NFL Draft Busts Turning Things Around

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 24: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers looks for a receiver against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 24. 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

The NFL draft is an inexact science. For every Peyton Manning, there's a JeMarcus Russel waiting in the wings, ready to set a franchise back for years.

Patience is a wonderful thing, however, and that's all some prospects require.

This season, we have seen a handful of NFL Draft busts get their careers back on the right track. After the jump, we'll take a look at the players that are finally living up to the hype (somewhat).

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers, 2005 1st Overall Pick - Alex Smith's career looked bleak at the conclusion of last season. Te 49ers were about to undergo a coaching change, and Smith was likely going to be looking for a new home. But Jim Harbaugh had faith in the former first overall draft pick, and made him the starting quarterback.

With five games left in the season, the 49ers are sitting at 9-2, and Smith is enjoying his best season as a starter, completing 62 percent of his passes to go along with his 13 passing touchdowns and only five interceptions. At this rate, Smith is going to set career highs in all major passing categories. Maybe he is the man for the job afterall.

Aaron Maybin, New York Jets, 2009 11th Overall Pick - Sometimes a change of scenery is all a guy needs. Aaron Maybin looked like a complete flop in two seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He failed to record a single sack and forced only one turnover. After heading to the division rival Jets, though, Maybin has five sacks including three forced fumbles. He may not be the elite, every down player he was drafted to be, but Maybin has found a role as a pass rush specialist.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders, 2009 7th Overall Pick - Darrius Heyward-Bey was written off as a bust by many draft pundits before he took a single snap in the league. And while it will be tough for him to ever live up to the billing as a top ten pick, Heyward-Bey has made clear strides in his game. The Raiders' downfield threat has 35 catches and 519 yards this season while battling injuries.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins, 2006 2nd Overall Pick - Reggie Bush was supposed to be the next big thing. Barry Sanders and Marshall Faulk rolled into one. Things haven't exactly worked out that way for Bush. However, this season in Miami, Bush has gotten on a bit of a roll and started to live up to his expectations. He has 800 total yards and five touchdowns this season and has managed to stay reasonably healthy. He'll never be what everyone expected him to be, but Reggie Bush should have a lengthy NFL career.

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