NFL Rosters: Mark Sanchez and the Most Overrated Player at Every Position
Every team in the NFL has a player who fans and analysts think is better than they really are, thus making them overrated.
In some cases, the players are overrated because, once great, they have begun to hit the downsides of their careers and have slipped into the limbo that is mediocrity.
For some, potential drives their popularity and fuels the fire for their fans. Potential is a great thing to have, but when the results aren't there, the potential becomes disappointment.
For still others, the large media markets in which they play are the driving force behind any particular player becoming overrated.
Sometimes, it's a combination of all of the above reasons.
Here are, in my opinion, the most overrated players at each position in the NFL.
(This article is a followup to my earlier article listing the most underrated players).
Quarterback: Mark Sanchez, New York Jets/ Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
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Mark Sanchez has managed to thrive in New York for reasons unknown.
In a city known for vilifying players who don't meet expectations, Sanchez has managed to continue living on his potential.
National media markets report on Sanchez more than any other quarterback taken in the 2009 NFL Draft, by far.
What makes him overrated are the statistics. Only in New York does a player who has yet to complete more than 55 percent of his passes and has yet to have a quarterback rating of over 76 become the hottest quarterback in the league not named Brady, Rodgers, Vick or Brees.
Some would argue that Sanchez's team has reached the AFC Championship Game every year he has been the quarterback, thus justifying the media attention. What they leave out is the fact that the New York Jets defense was the driving force behind the Jets reaching that lofty plateau.
Perhaps, Sanchez will reach his potential this season, justifying the attention he receives. Maybe he won't.
I feel justified however, because Bradford has, to this point, had one average season. Not great, not even good. Just average.
The argument for Bradford is that he was a rookie. Rookie quarterbacks don't have average seasons. They have terrible seasons. They make fans moan and sigh and say "We drafted THAT guy?!"
But it's time for a reality check for all Rams fans: Bradford hasn't proven anything yet! He had one average season, and the national media is anointing him the next great quarterback. He gets more attention than the statistics he put up justify, and clearly, his potential is the driving force behind that.
Make no mistake, I've been guilty of it myself. I too have said that Bradford may be the next great gunslinger. On the other hand, he could turn out to be the next Rick Mirer.
Let the kid prove himself!
Tim Tebow. Seriously, what has this guy done in the NFL to get the support that he has? I haven't seen him do anything of any significance.
Halfback: Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns
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Stats: 1,574 yards, 20 total touchdowns.
Pretty good numbers, right? A player with numbers like those would be considered a great player, right? How about if that was spread out over three years? Not so great, right?
Peyton Hillis went from a no-name former fullback to the cover of Madden 12 almost overnight. How did that happen?
For some reasons, 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns was good enough for Hillis to be the featured athlete on the cover of Madden. Color me confused.
Fullback: Mike Karney, Free Agent (formerly of the St. Louis Rams)
Mike Karney joined the Rams in 2009 after being cut by the New Orleans Saints.
He was expected to give the Rams their first true lead blocker for Steven Jackson since Madison Hedgecock was released in 2007 (a move that still puzzles Rams fans, especially considering Jackson's stellar 2006 campaign).
He never really improved the Rams as a team and wasn't nearly as effective as Hedgecock. Jackson's numbers didn't improve by much, and he was released by the Rams in 2011.
He is currently a free agent.
Tight End: Jeremy Shockey, Carolina Panthers
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Jeremy Shockey is a case of a player whose media market made him bigger than he was, which inevitably led to him making this list. His age is also a factor, as his numbers have declined each year since leaving New York for New Orleans.
The fans haven't realized this however, as many still believe he is one of the best tight ends in football. Hard to believe for a guy who hasn't caught more than three touchdowns since 2006.
Maybe he'll experience a career revival as Cam Newton's go-to target in 2011.
Wide Receiver: Braylon Edwards, San Francisco 49ers
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For a player who seemingly drops every pass thrown his way in clutch situations, Edwards sure gets a lot of press. Some people even went so far as to say he was one of the best available free agents this offseason.
When your team is willing to drop you for a guy who has been out of football for two years, that's a pretty good sign that you don't deserve the attention you're getting.
