The NFL Draft is an inexact science, and every year, there are a handful of busts that fail to capture their collegiate form at the professional level. Now, the season is only 11 weeks old, so there is still plenty of time for every highly-drafted rookie to turn their respective careers around. However, based on the early tape, these five players are looking like they won’t have much of a future in the NFL.
Before we get into the list of NFL Draft busts, let’s begin with a couple of disclaimers. First off, any player who suffered a significant injury is ineligible for this list. Football is a violent sport and anyone can get hurt at any given moment, so it wouldn’t be fair to punish a player for taking a tough hit or two. Secondly, only players selected in the first round can qualify as a bust for this article. Adjusting to life in the NFL is ridiculously difficult, and it’s completely unreasonable to expect anyone selected outside of the first round to compete from Day 1.
Top 5 2023 NFL Draft Busts, Ranked
5. Bryan Bresee
The New Orleans Saints lost a lot of defensive line talent during free agency, and they relied on the NFL Draft to fill those holes. Unfortunately, so far, those early investments have not paid off. The team selected Bryan Bresee in the first round to be their anchor along the interior of the defensive line. However, so far, that hasn’t happened. The Clemson product is exclusively used as a rotational player, recording just 1.5 sacks and 13 tackles on the season. Stats don’t always tell the full story with defensive tackles, but his 51.3 PFF grade certainly doesn’t paint a better picture.
4. Emmanuel Forbes
Widely considered a reach at the time, rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes has not done anything to justify the trust of the Washington Commanders decision makers. The Mississippi State product is a featured part of one of the worst secondaries in the league and entered Week 11 as PFF’s 98th-best cornerback out of 109 eligible players. However, what makes Forbes one of the biggest NFL draft busts is Christian Gonzalez. Selected one pick after Forbes, New England’s rookie cornerback was playing like one of the best defenders in the league before suffering a season-ending injury. Yes, it’s early, but it sure looks like Washington took the wrong guy.
3. Tyree Wilson
The Las Vegas Raiders are a mess for a whole bunch of reasons, and Tyree Wilson’s lackluster performance has slipped through the cracks. While most of the focus has been on the failed Josh McDaniels Era, Wilson has quietly been one of the biggest busts of the NFL Draft, recording a 40.3 PFF grade through 10 games. This ranks 101st out of 105 eligible players, which is obviously not what you expect from a top-10 pick. The Raiders desperately need somebody to step up opposite Maxx Crosby, and so far, Wilson has been unable to answer the call.
2. Bryce Young
Let’s get this out of the way: Bryce Young is not in a position to succeed. The Carolina Panthers have arguably the worst wide receivers in the league, a subpar offensive line, and a bad head coach in Frank Reich. Nobody would look like an All-Pro in this environment, but Bryce Young should look better than this. The rookie has had a few flashes here and there, but they have been too few and far between to justify any serious excitement. When factoring in that Carolina chose him over a potential MVP candidate in C.J. Stroud, it’s easy to see why the Alabama product is one of the biggest busts in the 2023 NFL Draft.
1. Quentin Johnston
Every other player on this list of NFL Draft busts has at least had one or two positive moments throughout their young career. Quentin Johnston looks like he’s never touched a football before. The TCU product can’t run routes, spends his life with a defender attached to his hips, and drops the ball even on the rare instance when he actually gets open. Most young receivers would kill to have an elite quarterback like Justin Herbert, and Mike Williams’ injury opened up a great opportunity in the offense. Despite all this, Johnston still can’t get the job done. At this rate, his mother might have an abrupt end to her retirement.
quentin johnston make a single play challengepic.twitter.com/vU2QOHqpFa
— Underdog NFL (@Underdog__NFL) November 19, 2023
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