In the recent weeks there have been a lot of questions about which players to avoid in the 2018 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 2018 NFL Draft.
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Rudolph is a love/hate prospect in the scouting community. A few team sources like Rudolph, but others are skeptics. I'm definitely in the latter group. Rudolph will need development as a pro.
The senior struggled to throw into tight windows in 2017, and a lot of his best throws came from him rainbowing the ball downfield rather than driving it to his receiver. Rudolph's anticipation will have to improve for the pros, or he could be taking a lot of sacks from holding onto the ball too long. Routinely, Rudolph wouldn't pull the trigger on a throw until his receiver had long since gotten wide open rather than anticipating the play to get the ball out faster. The length of time he holds the ball in the pocket is going to be a problem in the NFL, but in the Big XII, he could get away with it as he had all day to throw. There were plays where Rudolph got the ball out quickly with anticipatory throws, but it was inconsistent and he has to quicken the process for the NFL.
Rudolph will have to work on his accuracy and field vision, plus get used to playing under center and calling plays in the huddle. Going through progressions and reading the field can be problems for Rudolph, and he has to improve there. He is going to see a big jump in competition from the Big XII defenses, which posed little challenge to Rudolph and the Cowboys. He had plenty of time to wait in a clean pocket to throw on weak defensive backs who his receivers burned regularly. Rudolph hasn't seen anything close to the pass rush or defensive back talent who will challenge him in the NFL. He is likely to go in the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft and expected to become a starter, but I think Rudolph will be just a backup-quality quarterback.
Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
This was a tough choice, with no player really jumping out at me. I chose Penny, but I could easily be wrong on this. He is very talented physically with size, speed and athleticism. There were a few reasons why I picked Penny. One, he has some mental struggles, and that was exposed at the Senior Bowl with a new, reduced version of a pro playbook featuring very basic plays. In the NFL, he could struggle to learn the playbook, and that could easily cause the coaches not to give him a lot of playing time. The second issue I see for Penny is his legs going dead on contact and him not finishing runs well. Penny has the size to run through tackles, but too often, he would stop his legs after contact. Pro defenders are going to be faster to get to him than he saw in college and will be stronger, bigger, and more violent. Thus, him not finishing runs well could limit his effectiveness. Of the early-round running back prospects, Penny has some risk that others don't.
Auden Tate, WR, Florida State
Of the early-rounders, Tate stands out as a player who has bust potential. He has mismatch size at 6-foot-5, 228 pounds and is very dangerous to make receptions over defensive backs. He is a real red-zone weapon. However, Tate is slow and will not separate from NFL cornerbacks or safeties. There are also plenty of pro linebackers who are faster than Tate. He's a pure jump-ball player. As a one-trick pony, it wouldn't surprise me if he goes bust, and sources across the league thought Tate should have gone back to school to improve before going pro. He needs development and may not have the luxury of time, depending on where he lands.
Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Williams is expected to be an early-round pick, but I know teams that graded him as low as the fourth or fifth round and I share their opinion. There are a lot of problems for Williams in the NFL. The biggest issues is that he is not strong at all. He plays soft and gets pushed around. Williams lacks strength in his base and speed rushers can give him problems. He has an issue with sustaining blocks as defenders can break away from his blocks. Williams is a tweener guard/tackle. His height and lack of length would fit better at guard. However, his lack of strength would be very problematic on the inside, where strong or heavy nose tackles will give him problems. His feet and athleticism would fit better at tackle, but he lacks strength there and speed rushers can give him problems. I think Williams is a smaller and weaker version of Luke Joeckel. Thus, I think he has a real shot at being a bust.