Every draft is filled with players whose athletic potential causes teams to look past their potential risks and 2014 is no different. Before looking at the top 5 risks for 2014, here is how the risk is determined:
-Risk is determined by draft position (or projected draft position), therefore a player's risk is directly tied to where a player is drafted.
-For a player to be considered a big risk, he has to be considered a 1st round pick. Once past the 1st round, a player is generally worth taking the risk.
5. Kelvin Benjamin
Reason for Concern:
It is no secret that wide receivers are often times divas and because of it, 1st round wide receivers can be risky picks. Benjamin has those concerns. Benjamin himself has admitted in the past to being "lazy" and taking "plays off," things you do not want to hear from any player, especially one that is about to get a big payday.
Some other knocks on Benjamin that concern me for a 1st round receiver are issues with route running and concentration on easy catches. When receivers are lazy, have questionable route running skills and lack concentration, I hear one thing
The last concern I have with Benjamin is his size. It may sound odd, but he seems a bit too big if you ask me. At 6'5" 240 lbs, Benjamin does not have the speed to run by NFL corners and is not a polished enough route runner to get open by running good routes, so I ask the question: how will he get open on Sundays?
There is not a good track record with receivers that are 240 lbs plus. Sure, Calvin Johnson is 6'5" 236 lbs, but there is one big difference, Calvin Johnson is also really fast (4.35) and Benjamin is not (4.61). When I hear big and slow receiver with questionable work ethic, I think of USC's Mike Williams.
Risk vs Projected Draft Slot: Medium
While Benjamin is not projected to go until the late first round, I think there will be other - all be it smaller - receivers available when Benjamin is picked, that will have better NFL careers. Benjamin is a classic prospect that looks great on paper and in pads but does not produce on Sundays.
4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Reason for Concern: Clinton-Dix has a small frame, does not possess great speed (4.58) and has never lived up to his hype at Alabama. Another concern, fair or not, is that Nick Saban's Alabama players - while they have a good track record for college team success - do not have a great history of success in the pros, especially defensive players.
A few recent examples that come to mind are Mark Barron (hasn't lived up to his billing), Courtney Upshaw (bust), Dre Kirkpatrick (jury is still out, but so far disappointing), Rolando McClain (train wreck).
Risk vs Projected Draft Slot: High
Most Mock Drafts have Clinton-Dix going in the top 10-15 picks. With top 10-15 picks, you want 7-10 year impact players and I don't see Clinton-Dix as that type of player. Personally, I prefer Pryor over Clinton-Dix.
3. Blake Bortles
Reason for Concern: Bortles has the size that all teams are looking for in a quarterback and the size that some teams find difficult to pass on. However, his actual quarterback play is not worthy of a first round quarterback - and especially a top 10 pick - where he is likely to go. Bortles is a 2 year starter, from a weak conference where he didn't take many snaps under center and has questions about his accuracy, footwork, mechanics and ball security (9 fumbles as a junior).
Any of which by themselves are concerns for a 1st round quarterback selection. Combine all of those concerns and he is not a 1st round talent if you ask me. He may turn out to be a solid pro, but I don't see him as a franchise quarterback and in most years he would be a second round pick.
Risk vs Projected Draft Slot: Very High
While 1st round quarterbacks don't carry the same devastating price tag they once did, they still carry the same ability to set a franchise back 3-5 years if you waste a 1st round pick on a quarterback that doesn't pan out. 1st round quarterbacks (particularly top 10 quarterbacks) need to be "Franchise-Type" quarterbacks and I don't see that in Bortles. With his size and mobility, maybe he turns out to be a Ben Roethlisberger-type, but I don't see it.
2. Johnny Manziel
Reason for Concern: The NFL is a quarterback league and teams with good ones win. Manziel is fun to watch and though he has the fire and confidence to win, he also has a litany of red flag attributes for a quarterback.
There are some common attributes that successful quarterbacks have: Discipline, confidence, accurate, good leaders, selfless, good decision making and the hardest worker on the team. There are fair concerns - whether on the field or off - in every one of these categories when it comes to Manziel.
Risk vs Projected Draft Slot: Extremely High
As exciting as Manziel is, count me in the boat that does not see him having success at the NFL level. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness and Manziel is on the wrong end of that line. Combine the cockiness with the laundry list of concerns above and Manziel's small size and penchant for taking hits and Manziel is a quarterback I would not touch.
1. Jadaveon Clowney
Reason for Concern:
In a vacuum, Clowney's 24.0 sacks in 36 games is impressive. However, when you break his stats down, his stats are littered with the inconsistency that has been bothering evaluators for the past 4 months. Of Clowney's 24 sacks, 4.5 came in 1 game and a total of 12.5 of his sacks (52%) came in just 5 games.
In his other 31 games, Clowney recorded just 11.5 sacks. In fact, in 20 of his 36 games (55.6%), Clowney had 0.0 sacks. In 2013 his sacks dropped from 13.0 to 3.0 and say all you want about him being double teamed or not having anything to play for, but he is not going to get less attention in the NFL and he isn't going to feel more inspired to play once he is given millions of dollars.
Raw talent can be coached up. Technique can be coached up. Desire and love for the game cannot be coached up.
Risk vs Projected Draft Slot: Extremely High
It may sound like I am jumping on the Jadeveon Clowney criticism bandwagon, but I have been on that wagon for a year now. There is no doubt that Clowney is an athletic freak of nature, but there have been a lot of athletic freaks that don't pan out for a plethora of reasons.
The biggest of which is a lack of love for the game, something that is a big question mark for Clowney. It is one thing for bloggers to question a player's work ethic and love for the game. It is a whole other thing when a player's own college coach questions his work ethic.
The ‘Ol Ball Coach - the same coach that went out of his way to praise Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore - went out of his way twice to question Clowney. Who knows why Spurrier did that, but the fact that he did is reason enough for me to question Clowney.
Don't get me wrong, Clowney is too good to pass up on at #1, but he also concerns me that he may just be a shiny lemon...he may also have me eating my words in a few years.