Boom or Bust: Top 5 Sleepers and Busts in This Years’ NFL Draft


Augie has come out with his top five players he thinks will outperform or underperform their draft slotting.

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Top 5 Busts:

1. Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois

On paper, Martez Wilson looks like a top 10 prospect but the film tells another story…and the film doesn’t lie. While Wilson’s physical attributes (4.42 40 at 6’5″ 250lbs) will have him skyrocketing up team’s draftboards, Wilson does not play to his abilities on the field. Despite his large frame, Wilson often looks to get out of the way of blocks instead of engage and shed which often leads to the play whizzing right past him or getting lost in the wash. Wilson also lacks the instincts to be an effective middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme and may be best suited in a 3-4 next to a thumper who can absorb much of the punishment and allow him to float and play free. If that is the case, he is not worth the mid-late 1st round to early 2nd round grade that he is recieving.

2. Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

Haven’t we been down this road before? 6’1″ 200lbs WR from Maryland with blazing speed? I forgot, how did that work out? While I honestly believe that Smith will be better than his former counterpart Heyward-Bey, Bey has not set the bar very high. Smith is going to have to prove at the next level that he can be more than just a deep threat. He is going to have to be a more polished route runner, and exhibit the courage to go over the middle and make the tough catch. If not, you are looking at yet another one dimensional WR drafted way too high.

3. Jonathon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

In college football, being 6’4″ 220lbs and being able to jump over everyone to catch the ball produces results. The NFL is a different story. When you are constantly being nagged by a corner that can jump out the building and run like the wind, re-enforced by an over-the-top safety looking to rip your head off your shoulders, you need to develop more skills. From what I have seen and heard, it looks like Baldwin might be another primadonna lacking the talent and production of a Dez Bryant or Brandon Marshall that would make the headache worth it.

4. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

My assessment of Ayers is very similar to Martez Wilson’s except for one glaring difference; Ayers is half the athlete. If Ayers doesn’t commit more effort on a constant basis, he will not be able to compensate with raw athleticism like Wilson can. Ayers may fit better as a 3-4 OLB at this point but needs to show the consistant desire to get after it or he will end up out of the league in a few years.

5. Jake Locker, QB, Washington

Before its all said and done, Locker may end up being the biggest bust of this draft. While I sincerely hope that Locker does well because he is a high character kid with immense raw talent, I just don’t think he was dealt the right hand throughout his career in order to develop into a great quarterback. As a high school player, Locker played in a Wing-T offensive scheme which is an old fashioned style of offense that is typically 90% run and involves misdirection, fullback dives, and toss sweeps with the occasional waggle pass or bootleg sprinkled in. From there, Locker was recruited to play at Washington which was a program that had hit rock bottom and lacked the overall talent in their recieving core and offensive line to provide Locker with the tools to succeed. By the time Steve Sarkisian had taken over, who happens to be one of the best QB tutors in college football, Locker took well in his Junior year, but once teams figured him out, he struggled mightily. If drafted into the right system where he will be given time to sit behind a veteran and develop much like Aaron Rodgers did, Locker could eventually harness his immense raw ability and become a solid NFL QB…but chances are, he will be drafted by a team looking for immediate help at QB, rush his development and he will fizzle out of the league. His best case scenerio would be for him to be drafted by a team like the Patriots where he can develop for 3 or 4 seasons without tremendous expectation and then emerge as “The Guy” with a talented core built around him. And one more thing…I have heard the comparison’s to Brett Favre. Not that far off (nowhere near the same arm strength though) except for one major factor that people neglect to recognize when they draw this comparison…Favre had THE BEST QB TUTORS in the NFL. When the Falcons traded him for a bag of footballs, it was Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid and Jon Gruden who developed Favre into the QB he would one day become. That is the kind of tuteledge I hope the NFL can provide Locker, but seems very unlikely.

