Based on film study and years of personal experience as a college football All-American and former NFL player, I turn my attention and expertise of the game toward this annual passion of breaking down nearly every potential prospect preparing for the NFL draft this April.
In this slideshow, I focus on five of the most over-hyped, over-valued prospects entering the NFL draft in an attempt to identify which players are most likely to be drafted considerably higher than their actual value.
I assess their actual value by identifying prospects who have been gliding on reputations that will not carry over as smoothly into their NFL careers as many have predicted. Most are prospects highly touted by a wide array of expert sources.
Well, it's time to fly in the face of the experts who are never batting 1.000.
This exercise, as with all scouting, is entirely subjective. Furthermore, my assessments of these players are subject to change as the draft process continues to shed new light on the overall value of each player.
I would also like to add that these prospects are all highly talented individuals with skill sets far exceeding the average person. These men have worked hard throughout their careers to get to this point and deserve a great deal of credit for distinguishing themselves as some of the best in the nation.
Now, it's time to have some fun breaking down how and why these five guys made my list as over-glorified prospects likely to be drafted substantially earlier than warranted.
Weight: 243 pounds
Projected: Top 10
True Value: Between picks 25-40
Jarvis Jones has clearly been a highly productive college football player. He finished this past season with 14.5 sacks, good enough to lead the nation. I know a thing or two about getting sacks in college myself. As a matter of fact, I had 14.5 sacks my senior year at Cal.
This degree of production was only worthy of a sixth-round draft pick, though, so obviously there's a lot more to the draft process than stats.
Jones may have to contend with a medical red flag from some teams for a condition he has called spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column. This means some could pass on him in the first round altogether. However, it only takes one team to pull the trigger on this highly touted pass-rush specialist.
Here are my observations of his game.
Jones routinely missed opportunities for big plays and tackles. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez consistently proved to be the better athlete against Jones in open space in the 2013 Capital One Bowl.
Jones also has a thin frame when projecting for the NFL.
There are several snaps where Jones seems to be coasting and watching things happen without reacting. His ability to make plays in the open field is surprisingly inconsistent and not well-executed—not what you would expect from a guy with his quickness.
Speaking of his quickness, Jones has relied on his quickness to get the edge quickly against offensive linemen. This will not work often in the NFL, and he hasn't shown much else in terms of a pass-rush repertoire, despite his production.
Bottom line: From evaluation of his tape, he appears to be a prospect who’ll be drafted significantly too early for his NFL potential. Taking him in the top 10 would be paying a hefty price in opportunity cost.
Weight: 252 pounds
Projected: Mid to late first round
True Value: Third round
Zach Ertz had a breakout season as a junior with almost 900 yards receiving and six touchdowns. But as mentioned in the previous slide, while stats are a great tool to assess a player, they should not be the primary determining factor.
I really can't predict what Ertz's 40 time will be when he runs it, but he seems to be much more quick than fast. His combination of height and quick feet has served him well as a suitable target.
However, Ertz seems to be lacking greatly in the areas of body control, change of direction, agility, functional strength and in his ability to make things happen after the catch.
Some of these qualities may be more common in a tight end than not, but his failure to showcase power or be even mildly effective as a blocker will force his hand as a glorified receiver in the NFL.
His lack of fluidity in movements and inability to function as a receiver will leave Ertz lost somewhere in limbo. What's worse is that Zach has failed to really use his size as a weapon; he rarely makes the difficult or spectacular catch.
This is not to say he cannot become a productive weapon for an offense. More specifically, he will forever be limited in his receiving skill set.
But a big target with quick feet and adequate hands should always find a role in the NFL—a role better valued in the middle rounds of the draft than the first.
Weight: 270 pounds
Projected: Picks 12-25
True Value: Third or fourth round
Not all athletes are equipped to play football, and not all potential is eventually reached. In fact, one of the biggest misconceptions about Ghana native Ezekiel Ansah is his potential altogether. This kid did not flash much athletic ability on tape or at the Senior Bowl this week.
He seems to be a great kid, one who has only played the sport for three years. On the surface, all would appear promising. But when you take a closer look, there are many holes to his game that may never be correctable.
Ansah plays the game hunched over with his head facing the ground. He appears lost most of the time and plays with limited instincts.
Furthermore, Ansah is constantly driven back by blockers, from which he always escapes with a spin. That is, if he manages to stay on his feet for the ride.
Ziggy has poor tackling ability and little to no skill at playing games with blockers, and he does not showcase functional strength, bend or have much agility. His athleticism is not translating on a football field.
He loses containment routinely while possessing virtually nothing in terms of a pass-rush strategy. It's really hard to see how this kid will be able to turn things around.
Any and all comparisons to Jason-Pierre Paul should be laid to rest. There's enormous contrast in how these two men are built and play the game.
Weight: 220 pounds
Projected: Between picks 20-40
True Value: Fourth or fifth round
Mike Glennon is a tall, lean quarterback who flashes some really nice pro potential at times.
However, the reality regarding this kid is that he's a major project with unlimited arm strength, questionable decision-making and an underwhelming propensity for pulling out victories.
Perhaps, the first thing worth noting is Glennon's highly underdeveloped frame. He has the build and definition of a 15-year-old. This makes early contribution an unlikely possibility for Glennon, as he would be at serious risk to be broken in half by men hell-bent on causing the QB pain.
Glennon finished 65th in the nation in passing rating, which put him one notch above Zach Maynard of Cal. In fact, Maynard actually had a higher completion percentage. Any comparison to Maynard should have Glennon greatly concerned.
Among the better aspects of Glennon's game are his height and occasional ability to zip the ball into tight windows. But any evaluation that determines him to be a first-round prospect is simply one I cannot figure out.
His high rating is most likely the result of reaching for a prospect based on need as well as the obsession for teams to find their franchise quarterback.
Weight: 228 pounds
Projected: Between picks 25-55
True Value: Third or fourth round
Arthur Brown is a smallish linebacker with very good speed and is capable of making plays sideline-to-sideline. The only problem is that he rarely does. Although Brown can be seen making the occasional tackle on film, he really hasn't established himself as one of those 'backers who is always around the ball.
One of the first things that stands out about Brown on tape is that he seems about the size of an NFL defensive back. This can pose problems at the next level, considering he already struggles with not to giving ground when taking on blocks in the run game.
He does, however, have exceptional quickness and looks smooth in coverage. However, he just may not be a true NFL linebacker, given the way he plays and his limited potential for bulking up.
Brown seems to fall directly into the style of play that mirrors his smaller stature. He lacks power and struggles greatly against running teams that attack him head-on. He also has difficulty shedding blocks and stopping a runner's momentum.
It is common to see Brown making a tackle as the ball-carrier drags him for an extra couple of yards. Brown does not punish ball-carriers at all. The defense at Kansas State liked to free him up from blockers, which afforded him some freedom from the trash.
Given all of his deficiencies and limitations, he simply doesn't make enough plays to properly outweigh the negatives, especially in the first or even second round of the draft.