The Peanut Gallery's Top 5 NFL Draft Bust Candidates
Every NFL Draft pick comes with bust potential, ESPECIALLY these five.
This year's NFL Draft was very intriguing, to say the least. Scouts are acting like this is the 2020 QB draft. I’m not buying it. I don’t believe Will Levis, Anthony Richardson, CJ Stroud and Bryce Young are the next Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts. If I’m the Texans or a team in need of a QB, I would have waited a year to entertain picking a QB. Next year’s draft includes Caleb Williams, Quinn Ewers, and Drake Maye.
This year is also supposed to be a down year for wide receivers, a class highlighted by Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, Jalin Hyatt and Zay Flowers. Not a bunch of big names like there will be in next year's draft. The 2023 NFL Draft is loaded more so with quality defensive players than offensive players. That’s why I would have drafted a lot of defense and offensive linemen this year and focused more on the skill positions next year.
1. Will Levis, 33rd Overall Pick, Tennessee Titans
Levis, in my eyes, is the most likely NFL Draft bust. He is talented and in the best shape of his life, but his football skills aren’t quite there. At the end of last season when the schedule was the toughest, he struggled a lot. Throwing for over 200 yards just once in the final five games, dropping a game against Vandy, and almost dropping a game against Missouri, both not big-time football schools, makes me question Levis’s ability to perform in the NFL.
He didn’t have any games that popped off the page against tougher competition. His three best games came against Miami of Ohio, Youngstown State, and Northern Illinois; all three of these teams were much worse than his Kentucky squad and he should have had big games against them. His rise up the draft boards based off his Pro Day and combine reminded me a lot of Zach Wilson, who played against subpar competition. People didn’t know what to expect, then his arm jumped out to scouts. Levis's ability to read high-level defenses and methodically march down the field isn’t quite there, similar to Wilson. Levis will either hit big or he will be a complete bust in my eyes. It will be interesting to follow how his career goes.
2. Anthony Richardson, 4th Overall Pick, Indianapolis Colts
This one is difficult because Richardson, like Levis, has an elite arm. Richardson also has the ability to extend plays in an impressive way. I’m not sure how this will translate in the NFL for a couple of reasons.
There have only been a few QBs who can scramble around and extend plays well, while also staying healthy. Many scrambling QBs haven’t panned out over the course of their careers. Robert Griffin III was one of them at the start of his career, and I could see Richardson having a similar trajectory career-wise. Mahomes is one of the few durable QBs who can both throw from the pocket and extend plays. Richardson reminds of Mahomes a little bit, but typically this type of QB has not had sustained success over many years. I see Richardson having a career more like RG3 than Mahomes. He has all the raw talent, but he didn’t have dazzling stats last year at Florida. Richardson relied heavily on his ability to extend plays. I find this worrisome because it is more difficult to replicate that in the NFL.
3. Quentin Johnston, 21st Overall Pick, Los Angeles Chargers
Quentin Johnston has the size to be a good receiver, but he has average speed. I think he could go either way, but I’m leaning towards him being a bust. The thing that scares me about Johnston is that he had a drop percentage above 11 percent. A drop percentage of 11.8 would have put him at the third highest drop percentage in the NFL. Most plays in the NFL are going to be tough catches, and if he doesn’t turn around this problem and has a rough first year, it might be hard to bounce back.
Another thing is that the Big 12, besides CeeDee Lamb, hasn’t produced many great receivers over the last ten years. I do not think Johnston will be the wide receiver who breaks this trend, but I could be wrong.
4. Jalen Carter, 9th Overall Pick, Philadelphia Eagles
What worries me about Carter is his off-the-field antics. He is exceptionally talented and dominant on the field. However, he did not have a great Pro Day and didn’t even finish his workout. This showed me that he hasn’t been working hard enough since the end of Georgia’s season. Plus, he has been involved in a few legal issues off the field.
The clout and fame that comes with being in the NFL is difficult to handle. If he struggled to handle it at Georgia, it could be even harder for him when he reaches the pros. In the NFL, there is less structure on a day-to-day basis. There is no class or schoolwork, meaning your habits and work ethic towards football, or lack thereof, are highlighted. If he figures out his off-the-field problems and starts learning how to handle himself, he can be a star in the NFL. But right now it’s not looking too good for a prospect of this caliber.
5. Blake Freeland, 103rd Overall Pick, Indianapolis Colts
Freeland’s upside is his athleticism. He is 6 feet 8 inches tall, 302 pounds, and very explosive. What makes him have bust potential is that he lacks good pass rush technique. He is best suited for a zone running offense. This makes him a solid fit for a team like the Saints and Bills, but I'm not sure how his skillset will work in Indy.
He’s going to have to fix his pass blocking. With the league becoming more and more of a passing league, his sloppy pass protection will be a major issue. Freeland also lacks the physicality to be a good run blocker for a team that likes power running. His talent is extremely raw and he lacks the strength and technique to be a huge hit. Freeland is really a guy who needs to be in the ideal system for him to succeed. If he’s not in that system, he has bust written all over him.