Now more than ever, draft picks are expected to contribute as soon as possible. Unfortunately, many don't quite live up to their potential and some mature later than others. This particular group is looking to break out this season and avoid an awful label: Bust. — Ross Jones
Jamaal Anderson, DE, No. 8 overall (2007)
Anderson hasn’t been able to fit in the Falcons defense and has played back and forth between end and tackle during his four seasons. Anderson, who isn’t quick enough at end or big enough to fight off two linemen, is known in scouting circles as a tweener. The former Arkansas Razorback is entering his fifth year and will have to battle Kroy Biermann for a defensive end spot opposite All-Pro John Abraham.
Ted Ginn, Jr., WR/KR, No. 9 overall (2007)
When former Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron spent a top-10 pick on Ginn, the league was enamored with players who had the ability to return kickoffs and punts. Ginn was considered one of the fastest and most athletic players in the 2007 draft’s crop, and he appeared to have game-breaking ability. Although he's shown flashes of brilliance as a returner, he hasn’t proven to be a consistent threat on special teams, let alone in the passing game. He was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 2010 for a fifth-round pick.
Vernon Gholston, LB, No. 6 overall (2008)
The workout warrior impressed teams in the time leading up to the 2008 draft, ending with the Jets spending their first-round pick on him. Although Gholston's played in 45 games in three years, he hasn't recorded a single sack. The Jets released him this offseason, so he'll be looking to make someone else's roster once the lockout is lifted.
Buster Davis, WR, No. 30 overall (2007)
It may be too late for Davis to shed the bust label, but the Chargers don’t have many other threats at receiver, so he'll get yet another chance in '11. Davis, who's been plagued by injuries his entire career, started one game his rookie season and has only played in 12 the past three years combined. He has one year left on his rookie contract and will need to show some major development this season if he has aspirations of playing any longer in San Diego.
Derrick Harvey, DE, No. 8 overall (2008)
Talk about a player who cashed in from national exposure. The former Florida Gator dominated in the 2008 national championship game and left school after his junior season. He had seemingly limitless ability, but was a very raw prospect. Harvey hasn't fully reached his potential and was only a small factor in an underwhelming Jacksonville defensive unit that ranked second to last in sacks last season.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, No. 7 overall (2009)
A piece of advice to future pro-bound hopefuls: Be careful how fast you run the 40-yard dash at the Combine. The Raiders have selected that week's fastest player the past three years. Heyward-Bey was no exception. The Maryland product dazzled scouts, running a blazing-fast sub 4.4 40, but hasn’t been able to transition that into game speed, having snagged just 35 balls in 26 career games.
Larry English, LB, No. 16 overall (2009)
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith was heavily scrutinized with his '09 pick of English. Smith defended the move by saying the Chargers needed to add a versatile outside linebacker in the team's 3-4 defense. However, after two seasons, English has just five sacks and has started only four games. He had his second foot surgery in March, and it's feared the injury could become a chronic issue.
Andre Smith, LT, No. 6 overall (2009)
The former Alabama tackle has started just five games in his first two seasons. Smith, who's remembered for his egregiously-long holdout in his rookie season documented on “Hard Knocks,” was placed on injured reserve in his second season. He entered the 2009 draft with off-the-field concerns, after not being able to play in the Sugar Bowl because he reportedly had contact with an agent. He then showed up to the NFL Scouting Combine out of shape and has battled to maintain a functional playing weight since.
Aaron Maybin, DE, No. 11 overall (2009)
Maybin's started only one game in two NFL seasons and hasn’t recorded a sack. It's been reported the Bills will move forward with Arthur Moats and Danny Batten behind Shawne Merriman and Chris Kelsay at linebacker, meaning Maybin may be the odd man out. Head coach Chan Gailey has said that Maybin must learn the fundamentals of rushing the passer and improve against the run. Despite the reports, Maybin looks forward to gaining continuity with a coaching staff and feels he'll be able to excel in a system in which he's more comfortable.
Kentwan Balmer, DE, No. 29 overall (2008)
This intriguing talent was a four-year starter at North Carolina and was believed to be able to immediately help a team. That wasn’t the case, though. The 49ers used their first-round pick on Balmer, initially drafting him as a defensive tackle. However, he was later switched to defensive end because of a change in the team's defensive alignment. Although Balmer's played in 27 games, he's racked up only 18 tackles. He was then dealt to in-conference foe Seattle for a sixth-round pick. It seems Balmer may have revitalized his career a bit with the change in scenery, netting 43 tackles in 16 games last season.