Tom Curran: 10 potential draft busts
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions, No. 1
On the eve of the draft, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said, "Quarterbacks, I think, historically, have struggled when they've been taken early. There are a lot of reasons for that. I have some theories I won't get into detail about." In about five years, Mayhew stands a good chance of having to revisit why Matthew Stafford didn't play to his No. 1 overall pick status. Recent history is littered with the remains of quarterbacks taken high by bad teams. They were doomed from the time they stood next to the commissioner and held up that No. 1 jersey. With a contract guaranteeing him $41 million, how can the Lions possibly let Stafford watch for the amount of time necessary to allow him to understand the NFL and have enough talent in front of him to prevent him from getting bludgeoned? They can't. They won't. He's been fed to the Lions.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders, No. 7
You have to wonder if, the moment Heyward-Bey saw the phone number beginning "510-864" appear on his cell phone on draft day, he had a moment of dread. If not, he probably should have. He's been drafted into the league's most dysfunctional franchise, coupled with a quarterback - JaMarcus Russell - who's shown precious little to indicate he's up to the task of bringing the Raiders back to excellence. Fleet but not terribly productive in three seasons at Maryland, the wideout is now charged with performing at a top-10 level for a franchise that's - to be kind - not trending very well.
Aaron Maybin, Buffalo Bills, No. 11
At Penn State, Maybin played defensive end at a weight of 235. He bulked up during the predraft process to 249, but even that bulked-up weight may not be enough to allow him to play effectively on first and second down in the NFL. The Bills desperately need an explosive pass rusher and Maybin may be that occasionally. But you need more tools in your belt if you're going to be the 11th overall pick.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, No. 19
Freeman let it slip that the Bucs brass told him the signing of veteran quarterback Byron Leftwich was a "smoke screen" designed to make teams think they wouldn't draft him. Then he predicted he'd be better than both quarterbacks taken ahead of him, Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez. Terrific. A loose cannon project for a rebuilding team. Have fun with that, Tampa.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions, No. 20
A different address and the big tight end probably wouldn't be on this list. But tight end in the NFL is one of the most difficult positions to master and Pettigrew is going to have his massive hands full trying to be the safety valve for Matt Stafford when No. 1 gets into the lineup. And he'll have to master the nuances of blocking on a team that really needs the help up front.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings, No. 22
He could be absolutely electrifying. But there is so much skepticism out there about him being a temperamental kid as well. But bigger than that is the track record of Florida wide receivers in the NFL. There have been some OK ones - Reche Caldwell, Darrell Jackson, Jabar Gaffney - but the busts - Chad Jackson, Reidel Anthony, Travis Taylor - outnumber the Oks. The combination of skepticism and Gator track record makes you go, hmmmm.
Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers, No. 26
As a junior in high school, he was 160-odd pounds. He left USC 80 pounds heavier than that. That's odd. Meanwhile, how much was Matthews (and Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga) aided by playing for a team that always played from ahead in the Pac-10? Color me dubious about the whole thing.
Rey Maualuga, Cincinnati Bengals, No. 38
Given the predraft hype - not the position at which he ultimately was drafted - Maualuga winds up on this list. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated the week of the draft. And he goes 38th? Makes one think the propaganda won't necessarily fit the production.
Michael Mitchell, Oakland Raiders, No. 47
A safety from Ohio selected in the second round that had the Raiders high-fiving each other and the rest of the NFL slapping its forehead. Peter King of SI and NBC said that a quick GM poll he conducted had Mitchell projected as a seventh-rounder or an undrafted free agent.
Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots, No. 58
The Patriots second-round record has not been good this decade. Vollmer, a 6-7, 312-pound project from Houston by way of Germany is a capital P Project. He's 25 years old and had major back surgery in 2006. Yikes.