Well, here we are, June 2015… The draft is in the books, and just like every year, there is a lot of optimism and hope from sportsbetting fans that the drafted players, especially those selected in the first round, will become instant hits. Unfortunately, even when you are a first round pick, there is simply no guarantee that you will become a success in the NFL, as factors like injuries, playing time, mastery of the NFL rulebooks, coaching systems and a whole bunch of other reasons can affect a player’s performance.
The recent years have consistently provided countless examples of great successes and devastating failures in equal measure, and if that trend is to stay true, then the 2015 draft will provide booms and busts, which we will get to talk about in the future. But for now, how about taking a look at the worst NFL first-round draft picks from the recent years that still have a lot to prove in the league? Yep, sounds just like the right thing to discuss now…
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Houston Texans, No. 1 pick 2014
Selected as the first overall pick in 2014, Jadeveon Clowney was supposed to be the missing pass-rushing piece in Houston’s defense alongside J.J. Watt. But before his much-anticipated NFL career even took off, the DE suffered a season-ending injury, forcing him to miss the entire season. With Clowney back in training, all the focus will be on the DE to live up to his hyped status and prove his worth in 2015.
Greg Robinson, OT, St. Louis Rams, No. 2 pick 2014
Besides the injuries he suffered in his rookie season, Greg Robinson was not able to make much of an impact, as he shifted positions from left guard and tackle in 2014, which limited his efficiency. But with the Rams now settled on using Robinson as a tackle, and a number of offseason roster changes guaranteeing him a starting role, the No. 2 overall pick in 2014 is expecting that he will have a strongly improved sophomore season in the NFL.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland Browns, No. 22 pick in 2014
The story of Manziel is probably the most obvious one of all 2014 first-rounded. Tipped as being the man to save the Browns’ ailing offense, there were great expectations about Johnny Football and his arrival in Cleveland. But when he was give his chance to impress in the team after starter QB Brian Hoyer looked overburdened with leading the Browns, Manziel failed miserably with no touchdowns, two picks and a 51.4 pass completion percentage. The talk in Cleveland is that, in the course of 2015, Manziel will once again have a chance to prove himself worthy of his pick. For the sake of his career that is not looking promising right now, let’s hope that the young quarterback will be able to have a better season.
Eric Fisher, OT, Kansas City Chiefs, No. 1 pick in 2013
Despite coming off first in the 2013 draft board, Fisher’s first two seasons in the NFL have been underwhelming, with the Central Michigan University product grading out among the worst linemen in the league in both seasons. According to the excuses he’s been giving, he was played out of position and combined with his not-so-good shape in 2013, he was not able to perform well. In his second year, he was hindered by a recurrent foot injury. Entering the new season, the Chiefs won’t be hearing any of his excuses—if he cannot be productive for the team, his position as a starter in Kansas City could change very quickly, considering the potential replacements available in the Chiefs’ current roster.
EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills, No. 16 pick in 2013
Selected as the only first round quarterback in the 2013 draft, the Bills made it very clear that they believed Manuel was the best quarterback in his class and a potential franchise QB in Buffalo. Two seasons down the line, Manuel has failed to live up to the expectations, struggling mightily by posting just 16 touchdowns, a QB rating of 78.5, a 58.6 percent pass completion rate and 12 interceptions in his 14 NFL stats. Given some time, Buffalo coach Rex Ryan believes that Manuel could improve. The problem is that Buffalo does not have any more time to wait around, and their impatience has been clearly expressed in the offseason, as they signed free agent Matt Cassel, a journeyman who hasn’t started more than 10 games in a season since 2010. In his career, Cassel has passed for 30 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, while completing 58.9 percent of his throws. Reports from Buffalo indicate that there is no current favorite player for the starting QB role, with Manuel, Cassel and Tyrod Taylor set to fight for the job. If Manuel doesn’t use the offseason and the upcoming season to redeem himself, his time in Buffalo could be over sooner rather than later.