Top 15 2011 NFL Draft Busts: Is it too Early to Label These Players a Failure?
A touchy subject in the NFL is deciding when a player your favorite team drafted just is not working out. Most fans want to give the player on their team the benefit of the doubt, but whether it is due to a player's attitude, his skill level or his effort on and off the field, many players do not cut it in the NFL.
The question becomes: When are we allowed to label someone a bust? Is almost two full years in the NFL enough time to evaluate a player? There are definitely multiple cases of players who take three to four years to figure it out and become good to great players. There is room for players in the NFL who work hard and continue to try and improve themselves.
Though some of the players on this list have poor attitudes, most of the reason they fall on this list is what they've shown me on the field. They haven't lived up to expectations. All of these players were taken in the first or second round, so they were at least expected to be starters by this point and playing well.
Me saying they are a bust is a bit harsh, and they can obviously go out and prove me wrong in the next year or so because their team is not likely to cut any of them this off-season, but I just don't see any of these players living up to their worth as an early pick.
Greg Little, WR, Cleveland Browns (27th Pick in 2nd Round)
Greg Little looked like he could be a No. 1 receiver for the Cleveland Browns in his rookie season, but he has taken a step back in his second year. He only has 35 receptions for 408 yards with two touchdowns in 2012. He has been plagued by drops all season and Josh Gordon has emerged as a favorite target of Brandon Weeden's.
Marvin Austin, DT, New York Giants (20th Pick in 2nd Round)
Despite coming back from a season-ending injury in his rookie season, Marvin Austin has seen very little playing time in 2012. He was expected to do big things with the New York Giants even though he missed his last season at North Carolina due to disciplinary reasons. Jerry Reese called him "top 15" talent, but we have yet to see that from Austin. He may have lost his explosiveness being away from the game for so long (he didn't play a live down of football from December 2009 to September 2012), and the Giants could be losing their patience.
Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions (12th Pick in the 2nd Round)
Titus Young has shown some flashes of being a talented wide receiver with the Detroit Lions, but an incident in a game this year could have cost him his career. He apparently sabotaged plays by lining up in the wrong spot on purpose in a game against the Green Bay Packers. That obviously rubbed his coach the wrong way. He was dismissed from the team and has now been placed on injured reserve, and Jim Schwartz has questioned his long-term spot on the team.
Ryan Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals (6th Pick in the 2nd Round)
The Ryan Williams situation is unfortunate because he's been plagued by injuries. He missed his entire rookie season with an injury, played in just five games this season before being lost for the season with another injury. Even when he played, he only averaged 2.8 yards per carry. It may be unfortunate, but the Arizona Cardinals might have to move on.
Aaron Williams, CB, Buffalo Bills (2nd Pick of the 2nd Round)
Aaron Williams has been on and off the field for the Buffalo Bills in his first two years, and the Bills showed what they thought of him by taking Stephon Gilmore 10th overall in the 2012 draft. Williams clearly hasn't shown enough to the Bills and it didn't take long for Gilmore to win the starting job. Williams only has one interception in his two years in the league.
Derek Sherrod, OT, Green Bay Packers (32nd Overall Pick)
Derek Sherrod appeared in just five games last season and missed this entire season with an injury. The Green Bay Packers have had serious issues protecting Aaron Rodgers, and Sherrod hasn't been around to help.
Gabe Carimi, OT, Chicago Bears (29th Overall Pick)
Gabe Carimi was expected to drastically improve the Chicago Bears' ability to protect Jay Cutler, but so far he's been mostly a disappointment and was even replaced in the starting lineup recently. He'll have to show improvements in the last couple of games if he wants to earn his job back next season.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints (28th Overall Pick)
Mark Ingram has been below average in his first two years with the New Orleans Saints. They still use a running back by committee despite taking the former Heisman winner at the end of the first round. He has averaged under 4.0 yards per carry in both of his first two seasons and hasn't gone over 500 yards.
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (26th Overall Pick)
When the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Jonathan Baldwin, they imagined he would be able to contribute right away, and eventually be a replacement for Dwayne Bowe who could leave via free agency. He has been mostly invisible in his first two seasons so far, and only has 18 receptions for 261 yards and one touchdown this season.
Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints (24th Overall Pick)
You may have an issue on this one as Cameron Jordan seems to be improving, but he hasn't shown me he can play well consistently to live up to being a first-round pick. He had just one sack in his rookie year. He has seven sacks this season, but three of them came against a banged up Eagles offensive line. So in 28 career games he has eight sacks, which isn't terrible, but take out the one and he has just five in 27 career games. He needs to improve.
Danny Watkins, G, Philadelphia Eagles (23rd Overall Pick)
Danny Watkins was a popular story coming out of Baylor, but in consecutive seasons he's been replaced in the starting lineup with a veteran. He may not last much longer.
Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings (12th Overall Pick)
Christian Ponder threw four touchdowns with no interceptions through the first four games this season, but since then he's come back down to earth. Since their 3-1 start, the Minnesota Vikings are 3-5 while Ponder has taken a step back, throwing 10 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He has a career QB rating of 75 and has not provided the Vikings with an air attack they can trust moving forward.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (10th Overall Pick)
This is probably the one player most people will label a bust right now without any convictions. Blaine Gabbert has been awful in his two seasons and even landed on injured reserve this year. Chad Henne has played much better as the starter, and the Jacksonville Jaguars could be looking to move on in the draft this year.
Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo Bills (2nd Overall Pick)
Marcell Dareus was supposed to be an impact player that improved the entire Buffalo Bills defense, but they have not seen the intended results. They finished 28th in rush defense last season and are 29th this season. The fault is obviously not all put on Dareus, but spending the No. 2 overall pick on a defensive tackle should improve your run defense some.
Cam Newton QB, Carolina Panthers (1st Overall Pick)
Look, Cam Newton is a good player and had one of the greatest rookie seasons by a quarterback we've ever seen. He had mind-blowing stats, but he also turned the ball over and made poor decisions. He has taken a step back this season, at least from what we saw in his rookie year.
But this isn't even about his play on the field. I hate Newton's attitude and the stuff he says to the media. He has no problem calling his teammates, coaches and front office personnel out, and it was even reported recently that his peers do not like him. He rubbed some fellow Pro Bowl players wrong at Hawaii last year, and I don't see that as a guy you can win with. If you don't have the respect of your teammates and coaches, they won't buy into you as a leader. Once you've lost that, you can't win.