San Francisco picked Edwards up on the cheap, mostly because nobody else was trying desperately to sign him. We'll see what his numbers look like with Alex Smith throwing him the ball.
Guard: Jacob Bell, St. Louis Rams
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In 2008, the St, Louis Rams signed guard Jacob Bell to a six-year, $36 million contract.
Not many offensive linemen get a lot of attention, but that contract, when taken into context considering Bell's play, makes him extremely overrated. He just hasn't played well enough to justify the money he's making.
He restructured his contract this offseason, rather than being cut outright. That was probably a wise choice after his overall poor play last season.
Offensive Tackle: Levi Brown, Arizona Cardinals
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Levi Brown is a member of one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. He also happens to be one of the reasons the Cardinals line is so poor.
In 2007, Levi Brown was selected with the fifth overall pick in the draft. Players selected after him include Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis and Darryl Revis.
Joe Staley was another tackle on the board when the Cardinals selected, and he is infinitely better than Brown.
Can any football fan honestly say the Cardinals wouldn't be better off with one of those players?
Center: Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis Colts
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Why is it then that Jeff Saturday continually makes the Pro-Bowl and is the only center that gets talked about incessantly by the media and fans?
It just doesn't add up.
Defensive End: Ray Edwards, Atlanta Falcons
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The Atlanta Falcons' biggest addition during the free-agent frenzy that followed the lockout, Edwards is a player who is now ridiculously overpaid. The contract doesn't sound that bad, $30 million over five years, especially when Edwards has 16.5 sacks over the last two years.
If you dig a little deeper, however, you realize that those numbers are incredibly pedestrian.
Edwards had the most help on the defensive line out of any defensive player in the league in Minnesota, playing on the same line as the Williams Wall and Jared Allen, arguably one of the best defensive ends in the NFL. With those three players constantly getting double-teamed, Edwards should have been able to put up more than 8.5 sacks in one of his seasons with the Vikings.
What really makes him overrated are the Falcons' fans. They have expectations for him that are unrealistic. We'll have to see how that plays out.
Defensive Tackle: Albert Haynesworth, New England Patriots
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Albert Haynesworth has had a rather unusual career so far.
His play, coupled with the amount of money he was being paid, were to blame.
Suddenly, he gets traded to the Patriots for a song, and the Patriots are vaulted into the discussion as possible Super Bowl winners. Not unusual, except that the Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco trades were the driving force behind that leap.
Linebacker: Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears
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Brian Urlacher has NEVER lead the NFL in tackles, interceptions, forced fumbles or sacks. He's never been the leader of any category in any given season.
Why is it that he is always in the discussion of best linebackers in the NFL? It's not really deserved and seems to be a lot of hype.
He may have been the least deserving NFL Defensive Player of the Year in history.
Cornerback: DeAngelo Hall, Washington Redskins
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DeAngelo Hall is living proof that just being fast isn't enough to make you a great NFL cornerback.
Hall was at one point the fastest player in the NFL, but as a cornerback, he was vastly overrated. With the Falcons, he received accolades for the flashy plays and the interceptions, but when it came down to it, he gave up as many big plays as he made, if not more.
While with the Raiders, he was just plain bad, but the Redskins rewarded him with a monster contract.
Now, he is just overrated. He's not good, but he's not horrible either. There are starting corners in the NFL who are worse, but there are also many who are better.
Safety: Bob Sanders, San Diego Chargers
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Make no mistake, when Bob Sanders is on the field, he's one of the better safeties in the NFL.
The problem is, he is never able to stay on the field. He's always injured, and despite this, his fans still adamantly insist that he is a top five safety in the NFL.
He's not. Until he's able to stay on the field for more than three games every season, he's going to remain overrated.
Kicker/Punter: Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
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Anytime a kicker is selected in the first round, they immediately establish themselves as one of the most overrated players in the NFL.
Janikowski was selected with the 17th overall pick by the Oakland Raiders, a team he remains with to this day.
He is considered to have the strongest leg in the NFL, even attempting a 76-yard field goal into heavy wind at one point in time. It is still considered the longest field goal attempt in NFL history.
What really makes Janikowski overrated is his accuracy, or lack thereof, and the amount of money he is paid. He has never once eclipsed the 90 percent accuracy mark, and he is the highest paid placekicker in NFL history.