The NFL Draft is an event that is nearly as big as actual NFL games. For weeks leading up to the draft reporters publish, edit and republish mock drafts projecting which college star will be taken by which NFL team.
We’ve got nearly 24 hours a day coverage of the draft leading up to the big night. There is on-air talent who has made entire careers about covering the draft. We’re looking at you, Mel Kiper. They’ll wax poetic about how this guy’s skills translate to his new teams’ schemes or how they don’t.
In the end, some guy behind a desk on the set of an ESPN show has no idea how a guy will do in the NFL. That’s determined by a number of factors including the player himself, the situation with the team he’s drafted to and how healthy he stays.
Some players have long, productive and successful careers. For others, they flame out before making it. This list is about those guys. Take a look and see what you think.
2015 Draft Class
Jameis Winston: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pick # 1
Jameis Winston won literally everything there is to win at Florida State. He won the Heisman Trophy, a National Championship and was a consensus All-American. His size, arm strength, and athleticism made him an easy choice at number 1 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The only negative on Jameis Winston’s resume was his decision-making. Ignoring his decision-making off the field, Winston was prone to errors leading to turnovers. This has followed him in his NFL career, and may yet cost him his career. With Winston, you get big numbers, like leading the league in yards in 2019, but also high interception numbers. It’s a big gamble for a guy you’re paying $ 20 million a year.
Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans, Pick # 2
Marcus Mariota won every individual award a college quarterback could win during his college career at the University of Oregon. His size and ability to escape the pocket a create plays with his legs made him an ideal quarterback prospect in the modern NFL.
Fast forward 4 seasons and Mariota was replaced as starting quarterback by veteran journeyman Ryan Tannehill, who was able to guide the Titans to the AFC Championship game. That essentially ended Mariota’s career in Tennessee.
Kevin White: Chicago Bears, Pick # 7
Kevin White had a monster year his senior year at West Virginia catching 109 passes for 1,447 yard and 10 touchdowns. He was an All-American and a Biletnikoff Award finalist. Coming into the draft he was considered one of the two best receivers’ prospects in the draft.
Unfortunately, Kevin White’s career was destroyed by injuries. Stress fractures, broken legs, and broken shoulder blades limited White to just 14 games in 3 NFL season. His career totals include 25 receptions for 285 yards.
Ereck Flowers: New York Giants, Pick #9
Flowers had a good career at the University of Miami. He was a second-team All-ACC selection in his junior year and decided to make the jump to the NFL. At 6’6, 330 pounds, Flowers size made him an ideal left tackle at the next level.
At least that’s what the Giants thought when they picked him. For the first three seasons of Flowers career Flowers gave up the most total pressures of any tackle in the NFL. He was also incredibly prone to penalties. Former teammate Geoff Schwartz once accused Flowers of quitting on his team. Flowers is now a free agent.
Dorial Green-Beckham: Tennessee Titans, Pick #40
Dorial Green-Beckham was an incredibly talented receiver at the University of Missouri, but off-the-field issues lead to him playing in just two seasons. Eventually eligible for the NFL Draft, Green-Beckham was lauded as a Top-10 level talent due to his size and incredible hands.
Green-Beckham managed just 2 seasons in the NFL. During his time in the league, he caught 68 passes for 941 yards and 6 touchdowns. Eventually, his talent and potential were overshadowed by his persistent off-field troubles. He has been out of the league since 2016 and doesn’t look likely to get a job any time soon.
Maxx Williams: Baltimore Ravens, Pick # 55
Despite being a Mackey Award finalist for Minnesota his redshirt sophomore season the NFL advisory board recommended that Williams return to school for his junior season. Williams did not take that advice and entered the draft. After the combine, Williams had established himself as one of the top tight ends in the draft.
The Ravens, who have a history of great tight ends, snapped him up in the second round. As it turns out, Williams should have taken the advisory board’s recommendation. He’s been a competent but not outstanding NFL tight end. Not what you would hope for with your second-round draft pick.
2016 Draft Class
Eli Apple: New York Giants, Pick #10
Eli Apple had a great college career at The Ohio State University. He won a National Championship and was the Buckeyes Defensive MVP in his redshirt sophomore season. He was projected to be an early to mid-first round draft pick.
The Giants brought Apple to the Big Apple with the 10th overall pick. Apple struggled to adapt to the differences in the NFL almost immediately. He struggled on and off the field, with safety Landon Collins calling him a “cancer.” Apple was given a clean slate with a trade to the Saints in 2018, but it didn’t work out there either. Apple is currently a free agent.
Corey Coleman: Cleveland Browns, Pick #15
Corey Coleman was one of the best wide receivers in the country during his junior season at Baylor. HE caught 74 passes for 1,363 and 20 touchdowns on his way to picking up the Biletnikoff Award and a consensus All-American selection.
