The 32 Biggest Wastes of Talent on Each NFL Team
NFL Wasted Talent
When I look at wasted talent in the NFL, it is easy to just focus on the draft busts that have come and gone for each team. That is not where I wanted to take this article. For all thirty two NFL teams there are players that simply have extraordinary talent, but happen to be in the circumstance of playing behind an all-time great, are a victim of the system the coaches decide to run, or simply just not living up to potential.
This seems to be predominant for the offensive players, as there are tight ends in the game who are underutilized, or receivers who do not have a quality quarterback that can get them the ball. We also see plenty of quality running backs who have the ability to shine, but are planted firmly behind the "star" running back on their squad.
So how does one go about evaluating and offering one player from each team and calling them a waste of talent? The task is daunting and in some instances almost impossible to decide between some teams that may have more than one position player that deserves the notoriety of being "that" player that just can not break the starting lineup. Or in other times, is in the starting slot and simply does not have the personnel to get them the ball.
Then there is the ever present notion that for a few, they have all the talent in the world, but just can not seem to pull it all together, a la Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles. So here is my list of thirty two players that have abilities, but for one reason or the next, have not been able to show the NFL just what they are capable of accomplishing in 2012.
Tashard Choice RB-Buffalo Bills
In 2006 and 2007, Tashard Choice rushed for over 1,300 yards for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. When he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys there was much hope for this 5'10" 210lb running back that had good burst of speed and soft hands.
He has since been buried on depth charts and has not been able to crack an everyday starting position even with his talent. He now resides behind C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson for the Buffalo Bills and probably will not get the opportunity to show what intangibles he could have as starting running back in the NFL.
Koa Misi LB-Miami Dolphins
Koa Misi was drafted in the 2nd round in 2010 from Utah and has since been plagued with an inability to fully adjust to life in the NFL. Earlier this year, Misi was arrested on charges of battery with intent of bodily harm in Broward County.
Although Misi has played in 33 games to date for the Miami Dolphins, he has totaled only seven sacks and 75 tackles. He clearly has not blossomed into a pass rush threat or a player that can read coverages well and he still has issues with containing the run.
Jermaine Cunningham LB-New England Patriots
Jermaine Cunningham is a third year LB out of Florida who came into the league with quickness and agility with a penchant for being able to make plays behind the line of scrimmage as a Florida Gator. Enter the New England Patriots where he resides as a player who simply can not break the starting rotation with Brandon Spikes, Jerrod Mayo and Tracy White ahead of him.
Cunningham is actually listed on the depth chart for the Patriots as a defensive end behind Chandler Jones. No chance for much playing time there. In a deep Patriots defense, unless you are the absolute best at your position, the bench is where you will remain.
Shonn Greene RB-New York Jets
Shonn Greene for the first time in his career was to be the lead man in the New York Jets ground and pound system. The only problem is that Rex Ryan forgot to add the pound in the off-season. Greene is a talented back that can cut through holes and be a productive runner.
But this is the Jets, and with a below average offensive line, a quarterback who is fighting for his job in every game and no quality second option, Greene was put behind the eight ball in his first year as the featured back. This is more of a selection of a system than the player simply not carrying his weight. I bet Greene wishes he had Thomas Jones back in this lineup.
Knowshon Moreno RB-Denver Broncos
Now in his fourth year with the Denver Broncos, "No-Show" Knowshon Moreno has been an absolute bust in the orange and blue. He was drafted out of Georgia with the promise of an agile back that could cut the corners, run through holes and exploit the defense with his speed.
Where did it all go wrong? So far through 2012, Moreno has been inactive the last three games, losing his playing time to rookie Ronnie Hillman. Moreno will probably never be out of Coach John Fox's doghouse, so maybe a change in scenery would do him well. Is that the Jets calling?
John Baldwin WR-Kansas City Chiefs
This is another case of the system causing a player to underachieve. John Baldwin starts at WR opposite Dwayne Bowe and has largely been underutilized. Understandable since he has had an underachieving Matt Cassel as his QB. Now Baldwin has the luxury of Brady Quinn starting for the injured Cassel. I'm sorry, did I say luxury?
It would be an amazing feat for Baldwin to get any stats close to the production he should be having since coming out of Pittsburgh. Last year was supposed to be his tune up and this year his breakout with a healthy Cassel. Maybe next year, John.
Darren McFadden RB-Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden is a waste of talent? What must I be thinking? Let me just say this. The Oakland Raiders are a pass first team with a running back that calls for the ball every chance he gets. The system will not allow McFadden to fulfill his potential unless drastic changes are made.