Top 5 Sleepers:

1. Austin Pettis, WR, Boise St.

Keep an eye on the other, less hyped WR from Boise St. All he did was catch 71 passes for 951 yards and 10 TD’s, and two of his biggest performances came against Virginia Tech (6 catches for 73 yds 2 TD’s) and in their bowl game against Utah (12 catches for 147 yds 1 TD). He may not have game breaking speed, but he is a polished route runner with exceptional hands and a solid 6’2″ 210lbs frame. I currently have Pettis mocked to the Carolina Panthers early in round 4. Highlight Film:

2. Colin Jones, S, TCU

Colin Jones hasn’t received a whole lot of recognition, but its about time he does. Jones was a leader on one of the best defenses in college football and extremely productive as he posted 80 tackles, 3 sacks and 1 int from the safety position. This was all backed up with a phenominal performance at his pro day where he posted a 4.34 40, 37 inch vertical, and 20 reps of 225lbs. I currently have Jones mocked late in the 3rd round to the San Diego Chargers, as he might just add the finishing touches to an already stout defense. Highlight Film of Pro Day:

3. Bruce Miller, OLB/DE, UCF

At a mere 6’1″ 246lbs, Miller isn’t going to blow scouts away with his physical stature…its just too bad you can’t measure his heart. Bruce Miller’s motor is constantly in overdrive as he posted over 80 tackles in each of his past two seasons and 13 and 9 sacks respectively. He even recorded two interceptions this past year despite being a DE. After running a 4.65 and posting a 34 inch vertical at his pro day, Miller has shown he has the versitility to play OLB in a 3-4 scheme. Look for him to be a steal in the later rounds. I currently have Miller mocked in the 4th round to the Houston Texans who are in desperate need of a potential 3-4 pass rusher. Would be a nice fit in Wade Phillips’ scheme. Highlight Film:

4. Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse

Carter’s name hasn’t been mentioned often amongst the Mark Ingram’s, Mikel LeShoure’s and Ryan Williams’ but in time he will. Delone runs with a purpose and produced solid numbers behind an offensive line that with the exception of late round prospect center Ryan Bartholomew, hasn’t been stocked with NFL caliber players. Carter is the prototypical one cut back with deceptive speed, and the grit to pound it between the tackles. In arguably his biggest game last season, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. Kansas St., Carter led his team to a narrow victory on the wings of a 27 carry, 197 yard and 2 TD performance. I have him mocked to the Giants in the 4th round which should net him some serious production as he draws some major similarities to current Giants free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Highlight Film:

5. Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia

While it may be hard to consider Ras-I Dowling as a sleeper, I believe he is so grossly underrated (a number of publications have him mocked in the 3rd rd) that you have no choice but to contemplate. Before this season, Dowling was considered to be a top 10-15 prospect but injuries caught up to him and severely diminished his senior season. When healthy, Dowling’s numbers were excellent as a 4 year starter at Virginia. At 6’2″ 200lbs Dowling possesses freakish athleticism, (4.37 at his pro day and a 4.40 at the combine despite pulling his hamstring in the middle of it) physicality as he stiffles wide recievers in bump coverage and has shown the ability to shed blocks and stick ball carriers, and the ball skills of a WR. If he can stay healthy, Dowling could trump Prince Amukamara as the 2nd best CB in this draft. I currently have Dowling mocked early in the 2nd round to the Dallas Cowboys whom I believe are higher on Dowling than every other CB in this draft not named Patrick Peterson. Highlight Film:

Honorable Mention: Shareece Wright, CB, USC

Wright has some character red flags including resisting arrest and some academic issues that will cause him to drop to the later rounds, but it is from there that he might emerge as one of the biggest sleepers in this draft. Wright is a film rat, and his love and passion for the game are evident in the way he plays it. Wright is physical, and has great instincts and ball hawking skills as he will sniff out a play, jump routes and make a play on the ball. I have him mocked to the 49ers late in round 4 as I feel that coach Jim Harbaugh has seen enough of this kid in the Pac 10 to feel compelled to take a late round flyer on him. Highlight Film:

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