Injuries stunted any sort of growth Coleman would have made during his time in Cleveland. He missed time with a broken hand twice in two seasons. When he finally got a chance to play, his most memorable moment was dropping a pass late in the fourth quarter that would have helped the Browns avoid an infamous 0-16 season.
Josh Doctson: Washington Redskins, Pick #22
Doctson was a consensus All-American his senior year at TCU. He caught 70 passes for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns. He had scouts drooling with his performance at the NFL Combine, drawing immediate comparisons to Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ he was not. Doctson struggled with an Achilles injury that caused him to miss most of his rookie season. Once he finally made it onto the field he struggled to produce, never totaling more than 550 yards in a season.
Laquon Treadwell: Minnesota Vikings, Pick # 23
Laquon Treadwell left Ole Miss as the school’s all-time leader in receptions and was a third-team All-American. The amazing thing? He did it in just 3 seasons in Oxford. Prior to the combine, Treadwell was rated as the number two receiver in the class. But by the draft, he had slipped all the way to the 23rd pick, after 3 other receivers had been taken.
That should have been a warning to the Vikings that something wasn’t right with Treadwell. Treadwell never struggled with injuries or off the field issues, he just wasn’t very good. In 4 NFL seasons, he’s caught 65 passes for 701 yards and 2 touchdowns. For a first-round pick, that stinks
Paxton Lynch: Denver Broncos, Pick #26
Every draft season there’s a quarterback from a school that no one saw play that makes a splash because he has all the prototypical NFL measurables. Sure, Lynch had a nice college career at Memphis, throwing for over 8,000 yards in his 3 years there, but The American is hardly a proving ground for wannabe NFL quarterbacks.
John Elway loves a quarterback that looks like him though. Big and strong, can probably throw through the wind at altitude. Never mind that his big numbers in college came against inferior opponents. Well, it didn’t take long for the Broncos to realize their mistake. In two seasons Lynch played in just 5 games, mostly in meaningless games.
Robert Nkemdiche: Arizona Cardinals, Pick # 29
The Robert Nkemdiche hype train got rolling early in his career. ESPN named him “The Southeast’s best high school football prospect since the early 1980s.” Ok, pump the brakes ESPN. He had a fine college career at Ole Miss, picking up a second-team All-American honor after his senior season.
He failed to live up to the hype in the NFL too. IN four NFL seasons the end has recorded just 44 total tackles and 4.5 sacks. Those are not first-round pick numbers.
Christian Hackenberg: New York Jets, Pick #51
Christian Hackenberg peaked in his freshman year of college. He broke all sorts of Penn State Freshman records, and then just sort of plateaued. Heading into the draft after his junior season, Hackenberg was rated as the 5th best quarterback available.
The Jets picked him up in the second round, ahead of future NFL starters Jacoby Brissett and Dak Prescott. It was all pretty much downhill from there. Hackenberg played in a few preseason games for the Jets but never saw the field in regular-season games in two seasons on their roster. He spent time on a few practice squads and a season in the AAF with the Memphis Express.
2017 Draft Class
Mitchell Trubisky: Chicago Bears, Pick #2
Trubisky had a nice college career at North Carolina. In his one year as a starter, Trubisky threw for 3,748 yards and 30 touchdowns. Going into the draft, various experts had him ranked between the first and 4th best quarterbacks available.
Apparently, the Bears thought he was a talent they couldn’t risk missing so they traded up to get him. Now, Trubisky has been fine. He can’t really throw but he makes plays with his legs. The real tragedy here is drafted behind Trubisky were Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, two of the best quarterbacks in the league of the next decade. Trubisky will never be talked about like that and the Bears traded up to get him.
Solomon Thomas: San Francisco 49ers, Pick #3
Solomon Thomas played two seasons at Stanford after redshirting his freshman year. He put up pretty good numbers and was named a third-Team All-American for his work his sophomore year. Heading into the draft, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 4th-best end available.
The 49ers clearly disagreed with that assessment and made him the second end taken at number 3. That gamble didn’t pay off as Thomas has just 6 sacks in 3 NFL seasons. In 2019, he started just 3 games and was replaced rookie Joey Bosa.
John Ross: Cincinnati Bengals, Pick # 9
John Ross had a good senior season at Washington. He caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns. But he blew people way when he ran a combine-record 4.22-second 40-yard dash ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft.
With the 9th overall pick, the Bengals made him the third wide receiver drafted. The numbers tell the story for Ross who has played in just 24 games in his 3-year career. He has a total of 49 receptions for 716 yards and 10 touchdowns. So much for all that speed.
