Every draft has at least 1 random player selected that nobody, including the “expert analysts” had anywhere close to being a 1st Round selection. There are also a couple that are unanimous predictions to be selected in the low 20’s at best, but magically they are a Top 10 pick. Some of these surprises actually turn out to be solid players, but a bunch become busts and subsequently get coaches and front office staff members fired. These picks really come down to where they’re selected, how much are they willing to work to improve, are they coachable and what team took a chance on them.
If you are looking for positional rankings of the draft eligible players on offense and defense, we have you covered at Spinnable Sports. You can also find my Top 105 NFL Draft Prospects, Day 3 Gems on Offense & Defense and draft needs for every division in the same spot. My 3 Round Mock Draft takes us from pick #1 to pick #102. The Irrational Confidence Podcast (@IRConfidencePod on Twitter) dropped our Live Mock Draft Episode this week. You can find The Irrational Confidence Podcast on any podcast platform as well as the Spinnable Sports YouTube Channel.
Here is a list of some surprises from previous drafts:
- LB. NICK BARNETT (OREGON ST) — 1ST RD 2003 DRAFT: GREEN BAY PACKERS — I REMEMBER THE ENTIRE ESPN CREW FROZEN ON CAMERA WITH NO IDEA WHO BARNETT WAS AND CHRIS BERMAN JUST SAYING…..OK…NICK BARNETT AND NODDING HIS HEAD. BARNETT TURNED OUT TO BE A VERY PRODUCTIVE LINEBACKER
- WR. DARIUS HEYWARD BEY (MARYLAND) — 7TH OVERALL 2009 DRAFT: OAKLAND RAIDERS — EPIC BUST
- DT. TYSON ALUALU. (CAL) — 10TH OVERALL 2010 DRAFT: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — I REMEMBER SITTING IN A BUFFALO WILD WINGS HERE IN JACKSONVILLE THAT NIGHT…..ENTIRE RESTAURANT WENT SILENT AND AFTER A MINUTE OR 2 OF PURE SHOCK, EXPLETIVES CAME FAST FROM EVERYONE THERE — EPIC BUST FOR THE JAGS
- CB. JUSTIN GILBERT. (OKLAHOMA ST) — 8TH OVERALL 2014 DRAFT: CLEVELAND BROWNS — NOBODY HAD GILBERT AS A TOP 10 PLAYER AND HIS CAREER PROVED THOSE PREDICTIONS TRUE — EPIC BUST
- WR. COREY DAVIS. (WESTERN MICHIGAN) — 5TH OVERALL. 2017 DRAFT: TENNESSEE TITANS — WAS THOUGHT TO BE A MID-FIRST ROUND PICK AT BEST, BUT SHOCKINGLY WENT 5TH OVERALL— EPIC BUST
- LB. LEIGHTON VANDER ESCH. (BOISE STATE) — 19TH OVERALL. 2018 DRAFT: DALLAS COWBOYS — JUST ABOUT EVERYONE HAD VANDER ESCH IN THE 2ND / 3RD ROUNDS, BUT THE COWBOYS TOOK HIM ANYWAY AND IT HAS REALLY PAID OFF — GREAT IMPACT PLAYER
- EDGE. CLELIN FERRELL. (CLEMSON) — 4TH OVERALL. 2019 DRAFT: OAKLAND RAIDERS — FERRELL WAS A MID-FIRST ROUND PLAYER AT BEST, BUT THE RAIDERS TOOK HIM OVER DEVIN WHITE, TJ HOCKENSON, RASHAN GARY, CHRISTIAN WILKINS, BRIAN BURNS, DEXTER LAWRENCE AND ALSO TOOK BUST SAFETY JOHNATHAN ABRAM AT 27TH OVERALL
- CB. NOAH IGBINOGHENE. (AUBURN) — 30TH OVERALL. 2020 DRAFT: MIAMI DOLPHINS — THE DOLPHINS TRADED BACK INTO THE 1ST RD FOR A 3RD PROJECTED PLAYER WHO HAS BARELY CONTRIBUTED IN 3 YEARS , PLAYERS DRAFTED AFTER HIM INCLUDE TEE HIGGINS, MICHAEL PITTMAN JR, D’ANDRE SWIFT, JONATHAN TAYLOR AND ANTOINE WINFIELD JR— MAJOR BUST
- OG. COLE STRANGE. (UT CHATTANOOGA) — 29TH OVERALL. 2022 DRAFT: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – NFL NETWORK ANALYST DANIEL JEREMIAH HAD STRANGE IN HIS TOP 50, BUT EVEN HE WAS CAUGHT OFF GUARD BY STRANGE GOING 29TH. HE HAD A SOLID ROOKIE CAMPAIGN BUT JURY IS STILL OUT — SOLID SO FAR
- RB. WILLIS McGAHEE. (MIAMI ) — 23RD OVERALL. 2003 DRAFT: BUFFALO BILLS — NOBODY HAD McGAHEE AS A FIRST ROUND PICK AFTER HIS TERRIBLE KNEE INJURY IN THE BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, BUT THE BILLS MADE THE PICK AND AFTER REHAB IT REALLY PAID OFF.
