As it stands today, the NFL is the most popular sport in America by a country mile. With the advent of fantasy football, numerous national TV deals, and other TV packages that allow fans to gain access to every game league-wide, just about every team is under a microscope. This means that because of all this coverage, the individual players on just about every team are known to even passive followers of the league.
Since that is the case, their strengths and weaknesses have become obvious to the public. While there are many players that don’t get enough recognition from fans and analysts, there is an equal portion that receive far too much praise. It isn’t always in the case of a sub-par player, but usually of a player that is at least “good”, but considered by the public to reside at a “great” or “Hall of Fame” level. As such, the narrative gets perpetuated, and the public begins to accept it as fact.
Of course, this happens in all sports, but is indeed more profound in the NFL because of football’s general dominance over the American sporting landscape. Every position in the game is a part of it, not this criticism is not just relegated to QBs or skill players. Again, not all of the players in question are bad talents, but they all garner too much recognition for what they really are. And that’s perfectly fine, because it (along with ridiculous draft rumors), gives us something to talk about in the offseason, and I doubt anybody would complain about that.
Ranked below are the top 15 most overhyped players in the NFL today.
15. Andy Dalton
While Dalton has led the Bengals to considerable regular season success, there is a real limitation on how far his talent can lead them. Considered by many, perhaps rightfully so, to be a legitimate franchise QB, Dalton always seems to come up short in big games, and that’s with the assistance of such quality skill players like A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill and Marvin Jones. He probably posted his best season last year in 13 games played; 66.1 completion percentage, 25 TDs and just seven INTs, but it remains to be seen how long he’ll be able to keep up that strong pace in subsequent seasons.
14. Eli Manning
Manning is definitely a good QB talent, but I’d be hesitant to call him a great one like some may suggest. In both of the Giants’ Super Bowl-winning seasons, he was undoubtedly carried by a great defense that featured the likes of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. He’s hurled nearly 200 INTs in his 12 year career, and generally hasn’t been the caliber of an all-time great at the position. While public perception has morphed him into a Hall Of Fame type player, his ceiling has merely been good, while other areas of the Giants have promptly picked up the slack when needed.
13. Ndamukong Suh
Suh certainly has great talent, but his, “play hard half of the time” aesthetic and penchant for dumb actions that warrant suspensions, don’t live up to his massive contract that Miami gave him before the 2015 season. When his game is on, he’s fearsome at the DT position, and can put pressure on the QB, while seamlessly containing the run. However, far too often, the discussion about him revolves around his poor attitude, or his decision to blatantly stomp on opposing players after the play has been whistled dead. He’s certainly still in the upper-tier of the league at his position, but others such as Fletcher Cox and Aaron Donald don’t carry all of the baggage.
12. Jimmy Graham
Graham may have hit his ceiling as a pass-catching TE in New Orleans, where he had several seasons on the positive side of 1,000 yards. When he was traded to Seattle prior to the start of last season, many thought the Pro Bowl-caliber trend would continue. Unfortunately, Graham found himself in a bit of bind in the Seahawks’ offense, catching just two TD passes, and 605 yards in 11 games last season. It may be too soon to write Graham’s name in as an all-time great, with a sum of just four productive seasons with the Saints, and considering the fact that others at the position such as Travis Kelce and Tyler Eifert surpassed his efforts in 2015.
11. Byron Maxwell
Signing a six year deal with the Eagles last offseason, Maxwell was given “shut down” money as a corner, expected to replicate Richard Sherman’s efforts on his old team. It didn’t quite work out that way, and despite plenty of work to his side of the field, Maxwell registered just two INTs, and struggled in man to man coverage all year long. Additionally, he was a poor tackler; noticeably more so than a standard CB, despite that not being a typical trait expected of them. Regardless, he’s on to Miami now, which figures to be more of the same having to cover Brandon Marshall and Sammy Watkins.
10. Mohamed Sanu
Brought into Atlanta this offseason to play sidekick to Julio Jones, Sanu was given a massive deal for the mid-level caliber play he actually is. In total, he was given a five-year $32 million deal, which is handsome money for a WR that has less than 2,000 yards in four seasons, catching just 11 TD passes. The Falcons likely overpaid, and he will not be as effective without additional weapons Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones, surrounding his main buffer in A.J. Green (with Julio Jones now playing that role). The perception of him is likely to drop after the upcoming season, as this was a case of an average receiver standing out in a poor free agent class.
9. Tony Romo
Much like Manning, Romo isn’t overrated in the sense that he’s “bad” at all, but rather that the notion that he’s a Hall Of Fame player is a bit overstated. He’s had some memorable regular seasons, nearly posting 5,000 yards in 2012, and 36 TD passes in 2007, but his lack of postseason success, along with his tendency to fumble the ball lessens his appeal. I’m hesitant to rip him too much, but I can’t help but feel that he’s a tier lower than the Rodgers and Bradys of the world. For the all the good his statistics have presented, he’s always been questionable in high-pressure situations.
