Year after year we see some of the same players perform at the highest level in the NFL. Eventually the day comes that they are up for a new contract, or get traded. Or sometimes the team even loses players around their team. Players who have dominated the league for the past few years, all of a sudden aren’t being as dominant. Players may be asked to play a certain style or fit into a certain style that they aren’t used to, and their production decreases.
There are also many players that just look a lot better on Sundays due to their supporting cast. In the NFL, it’s a team sport. It takes all 11 guys on the field to succeed, and because of that, many players are looked at highly even though their skill set isn’t as great as people think. Some players have so much talent around them that it makes them so much better. And some players don’t have enough talent around them to succeed, like Colin Kaepernick.
We have so many overrated players in the NFL, that get too much credit for what they do. Yet many times, those around them don’t get the credit that they deserve. Some running backs are only dominant because of their offensive line, while other running backs only have so little running room because of their poor offensive line. And then the day comes where they have to make a change, and that’s when fans realize that the player they thought was great, may not be so great.
16 Michael Floyd
The Vikings were thrilled to bring in Michael Floyd to the Vikings organization this offseason. With Bradford lacking some help around him, Floyd presents a threat to opposing defenders. However, Floyd isn’t as great as the Vikings may think. He played for a well-balanced Arizona Cardinals offense, not having to deal with the pressure of a top wide receiver due to having Larry Fitzgerald on the other side of the field.
This is Floyd’s big moment, but it may not be what Vikings fans will expect. Floyd has only ever had one 1,000 receiving yard season in his career. The most receptions he has had in a season in his career has only been 65. Not saying that Floyd won’t be a good addition to this team, because he will. But what the Vikings are expecting out of Floyd, is probably not what they are going to get. And on top of that, Floyd will be serving a four-game suspension to start the 2017 season.
14 Doug Martin
Some may say that when healthy, Doug Martin is one of the most explosive running backs in the game. But the problem is, Martin is rarely ever healthy. And we have only actually seen two seasons where Martin has been a problem for opposing defenses. Martin dominated in an offense in 2015 where Jameis Winston was dominating throughout the air, throwing for 4,042 yards.
Martin may not have the best supporting cast, but he has one dominant enough to give him lanes to run, as well as a quarterback that is so explosive that has defenses on their toes at all times. When playing against Tampa, most teams worry about the pass due to Winston’s ability to throw down the field at all times. The duo of Winston and Mike Evans is scary, and it’s only going to get worse with DeSean Jackson joining as well as the first-round draft pick O.J. Howard. With excellent pieces around Martin, he may have an opportunity to succeed once agan as he becomes a lesser threat to opposing teams.
13 Eddie Lacy
What may be one of the most confusing storylines this offseason, was that Eddie Lacy was considered a top running back in free agency. With running backs like Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, and Jamaal Charles, Lacy was considered a top threat. Eddie Lacy was lucky enough to play for one of the most dominant offenses in football throughout his career. With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Lacy was never considered a threat to opposing teams when seeing Rodgers under center.
Even with little to no pressure, Lacy only hit over 1,000 rushing yards throughout two of his seasons. And with an ankle injury in 2016, which caused him to miss a good amount of time during the season, he was still considered a top running back option. Seattle may work for Lacy because he’s a big running back, and Lynch showed us that it can work in Seattle. But Lacy doesn’t have the talent to go play for a team that may be weaker and need that explosive running back to help carry their team.
12 Julius Thomas
Maybe not the most popular on this list, but without a doubt one of the most overrated players we have seen in the NFL within the past few years. Thomas had one good season with the Denver Broncos when Peyton Manning was under center, where he caught for 788 receiving yards and 12 touchdown passes. The following season, he caught for only 489 receiving yards, but still managed to get 12 touchdown passes once again.
Thomas was considered a threat to all defenses due to his incredible two seasons he had, out of the four he played with the Broncos. Once he left that legendary offense, Thomas was unable to get that same production. He played in Jacksonville, where the talent is a lot weaker than it was in Denver. His best season came with 455 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Jaguars fans were really upset to see what they thought would have been their star tight end, put up mediocre numbers. Thomas’ success came primarily from the incredible offense he played with Peyton Manning, but struggled to perform in Jacksonville, which led to his departure and his time now in Miami.
11 LeGarette Blount
Expectations were high for the former Oregon running back, and he never really lived up to the expectations until his time in New England. The Patriots are great at making some of the lesser talented players, play at high levels. And that is exactly what Blount did. Blount has played for three different teams, now on his fourth. The only team he has truly excelled on is the New England Patriots. A large part of that has to do with the offense he runs in.
