Published April 4, 2012
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
In the 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 that are selected highly only to becoming massive disappointments in the NFL. Here we breakdown some potential busts in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
There is a wide variety in the opinions on Cousins. Some see him as a second-round pick while others have him in the fourth round. Cousins had decent production at Michigan State but never was a dominant player. Cousins' arm strength is adequate but he can't beat defenses solely on his arm. He doesn't look like he has the arm to really push the ball outside of the numbers.
Some believe that Cousins has enough as a passer to potentially be a starter, but he needs to be above average in his field vision and anticipation. Cousins will have to be a game manager that keeps mistakes to a minimum. He does a lot of things well, but nothing great. He doesn't present mismatches, and it wouldn't be surprising if he is a career backup who is unable to claim a starting job. It a team drafts him with a second-day pick expecting to turn him into a starter, they could be in store for a disappointing pick.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
James has the potential to be a boom-or-bust prospect. He had an impressive college football career, and he has an intriguing skill set as a speed back entering the NFL. However, there is a major red flag with James in terms of durability. The 5-foot-8, 194-pounder had some nagging injuries in college along with a dislocated elbow this season. One also has to wonder about how effective his speed will be against NFL defenses. When James played a stiff SEC defense like Auburn or LSU, he was held in check in each game. James could be a good situational back, but expecting him to be the force he was in college is misguided.
Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
Randle could be the latest in line of LSU receivers who fail to turn into impact receivers in the NFL after getting drafted in the early rounds. Michael Clayton, Early Doucet and Brandon LaFell were all top-100 picks who were drafted too high. One reason why Randle makes this list is he struggled against NFL-caliber cornerbacks. Randle was completely ineffective against Alabama with five catches for 32 yards in two games last season. He was incapable of getting separation from the Crimson Tide secondary.
There have been plenty of collegiate receivers who produced despite bad quarterback play, yet Randle never had a 1,000 yard season in college. He had only four 100-yard games in three seasons of playing time, with one of them coming against Northwestern State. Randle is projected by some to be a late first-round pick and is a consensus second-rounder. Don't be surprised if he is a bust of a second-round pick.
Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
There really isn't an early-round tight end who presents a big bust concern. This is due in part to this being a weak tight end class, but we can include Charles after his recent arrest. It shows a serious lack of judgment and decision-making to risk an off-the-field incident when NFL teams are heavily scrutinizing every aspect about a prospect. Charles showed other attitude concerns when he ducked the majority of the Combine workouts. He is a good athlete so it was surprising that he decided to pass on the field workouts. Charles has good receiving skills, but his intangibles may get in the way of him utilizing them in the NFL.
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
It wouldn't surprise me if Adams is a bust. He struggles to stop speed rushers, and his work ethic is questionable. The lack of drive could be seen in his terrible Combine bench-press performance of 19 reps. Adams (6-7, 323) is a good athlete but clearly doesn't play up to his potential. He was embarrassed by Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus this season and struggled with Marshall's Vinny Curry in 2010.
Adams would be better off going to right tackle in the NFL, but he still could get his quarterback sacked often when matched up against a quality speed rusher. I'd be worried about Adams going up against a good 3-4 defense. He may be a first-round or early second-round pick, and that pick has bust potential written on it.
Ben Jones, C, Georgia
At one time, Jones was viewed as a second-round pick, but his stock has slid over the past few months. Jones was destroyed in a few games as a senior. He had ugly performances against Boise State, LSU and Michigan State. All of those teams featured future NFL defensive tackles, and Jones did not look like he could hold his own against them.
Jones did not perform well at the Senior Bowl either. He had problems with the likes of Clemson's Brandon Thomspon and Florida's Jaye Howard. At the weigh-in, Jones (6-2, 303) had a sloppy body, so he needs to get better at how he carries his weight.
Jones may go on the second day of the 2012 NFL Draft, but whoever drafts him better plan on giving him plenty of guard help.