When it comes to the NFL draft — a high-stakes game of college-football-prospect roulette — mistakes are made. With that in mind, we compiled some of the funnier whiffs on draft prospects in the recent past.
Just to be clear, this post isn’t meant to rub these NFL.com scouting reports in the faces of those who wrote them. NFL teams likely believed some or all of what was written about each prospect. Most of these players didn’t go in the first round, and hindsight is 20-20.
Still, it’s fun to observe how time can change the perception of a player, particularly if a player changed the perception as much as these guys have.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
Durability concerns since he missed the entire 2009 season after back surgery and missed three games in 2008. Does not have a great top-end speed and may not be able to stretch the field at the next level. Lacks the elusiveness to make people miss after catch.
Gronk has, indeed, struggled with durability. He has not, however, struggled to stretch the field or evade tacklers. He is among the hardest players in the NFL to tackle. Until Brandin Cooks joined the team in 2017, he was also the team’s best deep threat since Randy Moss.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
Needs to add strength to more effectively beat press coverage and battled for the ball in the air. Route running skills could use some refinement. Needs to become more consistent catching the ball in a crowd.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
Wilson’s height will be his biggest inhibitor at the next level and the largest reason for his late-round value. It remains to be seen if he can throw effectively from the pocket at the next level.
Wilson does well outside the pocket in the NFL, because, yes, he throws well on the move and he’s short. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t throw well in the pocket. He delivered this pocket pass just fine.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
Hard to find an NFL comp for Prescott because he’s built like Donovan McNabb, but lacks McNabb’s ability and polish.
NFL COMPARISON: Brett Hundley
Hundley? Just rude. Should’ve just committed to the McNabb comparison.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
Sub par vision prevents him from seeing cut back lines and sees him running up the back of his lead blocker too often.
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
Profile: Bit of a gimmick prospect, who may lack a true position at the next level.
Pick analysis: Edelman will function in the Wildcat formation for the Patriots. He was unbelievably productive as a college quarterback and can make the club as a specialist in certain packages. He’s an intriguing prospect for New England.
To be fair, Edelman has thrown a touchdown pass for the Patriots. But he did so as a slot receiver, a position where he’s considered one of the league’s elite weapons. With some help from Bill Belichick, Edelman settled nicely into a true position. His playoff production is hardly gimmicky — ask the Falcons.
E.J. Manuel, QB, Bills
NFL COMPARISON: Blaine Gabbert
Turns out, that’s a surprisingly accurate but accidentally unflattering comparison. At the time, Gabbert was considered a promising prospect. Then both Manuel and Gabbert turned out to be busts.
Johnny Manziel, QB,
Has not developed a reputation as a worker or for doing the extras. Suspect intangibles — not a leader by example or known to inspire by his words. Carries a sense of entitlement and prima-donna arrogance seeking out the bright lights of Hollywood. Is known to party too much and is drawn to all the trappings of the game.
This one is a little sad, because it’s so spot on.
Trent Richardson, RB, Browns
Richardson is as compact and coiled an athlete that the running back position has seen since Adrian Peterson. Richardson is explosive, powerful and balanced, the three most shining traits that are evident when he ran the ball for Alabama. He is a heady and instinctual player who is patient enough to wait for blocks to develop within the scheme and quick enough to change course and cut backfield to daylight.
Richardson was not the second coming of Peterson. Instead, he was one of the worst draft selections in the history of the NFL. At 3.3 yards per carry on his career, he was not particularly explosive, powerful or balanced.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
I left this for the end, because anonymous scouts say stupid things every year. And with smokescreens blowing every which way, it’s hard to take what they say seriously. But for laughs:
Drew Brees, QB, then-Chargers (and now-Saints)
Again, for laughs.