- CB. AHMAD “BAT MAN” CARROLL. (ARKANSAS) — 25TH OVERALL. 2004 DRAFT: GREEN BAY PACKERS — VERY FEW, IF ANY FIRST ROUND PROJECTIONS AND THE PACKERS TOOK HIM OVER CHRIS GAMBLE — MAJOR BUST
There are quite a few First Round Busts on the list above. If they were taken much lower, then they would just be draft picks who didn’t pan out. There are a lot more busts than “We’re smarter than the other 31 teams and are going to get a steal” selections, which should be a warning or at least Buyer Beware to anyone overthinking a draft board.
There are some intriguing prospects who could surprisingly hear their name called on Thursday night. Depending on when they are selected, who else is on the board and where they go….they could be steals or a major bust!
WR. JONATHAN MINGO. (OLE MISS):
- LOOK AT PAST OLE MISS WR’S …DK METCALF, AJ BROWN & ELLIJAH MOORE….THINK MINGO WILL BE OK.
OT. MATTHEW BERGERON. (SYRACUSE):
- VIEWED BY SOME AS THE 6TH OR 7TH OFFENSIVE TACKLE AND TEAMS DESPERATE FOR THEIR OT MIGHT JUMP UP TO TAKE BERGERON IF SKORONSKI, B. JONES, JOHNSON, WRIGHT, HARRISON AND D JONES ARE GONE OR A TEAM VIEWS HIM AS THE BETTER PROSPECT.
C/ OG. STEVE AVILA. (TCU):
- HAS PLAYED EVERY POSITION ON THE OLINE
C/ OG. JOE TIPPMAN. (WISCONSIN):
- WISCONSIN LINEMAN USUALLY PAN OUT
TE. SAM LaPORTA. (IOWA):
- IOWA TIGHT END. *CHECKS NOTES*. THEY USUALLY PAN OUT (HOCKENSON, KITTLE, DALLAS CLARK, FANT, FIEDOROWICZ, CHANDLER & TONY MOEAKI)
EDGE. FELIX ANUDIKE UZOMAH. (KANSAS STATE):
- HE ISN’T BETTER THAN ANDERSON JR, SMITH, WILSON OR MURPHY, BUT COULD BE THE 5TH EDGE RUSHER IF TEAMS VALUE HIM HIGHER THAN VAN NESS AND KEION WHITE
DL. ADETOMIWA ADEBAWORE. (NORTHWESTERN):
- AFTER JALEN CARTER AND CALIJAH KANCEY, THE DEFENSIVE LINE PROSPECTS ARE VERY SIMILAR
DL. MAZI SMITH. (MICHIGAN):
- SEE STATEMENT UNDER ADEBAWORE…SAME!
DL. KEEANU BENTON. (WISCONSIN):
- SEE 2 STATEMENTS ABOVE…SAME!
CB. TYRIQUE STEVENSON. (MIAMI):
- A VERY GIFTED ATHLETE WHO IS A GREAT SLOT CORNER, BUT NOT A PERIMETER CORNER, KEEP THAT IN MIND
C / OG. OLUSEGUN OLUWATIMI. (MICHIGAN):
- NOT BETTER THAN TORRENCE (FLORIDA), BUT COULD BE VALUED HIGHER THAN AVILA OR TIPPMAN BY TEAMS AND EVEN A TOP 30 GRADE
EDGE. BJ OJULARI. (LSU):
- HIS BROTHER WAS A 1ST RD PICK AND IS A LEGIT PASS RUSHER, HAVE A FEELING BJ WILL PRODUCE TOO
WR. JOSH DOWNS. (UNC):
- A STEVE SMITH SR / RANDALL COBB CLONE AND THEY TURNED OUT OK
CB. CAM SMITH. (SOUTH CAROLINA):
-WAS A GREAT CORNER AT SOUTH CAROLINA WHO IS COMFORTABLE PLAYING MAN COVERAGE
OT. CODY MAUCH. (NORTH DAKOTA STATE):
- A PROJECT BASED OFF PLAYING AGAINST FCS COMPETITION AND I THINK TEAMS SHOULD AVOID UNTIL LATE IN THE 2ND ROUND
If your favorite team takes one of these players, or any reach in the 1st Rd, I hope he pans out (unless it’s the Bears, Vikings or Lions). If one of these players is selected by your rivals, then see my thoughts in the previous sentence haha. The NFL Draft is basically a trip to Vegas with money to burn on the tables and thinking your strategy is revolutionary.