NFL Draft 2014: Who's Being Overrated in Late Approach to Draft?
With the 2014 NFL draft being moved back a couple of weeks from it's previous spot on the calendar, even more time is given for certain prospects' stocks to rise.
Whether it's in the eyes of a particular media pundit or based on rumblings that seem to be coming from within the league, this time of year is prime breeding ground for overrating prospects. There are also those prospects who have been seemingly overrated through the entire process, having their value inflated for a multitude of reasons.
As we head into the final stages of "Draft Season," here's a look at some players who I feel are overrated at the moment.
What makes these prospects overrated?
Considered in compiling this list are multiple factors:
- Overvaluing based on offseason workouts rather than college game film
- A drastic change in ranking based on reported interest from NFL teams
- My own personal evaluations
NOTE: This list doesn't take into account where I think these players will be drafted. Just because I don't think a player should be taken in the first round doesn't mean I think every NFL team will agree.
Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh
Chances are you've either jumped on the Tom Savage train or it's run you over.
Savage has popped up over the last couple of weeks as a hot name who could be creeping into the conversation as a second-day pick. Considered by Scouts, Inc. as nothing more than a "developmental Day 3 bargain" just a month ago, Savage is now ranked 55th overall by the scouting agency and is their fourth-ranked quarterback.
This change in ranking seems to be reflecting a league-wide opinion of Savage, as he reportedly has a pretty full dance card when it comes to private workouts with NFL teams. His agent also announced that Savage has been invited to attend the draft ceremony in New York City, which further fuels the thought process that he'll be a high pick.
There are plenty of draft analysts, however, who don't understand the reason for Savage's late surge, citing his unspectacular film from 2013. NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki projects Savage as a fifth-or-sixth-round talent, while CBSSports.com 139th overall (ninth QB).
Nobody has more hype than Savage right now, but I'm not buying. He's got the size and arm strength to succeed at the next level, but too much of his skill set still needs to be refined. He may go in the top 40, but from what I've seen on film, I wouldn't feel comfortable taking him until the third day of the draft.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Considered by many to be the second-best receiver in this year's draft, Mike Evans definitely boasts some traits that make scouts salivate. At 6'5", 230 pounds, Evans has an imposing frame that towers over most corners. He uses his size well, shielding defenders from the ball and being open even when covered. Certain aspects of his skill set scream "red-zone terror."
Early on the in the draft process, Evans was projected to go anywhere from the 10th overall pick on, but he's recently entered the conversation as an option for the Raiders at the fifth overall pick.
While I understand the attraction to certain parts of Evans' game, he's not complete or refined enough as a prospect for me to feel comfortable with him in the top five. Kyle Crabbs of NDT Scouting gives a thorough breakdown of the concerns with Evans here, and I agree with many of them (including this worthy note).
Evans may yet develop into the dominant force on the outside that many analysts project him to be, but I'm not confident enough to take him in the top 10.
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
As the Seahawks proved last year during their title run, versatility is a valuable resource along the defensive line. One prospect with the potential to deliver such a skill set is Kony Ealy, who was a first-team All-SEC selection after tallying 9.5 sacks in 2013.
Though versatility is definitely an attractive trait, a player like Ealy also runs the risk of being more of a "tweener" who might not be able to settle into a true position in the NFL.
Will he be explosive enough to rush the passer from a 4-3 end spot? Will he have the athleticism to drop into coverage as a 3-4 OLB? Will he be able to bulk up and be a 3-technique in a 4-3 or a 5-technique in a 3-4? Too many questions for a guy being compared to two of the league's top pass-rushers, if you ask me.
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Along with Tom Savage, Hoosier WR Cody Latimer has been a fast riser over the past couple of weeks. Widely considered to be a mid-round selection in March, the interest in Latimer from some NFL teams appears to be so great that he's found himself in the first-round conversation.
Latimer's impressive performance at his recent pro day likely has a lot to do with his late surge, after he was prevented from doing drills at the combine due to foot surgery. But though his measurables are impressive, the film doesn't show a first-round talent in a particularly deep receiver class.
It's not that I don't think Latimer has some potential. Unlike projections from Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal (Day 3 pick) and NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki (ceiling is as a No. 3 receiver), I think Latimer would be a solid pick near the top of the third round.
But I don't see a difference-maker who warrants a first-round pick at this point.
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
No type of player makes the draft community salivate quite like a massive quarterback with a big arm. It seems like too often, a signal-caller who looks the part can have his size and arm strength overshadow a season (or career) full of inconsistent film.
The newest member of this club? Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas.
Thomas boasts great natural athleticism to go along with his prototypical size and arm strength, but that's about where the positives end. Though he's shown flashes of brilliance, Thomas never posted a completion percentage above 60 percent during his career with the Hokies, and he was plagued by inconsistency.
Scouts, Inc. has Thomas ranked ahead of Fresno State's Derek Carr and LSU's Zach Mettenberger, but there's no way I'd take a project like Thomas over those two. Scouts will surely fall in love with his potential, but a lack of consistency is the last thing any NFL franchise looking for a starting QB needs.
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Another prospect whose best attribute is freak athletic ability, UCLA's Anthony Barr is still widely considered to be a top-10 talent in this year's draft. I won't argue that he's one of the best natural athletes in this class, but I'm not sold on his ability to be consistently effective as a pass-rusher in the NFL.
Barr's lack of scheme versatility limits his value, and his lean frame could get eaten up by the NFL's bigger, better tackles. Though he was a disruptive force in college, I'm skeptical that he'll have the same impact at the next level.
Would I take him in the 20s if I'm a contender who can work him in slowly as a 3-4 edge-rusher? Sure. But if I'm a floundering franchise picking in the top 10, a player like Barr wouldn't be the wisest choice.
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
The value of the safety position in trending up in the NFL, with teams desperately looking for the next Earl Thomas or Jairus Byrd.
One prospect in this year's class who many think can be that type of playmaker is Louisville's Calvin Pryor.
Pryor is considered by a slew of draft analysts to be a top-15 prospect, with some even ranking him as the top safety in the draft. But where most see an athletic ball hawk, I see an underwhelming box safety with questionable instincts and a penchant for making hits on receivers that will draw plenty of penalties and fines at the next level.
Listed at 6'2" on the Louisville website, Pryor check in at the combine under 6'0". I'm afraid that might not be the last time Pryor doesn't deliver as advertised.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Much like Mike Evans, FSU's Kelvin Benjamin brings an attractive combination of size and natural athletic ability to the receiver position. However, also like Evans, Benjamin has many aspects of his game that give me pause regarding his projection as a first-round pick.
At 6'5", 240 pounds, Benjamin has a massive frame, which he uses well to shield defenders from the ball, especially on slants and jump balls in the red zone. But if I'm taking a receiver in the first round, I need him to run precise routes and have reliable hands, two things that Benjamin struggles with too often.
Again, I completely understand the allure of a big target who can create mismatches against smaller corners. But in a receiver class this deep, there are too many other prospects who deliver the hands, route-running ability and other positive traits worthy of first-round consideration.