8. Antonio Cromartie
Cromartie was paired with Darrelle Revis in an attempt to solidify the Jets’ secondary last offseason. While he was once a viable corner in the league, Cromartie didn’t register a single INT last year in 15 games played. In fact, despite one season in 2007, when he racked up a total of 10 picks, he has been merely “good” overall, rather than the lights out showstopper on the outside that Revis and Patrick Peterson are. Right now, he is a free agent, and it’s unlikely that he ever gains a starting role again (though to be fair, he has played 10 years in the league). Regardless, he never materialized into the shutdown corner many thought he would early in his career.
7. Martellus Bennett
Though Bennett has widely been considered one of the best pass-catching TEs in the game for several years now, he’s actually had three seasons where he didn’t get one TD reception (all came in Dallas). He’s had one great season, 2014 in Chicago, where he caught six TD passes and racked up almost 1,000 yards receiving. Other than that, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. After a down season in Chicago last year, he’ll be taking his game to the Patriots, and even though Bill Belichick will likely find some way to maximize his output, by and large Bennett’s narrative has been helped by one or two seasons, instead of a consistent, career-spanning output.
6. Alfred Morris
Morris was the Cowboys’ big free agent signing this offseason, and presumed to be getting the lion’s share of the carries in their backfield for the upcoming season, but he has regressed each season since his rookie year. Since coming into the league, and having a stellar rookie campaign in 2012 (1,600 yards, 13 TDs), his numbers have dwindled steadily, down to a lowly 751 yards last year and only 3.7 YPC. While running behind a stout Dallas offensive line should help, Morris is a testament to the lack of longevity RBs have, and why they are not worth large contracts in today’s game.
5. Golden Tate
For as much talk as Golden Tate gets as an emerging receiver in the league, he’s only posted on season of at least 1,000 yards, coming in 2014 with Detroit, despite six to his name. Now that Calvin Johnson has retired during theoffseason, Tate figures to be the main pass-catching threat for the Lions, a title he really hasn’t earned after a respectable, yet underwhelming season of 813 yards for 9.0 YPC last season. The team really doesn’t have a better option right now, but putting Tate in any kind of situation to be a number one target to begin with, is proof that many think too highly of him.
4. Carlos Hyde
It’s funny, when Hyde’s name gets thrown around in discussion, it always seems to involve way higher praise than he actually deserves. In week 1 last season, Hyde ran for a stunning 168 yards for two TDs, and then promptly fell off the map entirely, registering a dismal 333 yards on the season for an average of 4.0 YPC. He probably stands out in his current situation, given that the 49ers have next to no other players of note on their roster, but the results still haven’t warranted the hype he receives in certain circles.
3. Eddie Lacy
Lacy’s future remains very much up in the air as far as being a top running threat in Green Bay. His name still gets tossed around as an elite RB in the league, and I’ve been struggling to figure out why exactly. In two of his three seasons he’s posted an underwhelming 4.1 YPC, and last year found the end zone on just three occasions. He’s a one track runner whose (limited) success has been due in part just as much to the threat of Rodgers’ arm than it has to his own abilities. Not that he’s a bust or anything, but I don’t see any reason to put him in the upper-tier of the league at his position. He has apparently shed some weight this offseason, so it will be interesting to see if that enhances his performance.
2. Julius Thomas
Thomas had several stellar seasons as a member of the Broncos, when he had Peyton Manning throwing him the ball, but really fell off course last season in Jacksonville. He did catch five TD passes, while starting in just 10 games, but caught 12 in Denver during the 2014 campaign. Often considered “great”, Thomas is likely just a good, serviceable TE, that benefited from having arguably the best QB of this last generation feeding him the rock. His first season with the Jaguars yielded the lowest statistical totals in his career thus far, and given with the amount of weapons he’ll have to compete with, I don’t really see that changing. Definitely worth having on a roster, just won’t post elite numbers on his own.
1. Brock Osweiler
Osweiler’s massive four year, $72 million contract this past offseason, has made it loud and clear that QB is the most important position on the field in the modern game. While he certainly wasn’t a detriment at QB for the Broncos, his numbers were hardly worthy of the money given to him. A 61% completion and 10 TDs to six INTs isn’t terrible, but coupled with the fact that he threw for just 7.15 YPA, it’s clear that he was playing in a modified offense. It could be a much worse situation when he has to consistently throw the ball down the field in Houston, as a franchise QB is often asked to do. True, he does have DeAndre Hopkins to work with, but Montana and Brady weren’t worth the kind of money that Osweiler received this offseason, and he obviously projects to be of much lower quality than either of those all-time greats.
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