Blount played for one of the best offenses in football, with some of the best coaches. Playing for the most well-balanced offense in football, it gave Blount every opportunity to succeed in this offense. In 2016, Blount rushed for 1,161 yards and ran for 18 touchdowns. And even that season was the only season Blount truly dominated. In Blount’s seven-year career, he has only rushed for 1,000 yards twice. The Eagles may be expecting a lot out of Blount, but he may not have that same production without that dominating Patriots’ offense.
10 Alex Smith
This may be one of the most obvious overrated players on the list, the quarterback in Kansas City. If Alex Smith wasn’t the quarterback of the Chiefs, the Chiefs may be well on their way to a Super Bowl run if Smith wasn’t their quarterback. Many fans and reporters may already say that Smith isn’t the right quarterback for the Chiefs, but we expect so much out of the Chiefs year after year, even with Smith under center.
Alex Smith is a serviceable quarterback. He can do whatever is the bare minimum to help the Chiefs win, but that is about it. The most touchdowns we have seen Smith throw in a season is 23, with the most passing yards in a season being 3,502. Smith is smart with the ball, having never thrown over 10 interceptions in a Chiefs uniform before. But this team needs someone to air the ball out and scare defenders. This team needs someone like Patrick Mahomes II.
9 Clay Matthews
For years fans have recognized Clay Matthews to be one of the most dominant forces on defense in the NFL. And Matthews has proven that he is definitely a dominant force, but maybe not as dominant as everyone makes it seem. The Green Bay Packers are a fan favorite because of Aaron Rodgers and his success, which has helped Matthews spotlight being that dominant force on defense. With a poor defense, Matthews is able to shine. But if we compare Matthews to some of the other best linebackers in football, he’s not really all that dominant.
Many put Clay Matthews in the same talk with Von Miller, Khalil Mack, and J.J. Watt. But let’s look at how he’s not even close to the same talent level as them. In the past two seasons, Matthews has had 11.5 sacks. Last season alone, Von Miller had 13.5 sacks, two years ago Watt had 17.5 sacks, and Mack had 11 sacks last season. Matthews best season came in 2010 where he had 13.5 sacks. Even at Matthews best, he doesn’t come close to the dominance of some of these other defenders in the league.
8 Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman may be considered one of the best wide receivers in the league, but does he really have that type of talent to be considered on such a high level? The Patriots plug and play, which means they utilize whoever they have and allow them to succeed. The last time we saw a dominant wide receiver in New England that was considered a top wide receiver, his career slowly diminished, even with the second-best quarterback in the league at the time behind Tom Brady, Peyton Manning. Welker had five 1,000 yard seasons with New England, and after his departure, never had another one.
Welker and Edelman are very similar, and a lot of Edelman’s success comes from Brady, the coaching staff, the offensive line, and the other offensive weapons around him. On other teams, Edelman would be a great number two wide receiver, but his only place as a star wide receiver may be in a Patriots uniform. Perhaps we'll see what Edelman's worth truly is in 2017, as he's out for the season with a torn ACL. If the Patriots find another go-to for Brady, that would certainly help our argument.
7 Joe Flacco
When watching the Baltimore Ravens play, it seems that Joe Flacco only plays well when he wants to play well. Granted sometimes Flacco can be extremely dominant, while other times you barely know he’s on the field. Flacco’s current contract with the Ravens is a three-year deal worth $66.4 million. Flacco at one point had the largest contract out of any quarterback in the NFL, with other quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady getting paid less than him. The contract is considered a disgrace, as Flacco has definitely not been able to live up to the hype.
Flacco has delivered the Ravens a Super Bowl championship, but that came with a team that was dominant on both offense and defense. After Flacco has slowly lost pieces of his Super Bowl team, his production has decreased. Flacco has been unable to take the Ravens back to the playoffs since 2014, failing to deliver what his contract would expect him to do.
6 DeMarco Murray
In 2014, we saw DeMarco Murray shock the world with his dominant season in Dallas. In that season, Murray rushed for 1,845 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. That offseason, Murray once again shocked the NFL when he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, leaving the team that once drafted him. Murray felt that he deserved a contract higher than what the Cowboys were willing to pay him, so he set off to Philly. His production decreased tremendously, as he rushed for only 702 yards, scoring 6 touchdowns. Everything Eagles fans expected out of him never showed up. Murray was unable to perform at a high level in Chip Kelly’s offense, which led to him moving on to the Tennessee Titans.