O.J. Howard: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pick #19
O.J. Howard was an incredible weapon at Alabama. Despite his talent, Nick Saban didn’t feature him enough saying, “O.J. quite honestly should have been involved more.” Ahead of the draft, he was labeled “an ideal tight end” for any NFL teams.
That team was Tampa Bay. While it might not be fair to label Howard a bust, he hasn’t lived up to his massive talent and potential. He’s never caught more than 35 passes in a season or caught more than 6 touchdowns. If you’re going to pick a tight end that high in the draft, you need to get production out of them.
DeShone Kizer: Cleveland Browns, Pick #52
Kizer had two good seasons at Notre Dame. He threw for over 5,500 yards and 45 touchdowns. He added over 1,000 yards on the ground in those two seasons also. Despite his success, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said publicly that it would be a mistake for Kizer to leave for the NFL when he did.
Kelly was proven right. Kizer played in 15 games for the Browns during his rookie season. Unfortunately for Kizer that would be the Browns infamous 0-16 season. He was completely unprepared and unready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. After the debacle, he was shipped to Green Bay and eventually to the Raiders.
2018 Draft Class
Josh Rosen: Arizona Cardinals, Pick #10
Josh Rosen’s college career got off to a great start. He was named a Freshman All-American after his first season at UCLA. After that, his stock continued to rise but was often overshadowed by cross-town rival Sam Darnold at USC.
During the draft, he had his Aaron Rodgers moment as he slipped down to 10th and was the 4th quarterback chosen. He had a tough rookie season on a bad Arizona Cardinals team. Following that year came the Kliff Kingsbury hire and the Kyler Murray drama. Eventually, Rosen was shipped to the Dolphins, where he continued to play poorly in relief work.
Rashaad Penny: Seattle Seahawks, Pick #27
Rashaad Penny was a beast at San Diego State. He was a consensus All-American and led the nation in rushing his senior season.
Success has not come so easily for Penny in the NFL though. He’s rushed for just 789 yards in two seasons. You know it isn’t going well when the Seahawks bring in a 33-year-old (and formerly retired) Marshawn Lynch to boost their rushing offense. But Penny’s still young. He’s got time to turn this around.
Sony Michel: New England Patriots, Pick #31
Sony Michel was an important part of some of the best teams in Georgia history. Despite splitting time with Nick Chubb, Michel still managed to rush for over 3,500 yards in his Georgia career. Together, the pair set an FBS record for most combined career yards.
It’s difficult to say Michel has been a bust, but his production isn’t close to what it was at Georgia. Also, it’s likely the success he has had is due mostly to the offense he’s in. Look at how well his former running mate, Nick Chubb is doing in Cleveland and he was picked just 4 spots after Michel.
Ronald Jones: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pick #38
Ronald Jones put up big numbers as a junior at USC. He rushed for over 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns and was named first-team All-Pac-12. The worry for some scouts was that Jones may be too slight to succeed as an NFL running back.
So far, the scouts have been proven right. In two seasons Jones has totaled just 724 yards and 6 touchdowns. This guy was an early second-round draft pick, who is now essentially an afterthought in a high-powered Tampa offense. That’s just not good enough.
2019 Draft Class
Daniel Jones: New York Giants, Pick #6
Daniel Jones had an ok senior season at Duke. He threw for 2,674 yards and 22 touchdowns. He looked good at the Senior Bowl and was named the game’s MVP. Also, he’s 6’5 and the NFL loves tall quarterbacks.
The Giants needed an heir apparent to Eli Manning, and they chose Daniel Jones. After a few weeks of Manning struggling, it was time to turn the keys over to Jones. He played ok, throwing for 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also threw 12 interceptions and fumbled 13 times in those 13 games. The jury is still out on Jones, but he will have to get a lot better if he expects to stick around in the NFL.
T.J. Hockenson: Detroit Lions, Pick #8
Hockenson was just the latest product from Tight End University, otherwise known as the University of Iowa when he left for the NFL. Following his redshirt sophomore season, Hockenson was named first-team All-Big Ten and was given the Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end.
He was good in college but 8th overall good? Come on Detroit. That was a huge risk to take and it seems like it hasn’t quite paid off yet. Hockenson caught 32 passes for 367 yards and 2 touchdowns in just 12 games played during his rookie year. Those are not 8th overall pick numbers.
Rashan Gary: Green Bay Packers, Pick #12
Rashan Gary came to Michigan to win things, and while he didn’t do that, he did pick up some pretty good individual honors along the way. Playing at both defensive end and outside linebacker, Gary earned first-team All-Big Ten honors.
Gary was taken by the Packers in the first round and said Gary would be an outside linebacker for them. He didn’t make the impact they were hoping in his first season. He started 0 games and recorded just 21 tackles and 2 sacks. That’s just not good enough production for the 12th overall pick.