McFadden is one of the most elusive runners in the game that through four games, only has 57 touches. Carson Palmer has thrown the ball 46 and 48 times, respectively his first two games. A balanced attack with McFadden can only help this team and unless Coach Dennis Allen realizes that, this may be one of the biggest wasted talents on any NFL roster.
Le'Ron McClain RB-San Diego Chargers
I do understand that Le'Ron McClain is a fullback and will not garner as many carries as an everyday back. But this player is one of the best in the league at his position at breaking the goal line and gaining a first down. So far in 2012, he only has six carries for 28 yards and no TDs.
I guess when you have running backs such as Jackie Battle, Ryan Matthews and Ronnie Brown, a McClain might get lost in the shuffle. I just hope perennial bust Coach Norv Turner does not completely forget about this tremendous talent that is in his backfield. In many situations, McClain can come in very handy.
Jacoby Jones WR-Baltimore Ravens
Jacoby Jones came over from the Houston Texans with some pretty decent stats and ability while getting used to different QBs and never being the number one go-to guy. That happens when you play opposite Andre Johnson. In Baltimore, though, it should have been a different story.
Now in his sixth year out of Lane, Jones has allowed his ability to diminish as he is dropping passes and not running crisp routes. This is the opposite that he was as a Texan, when he could run the inseam or out pattern and continually make plays. I have a feeling that he will be the one to waste his own talent and wind up falling further into Flacco's doghouse, while watching Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith get all the opportunites.
Dontay Moch LB-Cincinnati Bengals
Although only the second pick in the third round for the Cincinnati Bengals 2011 NFL Draft, Dontay Moch was a linebacker with promise out of Nevada. Moch will get the opportunity to show he belongs in this league after serving his four game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
So why is he on this list of wasted talent? Simply because he will take some time to get up to game speed after not being with the team and he has the speed, talent and pass rushing ability that the Bengals could use. If he could just get on the field.
Greg Little WR-Cleveland Browns
Greg Little comes in a s the Cleveland Browns number two receiver behind Mohammed Massaquoi, but has been plagued by drops and poor route running. This is not a good way to start the year when you have a rookie QB in Brandon Weeden that needs all the help he can get.
Little has the size, hands and agility to run all routes, but 11 catches in five games so far will not cut it in Cleveland. The biggest question is whether this is a result of an unconscious Trent Richardson running wild, or the inexperience between himself and Weeden. Only time will tell, but for the Browns sake, they can no longer afford to have this talent hidden as the losses keep mounting.
Isaac Redman RB-Pittsburgh Steelers
Isaac Redman is a third year back out of Bowie State that showed a good burst of speed and the ability to break tackles for long gains with his size. Last year, Redman accumulated almost 500 yards and three TDs while playing behind Rashard Mendenhall. This year, in Mendenhall's absence due to injury, Redman failed to capitalize on his chances while splitting time with Jonathan Dwyer.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had their worst run offense in 62 years as both backs have only garnered 195 yards. Redman has been a big disappointment so far and needs to get back on track in order to be a quality backup to Mendenhall once again.
Justin Forsett RB-Houston Texans
Justin Forsett is the product of trying to garner carries from one of the elite runners in the game, Arian Foster. The Houston texans offense runs through Foster, QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson.
Maybe this is the perfect spot for Forsett to go into retirement, but when he does touch the ball, he looks as if the fire is still there. On this team, there is not much wasted talent, as Gary Kubiak has built a powerhouse of a squad that utilizes almost every person in the organization to succeed.
Dwight Freeney LB-Indianapolis Colts
Yes, you can call me mad, delirious, out of touch, or any other name you might want to use. Understand this, though. It is difficult to measure wasted talent on a team that has a rookie QB, rookie TE, and a system that will take a year or two to put into place. Dwight Freeney, however, has been the victim of injuries and a depth chart which is starting to bring him down.
Freeney when healthy, is the prototypical LB anyone would want on their team. He is quick, agile, great at reading defenses and a leader on the field. To find himself buried on the roster, even if he is not up to full speed is a detriment to the Colts and their defensive unit.
Paul Posluszny LB-Jacksonville Jaguars
Paul Posluszny is a rare talent that is the subject of playing for an atrocious team in the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is a talented middle linebacker that can tip passes, intercept the ball, chase down tight ends and has a good understanding of reads.
The biggest issue is that he should have stayed in Buffalo instead of taking his talents to Jacksonville. The "Poz", as he is known, will be a wasted talent for years to come if this team does not head in the right direction sooner rather than later.
Chris Johnson RB-Tennessee Titans
Ah, yes, we have come to the team known as the Tennessee Titans. I think everyone reading this slide will know just who the wasted talent in the music city really is. Chris Johnson. That elusive, speedy, crafty and powerful runner who in the past has been an absolute fantasy beast.