Murray performed at a high level once again in 2016 with the Titans, rushing for 1,287 yards and scoring 9 touchdowns. Murray once again dominates, but with what is considered the second best offensive line in football, behind the Dallas Cowboys. It seems that Murray’s success has only happened behind the best offensive lines in football. Without them, it seems that Murray is a mess.
5 Josh Norman
Josh Norman may only be relevant because of his character, but besides that, many fans may have not even known who Norman before 2015. Norman was known for his trash talk and his great season in Carolina, that came four years after he was drafted. Before his four-interception season in 2015, Norman only had three total interceptions in his career. A large part of his success came to playing with one of the more dominant defenses in the NFL. Norman played for a team that was on its way to a Super Bowl, when they lost against the Broncos.
Norman had another good season with the Redskins, but his good performances came against weaker teams. Two of Norman’s interceptions came against a weak Bears team, while the other one came against the Cleveland Browns. In his six games against divisional teams, he had seven pass deflections. Many times, we even saw Norman get burnt by receivers. Norman is definitely not worth the large contract that the Redskins are currently paying him.
4 Pierre Garcon
One of the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL, Pierre Garcon is heading to the 49ers to reunite with former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Garcon played very good in Washington, but never seemed to have the talent of a top wide receiver on the team. In his time with Washington, a lot of the time he had DeSean Jackson on the opposite end, as well as having dominant quarterbacks throwing to him like Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III during his rookie campaign.
Throughout his five-year career in Washington, he had two seasons where he caught for over 1,000 yards. Now those numbers are great, but with a dominant quarterback, and looking to become a top option on a team, anything less than 1,000 yards can be looked at as a disappointing season. The offense Garcon was in was always dominant when throwing the ball, and fans may see a drop in Garcon’s production when heading to a weak offense in San Francisco.
3 Eli Manning
Fans may look at Eli Manning as a top ten quarterbacks in the NFL, but he may be lucky to even be considered a top 15 quarterbacks. Manning has been known for inconsistencies, as well as randomly getting hot before the playoffs begin. We have seen Manning throw up to 35 touchdown passes in a season, as well as throwing up to 27 interceptions in a season. Part of Manning’s success as come with the excellent wide receivers he has. Currently Manning probably has the best receiving core in the NFL with Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram.
Manning has made it two Super Bowls, while many other seasons he hasn’t been able to make it back to the playoffs with a talented offense. Manning hasn’t had the offensive line that he may deserve, but he also doesn’t deserve the hype that many fans may give him.
2 Richard Sherman
Richard Sherman has been considered one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL for the past few years. Sherman is definitely good, and may as well be one of those top cornerbacks. But he also plays for possibly the best defense in football. When quarterbacks are going up against Seattle defenses, they aren’t just worried about Sherman, they’re worried about all the options. This may cause many quarterbacks to throw poor passes due to the pressure they are under or the great coverage that the whole defense is providing.
This Seattle team has lived off of its defense for the past few years, which helped bring a Super Bowl ring back in 2014 when they defeated the Denver Broncos. Many times, Sherman’s highlights come against teams with weaker offenses. His four interceptions in 2016 came from the Eagles, Bills, and Jets. In games against the Patriots, Packers, Buccaneers and Saints, Sherman had not one pass deflection. Sherman may be good, but not as good as fans may think.
1 Cam Newton
Superman, isn’t truly Superman. Cam Newton is another player who has been known for his character with his stylish ways of dressing and his touchdown dances, but what about his play? Newton is another play who has been extremely inconsistent throughout his career. He has made it to a Super Bowl, but failed to beat a team with one of the weakest offenses in football. Newton was unable to compete with the pressure on him, causing him to lose in a magical season where he went 15-1. 2015 was the only great season we truly saw out of Newton, who threw for 35 touchdown passes and 3,837 yards. But besides that, his numbers have been average. The next best season we saw out of him was in 2013 where he threw for 24 touchdown passes and 3,379 yards. That was the only other season Newton had a winning record. In 2014, they just barely made the playoffs in an awful NFC South, that they finished 7-8-1.
Newton had showm that he can play at a high level, but definitely not as a top 10 quarterback. In 2016, he was ranked as the best player in the NFL during the NFL Network’s Top 100 series. It’s a shame that players even believe that, coming from a quarterback who is constantly playing up and down.