2013 NFL Draft: 5 Players With the Biggest Bust Potential

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2013 NFL Draft: Who's Most Likely to Be a Bust?


The dreaded draft day bust, it’s something that every team tries to avoid, but it’s just not possible. There have always been busts since the draft started, and there will continue to be busts as long as the league is around. But who will get the dreaded label from this year’s class?

There are several candidates that we’ll take a look at. Some of the players are going to be on the bust radar, simply because they’re getting drafted higher than they should be. Perception, is half of being labeled a bust. If a team reaches for a player, then they will automatically be under more of a microscope than if they were drafted in a more realistic spot.

Some busts aren’t related to talent issues, they’re related to 'off the field' issues. There are really a multitude of ways to become a bust, but where the player is selected, seems to have the most impact on our perception of them. You won’t see anybody that’s projected in the second or third round on this list, only the players that have been billed as the ‘cream of the crop’ in 2013.

The ramifications of selecting a bust can be felt for years and years. There’s nothing worse for a franchise than taking a guy they think will be the backbone of the team for a decade, and then he fails after only a couple of seasons. A top-pick bust, can set a franchise back for years.

A lot rests on these top draft picks for teams in 2013, so let’s take a look at five players who could very well become busts:

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#5 - DT Star Lotulelei


After a scare from a combine physical, Lotulelei has now been cleared by doctors. He underwent extensive testing after the initial physical found a heart abnormality, but nine tests later, it appears the alarming results were likely cause by a virus.

Lotulelei was once considered the top defensive tackle available, and was even ranked as high as No. 1 on some mock drafts. That’s all changed, but after a solid pro day, his stock is again on the rise. However, the medical red flag still has to be in the back of some team’s minds. Even if everything has checked out now, some teams will still not even consider the former Utah standout.

So with Lotulelei, his bust status will be determined by where he’s drafted. If he goes in the middle part of the first round, I think that’s a good place. If a team reaches beyond that range, then it becomes risky. This guy seems to have all the tools to fit a 3-4 scheme, but the heart scare will keep teams cautious.

Even the smallest possibility of a medical issue puts Lotulelei in the bust category. If someone reaches and his ‘issue’ returned, it would be a big draft fail.

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#4 - LB Manti Te'o


Oh, the heavily scrutinized Manti Te’o. Everyone has an opinion on the former Notre Dame linebacker, and most of them are lukewarm. Several months ago, the bust potential would have been even higher for Te’o, as he was once projected to be a top-10 pick. Now, he’s expected to go in the late part of round one, but the bust potential is still there.

Some team is going to count on him to come in and make an impact right away, and if he fails, the criticism will be harsh. Many question if he’s fast enough to play middle linebacker in the pros, or if he even has enough natural ability. His performance in the national championship game is still hanging over his head, and I think that’s fair.

In the biggest game of this career, against the highest level of competition, he failed. There’s really no two-ways about it, he didn’t play well. Plus, there’s the whole dead girlfriend situation, and potentially some lingering mental issues from that. You can’t rule out that the whole situation, isn’t still affecting him on some level.

The bust potential is fairly high with Te’o, and he could easily turn out to be just another product of the Heisman hype machine.

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#3 - LB Alec Ogletree


Two words that often haunt players this time of year – character issues. That’s what Ogletree has been dealing with over the last couple of years. His time at Georgia was filled with suspensions, criminal charges, and injuries. Without all these flags, Ogletree could be a top-10 pick, but now he’s projected as a mid-to-late first rounder.

Character issues are almost as big of a deal as injury issues. If a player is immature and can't behave, there’s just not a very good chance of long-term success in the NFL. Ogletree has both character and injury issues, so it’s the proverbial double whammy.

There are a lot of teams with a need at linebacker in the first round, so Ogletree is going to get drafted there. With it, he’ll immediately be on the radar as a possible bust. This guy has all the potential in the world to be successful on Sundays, but needs to grow up and realize the opportunity that he has. His past behaviors indicate he's not there yet, and thus why he's on the bust radar.

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#2 - QB Geno Smith


Being considered a bust is all about how much hype the player has going into the draft, and we all know Smith has had his fair share of it. Smith is projected by many to go in the top-10 of this year’s draft. Most other years, this wouldn’t be the case for a player the caliber of Smith, but he's the top-rated QB in 2013.

So with being the top QB, comes expectations, and with expectations, comes bust potential. It’s really hard to say anyone has a higher bust potential than Smith, because you know some team is going to take him with the idea he’ll be their franchise QB.

QBs are the most harshly scrutinized players in the NFL, and especially the ones who are drafted early on. Any other year, Smith would probably go in the 20-32 range, and the expectations just wouldn’t be there at the same level.

He’ll be a victim of circumstance if he’s considered a bust, but it’s very possible Geno Smith just doesn’t pan out in the NFL. He's likely going to a bad team, and if he's not as good as the scouts think he is, he'll just be an average QB on a bad team, which has never been a recipe for success.

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#1 - DE Barkevious Mingo


Mingo is a tall and lanky defensive end out of LSU, who most project will go in the top-15 of this year’s draft. While some are drawing comparisons to DeMarcus Ware, others think Mingo could be a big-time bust.

His size (6’4”, 241 lbs) is concerning, yet intriguing, because he can also run a 4.58/40. He brings a lot of non-traditional things to the table for a DE, but also attributes that are unproven as successful in the NFL.

The most logical landing spot for Mingo is at No. 15 to the New Orleans Saints. They’ll be running a 3-4 defense under Rob Ryan, and they happen to play in his home state. I think he has to go to a team that runs a 3-4, because that’s what he played in college, and it’s the system that best fits his skill set.

Mingo is maybe the biggest ‘boom or bust’ prospect in this year’s draft. He could very well be the next big thing at D-end, or he could just not be big enough to be effective in the pros. If he lands with a team that doesn't know how to use him, he could find himself with that dreaded label.

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