New York Jets: The Most Overrated and Underrated Player at Each Position

Tommy FavaloroContributor IIIJune 28, 2011

New York Jets: The Most Overrated and Underrated Player at Each Position

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    The New York Jets are one of the most hated teams because of their loudmouth coach Rex Ryan and his bold statements about his team. You either love him or you hate him, and it seems like just about everyone outside of New York despises him.

    There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and the Jets often walk the tight rope when it comes to this. Being a Jets fan, I love what Ryan has done. But I can understand why fans of other teams hate the Jets.

    Many of the Jets' haters out there take shots at players, calling them overrated. The target of most of the criticism is quarterback Mark Sanchez.

    While everyone out there knows the big names like Sanchez, L.T., Bart Scott and Santonio Holmes, there are players who fly under the radar and do not get the credit they deserve for a job well done.

    Here is a list of the most overrated and underrated players at each position on the Jets.

Quarterback

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    Overrated: Mark Sanchez has been the center of attention and the face of the franchise since he was drafted in 2009. Many have compared him to Joe Namath and feel that Sanchez will be the next Jets quarterback to lead New York to a Super Bowl title.

    While he has shown his leadership and potential in big games, he is not a top 10 quarterback. You cannot compare him to Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers just yet.

    2010 was a step forward for him. He threw for 3,291 yards and 17 touchdowns, but if people want to consider him a great quarterback, 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns is the mark he needs to reach. Right now he is a bit overrated, but he will develop into a quality quarterback in the future.

    Underrated: Greg McElroy was drafted by the Jets in the seventh round of the 2011 draft. And while many don’t know much about him, McElroy was a big part of the success of Alabama. McElroy was a leader for his school and finished with a record of 24-3 for the Crimson Tide, completing 66.26 percent of his passes and throwing for 5,550 yards, 39 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. McElroy is also an extremely intelligent person who can simply win games.

    He will be the backup, but some experts think that he can become a Matt Cassel or Matt Schaub-caliber quarterback in the NFL.

Running Back

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    Overrated: LaDainian Tomlinson is a name that draws a lot of attention. When people think of him, they think of his days as a San Diego Charger. He was the best running back in the NFL for years and absolutely dominated in 2006, with 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns.

    Everything since then has been a disappointment—because 2006 has been impossible to live up to. So after years of injury-plagued seasons, Tomlinson joined the Jets at the back end of his career.

    He still has the big name, but he is not the same player he was in San Diego. He started off 2010 very impressively, but cooled off as the season went on. Only time will tell if the future Hall of Famer has enough in the tank for the 2011 season.

    Underrated: Shonn Greene burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2009. While playing at Iowa University, he was the best running back in college football. In 2008, Greene won the Doak Walker Award as the country’s best collegiate running back, yet he was drafted in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Jets.

    Every team passed on Greene, and he proved everyone wrong. Greene was part of a two-headed running game, along with Thomas Jones, in his rookie season. He had a lot of success in the limited number of carries he was given.

    Last season, he ran for 766 yards in 185 attempts playing behind Tomlinson, and performed well in the postseason.

    Still, no one talks about Greene. But when he gets the bulk of the carries in 2011, he will show everyone how good he is.

Receiver

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    Overrated: Braylon Edwards broke out in 2007, making his first and only Pro Bowl. He recorded 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns while playing for the Browns that season.

    People still have 2007 in the back of their heads when they think about Edwards, but he hasn’t had a better season. Last season was the closest he came to repeating his Pro Bowl season, recording 904 yards and 7 touchdowns.

    It was a big deal when the Jets traded for him in 2009. He became the team’s No. 1 receiver, but Edwards isn’t the Jets' best receiver anymore. Santonio Holmes is.

    Now New York has to decide which free agent wide receiver to sign. If the Jets can’t have both, Holmes should be the bigger priority, taking into consideration the legal troubles facing Edwards.

    Underrated: Jerricho Cotchery is the longest-tenured Jets wide receiver, and he was the No. 1 go-to target before anyone else. He might not be the fastest or the best route-runner, but Cotchery has been a very consistent player over the years. He caught for 1,130 yards in 2007, but ever since, the Jets have become a run offense.

    He is not the big-name receiver that Edwards or Holmes is, but he is a good enough receiver in this league to be talked about more. Of course, he didn’t have good stats last season as the team’s third or maybe even fourth receiver, but he has talent. Cotchery might be best known for that absolutely incredible catch against the Browns in overtime while playing injured.

Offensive Line

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    Overrated: The Jets have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. It would be hard to pick out any single player on the Jets' line and call him overrated. The closest bet, however, would be Vladimir Ducasse, who was a second-round pick last season and has not been impressive.

    The Jets had high hopes for Ducasse, who they thought would be a starter on the line and replace Alan Faneca. Ducasse looked to be overwhelmed by the speed and physicality of the NFL, and he ultimately lost his starting place to Matt Slauson, who has done a nice job. Ducasse came into the NFL with some pretty high expectations but has not delivered.

    Underrated: It is hard to single out one player, because they all have done a good job protecting the quarterback and opening holes in the running game. Linemen like Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson, Nick Mangold, Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter had good seasons, but probably the most underrated offensive lineman on the Jets is D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

    Ferguson was the fourth overall pick in 2006, much to the dismay of Jets' fans who wanted Matt Leinart. The pick turned out to be the right one after all. Ferguson has been dominant for years now and is one of the best offensive linemen in the league. But I don’t think he gets enough credit for the job he does on a weekly basis.

