Carrolly" he is as a prospect. Unique, athletic, undeveloped. Everyone wants to copy Pete right now, so athleticism has really rocketed up the priority list while uniqueness has gone from a detriment to a positive.
Jordan shows some good things and a clever DC might just make him work at DE. That said, he lacks natural play recognition skills (similar to Bruce Irvin), meaning that he's far less effective when he doesn't know if it's going to be a pass or not. He's also very tall for a rush end, and really struggles to dip his hips when going around the edge. I'd say he's even more of a project as a 4-3 DE than Irvin is, and I thought Irvin had more natural talent as well. Irvin was also faster and more relentless. And Irvin didn't cost a top 5 pick.
Like JPP, Jordan is highly undeveloped and didn't really produce much. If Jordan had 36" arms and was less upright and stiff as an athlete, I might buy in to him as a JPP type. Instead, I see him getting a lot of sacks and hurries against tackles that can't defend his edge speed, which is good but short of mindblowing. I think Jordan is a neat player, but probably not a megastar at the next level. He's also very risky given his lack of development and unusual body type.
Not saying he's a guaranteed bust, but I think he deserves to be a mid to late 1st instead of a top 5 lock.
Similar to Jordan, Ansah has overrated athleticism and is highly undeveloped. One of the positives for Ansah are his 35 1/8" arms, but on tape his arms look far shorter than that measurement and he doesn't get 35" type results out of them physically.
Ansah is new to football but what really concerns me was how many small school linemen I saw pushing him around. He has no power in those arms, and often goes chest to chest with blockers. He has no swim/rip type moves to get past blockers, and even if he did I am not sure he has the upper body strength to be good with them. BYU played Ansah inside often but he was typically a stonewall machine.
As a LEO or a prototypical 5-tech (meaning, not what Red Bryant is) Ansah shows some promise with his 4.60 speed and strong 10 yard split. Despite playing with a high pad level he doesn't get driven back on drive blocks, which tells me that he has the potential to be a solid or even good 5-tech against the run. And while his arms are weak, they are 35" long. Maybe a good coach could turn him into something there. And with a LOT of work, I could see a brilliant coach making something out of Ansah as a LEO.
It's going to be a lot of work though. Ansah just isn't a natural football player. Despite his quick 10 yard split on a track, he's actually pretty slow firing off the snap and worse yet, he stands up and gives up his pad level immediately.
Ansah's upside might be a 10 sack a year LEO, but only if he gains great upper body strength, learns how to use his 35" arms, develops a pass rush repertoire (he has none), learns how to diagnose the run better, learns how to fire off quick and learns how to stay low and keep his pads down. That's a LOT to ask.
To be brutally honest, I'm not sure if there is a shred of difference between Ansah and Margus Hunt. Their combine measurements and performances were strikingly similar, they both are from outside the US, and both are new to football. I actually thought Hunt was the more fluid athlete of the two at the combine. And where is Hunt getting drafted? Late 1st? 3rd round? 5th round? He's not going top 10, and Ansah shouldn't either.
Just missed the cut:
Barkevious Mingo: I'm letting him off the hook because there is a small chance he might not go top 15. Mingo has quickness but can't disengage and plays like his size would suggest. He wasn't productive at LSU and when you watch him you see why.
Damontre Moore: He's probably a 2nd or 3rd rounder now, so no need to pile on.
Star Lotulelei: He's looking like a 10-15 range type guy right now. I think that's not terribly over-rated given his Suh/Ngata type upside.
Alec Ogletree: Probably dropping into the 20-60 range now, so like Moore, I won't kick him while he's down.
Cordarrelle Patterson: Not really a receiver, more of a RB playing WR. Seattle loves players like that, but if a team takes Patterson really early thinking he's something he's not, it could spell trouble. I actually like Patterson, but I'm putting him on this list because he's very high risk and that doesn't appear to be appreciated enough in his draft hype.
Johnathan Hankins: Won't be a top 15 guy, but the fact that he's even in 1st round mocks is mind blowing. I wouldn't draft him in the 7th. Might be the worst "1st round prospect" I have ever seen. If Seattle drafts him, things might get awkward.
Desmond Trufant: Always a nice player at UW, Trufant feels like a pretty massive overdraft as a mid to late 1st rounder. He's a solid contributor, but not a star.
And yes, I have looked over every 1st round prospect, not just the guys Seattle might want. I really like this OL class which is dominating the first round. Fluker might be the one exception but he's a fringe 1st rounder, and he's a classic Tom Cable type too so I wouldn't bash the pick if Seattle made it. Mainly, it's the DL class that is loaded with landmines this year.