When discussing "boom-or-bust" prospects, most people focus on the "bust" factor. The six players listed below, however, are mentioned because of their great potential, not because I expect them to fail. You can't have a "boom-or-bust" player without the "boom".
However, NFL scouts do have questions about these players that will play into the evaluation process. Players with great talent don't always make it in the NFL. Their failures are sometimes due to injuries, inadequate willingness to prepare, and things out of their control like coaching changes. Teams must, therefore, consider risk vs. reward when deciding if they'll invest an early round draft selection on a talented prospect with question marks. On Wednesday, I'll reveal my list of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects on defense.
NOTE: Click on each player's name for a full scouting report and click through the tabs above to see the boom-or-bust prospects on offense and defense.
There's supreme upside with Mahomes, who possesses a plus arm, very good athleticism and the attitude you want in a team leader. But teams are already leery of Air Raid quarterbacks with limited experience reading defenses and following progressions. Mahomes' willingness to flip the ball downfield without worry is both endearing and troubling to coaches that know turnovers are often the difference between winners and losers on Sundays. If Mahomes is smart with the ball when needed and confident enough to trust his receivers when the opportunity allows, he'll be a star. If he doesn't learn to straddle that line correctly, then he'll be maddening to watch.
Trubisky got good news at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this month, proving his athleticism and showing scouts he met the 6-foot-2, 220-pound minimum most teams have for quarterbacks. He's viewed as the most accurate passer in the draft, as well, but the former UNC QB has only one year of starting experience at the college level. That was partially due to the talent and leadership of Marquise Williams, but scouts are wondering if there wasn't more to the story for such a highly recruited passer. His future will be determined by his ability to learn the intricacies of pro quarterback play.
The talented Tiger silenced those who weren't sure of his long speed at the NFL Scouting Combine by running a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at 240 pounds. Of course, some now wonder if he should play at that weight. There's also the matter of the ankle injury that limited Fournette during the 2016 season. He chose to skip the agility drills at the combine. When healthy, there's no question that Fournette could be a powerful NFL back. He has a physical running style, and the hits he takes won't be softer on Sundays, so teams are asking themselves whether he has the durability to warrant a top-five selection.
Kizer is an intelligent, poised, strong-armed pocket passer with the potential to be an excellent NFL starter. His youth showed during his redshirt sophomore season, however, as he made mistakes on throws over the middle that resulted in turnovers -- and a red-faced head coach who sent him to the bench. Kizer's confidence might need to be rebuilt with some time on the sideline before he takes over a starting job. A club willing to be patient could maximize his talent, but his inexperience and inconsistency will give teams pause.
As a senior, Westbrook had one of the best six-game stretches of any receiver in major college football history (1,012 yards, 12 touchdowns on 47 catches). Quarterback Baker Mayfield found him behind secondaries, but the senior receiver also turned short passes into long gains with his speed and knack to find the seam. But scouts have some concerns about his ability to handle the physical NFL game due to his slight build (6-0, 178 pounds). Then there's the matter of the two separate incidents in which he was accused of domestic violence before his time at Oklahoma. Teams might also have questions about his decision to pass on a chance to participate in the Senior Bowl and work out at the combine. It's unlikely Westbrook will be picked in the early rounds, so it might become worthwhile to take a chance on him in the middle or late rounds. Teams could end up with a great bargain in the back half of the draft if Westbrook can be a positive locker room influence as well as a reliable receiver.
Eluemunor is a native of England who did not play football until his sophomore year of high school. He was not recruited out of high school, but earned many offers after playing junior college ball. He redshirted one season at A&M and was a backup in his second year before finally getting on the field regularly in 2016. Over the past year, including a head-turning combine workout, it has become clear that Eluemunor has the potential to control the line of scrimmage for an NFL team. At times in 2016, however, Eluemunor looked out of sorts as a pass protector at right tackle, giving up the edge too often. The lack of depth at offensive tackle this year might push a team to use a top-50 pick on Eluemunor, which is a risky proposition given his inexperience.