The skill just doesn’t match the amount of hype that each one of these players get. For some reason, each of these 15 NFL stars have entered a world where their talent is extremely overhyped and overrated. Whether it’s because of their off-field persona or on-field flare, each of these guys has found a way to captivate fans. Each of the guys on this list are a well-known NFL athlete. But each one of the following athletes are overwhelmingly overrated by their fanbase. Regardless of why it happened, these guys have found a way to carve out a spot among the league’s elite. Those athletes who are among the NFL’s best talents deserve the credit they get, but these 15 guys have sneaked their way into a comfortable spot at the top. Hence the reason why they make this list of the 15 stars who are completely overrated.
But they shouldn’t be there. Each one of these guys surely deserve a spot in the NFL, but they don’t deserve to be on the pedestal on which they’ve been placed. No one’s doubting the talent and skill from veteran guys like Aaron Rodgers or even young studs like Derek Carr, who rightfully signed a contract to become the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. But this list does call out some guys who have been grouped in with the greats like Rodgers or Carr. Some will disagree with certain players who show up here, but we’ll let you know why they’re among the 15 guys in the NFL who are completely overrated.
15 JOE FLACCO
This guy has been overrated ever since he won that Super Bowl. We’ve had enough of Baltimore struggling behind this below-average veteran quarterback. This 32-year-old quarterback has never been much of a standout in terms of individual production. Joe Flacco has always been the unquestioned starter in Baltimore, but it’s tough to say if that would be the same if he were on another team or if he didn’t lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory years ago. Things would get much better in Baltimore if they would replace Flacco now. Plus, it’d give them a head start over the Steelers, who will be replacing Big Ben within the next few years. Last year, Flacco was forced to throw the ball way more than any other season of his career. He had 672 passing attempts.
Although he managed 4,317 passing yards, he also through nearly as many interceptions as he did touchdowns (20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions). That’s not a good sign for the upcoming season. Throwing that many passes had to have worn on the quarterback and there’s no reason to think his interception ratio will get any better next season.
14 TODD GURLEY
Hopefully it won’t be for long, but it seems that Todd Gurley will forever be overrated. Gurley shows up on this list because of his sever drop in production seen following his Pro Bowl worthy rookie season. Part of this ranking is based on projecting Gurley’s future. He can change the outcome of his career, but it seems much more likely that he’s doomed to fail in the NFL. Gurley is part of a Rams team that just can’t figure their stuff out on offense and it’s not going to make things any easier for Gurley going forward.
Gurley had a pretty good college career at Georgia (though his final season lacked production as he was suspended and then injured and played just six games). Gurley was the 10th overall pick in 2015, and it seemed to pay off as he was named to the Pro Bowl that season after rushing 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Last year, Gurley rushed the ball 49 more times, but had a significant drop in yards (885) and rushed for just six touchdowns while averaging 3.2 yards per carry. That’s really scary for a guy who most thought would be the league’s next leading running back.
13 RYAN TANNEHILL
Some say he’s on the verge of being elite, but he’s just another overrated quarterback. That’s been a consistent trend since he was drafted with the eighth pick in 2012. Since the Dolphins are going to see a sharp decline from the success the saw last season, and that’s going to be largely because of their overrated quarterback. While on the field, Ryan Tannehill led the Dolphins to an 8-5 record. Expect those numbers to flip by the end of next season. Tannehill will lead the Dolphins to just five wins and will wonder whether or not he has a starting job lined up for the start 2019 regular season.
But Tannehill will be able to take solace in his 77 games started with 106 touchdowns against just 66 interceptions. After next season though, his losing record will no longer be tolerated. Tannehill has gone 37-40 during his time as the Dolphins starter, and that’s just going to get worse next year. Luckily for Tannehill, he’s put in enough successes to start somewhere, just not in Miami anymore.
12 MIKE WILLIAMS
Drafted seventh this year was way too high. Especially since he got paired with Philip Rivers. Everyone will see how overrated this rookie is early on. Mike Williams is a physical specimen who will no doubt be drafted high up based on his physical attributes. He’ll be able to use some of that physicality for initial success, but that can only take him so far in the NFL. By the end of his first season Williams will be seeing the bench more often than not.
Williams used his physicality in college too much and didn’t develop into the type of experienced route runner needed to be successful in the NFL. This is going to prevent Williams from getting the space needed to get any type of meaningful targets. After a couple of seasons, Williams will no doubt have a good chance of success in the NFL. But he’ll need to grow and learn on the bench before that can happen.
11 JASON WITTEN
This aged veteran used to have talent that could awe defenses, but he’s been extremely overrated for the past few years. Although the cowboys deemed written worthy of a contract extension, this year will be the year he fades from relevance. Jason Witten just seems to have lost a step in his game. Plus the 34 year old looks a bit older every time he takes off his helmet. Witten is still playing in every game, and starting those games too. He’s done that just about his entire career.