Welcome to 2012, folks. Johnson started the first game with 11 carries for a whopping four yards!! He has had only one game over 24 yards and looks as if he is 34 years old out there. Waste of talent? I would think one of the most wasted talents in the league.
Dez Bryant WR-Dallas Cowboys
So Jerry Jones wants to find him some "Glory Hole", eh? Well he will not find it with his WR Dez Bryant who has all the talent in the world but for some reason can not or will not put it all together. Some might say there is no connection with QB Tony Romo, or that Romo simply can not get him the ball.
Nope, this one is all on the receiver who has the size, speed and ability to be one of the best in the NFL. Bryant is lazy in his preparation, drops passes, shrugs of his inconsistencies and just looks plain uninterested. This right here is the second biggest waste of talent in the NFL.
Andre Brown RB-New York(Football)Giants
The New York Giants for so long have had a balanced, one-two punch at the running back position, sometimes even posing a triple threat. For some reason, though in 2012, Coach Tom Coughlin has been wishy-washy at best when turning to Andre Brown for carries and yards.
Brown is in his third year out of North Carolina and can be a crafty back that can run through the tackles and break free. This was evidenced when he gained 113yds on 20 carries against the Carolina Panthers. Then he was forgotten again by Coughlin. This is a tremendous talent that now suffered a concussion in Sunday's game and if history shows, will probably take quite some time to get back on the field in the Giants system.
Michael Vick QB-Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick, above all others that roam the gridiron on Sundays, or Mondays, or Thursdays, or Saturdays soon enough, is the absolute biggest waste of talent in the NFL. There, I said what everyone has been thinking for quite some time.
The talent that embodies Vick is so unique and plentiful, that it should be embarrassing for him to even attempt to lead the Philadelphia Eagles into battle. He has some of the best talent around him in TE Brent Celek, WRs Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson and RB LeSean McCoy. Vick just can't seem to become the elite QB that everyone projected. His stats might be there at the end of the year, but fumbles and INTs have become the norm with this wasted talent.
Fred Davis TE-Washington Redskins
Fred Davis could be a quality TE in this league and eventually might have the opportunity. He is not an option at this time for rookie QB Robert Griffin III who finds himself injured and passes the duties to Kirk Cousins.
The offensive scheme of Mike Shanahan does not fit a TE into a bigger role, and although Davis shows great hands, good blocking and an ability to elude defenders, his stats will suffer with the growing pains. Davis remains a wasted talent on a team that could use a steady target.
Early Doucet WR-Arizona Cardinals
When you are stuck behind Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts, and have a QB like Kevin Kolb, there is not much opportunity to utilize your talents. Make no mistake about it, though. Early Doucet has been around for 5yrs and 2011 showed that he has that top notch ability to be a threat on the outside.
Last year, Doucet caught 54 balls for 689yds, a 12.8avg and 5TDs. This year, the shifty WR has 13 catches for 118yds but has the unfortunate graces of having Kolb, who does not look his way when in the red zone. Wasted talent is an understatement.
Mario Manningham WR-San Francisco 49ers
Like Doucet, Mario Manningham is not in the prime location to be a top flight WR in the NFL. Manningham is a good talent that has shown flashes of possibly rising to the next level. In San Francisco, he is behind Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Vernon Davis, and Frank Gore when it comes to the pecking order.
While Alex Smith has certainly improved to another level with his QB play, there are only so many snaps in a game and Manningham will have to wait his turn. He does have 19rec for 186yds and a TD, but those totals would be more prevalent if he were a solid number two on any other team not named Jacksonville.
Leon Washington RB/KR-Seattle Seahawks
Leon Washington at one time was a jack-of-all trades that could be utilized anywhere on the field. So what happened? Quite simply Seattle happened. He went to the land of no opportunity for individual stats and has been relegated to mostly return duties, even though he could be a viable threat running or catching out of the backfield.
Coach Pete Carroll is very happy giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch and Washington just has to sit back and be prepared. There are few who come to mind in the NFL that combine the speed and agility to go with an elusiveness that is scary. The Seahawks just seem to not be on the same page with allowing Washington to soar.
Sam Bradford QB-St.Louis Rams
It is a dubious distinction to be the QB of the St. Louis Rams. They are no longer the Greatest Show on Turf, but the biggest waste of several positions. I could have gone a few places with this pick, however, I will go with the most obvious: Sam Bradford.
Bradford has the arm, he has the mental makeup that QBs need to show, and he has the ability to be a leader. The problem being that the only weapon he has alongside him is Stephen Jackson. Allow Bradford to play one season in the Giants or Packers system and he would thrive. This has got to be a waste of a perfectly good QB to stay in this city. I Just hope Jeff Fisher can do some fixing and the Rams can get back to their glory days.
