In recent weeks there have been a lot of questions about which players to avoid in the 2012 NFL Draft class. Every draft has some players who are selected highly only to becoming massive disappointments in the NFL. Here we breakdown some potential busts in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Branch is a streaky player who was somewhat of a one-year wonder. He had 77 tackles with 17 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks this season. He did not play well against Florida State and its tackle combination of Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders. Branch recorded almost half of his sacks in one game against Virginia Tech when he had four sacks.
In his career at Clemson, Branch got a lot of help from players around him, specifically defensive tackle Brandon Thompson. As a junior, teams were focused on Da'Quan Bowers and Thompson, but Branch had only five sacks, with three of them coming against North Texas and Presbyterian.
Branch (6-4, 259) is a good athlete with speed, and, in my opinion, he has a better shot of panning out as a 3-4 outside linebacker. There is a definite athletic skill set with Branch, but he looks like a finesse player and it wouldn't be surprising to me if he doesn't pan out. The consensus view is that Branch will go in the late first or early second round.
Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Worthy is the kind of player who can drive coaches crazy. He is very streaky and inconsistent. He is completely dominant at times, while he's a ghost who makes zero impact in other instances. Worthy even goes through that pattern during games. In the Big 10 Championship against Wisconsin, he started out slowly in the first half. By the third quarter, he was overwhelming and unstoppable. However, in crunch time in the fourth quarter, he slowed down.
Worthy has a special combination of speed and strength, yet he never produced up to his physical talent. He had 3.5 sacks with 30 tackles and 10.5 tackles for a loss this season. That was roughly on par with his four sacks and eight tackles for a loss as a junior. Worthy could follow a similar pattern in the NFL, and that could be a season-killer to have him disappear in a critical game in December or January. Worthy has potential, but there is a real possibility that he will be a bust at the next level.
Bruce Irvin, LB, West Virginia
Irvin is another finesse defensive player whom I think could go bust in the NFL. Irvin (6-3, 245) is an undersized edge rusher who had a massive junior season with 14 sacks as a situational pass rusher. In his senior campaign, he was an every-down lineman and a complete liability against the run. He still managed some pass rush with 8.5 sacks, but offensive tackles only needed to get their hands on him, and he was done. Irvin would constantly get treated like a rag doll by linemen and shoved around the field. He could dance and dart his way by some linemen, but he was a one-trick-pony speed rusher.
Irvin is going to need to get stronger and increase his physicality for the NFL. Many project him to be a second-day pick, and it wouldn't be a shock if his one trick isn't all that effective at the next level when he takes on more athletic offensive linemen. Irvin also has some off-the-field concerns. He was arrested in March for allegedly destroying a sign outside of a restaurant.
George Iloka, S, Boise State
Many project Iloka (6-4, 225) to be a potential second-day pick, but big safeties who are weak in coverage are targeted and exploited in the passing-driven NFL. Iloka helped his stock by playing well at the Senior Bowl. The big safety was physical and stood out by being around the ball and making some plays in the short to intermediate part of the field. His tightness was exposed at the Combine, as he was too stiff to turn his hips and run. He was the epitome of high and tight in the field drills. That will be a big issue for Iloka in the NFL. He will struggle to turn and run with receivers or receiving tight ends.
Iloka had zero interceptions in 2011 despite Boise State blowing out many opponents with offenses forced to pass the ball while playing from behind. He had seven picks in four years of playing time. Iloka looks like a run-stuffing safety who could be a liability in coverage. He could be a bust pick who is beaten for touchdowns at the next level.
As the NFL Draft approaches, I will be making weekly adjustments up until the 27th of April. Rest of the writeups will be coming later this week. Any questions/comments/criticisms can be voiced in the comments. I will respond to all.