NFL Draft: Top 15 Picks, Boom or Bust?

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2012 NFL Draft: Top 15, Booms or Busts?

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2012 NFL season coming to a close, it’s time to evaluate how the year went for the top fifteen picks - did they perform how people expected, or did they let their teams down? Many draft experts like to evaluate how picks pan out after a few years in the league, but here at Rant Sports we like to do things just a little differently, so these rookies best be prepared to be designated with one of the draft process' two favorite words to describe how picks turn out: BOOM or BUST!

If you’ve been following recent draft trends, and I’m sure you have, then you will know that more and more college prospects are entering the pros with the necessary tools to succeed early on. Not only are they coming in with the required physique to get into the game, but most of the time their colleges arm them with the skill set and football smarts to pick up playbooks very quickly.

The first pick that any pro team makes in the draft is going to be scrutinised from every possible angle, but if you have a selection in the top fifteen, you better know precisely what you are going to get because these guys are meant to be the cream of the rookie crop and should contribute nearly straight away; and, lets not forget about the amount of money that they’re going to cost the franchise.

Names like Ryan Leaf and Jamarcus Russell are deeply ingrained into NFL draft lore for being absolute flops, but amongst these names that make some teams shudder are the famous top draft picks that did pan out, such Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman.

So without further ado, here’s my boom or bust judgement on the 2012 drafts top fifteen picks.

If you agree or disagree with my assessment feel free to let me know @rosswatson20

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#1 Andrew Luck - BOOM

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The man that was labelled the saviour of the Indianapolis Colts organisation has been just that, taking a team that was 2-14 the year before and leading them to an 11-5 record and a wild card appearance. He may not be the sole reason for the 9-game turnaround, but he is every inch the quarterback that a number one overall pick should be. Without some kind of spectacular second season meltdown, I think it’s fair to say he is a bona fide BOOM.

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#2 Robert Griffin III - BOOM

DanielvShirey-USA TODAY Sports

After a long line of unsuccessful quarterbacks fumbling and bumbling their way through life in the nation's capital, the Washington Redskins finally have found their man. Not only is Robert Griffin III a model athlete and person, but he is a very special talent that has many in Washington believing in a brighter future. I am going to label RGIII a BOOM based on his performance this season, but I will say that after the way he went down last weekend with his knee injury, you never know how a guy will recover both mentally and physically. If there’s someone that can come back and dominate from this kinda of set back it’s RGIII, but without proper management, he could be BUSTED.

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#3 Trent Richardson - BOOM

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Richardson plays on a VERY poor Cleveland Browns team and is the only real threat that the team has offensively, making it easy for opposing teams to come in a shut down the run game and thus limiting his statistical impact. Having said that, Richardson was only 50 yards shy of cracking the 1000 yards mark and also had 11 touchdowns, that’s a good return for the number-three pick in his first season. Richardsons physical play style fits in perfectly with the AFC North’s identity, and if you’ve witnessed some of his performances this year, then you know that his has been the only BOOM for the Browns in a poor season.

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#4 Matt Kalil - BOOM

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kalil has been an integral part of turning around an offensive line that was relatively poor in the 2011 campaign. He has been as advertised after coming out of USC as a junior with a lot of hype around him, and has thoroughly warranted the number four pick. By keeping Christian Ponder upright and having a line that actually HELPS out Adrian Peterson, this years instalment of the Minnesota Vikings offensive line have really helped the team, with a large role being played by Mr. Kalil. Verdict = BOOM.

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#5 Justin Blackmon - BOOM

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Blackmon started out his pro career in the worst possible way - by managing to get caught drink driving and having everyone around the NFL think, “here we go again”. Despite all this, Blackmon has been solid in his play this season with one monster performance where he had 7 catches and 236 yards against the Houston Texans. After that big game, Blackmon didn't even crack the 70-yard mark and actually doesn’t have any other 100+ yard game this season. In the end, he led all rookie receivers with 865 yards and was tied for the most rookie catches at 64. I’m not sure on this one, but for now he’s a BOOM.