Defensive Line

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    Overrated:  Calling Shaun Ellis overrated might surprise a lot of Jets fans, but I’ll tell you why he deserves the label. Yes, Ellis was the best pass rusher on the defensive line, but is that really saying much? The team lacked any firepower up front, and Ellis was the only dangerous lineman on the team. No wonder he stood out.

    He only finished with 4.5 sacks and 36 tackles, yet people think of him as a sack master—only because of the struggles of his teammates to bring down the quarterback. Most of the sacks came from blitzes from the linebacker and defensive backs, a result of the failure of the defensive line to apply pressure against the opposing offense.

    Now I’m not saying Ellis isn’t a good player. I’m just reminding Jets fans that he looked so good last season because all the other linemen could not pressure the quarterback.

    Underrated: Sione Pouha is a name that not many outside of New York know. Pouha had a solid season last year, recording 59 tackles and two sacks. He is a 300-pounder who is a dominating presence up front against the pass and a defender who can clog the hole on run plays.

    Pouha improved considerably last year and was one of the Jets' biggest threats on the defensive line. He might not be Haloti Ngata, but he is a pretty good player on a talented defense.

Linebacker

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    Overrated: Bart Scott was one of the Jets' biggest signings after Rex Ryan took over the team, even though many Jets fans, like myself, wanted Ray Lewis. Scott makes news often because of his loud mouth, trash talk and bulletin board material he provides opponents.

    Scott is important to the team because of his leadership and his presence, but he is not the kind of player that Lewis or Patrick Willis is. He is not a dominant superstar on defense and often disappears. He doesn’t record many sacks, he doesn’t get in on a whole lot of tackles and he doesn’t disrupt defenses like the previous linebackers listed.

    It doesn’t matter, however, because his intangibles make up for all of the things he lacks.

    Underrated: One of the best linebackers in the league, David Harris doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Maybe it is because he is overshadowed by the other members of the “Core Four,”  Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. People call him the forgotten member of the “Core Four,” because although the other three members signed new contracts with the Jets, Harris has yet to ink a new contract.

    The second-round pick from Michigan is consistent week in and week out. He is all over the field for the Jets as a run stopper, a pass rusher and in coverage versus running backs. It is hard to believe Harris has not been named to a Pro Bowl so far in his four-year career.

Defensive Back

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    Overrated: Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis were supposed to be the best lockdown duo at the cornerback position. Cromartie was a Pro Bowler in 2007 and became one of the best corners in the league with San Diego. Coming to New York, he teamed up with the best cornerback in the NFL.

    While he wasn’t a disappointment last season, Cromartie wasn’t a Pro Bowler either. He was good, but he was not a stand-out player. He only had three interceptions and was not used to being thrown at. Playing with Revis, quarterbacks picked on Cromartie a lot more than they did in his days with the Chargers.

    The Jets would love to sign Cromartie to a new deal, but he is not worth anywhere near the money of Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha.

    Underrated: Jim Leonhard is the ultimate underdog. A walk-on at Wisconsin University, Leonhard received no Division 1-A scholarship offers and earned his way on the team.

    He is tied for the school record in interceptions with 21 and was a dangerous return man in the NCAA. Despite all of his collegiate success, the 5’8’’ Leonhard was not drafted. He got his first opportunity with the Buffalo Bills and made a name for himself with the Baltimore Ravens before signing for the Jets.

    Leonhard doesn’t attract much attention throughout the league even though he is one of the Jets' best players. He is a very important piece on the Jets defense, as he is the captain on the defensive side of the ball.

    One way you know he is underrated is when you look at what happened to the Jets' secondary after he suffered a season-ending leg injury. The secondary had trouble in the middle of the field against big tight ends. He is the glue of one of the league’s best defense, but he hasn’t made one Pro Bowl.

Special Teams

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    Overrated: Nick Folk grabbed a lot of attention playing for the league’s most popular team, the Dallas Cowboys. Every fan in the league knew Folk, since he was the kicker for such a well-known team. He was eventually cut from Dallas and joined the Jets last season.

    Many Jets fans will remember him for his clutch kick against the Colts to put the Jets through to the AFC Divisional matchup against the New England Patriots. That one kick was extremely clutch, but he did miss nine field goals the entire regular season and one in the playoffs. At times in the season, some of his kicks weren’t even close.

    The kicker position is an extremely underrated position that often gets looked past. But when the game is on the line and a team needs a field goal late in the game, you better hope you have a good kicker. I’m not sure Folk is that good at the kicker position.

    Underrated: It is not often when a team’s punter can be a secret weapon. Not only did Steve Weatherford kick bombs and tie the record for most punts inside the 20-yard-line last season with 42, but Weatherford is also the perfect punter when it comes to faking the punt.

    Weatherford is known for his fake punt run against the Packers last season, when he called the fake himself and decided to make a run for it on fourth-and-18 on their own 20. He came up half a yard short of the first-down marker, but he showed off his speed, which many punters do not have.

    It is all about field position when you have a good defense like the Jets have. Weatherford helps the defense in that respect and he is also another weapon Ryan has to extend a drive on fourth down. This makes him doubly important to the team.