I know we kind of use the NFL forum as a news area, but how about some random opinion for a change? I want to talk about over-rated players. Who are yours? Don't be afraid to mention a Seahawk if that's what you really think. Anyway, mine (these are players I feel are the most over-rated as of this moment, not necessarily for their careers):
5. Patrick Peterson
I loved Peterson coming out of the draft. I thought he was without question the best pure prospect that year. I don't know how long it will be until I see a better corner prospect. The fact that he was passed over 4 times still blows me away. And as some of you know I have a little bit of a soft spot in my heart for the Cardinals as I grew up in Arizona.
Peterson has already racked up 9 interceptions in his first two years, which is pretty good. And he already has 4 punt returns for TDs, which is incredible. So why is he over-rated?
Well, because other than a flashy big play here and there, Peterson is actually not a very good cornerback. He's scored poorly in coverage ratings since he entered the league and has been known to get burned quite a bit. In the second game against Seattle, he had a very typical Patrick Peterson type outing, where he outhustled Golden Tate for a cheap interception, but also gave up on plays repeatedly, one of which directly resulted in a touchdown by Marshawn Lynch.
On paper, Peterson looks pretty good, but when you put on the film and look closer, you realize he's got a little bit of Aaron Curry in him, in that he chooses to play disciplined only when he feels like it. I think Peterson's big plays are worth the poor play in other areas, but I would never vote for him to a pro-bowl unless it was as a kick returner. Peterson now has two pro-bowls and an all-pro in two seasons, beating out several other corners who were demonstrably superior.
4. Eric Berry
The thing about over-rated lists is they tend to have good players on them. Eric Berry is a solid player, and I even made the case for him at the #6 pick back in 2010 despite all the money we'd have to pay a safety. That said, Eric Berry just made the pro-bowl for the 2nd time this past season, during a year where he recorded just 86 tackles and 1 interception. And that was on a 2-14 team that finished as the worst team in the NFL.
Berry has just 5 interceptions in 3 seasons, but has made two pro-bowls. He's the classic example of a player that only makes a pro-bowl because he was a high draft pick that didn't suck.
3. Chris Johnson
I feel kinda bad having Johnson on this list. In a way he's almost under-rated. He has a career YPC of 4.7, and he hasn't made a pro-bowl since 2010. Plus he had that one huge season where he went out of his mind. On a bad offense last year he managed 4.5 YPC.
But, I figured I'd include Johnson on this list for two reasons. The first is that I'm not a big fan of massive boom/bust RBs. In the passing game, a yard is a yard, but in the running game consistency matters. If you just want yards you'd run the ball as little as possible.
Part of what makes Marshawn Lynch so valuable is his remarkable consistency week by week, run for run. You know he's very likely to get you 3-5 yards on most rush attempts and set up favorable down and distance to help a ball-control offense roll along and it also helps salt away games when playing with a lead.
Chris Johnson is more of a cloud of dust guy that gives you an 80 yarder here and there to dramatically raise his numbers. I'm not saying his stats are worthless, but they are a bit on the empty side, a little like Julius Jones and his empty 4.4 YPC in 2008.
The second reason: advanced stats hate him. Football outsiders has him 32nd among NFL RBs last year despite a strong 4.5 YPC average, and both Advanced NFL stats and PFF actually graded him with negative scores. A bit like Patrick Peterson, Chris Johnson makes enough big plays to help you forget that he's actually a liability out there most of the time.
2. Larry Fitzgerald* (note the asterisk)
Did you see the Asterisk? You sure? Make sure you check again. Okay, good. Larry Fitzgerald is a no-doubter first ballot hall of famer, one of the best WRs of his time and perhaps the very nicest/classiest man currently in the NFL. If the NFL had to pick an ambassador, Fitzgerald would be a fantastic choice.
I couldn't ever imagine putting Fitzgerald on a list like this until this last season. Especially not after 2011, where he single-handedly willed the Cardinals to a final week victory over a hot Seahawks team. That season he did the unthinkable, finishing over 1400 yard receiving catching passes from Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.