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#6 Morris Claiborne - BUST

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Morris Claiborne has all the talent any corner could ask for, he just hasn’t played like he has it. For a rookie, Claiborne has done fairly well; but for the top defensive player in the draft, he’s performed poorly. I mean, who has 5 penalties called on them in a game and allows 69.6 of passes thrown to his receiver to be completed? Claiborne will get better and probably be a long term fixture at corner for the Dallas Cowboys, but for now he’s a BUST.

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#7 Mark Barron - BOOM

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

You know that any defensive backs that come out of Nick Saban’s Alabama program are going to be some of the best in the business, and Mark Barron is no exception. Barron finished the year with 72 solo tackles, and for me that shows just how tuned into the game he is. Whilst he only has one interception on the year, his play style is not that of a ball-hawk, but instead based around delivering the big hit when it counts, and Barron has certainly done that, having more than his fair share of BOOMs for the year.

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#8 Ryan Tannehill - BUST

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

For me, this one is easy to choose: based on where he was selected and his production, he has been a BUST. Ryan Tannehill is a physical talent, no doubt, but he is also still a work in progress at QB, and he hasn’t warranted the 8th overall pick in his young career. I am not doubting his ability to be a good quarterback in the league further down the line, but as of the end of the 2012 regular season with a 12 TD – 13 INT ratio, Tannehill is a bust in my eyes.

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#9 Luke Kuechly - BOOM

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

If you lead the NFL in tackles in your first season, the debate is over - you are a BOOM. For me, based on his performance and his impact on the Carolina Panthers defense, it can be argued the Luke Kuechly is the best player selected from the 2012 draft after year one. I’m not saying he is, I’m just saying it could be argued that way. Whatever you may think, he has been everything and more for the Panthers and warrants the boom tag.

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#10 Stephon Gilmore - BOOM

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Stephon Gilmore has fallen into a grey area within my boom or bust ranking, he has played well enough to warrant being taken at #10, meaning he is not a bust, but not quite at the exceptional level to be called a boom. He was easily the best corner the Buffalo Bills had this season and managed to force three fumbles along with his one pick, so I think I will give him the BOOM tag.

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#11 Dontari Poe - BUST

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Another easy one for me that I think most would agree with, Dontari Poe is a BUST. Everyone knew he was a project at the DT spot even though he is a an athletic freak. I know that playing on the interior of the line and being a space-eater is not going to get you many sacks, but to have a big fat goose egg in that category?!? Sorry Poe you need some mo, for the 11th overall pick you are definitely a bust.

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#12 Fletcher Cox - BOOM

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Fletcher Cox started off slow but began to find his stride during the season, becoming more and more of a force in the middle for the Philadelphia Eagles and ending up with 5.5 sacks on the season. While not an outrageous number, they’re better than the DT picked before him and after him, making him the best in this top fifteen for sure. It’s a BOOM from me.

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#13 Michael Floyd - BUST

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When you’re lining up opposite Larry Fitzgerald and the play of your QB is horrendous, then you’re not going to have a good rookie season despite the physical tools that you possess. Michael Floyd ended the season with 45 receptions, 562 yards and 2 touchdowns and that’s okay, but not stellar. I think next season will be a better reflection on his ability, but for now – BUST.

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#14 Michael Brockers - BOOM

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being hurt early, Michael Brockers started to show glimpses of the ability that he possesses and ended the year with 4 sacks. His future is very bright and this will have many St. Louis Rams fans excited if he continues on this trend. A very tentative BOOM from me.

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#15 Bruce Irvin - BOOM

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Irvin is the only guy on this list who’s still got games to play, and will actually make his first start this weekend due Chris Clemons being injured. Irvin has almost exclusively been used on passing downs, and has thrived in this role by accumulating a total of 8 sacks. This next game will help everyone get a much clearer picture of how this rookie has done but he’s shown enough to me so far that I will call him a BOOM.