Some NFL players aren’t as good as the public perceives them to be.
With training camps set to open next week, the following 10 players are the league’s most overrated heading into the 2016 season. It doesn’t mean they’re bad players. It just means that you can’t believe all the hype surrounding them. Its good to know which players are overrated when you’re making Super Bowl betting predictions.
No. 10: Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers might get into the Hall of Fame, but they ought to build an overrated wing for the Chargers quarterback. His inclusion on this list is sort of a Lifetime Underachievement Award.
Statistically, Rivers is right up there with the likes of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger year in and year out. He’s often talked up as a top-tier quarterback. All the aforementioned quarterbacks, however, have won Super Bowls. Rivers is 4-5 in the postseason and has made it to just one AFC championship game.
If Rivers can at least get to a Super Bowl, he will belong in that fraternity of elite quarterbacks. But time is running out. He turns 35 in December.
No. 9: Ladarius Green
The Steelers signed tight end Ladarius Green to a four-year, $20 million contract to replace the retired Heath Miller.
Green, 25, has increased his receptions in each of his first four seasons in the NFL, topping out at 37 last season. The 6’6″, 237-pounder will bring more speed to the position than Miller and his upside is one of the many factors that has swelled the wave of optimism that carries the Steelers offense into the 2016 season.
If Green has so much upside, however, why did the Chargers choose to keep 36-year-old Antonio Gates over him? Green didn’t participate in any of the Steelers’ offseason activities because he’s been recovering from ankle surgery. Football in shorts doesn’t matter all that much, but the concern grows a little bit with CBS Sports saying that Green might miss the start of training camp.
At some point before the games count Green will have to put on the pads to learn his new offense. Otherwise, the Steelers’ most significant free agent signing of the offseason could get off to a slow start in Pittsburgh.
No. 8: Randall Cobb
Being part of the Packers’ offense comes with some notoriety, but Cobb showed in 2015 that he needs Jordy Nelson on the field.
Cobb slipped from a career-high 91 receptions in 2014 to 79 in 2015 as Nelson missed the season with a torn ACL. He caught six touchdown passes, but three of those came in Week 3 and he didn’t have a touchdown after Week 11.
Davante Adams didn’t flourish as much as expected last season and he caught a lot of heat for dropped passes. According to Sporting Charts, however, Cobb and Adams both dropped six passes in 2015.
No. 7: Ndamukong Suh
Aaron Rodgers is partially responsible for the inflated perception of Ndamukong Suh as a player.
Rodgers told Bill Simmons last week on HBO, via Pro Football Talk, that Suh is the NFL’s most terrifying defensive player. Rodgers ought to know. By doing things like stomping on Rodgers’ calf during a game, Suh has grabbed headlines that pump up his fear factor. He still has to prove himself, however, as a game-changing talent.
Suh has 2.5 sacks in the two playoff games in which he’s appeared, both wild-card losses when he was in Detroit. He had 10 sacks in his 2010 rookie season, but he hasn’t had more than 8.5 sacks since then even if he has batted down 20 passes.
The Dolphins signed Suh to a six-year, $114 million contract before the 2015 season, but their defense didn’t improve. They went from 12th in the league with 343.4 yards allowed per game in 2014 to 25th with 376.2 yards allowed per game last season. Suh had six of the Dolphins’ 31 sacks in 2015, a number that dropped from 39 in 2014.
If Suh can ever help the Dolphins win a playoff game, there would be a legitimate reason to fear him.
No. 6: DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson gets a lot of attention because of his speed. He led the NFL with 22.4 yards per reception in 2010 and again with 20.9 yards per reception in 2014.
However, Jackson doesn’t bring a lot of volume. He caught a career-high 82 passes in Chip Kelly’s offense in 2013. His second-highest reception total in a season is 62. He did it twice, but those were the first two seasons of his career. Jackson has never caught double-digit touchdown passes in a season and only once in his career has he ranked in the top 100 in catch rate, according to Team Rankings.
No. 5: Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham’s first season with the Seahawks ended in Week 12 when he suffered a torn patellar tendon in his knee against the Steelers.
Even before he was hurt Graham had been a bit of a disappointment in Seattle. In 11 games he had 48 receptions and two touchdowns. That put him on pace for 72 receptions after catching at least 85 in each of his previous four seasons with the Saints.
The Seahawks expect Graham to be ready for Week 1. No one knows if he’ll be the same after such a devastating injury. What is known is that the Seahawks’ offense wasn’t the same as the Saints’ pass-happy unit, and Graham’s numbers suffered because of it.
No. 4: Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins is a name that’s been heard a lot lately because he’s a franchise-tagged player and the deadline to sign a long-term deal passed last week.
If the Cousins who threw 23 touchdown passes and just three interceptions in the final 10 games of the 2015 season is the real Cousins, then he’s not overrated. However, he faced only one top-10 pass defense during that stretch (the Cowboys twice).
It’s not the Redskins who are overrating Cousins. They tagged him because they don’t want to commit to a long-term deal until he proves he can do in 16 games what he did in the final 10 last season.
No. 3: Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco has a Super Bowl ring, but that bling gives his resumé an artificial shine.
Flacco’s underwhelming 84.7 career passing rating is lower than Ryan Tannehill’s 85.2. Andrew Luck’s career rating is 85.0, so passer rating alone doesn’t tell the whole story. There’s also the fact that Flacco has never ranked in the top 10 in passing yards in a season and he ranked in the top 10 in touchdown passes just once (10th in 2010). His 22 interceptions in 2013 were second in the league.
Flacco’s not a top-10 quarterback. He isn’t even the best quarterback in his division, and if Andy Dalton can ever make a deep playoff run, he’ll give Flacco a run for his money as the second-best quarterback in the AFC North.
No. 2: Devonta Freeman
Devonta Freeman is perceived as a star in the making after he ran for 1,056 yards and shared the league lead with 11 rushing touchdowns in a breakout sophomore season. He also caught 73 passes.
However, Freeman averaged just 3.98 yards per carry and his season mirrored that of his team. The Falcons started the season 6-1 and flopped in the second half of the season to finish 8-8. Freeman, meanwhile, ran for more than 100 yards four times in the first seven games. But he didn’t reach the century mark again after Week 7. Freeman ran for 88 yards in Week 8, then was held under 50 for the next four weeks.
Freeman doesn’t have the starting running back spot locked down. Tevin Coleman will provide some competition or perhaps become part of a committee in the Atlanta backfield.
No. 1: Matthew Stafford
Just last month, former NFL quarterback David Carr said on the NFL Network that Matthew Stafford is the NFL’s most underrated quarterback. Carr said that Stafford “has every throw in the book.” That’s nice, but he’s 42-51 as a starter and he’s played in just two playoff games in his seven-year career, losing both of them.
Those two playoff campaigns are the only winning seasons the Lions have had with Stafford as their quarterback. Carr also cited Stafford’s strong finish last season. Stafford did lead the Lions to a respectable 7-9 record after an 0-5 start. He threw eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the last three games, all victories. But the best defense he faced during that stretch was the Bears’ 14th-ranked unit. The others were the 49ers (29th) and Saints (31st).
Stafford threw six touchdown passes and eight interceptions during that 0-5 start. When the Lions drafted Stafford with the top overall pick in 2009, they didn’t envision an 0-5 start in six years. The 28-year-old is firmly entrenched as the Lions’ franchise quarterback, and their quarterback situation could be a lot worse.
It also could be a lot better.