FILMSTUDY: An alternative system for labeling draft “busts”

Sergio Kindle 650

I want to suggest a way to consider draft busts that is a little different than what you’ve seen.  We can agree that draft busts come in many shades of gray and that’s what makes a lot of draft discussions interesting, but the additional dimensions of time and roster space are typically overlooked.

When I’m defining draft busts below I want to exclude all players who held a regular offensive or defensive role for more than two full years and played well.  Obviously, Ray Lewis and Jon Ogden aren’t on the margin of this category, but players like Duane Starks, Dawan Landry, Chad Williams, Edgerton Hartwell, and Chester Taylor were also successful draft picks because the Ravens harvested lots of cap-friendly value from their rookie contracts.

I’m going to suggest 10 categories for draft busts and submit that virtually every payer that didn’t play a significant role for the drafting team can fit into one of them:

1. Cut in first training camp or off-field issues.

A good example from Ravens’ history is RB Chris Barnes, a 5th-round selection who couldn’t make the 2001 Ravens despite the injury to Jamal Lewis.

2. Chronically injured.

Sergio Kindle and Dan Cody are the poster children here.  Kindle was released during his 3rd season after providing no return on investment.  Cody played well in 14 career snaps, but that couldn’t make up for the wasted roster spot stemming from 3 years of injuries.  I guess it’s obvious this sort of draft bust is more costly than cutting bait from a pick in that player’s first camp.

3. Developmental.

The player is often stashed on the practice squad or IR for 2 years then has difficulty playing well enough to get a meaningful role.  This is most common for “size-and-shape” offensive linemen or wide receivers.  Ramon Harewood and Justin Harper are good examples.

4. Hold on too long.

This is a broad category where a player survives an extra year on the roster for no apparent reason other than his drafted status (a sunk cost).  The best example in recent years is Davon Drew.

5. Stuck behind veterans. 

This player typically gets some fringe playing time, perhaps due to injury, but isn’t able to crack the starting lineup.  The excuse of being behind veterans is especially poor, because all teams must consistently look to get younger to comply with the cap.  Play well enough and those veterans will be “Turked” or you’ll be traded for value.  Chris Chester and Haruki Nakamura are good examples here.  Neither a bad player by any means, but the team could have hoped for more with either selection.  Chester could also go in the next category.

6. Close, but not quite.

This player gets some playing time, but doesn’t play well enough to help this team.  In some cases it might be a matter of positional depth.  In others, the player isn’t quite good enough to be a regular.  These players are often traded in the last year of their rookie deal, but sometimes they play it out but are allowed to walk.  Examples in this group are Tavares Gooden, Derrick Martin, and Kyle Boller.

7. Drafted too high.

The player may have had some solid value, but the pick used was too high.  I submit this is only an issue with 1stand 2nd round selections.  Mark Clayton would be in this group.  You can see why Kyle Boller is looking up at this category.

8. Core special teamer.

This is a mild failure in many cases.  With some 6th or 7th round selections, that’s really what the selecting team wants…as a fallback.  Excluding return specialists and the kicking crew, other draft selections need to contribute on either offense or defense to be considered successful.  The best example on the Ravens in recent years is Prescott Burgess, who played well on special teams but contributed just 23 career defensive snaps in 5 seasons with the Ravens.  David Reed and Marcus Smith are also in this group.  I look at these players as ones where good special-teams coaching can provide some decent residual value for your missed selections at WR, RB, LB, and DB.

9. Blossoms after rookie deal is complete.

This is an extremely rare category, particularly if you mean a player that blossoms for the drafting team after the rookie deal is complete.  Dwan Edwards is the lone Ravens example.  Such a player is not providing draft value, but we don’t need to discuss that here.  If including late bloomers anywhere, you can throw Aubrayo Franklin in this category also.

10. Blossoms in RFA season.

This is a difficult group for the team.  They get some value, but are not optimally positioned to sign the player to a long-term deal a year early.  Good examples in Ravens history are Tony Pashos, Ovie Mughelli, and Paul Kruger. With a good year in 2013, Terrence Cody could be in this group.

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured, Filmstudy by Ken McKusick. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ken McKusick

Ken McKusick
Ken comes to us via area message boards where he has consistently posted some of the most insightful and memorable posts that you'll find anywhere.  Known as "Filmstudy", Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports who grew up about 1 mile from Memorial Stadium.  He attended...more

8 Raves on “FILMSTUDY: An alternative system for labeling draft “busts”

  1. Joe on said:

    I think it’s also key to define what each round expectations are:

    1st Round – Solid to Spectacular Starter. A 1st rounder, at the least, should be able to solidly hold down their position over several years of play, if not doing more than that.
    2nd-3rd Round – Decent to Solid Starter. These players may need some seasoning, but should only be a success if they are able to start at a position on the team. Lower ceiling than a 1st round pick, but a 2nd or 3rd round pick who never ends up being a good starter should not be considered successful. In some cases, if they are spectacular depth, it could be a hit (Think Bernard Pierce if he never edges Ray Rice as the starter, but instead provides a very capable change of pace back)
    4th-5th Round – Spot Starter – 4th and 5th round picks could very well require their whole rookie deals to become starters. The success factor on this round should be the ability to spell a starter without large dropoff in production.
    6th-7th Round – Good Special Teams players, Solid Role Players – A 6th or 7th round pick starting would be a rarity. Instead, I’d look at them to provide consistent performance on special teams and provide value as an injury replacement on skill teams. Dropoff between a solid starter and a 6th/7th round backup should be expected, but they should be competent enough to provide marginal play at that position.

    A guy like Haruki Nakamura, to me, shouldn’t be a bust. He was a solid to good Special Teams player who provided solid play as a backup S. A better example would be Tom Zbikowski, as a 3rd rounder. He provided, in my opinion, value more consistent with 4th-5th rounders. His play on Special Teams was good, and his play at S was solid, but was not a good starter or even spectacular depth.

  2. leon martinez on said:

    we need to pick up james harrison and bart scott for cheap and then use our draft picks next month to pick up some wrs and safetys and another lb and cbs solidify our defense and add to the offense ans well we need to keep adding so we can repeat.

    • Big Perm on said:

      Leon, thats not serious i hope. did you know that james harrison has no scheduled visits with a team? there might be a reason for that. and now you want bart scott back? come on man, that dude is a joke. i’d much rather go with the players with have on the current roster than those busters.

  3. leon martinez on said:

    i think james harrison could help us out in the lb spot but i think the ozz will do his thing i am just wanting a solid defense like we had before and it is starting to come together now that ray lewis is gone we need some experience and toughness on the inside to help out t sizzle.

  4. leon martinez on said:

    he can play middle lb james harrison is tough pick him up he can help out t sizzle and courtney also he can help we need him and then pick up a young middle lb for the draft i’m telling you he is experienced and knows the game.

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