Kellen Davis TE-Chicago Bears
Simply put, Kellen Davis could be a star TE in the NFL. The problem is that the Chicago Bears do not like to utilize the TE position. That is a detrimental situation for Davis, who only has 8 catches and 1TD this year. With QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall reunited from their Denver Broncos days, and RB Matt Forte a beast each week, this offense just hums.
Unfortunately, Davis could give the offense a dynamic that it could only imagine if Cutler was willing to share the wealth a little. Last year, Davis only caught 18 passes and had 5TDs. For a starting TE in a league that thrives on the mismatches that are created by them, it would be a solid move to include Davis more in the game plan.
Louis Delmas S-Detroit Lions
Free Safety Louis Delmas is considered by some to be the poor man's Bob Sanders. His playmaking ability and tackling prowess were expected to mature when he came out of Western Michigan four years ago. Unfortunately for Delmas, injuries have hampered his growth, and very much like Sanders, he can not stay on the field.
Delmas' best year was 2009 when he recorded 2INTs, a TD and 94 tackles. Since then, he has slowly taken turns for the worse and some may now even consider him a bust. I wouldn't go that far because the talent remains, but the health must follow suit.
Alex Green RB-Green Bay Packers
Alex Green was drafted out of Hawaii two years ago as a power runner that attacks the line of scrimmage, has good hands and had a reputation for never fumbling the ball. Coming out of Hawaii, you might think that Green would need some time to adjust to the NFL. Hawaii was a prolific passing offense in 2010. All Green did was post 1200yds on 146 attempts and 18TDs.
What has he done for Green Bay? 14 carries for 68yds in 7 games. But the spotlight will be on him now that Cedric Benson is injured. Will Green rise to the occasion, or stay on this list for next year?
Toby Gerhart RB-Minnesota Vikings
When it comes to playing behind an all-time great and just waiting your turn, nobody does it better than talented running back Toby Gerhart. Gerhart has the pleasure of watching Adrian Peterson run up and down the field throughout each game. So far in 2012, Gerhart has 28 carries for 100yds and 0TDs.
He is an athletically gifted back that can read blocks, and is best in between the tackles. Gerhart shows decent speed and bursts that would be vital to most NFL teams. But for now, he will just sit back most of the time and enjoy the view from behind one of the best that has ever done it.
Michael Turner RB-Atlanta Falcons
What?? Michael Turner is on a wasted talent list? Surely, I must be drinking. Turner resides in a pass first offense that has exceptional WRs, a Hall of Fame TE and a very capable QB in Matt Ryan. So how does that transcend into Turner being a waste of talent?
Coach Mike Smith has one of the toughest downhill runners in the game and he does not utilize Turner as well as he could. Turner does have 3TDs on the year, but only one 100yd game. He only receives a mid-teen amount of touches a game because of the prolific passing attack, but a better balance is needed. Turner is wasted for many snaps a game that could use a tough runner.
Jonathan Stewart RB-Carolina Panthers
Yes, Jonathan Stewart belongs on this list as much as anyone that has come before him. The Carolina Panthers have a great young talent at QB named Cam Newton that can run as well as throw. The problem lies in the fact that the coaching staff has completely gotten away from their two-headed monster tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Stewart.
This is only Stewart's fifth year and he is already rotting on the bench with only 5-10 touches a game. This is not the way the Panthers will win games when you have one of the best two-back tandems in the NFL and you simply decide to waste the talent.
Mark Ingram RB-New Orleans Saints
Two years ago, a runner out of Alabama named Mark Ingram was taken by the New Orleans Saints. This RB was only 5'9", but at 215lbs, had a low center of gravity and ran hard between the tackles. So what happened to Ingram?
Ingram rests behind Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles as the third back on the depth chart. This is where he will remain until it is his time to shine. He only has 35 attempts through the first 5 games of 2012, but as the year moves on, he will have the opportunities to prove he belongs in the NFL.
Josh Freeman QB-Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last, but not least on this quest to seek the wasted talent on each NFL team, I stop at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Josh Freeman is my pick for this squad for one reason alone. The other talent around him has not been developed to help him succeed. The same can be said for Mark Sanchez. If the talent around you does not improve, then your own talent will diminish.
Freeman is a victim of the system he belongs in and if the culture does not change in the bay area, then this QB will have no chance to utilize the talent he brings to the gridiron. I am sure that his 54.6% comp and 75.3 rating is not even in effect if he was with even the Pittsburgh Steelers instead of Tampa Bay.