Witten has been selected to the Pro Bowl an astonishing 10 times. But he’s seemed to lost a step or two in his game over the past couple of seasons. Especially last year. Sure, he’s still posting pretty good numbers for a tight end. But with how good we’ve seen Witten play, we would want to see more production out of him. Witten still had explosive games this past year, but they’re seemingly getting farther spread apart these days.
10 JONATHAN STEWART
Playing alongside Cam Newton on Carolina's high-profile offense has elevated this running backs status way too much. Just over a million dollars doesn’t seem like an overpayment, but when you factor in Jonathan Stewart’s other earnings for 2017, he’s pulling in more money than just about every other running back in the league (except for Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy). After all is said and done in 2017, Stewart should pull in about eight million dollars. That’s a bit outrageous for a guy who’s pretty good sometimes, and barely showing up on the stat sheet for a lot of the season.
Sure, Stewart is a solid veteran presence for the Panthers, but that doesn’t mean he should be in the top three earners among NFL running backs. He’s still getting paid like he’s progressing like a first round pick should be, but Stewart has been selected to just one Pro Bowl and that was primarily due to Cam Newton and Carolina’s stunning one-loss regular season. After this contract is up it will be quite tough to find this type of money for the now aging running back.
9 TAVON AUSTIN
Here we have another guy who is paid like he's a star. And on a failing Rams offense, he's treated like one too. But he shouldn't be. At just $3.5 million Tavon Austin is overpaid, but he also gets an $11.5 million roster bonus this season that just blows most wide receivers payments out of the water. Austin is paid like he’s a top 3 wide receiver, but he plays like a guy who would be a No. 3 on a lot of teams. Austin has never really done anything to separate him from the pack, and he should prepare for a severe pay cut when his contract is up (especially because there’s some options to get him more than $9 million, but that’s never ever never going to happen at this rate).
Austin’s best season came last year as he recorded 509 receiving yards along with three touchdowns, and he added 159 rushing yards and one touchdown (the year before was his best rushing year with 434 yards and four scores on the ground). But that production doesn’t even guarantee the overpaid receiver a roster spot, right now it’s the millions of dollars that his contract guarantees him that’s keeping him in the league.
8 PHILIP RIVERS
Some would argue that Philip Rivers has been overrated his entire career. Although we wouldn’t go that far, we do have to agree that this is one of the more overrated athletes currently in the NFL. Even though Rivers had a good individual season last year and was selected to the Pro Bowl, he had to be fed up with the Chargers five-win record. Making matters worse, the Chargers recorded just four wins the year before. Those are the two worst records Rivers has seen since he began starting for the team back in 2006 (that year they had their best record, 14-2).
Rivers will be 36 next season and he knows there’s not going to be many more seasons left. It will be important for him to return with a winning record next season. But he won’t be able to make that happen. Rivers has led the NFL in interceptions for two of the last three seasons, and he’ll nearly top the league again next year. Rivers will continue to turn the ball over just way too much, and next year he’ll struggle scoring, which will be a bit of a change compared to what he’s used to. Sure, Rivers will still have his starting job if he wants it, but whispers of retirement will start surrounding the used-to-be star.
7 BROCK OSWEILER
Brock Osweiler is currently the most overrated quarterback in the NFL when looking at his contract. It looks like he has the chance to be the 16-week starter in Cleveland, but Browns fans will not be happy with his production as he will be near the bottom in terms of quarterback play for the year. For Cleveland’s sake, hopefully the front office has some sort of scheme to get someone better in by Week 1 because drafting DeShone Kizer wasn’t the fix to this equation. BOsweiler isn’t worth the money nor the time to get him acclimated with whatever offensive attack the Browns want to dish out come the regular season. The Browns have had quarterback issues for as long as most of us can remember, and at this rate, it doesn’t look to be changing next season.
To Osweiler’s credit, he’s posted a 13-8 record as a starter during his time with Denver (where he went 5-2), then with Houston (where he went 8-6). But last season Osweiler tossed 15 touchdowns, while throwing 16 interceptions. He completed just under 60 percent of his passes and recorded less than 3,000 passing yards last season. It was just mediocre, but he’s getting paid like a star.
6 ALEX SMITH
Alex Smith has gotten too much credit by being an average quarterback on an above average team. There’s no way Smith is going to surpass his career-high in passing yards like he did last season. Expect just an overall tough season for the Chiefs offense because it is just too early for Patrick Mahomes to take over. The Chiefs first round selection might start by the end of the year, but not at the beginning. Sure, Smith will be 33 by the start of next season and has already played 11 seasons in the NFL as a pretty consistent starting quarterback. That will continue next season, and so will the struggles he’s seen, though passing struggles will be amplified next year.
