A Look at the 2014 NFL Draft's Most Overrated Stars
Every year draft hype starts in September and continues until the day of the annual NFL draft. People who really have no clue as to what is or isn't NFL talent start saying, "Such and such player is a sure-fire first-round pick." We hear it all the time on college football telecasts. Trouble is, many of these players never end up being close to first-round picks.
We also hear a lot about players who will "fight it out" for being the first overall pick in the draft. Reality is, unless there is a sure-fire top pick, we seldom know who the pick will be until a few days before the draft. If someone told you in January 2013 that Eric Fisher would be the first pick in last year's draft you would have called them crazy!
In my opinion there is no player who is a lock to be the top pick this year. You could come up with a bunch of names, and I could give you several reasons why that player shouldn't go that high.
There are also a number of players who some draft analysts feel will be high-first-round picks whom I feel are overrated. When I say overrated, I mean that while they may be quality players, they do not deserve to go as high as many feel they will go.
Some analysts have as many as three quarterbacks being drafted in the draft's first 10 picks. I for one feel that no quarterback this year is worthy of being drafted that high.
The two whom I feel are the most overrated are Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles. Two other players who I feel will get drafted higher than their true talent are Notre Dame defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt and Auburn defensive end Dee Ford.
Here are my thoughts.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
After Bridgewater got off to a strong start, many were saying that he was replacing Jadeveon Clowney as the odds-on favorite to be the top pick in the draft.
In the first four games, Bridgewater completed 79 of 110 passes for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns. He only threw one interception in those games. While he played very well, the competition was not very good; he was doing the same things we saw at the end of 2012.
As the season wore on, Bridgewater's play did not improve. In fact it leveled off. Some of the throws he made early on, he wasn't making later in the season. In Louisville's loss to Central Florida, he struggled to come up with the big play when it was needed. In the final regular-season game versus Cincinnati, Bridgewater looked ordinary at best until the fourth quarter.
While Bridgewater is very accurate with short passes, his deep-ball accuracy is not even adequate. He also lacks a real quick release, and his lean frame scares some teams.
I don't dislike Bridgewater; I just don't see a special player. He is not in the same class as Andrew Luck, either of the Mannings or even Matthew Stafford. While I believe he can be a good NFL quarterback, he is far from being a finished product. He needs work on his mechanics and reading defenses. A year of developing behind a veteran would do him good. He is more of a 15- to 30-type player than a top five.
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Late in the season, Bortles started to pick up steam as a possible top-five pick by some in the draft-analyst community. At the time, a lot of teams didn't have him on their radar. Reality is he was a surprise entry into the draft. Many clubs did not do early-season work on Bortles, and it was time for catch-up.
I agree that Bortles has talent, but I feel he is the most overhyped player in this draft. Like Bridgewater, he needs developing, and even more developing than Bridgewater. I don't feel he is close to being ready to play in the NFL.
Bortles has great size and is a good athlete. He is a great kid with leadership potential. He possesses a good arm, but by no means does he have a "cannon." While he can look good during parts of a game, he far too often makes poor decisions.
I have seen him come close to throwing interceptions on bubble screens at least three times. That is not supposed to happen! After watching eight tapes, I feel his instincts for the game are just adequate. He does not process things quickly, and in the NFL, that can be deadly.
You don't take a developmental quarterback high in the first round. It's my opinion that he is more of a second-round pick. Like Bridgewater, he needs to sit behind a veteran for at least a year. He would have been better off staying in school another year and developing his game.
Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
There is no mistaking that Dee Ford has shown the ability to impact games with his athleticism and pass-rush ability. He has great body control and play speed, and his first step quickness is as good as you will see. Still he is not the playmaker he is made out to be.
In 2013 he played in 11 games and only had 29 tackles. That included 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. He is best as a pass-rusher and a pursuit player, and that is where his value is.
On the negative side, he is a classic "tweener." At 245 pounds he is not going to be able to hold up versus the run as a 4-3 end. The 3-4 teams will look at him as an outside linebacker and hope that he can play on his feet. If he can't, he becomes a wasted pick.
I have seen where analysts feel he is a top-15-type pick. I don't like the idea of taking a "tweener" that high. I agree that he is very talented, but there are still question marks. There is a chance he may never be a full-time player and be more of a designated pass-rusher. Time will tell.
At the combine the medical people would not let him work out because of a back issue. I realize he has said it's not a problem, but it's really up to the teams to decide. They will never publically say what they feel.
Assuming he is cleared medically, I see him more as a player who should go between picks 25-30 with the 3-4 teams being the clubs which rate him the highest.
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
In 2012, Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt looked and played like a dominant player. He made a number of big plays for a strong defense. Going into this season, it was assumed that he would enter the draft as an underclassman; many had him pegged as a mid-first-round-type guy.
After the finish of the 2012 season, Tuitt had a surgery to repair a sports-hernia problem. The surgery prevented him from participating in spring practice, and the result was he came to camp out of shape and overweight. The player we saw in 2012 was not to be seen in 2013.
In 2012 Tuitt played at about 310 pounds. In 2013 he was closer to 330, and the added weight was obvious. He lost both speed and quickness. Still he had 50 total tackles and 7.5 sacks. What I saw on tape was a player with straight-line speed and quickness but average change of direction. He lacks good lateral quickness and doesn't clear his feet. Tuitt was on the ground way too often for my liking.
Tuitt came to the combine at 303 and looked good physically, but he has never played at that weight. The medical people also discovered he has a broken foot that needs surgery. Because of the injury he was not allowed to work out at the combine.
While he may be touted as a first-rounder, I see a second-rounder at best. With the injury he won't be able to work out, and that won't help his cause. This is another player who should have stayed in school.
Greg Gabriel has over 30 years experience as an NFL scout and spent nine years as the Director of Scouting for the Chicago Bears. All observations are firsthand.