Last week, we took a look at some of the names that are getting glossed over in this year's draft process. While those names, and many others, continue not to get their due, there are tons of players we have been hearing about not only in excess, but also in hyperbole. This is definitely a talented class, but there is a tendency to go nuts with expectations on top guy's abilities to make the process seem flashier. Well, here's a wet towel for some of that hype.
Quarterback: Mitch Trubisky, UNC
Every year the NFL and the draft community painstakingly looks for their golden boy at quarterback and this year it seems to be Mitch Trubisky. There is things to like about the well built, athletic passer who flashes poise and impressive accuracy. However, anointing a guy the top passer in the class when he is inconsistent, inexperienced and when UNC got statistically worse when he took over at quarterback this year (after a UDFA QB got them 10 wins last season), there are more red flags than not.
Running Back: Leonard Fournette, LSU and Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Leonard Fournette's entire career at LSU has been that of hyperbole. People asked if he could go from high school to the pros during his freshman season. Then people compared to Adrian Peterson and Bo Jackson and some folks said he may be the best prospect, at any position, ever. I like Fournette quite a bit. He should be a top 20 pick in this draft, but the level of expectations being set up for him are absurd.
Joe Mixon is a tantalizing talent. He has size and athletic ability that people fall over themselves for and he can catch the football pretty damn well. However, talk that he could be the best back in this class seems a bit ridiculous. He has great playmaking ability, but his propensity to constantly get negative yardage and do things like come to a complete stop behind the line of scrimmage is very worrying. People bring up Le'veon Bell succeeding in a similar way in the NFL, but comparing any player to a massive exception to the rule is never a good practice.
Wide Receiver: Mike Williams, Clemson and Zay Jones, ECU
Most of the players on this list are good players who just got a bit too much sunshine pumping during this draft process. Mike Williams is a damn good player, but with a game that is seemingly predicated entirely on contested catches and not consistent separation, it is worrisome to see that translate. It takes a very particular quarterback to exploit the skill set and one he might not get. Williams could absolutely refine his skill set to become a better route runner, but the point is that he is not the sure thing that people make him out to be.
Zay Jones is a guy who tested really well and has hands like glue, so it is easy to see why folks love him. However, despite great testing, it feels like he had issues separating more often than not at ECU and a lot of his production was him being forced passes on easy routes. This is not to say Jones is a bad player, but calling him a top five receiver in this class seems to overestimate his projection.
Tight End: Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
To be honest, none of the tight ends are overrated in this class. They are actually quite good and there are lots of them, so more are underrated than not. However, the only reason Hodges is here is that he is probably more of a wide receiver than a tight end. Yes, he has a massive 6'6" frame and weighs north of 240 pounds but his lack of blocking ability would make him better in the slot or split out wide than being an inline player. He could play tight end still, but receiver might be his best position.
Tackle: Garrett Bolles, Utah and Dan Skipper, Arkansas
Garrett Bolles dominated guys at Utah and then had a great combine, so people liking him makes sense. However they tend to completely disregard the massive physical advantage Bolles had in both settings as a 24 year old prospect. He was blocking guys that he was five and six years older than for the most part and testing against guys who he is two to four years older than. The physical makeup of a 24 year old compared to the 19 year olds he was playing or 21 year olds he was at the combine with is bound to make him more superior. However, it is hard to project if that physical domination will carry over to the league when he starts playing with guys his own age. Older prospects are always a huge risk and taking Bolles over a lot of these tackles will prove to be a mistake.
Dan Skipper feels like a lot of his hype seems to come from his size (nearly 6'10") and his long time experience in the SEC. Where those things are certainly notable, the positives kinda drop off for skipper after that. Yeah he has the size and length to play tackle, but he is slow footed and his technique is a mess. Pass.
Guards rarely get overrated during the draft process unless there are literally no other players to get excited about (See: 2013 NFL Draft) but there are a ton of guards in this class who could go late and end up being solid players.
Similar situation to above. No one really overhypes centers. Unless they play for the Steelers.
Interior Defensive Line: Jon Allen, Alabama and Montravius Adams
Jon Allen is another guy who is going to be a really solid player in the league but fell victim to some ridiculous hype this season. He got compared to Ndamukong Suh and Fletcher Cox but big name analysts this offseason and then had the combine of a mailman who works out four times a week. Look, athleticism isn't everything, but comparing a player who is not athletic to two of the most athletic defensive tackles in the league is pretty ridiculous. Also, Allen got moved around a lot at Alabama and considering that he weighs under 290 pounds, it is hard to see him as a full time interior guy in the NFL. Allen is going to be a solid base end who can kick inside on passing downs and while that is a valuable player, he is not Ndamukong Suh or Fletcher Cox.
