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The 2016 NFL 'Do Not Draft' List

Sometimes it's best to stay away, even from elite talent.
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, a former national champion, isn't worth the risk.
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, a former national champion, isn't worth the risk.

If the NFL draft has taught us anything over the past several years, it's that there's no such thing as a sure thing. A sure superstar doesn't exist, and neither does a surefire bust.

That being said, here's a list of eight high-profile players -- think Johnny Manziel -- that I think GMs should stay away from this year. I tried my luck with a similar article for the 2014 class, and Ebron was one of the players I identified as a bust. Then again, so too was Oakland Raiders standout quarterback Derek Carr. In 2011, I highlighted future Pro Bowlers Cam Jordan and Muhammad Wilkerson as steals, as well as J.J. Watt and Washington star outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.

  • Ronnie Stanley, LT, Notre Dame
    One former NFL offensive linemen recently told me that he thought Stanley was "soft." That's the one thing you don't wan
    Joe Robbins via Getty Images
    One former NFL offensive linemen recently told me that he thought Stanley was "soft." That's the one thing you don't want to hear from a potential top five draft pick, especially at left tackle. Stanley, who switched from the right side to the left as a junior, measures out at 6-foot-6, 312 pounds. But he is prone to fundamental breakdowns, including a not-so-occasional holding penalty.
  • Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
    Lawson, a junior, is a big name who comes from a loaded Clemson defense. But at this point, he enters the league as a fa
    Tyler Smith via Getty Images
    Lawson, a junior, is a big name who comes from a loaded Clemson defense. But at this point, he enters the league as a far better run defender than actual pass rusher, which should significantly hamper his value. He ran well (4.8 40) which is a plus, but amassing fewer than 10 sacks in the ACC is a real cause for concern.
  • Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
    When are people going to realize that Nkemdiche just isn't a very good football player? An athletic marvel who flashes b
    Joe Robbins via Getty Images
    When are people going to realize that Nkemdiche just isn't a very good football player? An athletic marvel who flashes brilliance, the 6-foot-3 1/2, 294-pound junior had a measly three sacks last year. Off-field drama is also a concern. All in all, teams would do best to simply stay away. Nkemdiche rarely plays hard and hardly impacts a football game.
  • Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
    In a not-so-deep receiver class, Thomas -- a nephew of former No.1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson -- remains an intriguing pro
    Kirk Irwin via Getty Images
    In a not-so-deep receiver class, Thomas -- a nephew of former No.1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson -- remains an intriguing prospect, given his size (6-foot-3) and overall upside (he has mammoth 10 1/2 inch hands). But he ran a horrendous 4.57 at the combine. Moreover, he still has no real idea how to run consistent routes -- a la teammate Braxton Miller -- and never really ran the classic vertical routes in college that he will ultimately be asked to run as a pro. As one former NFL quarterback told me, Thomas is not as good a player as his pedigree suggests.
  • Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
    Spence was kicked off the Ohio State program after earning First-Team All Big Ten honors as a sophomore, and banned from the
    Joe Robbins via Getty Images
    Spence was kicked off the Ohio State program after earning First-Team All Big Ten honors as a sophomore, and banned from the Big Ten for failing two drug tests. But the 6-foot-2, 251-pound defensive end was downright dominant at FCS Eastern Kentucky last season, totaling 11.5 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss and 63 tackles in just 11 games. 

    Character issues aside, it remains extremely difficult for 6-foot-2 pass rushers to last in this league. So unless he makes the move to linebacker -- much easier said than done -- Spence could be in real trouble.
  • Christian Hackenberg, QB Penn State
    Hackenberg's 6-foot-4, 223-pound body and sensational "arm talent" instantly pass the NFL litmus test. A former blue chi
    Centre Daily Times via Getty Images
    Hackenberg's 6-foot-4, 223-pound body and sensational "arm talent" instantly pass the NFL litmus test. A former blue chip recruit, the Pennsylvania native struggled immensely to establish himself as a consistently dominant football player throughout his three-year career in Happy Valley. Remember too that he had the distinct pleasure of throwing to future NFL Pro Bowler Allen Robinson (a former draft sleeper of mine). Hackenberg completed fewer than 54 percent of his passes as a junior, while being sacked 82 times over the past two seasons. His 16-6 TD-INT ratio should also scare off potential suitors. Like Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, he looks the part more than anything else. There is also the question of leadership, stemming from the fact that he blamed his head coach for his errant play.
  • Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
    A former Ohio State standout who propelled the Bucks to a 2015 national title, Jones is like Hackenberg in terms of his
    Joe Robbins via Getty Images
    A former Ohio State standout who propelled the Bucks to a 2015 national title, Jones is like Hackenberg in terms of his size (6-foot-5, 253 pounds) and overall talent. Similarly, the concerns with Jones stem from a general inability to anticipate coverages and throws, while also displaying horrendous footwork within the pocket. Jones -- who was benched last season by Urban Meyer -- needs to sit for several years and needs a patient coaching staff to teach him the position. But for a guy being discussed as early as the second round, he simply is not worth the risk that undeniably follows him.
  • Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
    Alabama running backs are notoriously difficult to evaluate. On one hand, achieving success in the SEC is very commendable. O
    Harry How via Getty Images
    Alabama running backs are notoriously difficult to evaluate. On one hand, achieving success in the SEC is very commendable. On the other, look at the struggles of Eddie Lacy, Mark Ingram, T.J. Yeldon and Trent Richardson. Henry is a towering 6-foot-3, 247 pounds. A classic north-south runner, there is a lot to like. He runs very hard and embraces contact. But the NFL needs backs who can catch the football, and that's never been a strength of Henry's. He's also weak when it comes to the all-important cutback ability.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related on Twitter at @Schultz_Report, and follow me on Instagram at @Schultz_Report. Also, check out my SiriusXM Radio show Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 PM ET on Bleacher Report channel 83.

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