Let’s look back on what he’s done. Smith was a Pro Bowl selection for the second time after he went 11-4 in the regular season last year. He threw for a career-high 3,502 yards and also added 15 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He just didn’t score that much and didn’t seem to play at the level a star quarterback normally does. Sure, the Chiefs went to the playoffs and only lost four regular season games while Smith was starting. But the passing game always seemed like a struggle as the Chiefs offense wasn’t as fluid as you would hope.
5 KIRK COUSINS
You shouldn’t get hyped up like Kirk Cousins has been after just two seasons of solid work in the NFL. The Kirk Cousins we’ve got used to seeing over the past couple of years will be a distant thought by the end of this season. It’s unfortunate, but by the end of next season, Washington fans will be booing Kirk Cousins off the team. Sure, Cousins has shown flashes of greatness over the last two seasons. He even strung together enough solid play last season that he was selected to the Pro Bowl. But he’s nothing more than an average quarterback with a good surrounding cast. Next year, we’ll all watch as Cousins begins to fade away from relevance and his career moves to a bench role.
The Redskins have created this image that they’re surrounding Cousins with a lot of talent. But really, Terrelle Pryor is all he’s got to throw to and Cousins is not a good enough quarterback to make that work. Unfortunately, Cousins will be a career bench player after next season concludes. He had a good, albeit brief run in the NFL.
4 JAMES HARRISON
This is another used-to-be star who is just an overrated veteran in the NFL. At 38 years old any player would be up for retirement consideration. With how much of a beating James Harrison has dished out, and taken, it’s unbelievable he’s still able to compete in the NFL. Although we wish a guy like Harrison could continue forever, he’s long past his Pro Bowl days. Harrison was selected to his fifth and final Pro Bowl back in 2011. The former defensive player of the year and two-time Super Bowl champ has turned into a veteran bench presence rather than the crucial role player he used to be.
We’ve got to thank Harrison for the effort he’s put into staying in the league this long, but he’s far from a relevant producer for the Steelers defense. Harrison, who used to be a consistent starter, has started just 12 games over the past three seasons. Sure, he’s someone they can’t just get rid of, but he should have the self awareness to hang up his jersey for good.
3 ANTONIO GATES
Even though Antonio Gates will hold the record for most career receiving touchdowns by a tight end, he should concede that feat and retire before it’s too late. Gates currently has 111 receiving touchdowns and is tied with Tony Gonzalez for the top spot among receiving touchdowns among tight ends in NFL history. Just one more score and Gates will be to sole owner of that record. But he shouldn’t step back on the field as the eight-time Pro Bowl selection isn’t going to do much more to solidify his dominance over league defenders.
In fact, the longer Gates plays the tougher it is getting to remember the days when he truly dominated the opposition. Back in the day, well actually not too long ago, Gates was tearing apart defensive game plans. In 2014, he managed 12 receiving touchdowns (that was the fourth time he had double-digit touchdown receptions). But since, he’s struggled to stay healthy and last season he had a career-low 57 percent catch rate.
2 J.J. WATT
He wasn't before his injuries. But he is now. It sucked watching J.J. Watt on the sidelines last season, and it’s almost going to be as bad watching him on the field this season (during the time his body allows him to play on the field … get the hint? He’ll be dealing with injuries for most of next season, too.) The three-time Defensive Player of the Year and two-time sacks leader has the ability to change the outcomes of games. But now we’ll always be wondering which hit will be the one that takes him out of the game forever. It may never happen, but after undergoing two back surgeries last season, Watt will be on an injury watch list for the remainder of his career.
Watt is cleared to play next season, but he should step down from the NFL. He’s currently thought of as one of the best defensive players of his time, but that is going to be in real jeopardy once Watt struggles through the 2017 season. He’ll probably have a good game or two, but don’t expect much more than that out of the injury-riddled defensive end.
1 TOM BRADY
Tom Brady is one of the best NFL players of all time, but he’s also the most overrated player heading into the 2017 NFL season. People are anticipating another great season from good ole’ Tom and that’s just absurd. To think he can still compete is just juvenile. The fact he played the way he did last season is just crazy, which is why he has become so overrated. Now, he’s just risking that legacy by continuing for another season, and he’ll continue to risk his legacy each time he signs on for another season. The 12-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time MVP has absolutely nothing left to prove.
You have to look at the risk-to-reward ratio when considering Brady’s career in the NFL. Why risk another season? Sure, he can return and play like he’s been for the past decade. But that won’t add much to his legacy unless he wins another ring, which is unlikely given the strength of his opposition. And what’s the negatives in retiring? Sure, some New England fans will be furious but they’ll come around once the initial sting wears off. Plus, that would ensure his legacy remains intact.