The draft’s boom-or-bust players: part 2

Talent vs. character/health concerns is one of the most debated topics in draft rooms across the country as NFL teams try to figure out if a prospect has the prerequisites to live up to his potential or if he’ll fall by the wayside and be unable to put it all together. Here’s the second part of the National Football Post’s look at some of the top boom-or-bust prospects selected in the final four rounds of the 2010 draft:

OT Bruce Campbell, Oakland Raiders

To say that Campbell has the quintessential physical skill set for the position is an understatement. He not only possesses elite length and an awe-inspiring frame, but <a href="" target="_self">his overall athleticism for a guy his size is tremendous. However, here’s the kicker: As good-looking as Campbell is in pads and a helmet, he still has a long way to go to hold his own on the edge at the next level. He’s nowhere near as fluid when asked to redirect back inside as you would expect for a guy with his athletic skill set, and he has a tendency to lunge into blocks, lower his head and lose balance into contact. I’ll admit that I don’t think the tape of Campbell is as bad as many are making it out to be, as I definitely think he has the range to reach speed off the edge and uses his long arms to stay on blocks better than he’s given credit for. The point is, Campbell has never actually played up to his physical talents. Even so, he’s going into a great system (zone-blocking scheme) that fits his strengths and isn’t someone who has to come in and play from day one. If he cleans up his technique and learns to play with a bit more patience on the edge, the Raiders may eventually find themselves with a keeper at left tackle.

DE Ricky Sapp, Philadelphia Eagles

I got a chance to talk with Sapp during the year about the knee injury he suffered as a junior, and he said his health was about 60 percent for the most part during 2009 season. Now, his senior tape wasn’t nearly as impressive as his junior tape. However, the guy still flashed big-play potential both as rush end and a stand-up linebacker, consistently showcasing the ability to use his burst, length and body control to slip blocks and accelerate toward the football. So you have to ask: Why did Sapp fall to the fifth round? Sources I talked to leading up to the draft said Sapp would be one of the most debated prospects in draft rooms because of the medical evaluations on his knee. I heard reports that his knee was considered “thrashed” in some scouting circles. At the same time, I also heard that his rehab has gone great and he’s finally back to 100 percent. And the Ricky Sapp you saw at the combine is the one you’ll get for the next 10 years. So what it essentially came down to was this: At what point is a talent like Sapp worth the risk? The Eagles thought it was in the fifth round when they selected one of the most talented pass rushers in the draft. If he’s able to show he can stay healthy, they may have landed one of the steals of the draft. It not, he might be a guy who is never able to regain the promising form he displayed as a junior.

QB Jonathan Crompton, San Diego Chargers

Crompton is a big, strong-armed, strapping young man who has the ability to make all the throws required of him with ease at the next level. However, consistency and decision-making were the biggest downfalls dogging him during his first three years on campus. And if you had suggested to me that Crompton was a possible draftable quarterback coming to the 2009 season, I might have thought you nuts. Enter Lane Kiffin. In only one year, Kiffin dramatically improved not only Crompton’s decision making, but also made him a much more confident passer from the pocket and on the move, and really took his game to another level. If Crompton was able to improve that much in only one season under Kiffin, imagine where he could be in two or three years. On top of that, the Chargers have had some recent success taking fliers on late-round quarterbacks with big-time skill sets and turning them into intriguing potential signal-callers (see Charlie Whitehurst). Consequently, maybe Crompton is the Chargers’ next project.

Others worth noting:

TE Fendi Onobun, St. Louis Rams

A former college basketball player who is about as raw and unproductive as they come. However, after running a 4.48 40 at his pro day and catching the football better than anyone expected at 6-6, 252 pounds, the sky is the limit for an athlete like this if he can ever learn the game.

DE Clifton Geathers, Cleveland Browns

There aren’t too many five-techniques in the NFL right now who have the type of athleticism, frame and overall length possessed by Geathers. He needs to learn to play lower at the point of attack, but his physical skill set is tremendous, and he’s a guy I would love to try to develop if I ran a 30 front.

FB/H-Back Jameson Konz, Seattle Seahawks

A gifted size/speed athlete who has the explosion to consistently get down the field and create mismatches on all areas of the field. Konz is still learning the nuances of the pass game and looks content to simply run away from man coverage, but he possesses legit 4.4 speed at 6-4, 234 pounds and knows how to go up and high point the ball.

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