NFL Draft: Figuring Out The "Boom" or "Bust" Factor

Joe Robbins

"Let see... Your resume says you had 124 catches, 1,432 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns... You played Division 9A NCAA football? Is there even a Division 9A? It also says you can bench press 225 lbs. - 2 1/2 times, and it says here you could've done more reps, but your 14 children from 17 different women were screaming and the sun was in your eyes... Hmm, a Wonderlic score of "3-ish"? NEXT!"

Every year, college players of every stripe head to the NFL employment line. In the NFL Draft, teams try to sift through a bevy of statistics, and oceans of player-video to find a potential star. But there's an immutable truth to the NFL, and it goes something like: "Just because you were the star of your college team, doesn't mean you can play in the NFL."

We all know not every player chosen in today's draft is going to succeed. It's a fact of NFL life, and we see highly touted players - taken in the first round of the NFL draft - succumb to reality. We call them "Busts", and some of them have reached near mythic proportions. Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leif, Jason Smith, Aaron Maybin... It's a sad list that somehow feeds our schadenfreude with a weird kind of dismay mixed in.

The college players who "Boom", are carried like badges of honor by fans, who earn the right to say, "See! I told you he'd be great!", because they mentioned the player at some point, and that their favored team should've picked whoever it was, and didn't. NFL GMs make a name for themselves in the draft, and when they find late round gems they are crowned "genius" or "guru" by the media. Alfred Morris, the Washington Redskins' 6th Rd (#173) pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, has to be the best late round "Boom" running back since Denver's Terrell Davis back in 1995. Here's a fun fact for you: Deacon Jones was taken in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL draft. At #186, he would've been a 6th round pick today.

To me, this is what makes the NFL Draft so compelling to watch. I'm not all that interesting in the top guys taken in the draft after the Radio City Music Hall dust settles. I look for the late round players all season long. It's great to find a Alfred Morris, and it's hard to imagine anyone who isn't cheering a guy like that on.

The first round of the NFL Draft is where the pressure to perform rests. Guys taken with top draft picks have a "Boom or Bust" cloud hanging over them for the first few years of their careers. NFL pundits and fans sit back in judgement, and swing the "Bust" hammer at a mystically determined point in a player's career. They move on to the next player taken in the draft, hoping to find a "Boom" player at every turn.

So who has the highest "Boom or Bust" factor in the 2013 NFL Draft? Let me know in the comments.


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