While it's not entirely fair, highly drafted players come into the NFL with lofty expectations. When those expectations aren't immediately met, the term "bust" tends to get thrown around. While some players never fully leave that label behind, others are able to shed it before the end of their rookie deals.

Quarterback Josh Rosen, the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft, is a prime example of the former. He posted a passer rating of 66.7 as a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals and was traded the following offseason. He's never reemerged as a full-time starter.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, on the other hand, was taken three spots ahead of Rosen and had an equally frustrating rookie season—one in which he posted a rating of 67.9. However, Allen was given time to develop in Buffalo and became a viable MVP candidate by his third season. He remains one of the best young quarterbacks in the AFC and an example of why judging a player too quickly is foolish.

Here, we'll examine six young players—in their second and third seasons, specifically—who appear to be on their way to shedding the bust label. We'll dive into their early struggles and how they're turning things around in 2021.

Players are listed in alphabetical order.


Jordyn Brooks, LB, Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks used the 27th overall pick in the 2020 draft on former Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks. As has largely been the case with recent Seahawks first-round picks—particularly, running back Rashaad Penny and defensive end L.J. Collier—Brooks didn't have a significant rookie impact.

Brooks played just 37 percent of the defensive snaps in his rookie season and finished with 57 tackles.

This season, though, Brooks has become a defensive centerpiece. Heading into Week 11, he had already amassed 84 tackles, a sack, four tackles for loss and two passes defended. While not an every-down defender, Brooks had played 79 percent of the defensive snaps. On Sunday, he tallied a whopping 11 tackles, four assists and a tackle for loss.

Brooks has also emerged as a vocal leader, focused on bringing a positive mindset to Seattle's defense.

"We're just moving forward, continuing to practice hard, studying in our meetings, getting together outside of the facility, and just trying to get it right and hopefully make a run here soon," Brooks told 710 ESPN Seattle (h/t Jordan Duncan of the team's official website).

A relatively underwhelming part-time player as a rookie, Brooks is now looking like a future star and potentially a perennial Pro Bowler.


Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Being the first player off the board at a position is usually going to set the bar high. Not only are such players heavily scrutinized, but they're always going to be compared to the players at the same position drafted after them.

The Baltimore Ravens made former Oklahoma wideout Marquise Brown the 25th overall pick in the 2019 draft. While Brown did flash big-play ability in his first two NFL seasons, he never quite showed the No. 1 potential of later selections like Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf.

Brown had 584 receiving yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie and 769 yards and eight scores in 2020. Those are respectable numbers in Baltimore's run-heavy offense, but tight end Mark Andrews served as Lamar Jackson's No. 1 target, not Brown.