The NFL draft is often a minefield.
If a team spends a pick wisely, a prospect can help it achieve its goals. However, one wrong pick could send an organization in the other direction.
While the word bust is harsh, it's fitting given the damage a prospect can do to a team if he fails to meet expectations. Take Dwayne Haskins, whom the Washington Football Team selected 15th overall in 2019 and released less than two years later. Or the setback the Detroit Lions will endure if 2020 No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah doesn't turn his career around after a disappointing rookie season.
Prospects become busts for a variety of reasons, whether it's a questionable fit or poor evaluation of talent. Onlookers can find some of these warning signs early, like a prospect who feasted on weak competition in college or was propped up by the players around him.
The 2021 NFL draft will be especially tricky given the canceled games and opt-outs that left teams with less film to evaluate than usual. However, the following high-profile prospects have some early warning signs.
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
It's risky to spend an early-round pick on a running back given the devalued nature of the position and the idea that college workload could limit pro effectiveness.
So while Travis Etienne is one of the most decorated backs in Clemson Tigers history, he's also a bit concerning as a pro prospect.
Etienne put up head-turning numbers in college, rushing for 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns while averaging 7.2 yards per carry over four seasons. He also caught 102 passes for 1,155 yards and eight touchdowns and pitched in on kick returns.
That resume has Etienne ranked as the 21st overall prospect at CBS Sports. But his size (5'10", 205 pounds), huge workload to date (686 carries) and ball-security issues (three lost fumbles in 2020) suggest he could be a risky investment in the first two rounds of the draft.
Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
Caleb Farley has been all over the place at Virginia Tech.
Farley came into college as a wide receiver, but he shifted to cornerback after redshirting in 2017. He broke out in 2019, getting named to the All-ACC first team, and he's now ranked as the 10th overall prospect at The Draft Network.
However, his resume doesn't come without warning signs.