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What makes a draft pick a bust?

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A bust can be defined as under-performance in relation to draft position (or draft grade). Draft position is indicative of potential, not necessarily expectation.

The question we ask when assessing a prospect is: what is the player likely to become? The potential is what you're assessing; your expectations are to be aligned with what you think is possible.

 

1st round draft pick: elite talent, guaranteed to become a foundational player, lengthy career w/ multiple pro-bowl seasons.

2nd round: exceptional talent, with less guaranteed longevity and upside, but a bankable professional profile.

3rd round: above-average talent, capable of becoming a solid professional with marginal upside.

4th-7th: average talent and indiscernible profile, potential upside must be weighed against noticeable flaws/question marks.

 

Generally speaking, if a player fails to realize his potential, he can safely be termed a bust. In this context, most players are almost certain to 'bust'. Which makes sense, because very few can be 'good' in a purely competitive, somewhat meritocratic environment. The terms 'good' or 'great' are used far too liberally, and the benchmarks are superficially lower [than they should be].

Now the degree of 'bust-ness'...is a different subject altogether. This is what the industry refers to as 'ceilings' and 'floors'.

Bryan thomas is unquestionably a bust. He under-performed in relation to draft position, he fell short of all 1st round benchmarks, he failed to realize his potential. He was an average NFL professional, and in hindsight - he was incorrectly given a first round grade. He was a 'failed evaluation'.

In the interest of fairness, a failed evaluation is not the fault of the player. The coaches, GM, scouting department have to be held accountable for the misses. Players can only play their best - their success largely depends on external factors. A player - of any draft grade - needs the right environment and circumstances to realize his potential. A lot of it..really comes down to luck.

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