In ranking this group of players, we realized that this particular group shares many similarities. Hence we will use the format of tiers to classify them.
Tier 1 – Starting Caliber or Better
LB Jerod Mayo, 2008, New England Patriots
Mayo is a two-time pro-bowler who was once viewed as one of the Patriot’s brightest young stars. Unfortunately, injuries have limited him to just six games in both 2013 and 2014. However his past performance dictates that he was valuable catch at #10.
CB Stephen Gilmore, 2012, Buffalo Bills
Gilmore has developed into a solid, if unspectacular #1 corner for the Buffalo Bills.
OG Chance Warmack, 2013, Tennessee Titans
Warmack is a solid starting guard for the Titans. He was particularly dominant the latter half of last season, having been given a positive grade from Pro Football Focus each week since week 11. He looks to carry this momentum into becoming a truly dominant NFL guard, which he certainly has the potential to be.
WR Michael Crabtree, 2009, San Francisco 49ers
Highly celebrated in college, Crabtree had a somewhat uninspiring start to his NFL career, though he seemed to finally come into his own with an 1,100-yard 9-touchdown season in 2012. However, after an achilles tear in 2013 that caused him to miss 11 games, Crabtree has not been the same. He now hopes to revitalize his career with the Oakland Raiders, though pundits suspect that he is now a pedestrian player at best. It’s a shame, as he really was on track to becoming one of the league’s best receivers.
Tier 2 – Backup Caliber
DE Tyson Alualu, 2010, Jacksonville Jaguars
Alalu was a major draft day surprise, as no one had projected for him to go as high as 10th overall. Unfortunately, it looks like the Jaguars’ gamble didn’t quite pay off. Alalu had a moderately promising rookie season, where he compiled 38 tackles and 3.5 sacks. However Alualu has not raised his play since. Today, though he still plays a moderate amount of snaps, Alualu is second on the depth chart behind Jared Odrick.
TE Eric Ebron, 2014, Detroit Lions
The Carolina product had a very quiet rookie year, in which he continued to struggle with the drop problem he has had since college. Its still too early to write off Ebron, but the young tight end does have some work to do if he hopes to become an elite tight end in the NFL.
Tier 3 – All Hype, No Bite
– WR Mike Williams (2005, Lions), QB Matt Leinart (2006, Cardinals), DT Amobi Okoye (2007, Texans), QB Blaine Gabbert (2011, Jaguars)
All of these players had a certain extent of hype to them coming out of college, but each of them fizzled out rather quickly. Mike Williams was a celebrated receiver coming out of college powerhouse USC, but was in particular known for being a victim of the Maurice Clarett court cases, which caused him to sit out the entire 2004 football season. Despite so, he was still taken by the Lions at 10th overall in the 2005 NFL draft. Meanwhile, no elaboration is needed on Williams’ fellow USC alum Matt Leinart, who was one of the most celebrated players in college football history, and accordingly had huge expectations placed on him after being drafted by the Cardinals 10th overall. Amobi Okoye created headlines for being the youngest player ever drafted in the 1st round at age 19. Blaine Gabbert was drafted with the expectation that he would become the Jaguars’ franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, Williams, Leinart, and Okoye have hopped around the league due to poor play, and are currently not on NFL rosters. Gabbert was ousted from the Jaguars after three seasons, and is currently a backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.