He also had that Superbowl where he took over a game like I've never seen before. Plus all those other amazing seasons he had, of course.
Reason I have him on this list is because this list is about who I consider to be over-rated based on what they've done very recently. Not that I expected Fitzgerald to post another 1400 yard season in 2012, but his tepid 798 yards receiving actually belies a receiver that was far worse than even his counting stats showed. His advanced numbers were atrocious, and in terms of yards per target he was among the NFL's worst receivers last season. (And though maybe it's irrelevant to this discussion, he's also on a contract that pays him $16 million a year on average).
People can bring up the quarterback argument, but he had the same QBs the year before when he played out of his skull and willed his way 1400 yards. And really, this is a guy that's been in the league nine seasons and had quality QB play in two of them. So it's not like he needed the QB excuse before when he was cutting defenses to pieces.
Remember how Fitzgerald was unstoppable in 2011 in that final game? Well in 2012, Fitzgerald had just 2 total catches for 5 yards in both Seahawks games combined. The guy that was covering him those weeks, Richard Sherman, caught 3 passes from Arizona Cardinals QBs for 18 yards.
The funny thing is, Richard Sherman somehow failed to make the 2012 pro-bowl. But Larry Fitzgerald actually got in.
I'm guessing that Fitz lands back on his feet next season. Carson Palmer may not be a winner or a statistically good QB, but he can still put up a lot of yards. His situation in Arizona reminds me a tiny bit of Warren Moon in Seattle in that both are very old QBs that may not win a ton of games but still have to be taken seriously and could put up 350 yards on any given week. I'd be shocked if Fitz didn't rebound at least a little in 2013.
That said, his 2012 season was terrible and he had no business being in the pro-bowl in a loaded NFC. Along with the now retired Jeff Saturday, he was the ultimate "name recognition" pick of that pro-bowl group.
1. Andrew Luck
Did you think Sam Bradford was all that as a rookie? I know I didn't. He was a solidly below average quarterback that managed to avoid being completely terrible. Sam Bradford actually won rookie of the year for it, but nobody today seriously considers Sam Bradford a dangerous quarterback.
I bring this up because Andrew Luck's rookie season, which was very similar to Bradford's in terms of schedule strength and surrounding cast, also resulted in the same exact passer rating: 76.5. The NFL median passer rating is 86.2. Meaning that if you had a 86.2 rating last year, you were middle of the pack. You might have noticed that number isn't particularly close to 76.5. Among the QBs who had a higher passer rating than Andrew Luck last season: Blaine Gabbert, Michael Vick, Matt Hasselbeck, Christian Ponder, Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Palmer, and Kevin Kolb.
Now, it's true that Indy asked a lot of Luck, and he was a rookie. He also has a mountain of physical talent. I'm a little concerned that he wasn't vetted much at Stanford (all-universe O-line), but he's a smart, hardworking guy and it's a near certainty he'll improve, first to an average level and perhaps much higher. He'll get better. With time.
But last year he was more of a clutch QB than a good one, and I think it was an over-reach that he made a pro-bowl roster last season. He also somewhat incredibly finished with more rookie of the year votes than Russell Wilson (100 rating, one of the best rookie seasons of all time) and now apparently is ranked higher on NFL.com's top 100 series this season.
That makes it official, Andrew Luck is now the NFL's very most over-rated player, until he proves otherwise. And I don't say this just because of Luck vis-a-vis Wilson. Ryan Tannehill had virtually the same exact same season statistically, also has a bright future, and was also taken in the top 10 picks. But I don't know if he received a single ROY vote and he didn't even come close to making the pro-bowl or NFL.com's top 100 list.
Why? Because he lacks the mythos that Luck has as the best prospect since Manning, playing for the same team, the NFL's ultimate golden boy giving way to the next ultimate golden boy. Luck's hype combined with the Pagano story made Indy a great media story that flew out of control. I doubt Luck will be headlining this list a couple years from now, but right now, he's the king.