The ultimate goal of the NFL draft is to find the right players that fit into your scheme and can help you win games. Of course, as important as it is to identify the players you want to target, it can be equally important to identify the players you’d like to avoid. Here are a few players that may be talented enough to play in the NFL, but who teams would be wise to stay away from nonetheless:
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia – A player with Austin’s size carries a lot of risk if he’s drafted as early as he’s projected to go. If he had put up the kind of numbers he did in college while playing in the SEC things might be different, but he played in the Big East, a second-tier league, before moving to the Big 12, where defense is sporadically played, so it’s no wonder his speed stood out in college and he was able to put up big numbers at West Virginia. There are undersized speedsters that can be taken on Day Three without the cost or the risk, which makes Austin a guy you can pass on in the first two rounds.
Matt Barkley, QB, USC – Is it unfair to lump Barkley with the rest of the USC quarterbacks that have underachieved in the NFL? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. There are other quarterbacks out there just as capable of making it in the NFL, so why take a risk on another guy from USC? His arm strength was never that impressive to begin and now he’s coming off of shoulder surgery, as the red flags keep piling up. A lot of NFL teams are desperate for a quarterback, but no team should be desperate enough to take a chance on Barkley in the early rounds.
Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee – Bray may be the most talented quarterback in the draft, but I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole. He made the mistake of coming out early instead of going back to school for another year, so that should tell you something about his decision making. He lacks leadership and all the intangibles you would want in a quarterback. He has all the talent in the world, which can be deceiving, but he will never lead an NFL team to any kind of success.
Khaseem Green, LB, Rutgers – Green had a nice college career at Rutgers, but he’s a tweener that will struggle to have success in the NFL. He was slow at the combine and already undersized, which should all but eliminate any hope of him playing linebacker in the NFL. If he’s that slow and that small, it’s unlikely that he’ll become a useful player in the NFL.
Tyann Mathieu, CB, LSU – The Honey Badger is probably the most obvious guy to avoid in this year’s draft. Even if you can get past the fact that he failed over 10 drug tests while in college, which you shouldn’t, he’s still not an NFL caliber cornerback. In college, he was at his best when he could roam around the field making plays, but when he had to cover receivers one on one he was exposed. He may be able to make some plays as a kick returner, but no NFL team should see him as a viable defensive player.
Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech – Rogers has equal amounts of talent and character issues. With a deep talent pool at wide receiver this year, he shouldn’t be drafted until well into Day Three. He had a great sophomore year after teammate Justin Hunter tore his ACL early in the season, but he clashed with head coach Derek Dooley late in the season and put his standing on the team in jeopardy. All Rogers had to do was shut up, play hard, have a good junior year at Tennessee, and head to the NFL, but instead he got kicked off the team by Dooley and had to transfer to Tennessee Tech. Rogers is a good wide receiver, but not worth the headache.
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame – He’ll still be drafted high and he has the talent to be a solid if not real good NFL linebacker, but for any team hoping to content in 2013 he’s just not worth the distraction. Opposing teams will never let him forget the situation with his fake girlfriend and there is likely to be Tebowesque media attention following Te’o around as he begins his NFL career, both of which NFL teams would be wise to avoid.