The 2013 NFL Draft: The Boom or Bust Players


Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were easy, no brainers. The NFL draft

Jan 19, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Former LSU Tigers cornerback Tyrann Mathieu watches courtside during the second half of a game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Golden State Warriors at the New Orleans Arena. The Warriors defeated the Hornets 116-112. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

is must see TV because of the boom or bust guys. You know, ultra talented players with the potential to change a franchise, or cost a GM his job.

With the 21st pick of the draft, the Minnesota Vikings select wide receiver; from Marshall University; Randy Moss. Those words launched the career of one of the most prolific, and self described greatest of all time, receivers. Hall of Fame inductee Warren Sapp was a boom or bust pick, a positive drug test dropped his draft stock coming out of the “U”niversity of Miami.

JaMarcus Russell was a good, not great quarterback at LSU. But according to draft maven Mike Mayock “Russell had the best Pro Day I ever saw as a quarterback.” The Raiders fell in love with Russell’s arm and drafted him first overall in 2007. Unfortunately he spent more time ingesting purple drank that digesting the black and gray playbook and busted out of the NFL in three years.

The following three players share some of the attributes of past boom or bust players and will make watching the 2013 draft and NFL season interesting.

Geno Smith   Quarterback   University of West Virginia

Smith possesses the arm strength, mobility and size that NFL scouts and coaches covet in a franchise quarterback. He was on fire leading WVU to a 5-0 start in 2012. Then his draft stock and Heisman candidacy hit a snag in two consecutive mid-season losses. Despite the Mountaineers weak finish, Smith completed 71 percent of his passes and had a TD to interception ratio of 42/6. In 2011 and 2012 Smith passed for over 4200 yards.

Smith was unable to respond after his team fell behind early in losses against Texas Tech and Kansas State. Were his numbers inflated by playing in Dana Holgorsen’s Air Raid offense and in the defensively challenged Big 12? Big 12 quarterbacks Colt McCoy, Vince Young and Sam Bradford have been unable to transfer their college success to the NFL.

The success of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III may pressure GM’s into selecting Smith as their franchise quarterback early in the first round. If that happens, will Smith have the ability to justify the selection, or will he disappear like he did during West Virginia’s loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Tyrann Mathieu   Cornerback   Louisiana State University

Mathieu was the best defensive football player at the college level in 2011, winning the Bednarik Award, finishing fifth in the Heisman voting and being named an All-American. He led LSU to an SEC championship and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. Mathieu dominated the SEC title game in 2011, earning the game MVP.

The Honey Badger celebrated his fine season by doing his best Cheech and Chong impersonation. He was dismissed from the LSU team before the season began by for reportedly failing numerous drug tests.

Though Mathieu lacks optimum size, he is capable of shutting down opposing receivers and is a game changing return specialist. Janoris Jenkins profiled similarly entering the 2012 draft, and was selected in the second round by the St. Louis Rams. At his worst, he could be a Pac-Man Jones type headache. He is currently projected as a third round pick, but if he does well at the combine, somebody will jump up and grab him earlier.

Alec Ogletree   Linebacker   University of Georgia

Bulldog teammate Jarvis Jones is rated slightly higher, but Ogletree oozes the measurables and athletic ability that NFL executives and coaches love. A highly recruited safety out of high school, Ogletree filled out to 235 pounds and transitioned to linebacker. In the 2012 SEC Championship Game against Alabama, Ogletree looked like a man among boys at times.

Like many boom or bust guys, Ogletree comes with off field issues. He was suspended in 2010 for a theft violation and in 2012 for reportedly failing a drug test. On the field, he relies on his speed, but can overrun plays. Smallish for a linebacker, he has trouble fighting off blocks at the second level.

Ogletree has the ability to become a dominant defensive presence. At his size, he presents as a bit of a tweener. However a hybrid type of player may be in demand this draft to counteract the current trend of athletic quarterbacks. A player like Ogletree can match the athleticism of a Colin Kaepernick or RG3. Ogletree’s size and speed will likely make him a combine star.

He is currently projected as a late first rounder. Most likely, an organization will fall in love with his ability and combine numbers and scoop him up earlier.