Monty Adams was a highly recruited guy coming out of high school and that definitely played into his hype. He has good size and tested well, but he is truly a feast or famine player and the flashes come too few and far in-between. While he could be a good later round project player, taking him in the first two rounds and expecting him to start would be a big mistake.
EDGE Defenders: Derek Barnett, Tennessee and Taco Charlton
Derek Barnett broke Reggie White's sack record at Tennessee and a lot of people are in their feelings over that. Barnett is a disciplined, high motor player and that will be important on an NFL team. However he is less of a top rusher and more of a complementary guy on a line due to a lack of size or athletic ability.
Taco Charlton I want so badly to be good because of how cool his name is. While he does have a great frame, he is raw as a pass rusher and run defender and is not a top tier athlete. At least with Barnett, he compensates for lack of natural satletic ability with great, consistent technique and a high motor, but Charlton even has a ways to go before he gets to that point.
Linebacker: Jarrad Davis, Florida, Jabrill Peppers, Michigan and Ben Boulware, Clemson
Jarrad Davis is a player I actually like a lot, but maybe a bit too much. It is easy to see smaller, faster linebackers who play like their hair is on fire and love them, but those types of players need a lot more than speed to succeed in the NFL. The linebacker position is among the more cerebral positions in the league and while athletic ability is important, so is how they play above the shoulders. Davis is a very aggressive player who misses run fits and loses himself in zones sometimes. While the upside is there with Davis, he probably has more work to do before he is impacting an NFL game at a high level.
What is Jabrill Peppers? Cornerback? Linebacker? Safety? Running back? Returner? Receiver? He played all over the place during his career at Michigan and while he certainly could put on a show with his athletic ability, he rarely showed that he could absolutely play a position in the NFL. He tested with the linebackers at the NFL combine which indicates where the NFL thinks he should play and while he had a great combine, how many 213 pound linebackers are there in the NFL? Peppers had a lot of issues with run defense at Michigan and the lack of production in terms of turnovers he had on defense is at least notable, if not worrying. So is Peppers a football player? Yes. Is he a top linebacker prospect? Absolutely not. He is a project and is best off playing safety.
Ben Boulware is one of those players who inevitably gets a cult following on a football team for being the scrappy, lunchpail, gym rat, etc. type of player without actually being very good (See: Kuhn, John). Boulware is a solid college player and was obviously an emotional leader on a very successful Clemson defense. However, he is just not an NFL level athlete or have NFL size, so his future in the league is likely going to be that of a special teamer, albeit a pretty damn good one.
Cornerback: Marlon Humphrey, Alabama and Quincy Wilson, Florida
Marlon Humphrey is a very fun player to watch. He is a well built, super athletic cornerback who hits like a truck. I get it. However, he is very raw in coverage and has issues turning and finding the ball in man coverage. Humphrey has high upside, but in a deep cornerback class it is hard to say he is among the top three best.
Quincy Wilson is getting some love as being the best cornerback in this class. While it is certainly easy to fall for a 6'1", 211 pound cornerback with good on tape athletic ability, it is hard to love how physical Wilson is not. Wilson, despite his size, is a legitimate liability as a tackler. While tackling is secondary for cornerbacks, with Wilson it is so bad that he hurts the whole defensive unit as a result because he will not threaten outside runs to his side nor will he immediately limit yards after catch. Wilson is a fine prospect overall, but it is important to be nit-picky when the talent at the cornerback position is so good overall.
Safety: Malik Hooker, Ohio State and Jamaal Adams, LSU
I am sure there will be well measured reactions to this but hear me out. Malik Hooker is a very good player. He has awesome size, athleticism and ball skills. His newness to the position (former basketball player) and production right off the bat is a positive testament to him. However, he is very, very raw and also a bad run defender. While Hooker is certainly a first round player, an inconsistent and raw safety should never be compared to Ed Reed coming out of college. Frankly we should generally move away from trying to compare every first round prospect to a future Hall of Famer.
Jamaal Adams is also a very good player and one that I mocked as being a top ten pick in this class. However, there are some folks no discussing whether or not he should be a top five pick and that is ridiculous. Honestly, is Jamaal Adams that much better of a player than Keanu Neal was coming out? Sure, Neal is a hell of a player and Adams will be too, but should a team be drafting a strong safety top five in a draft? Seems a bit preposterous. This is not really about Adams the player, but more about how much people are overvaluing his position.
While this is bound to get folks riled up, realize that everyone on here is good at football and I am not saying they're not. It is just tempering the hype while some folks lose their mind and compare every potential top pick to a perennial All Pro, Hall of Famer, Avenger or Greek God. The overhype not only becomes tiresome, but it puts unfair expectations on a lot of these players to perform immediately at a super high level when they simply cannot.