The Most Overrated and Underrated Player on Every NFL Roster

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor IMay 25, 2016

The Most Overrated and Underrated Player on Every NFL Roster

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    One comes with a chant and the other with much more admiration.

    There’s the O-VER-RA-TED and the unsung player. The NFL has its share of both. In this exercise, one of each has been chosen for all 32 teams.

    An overrated player is typically an underachiever. He could be in the waning years of his playing days and living off his reputation. Or a high draft pick who hasn’t produced to date.

    As for the underrated player, he probably has not earned any postseason accolades and does his job without much fanfare; however, the team is better for his presence.

    This will make for 64 interesting discussions.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Overrated: ILB Kevin Minter

    A second-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, the LSU product continues to earn more playing time. This past season, he started all 16 regular-season games (both at right and left inside linebacker) and a pair of playoff contests. He finished second on the club with 94 tackles, knocked down two passes and forced one fumble.

    However, Pro Football Focus graded 129 performers at Minter’s position, and only 13 were ranked lower. The 25-year-old pro was a liability against both the run and the pass.

    Underrated: LT Jared Veldheer

    The six-year veteran has spent the last two seasons in the desert and has started all 35 games (including three playoffs contests). Veldheer was the NFL’s 11th-ranked tackle in 2015 and earned positive grades in each aspect of his game.

    A first Pro Bowl invitation should be in the near future for the 28-year-old blocker, who spent his first four years in the league with the Oakland Raiders.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Overrated: DE Tyson Jackson

    The third overall pick in the 2009 draft left the Kansas City Chiefs after five seasons and latched on with the Atlanta Falcons in 2014.

    Jackson has earned high grades for his play against the run and has made 28 starts in two seasons with his new club. But he’s only been on the field 51.3 percent of the defensive snaps throughout his career, and his sack total of nine in seven seasons is underwhelming.

    Underrated: RT Ryan Schraeder

    The Falcons have overhauled their offensive front in recent years. This offseason, general manager Thomas Dimitroff added three-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, formerly of the Cleveland Browns.

    But the team's best blocker these days is a former undrafted free agent. Schraeder has played three seasons with the club and has improved his performance each season. In 2015, he graded out as the league’s seventh-best tackle. In terms of the right side, only Mitchell Schwartz (now with the Kansas City Chiefs) ranked higher than the 28-year-old pro from Valdosta State.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Overrated: CB Jimmy Smith

    Overrated or inconsistent? Perhaps it’s a bit of both in regard to Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith.

    The 2011 first-round draft choice comes off a shaky year, finishing closer to the bottom of Pro Football Focus’ rankings at his position than the top.

    Smith was also part of a defense that allowed 30 touchdowns through the air this past year. While the 27-year-old corner did finish with half of the team’s NFL-low six interceptions, he’s also picked off only eight passes in five seasons.

    Underrated: NT Brandon Williams

    Baltimore’s defense is traditionally one of the best in the league. The Ravens have been ranked in the league’s top 10 in fewest yards allowed in 11 of the past 13 seasons. In each of the last two years, this club has allowed the eighth-fewest yards per game in the NFL.

    The only defensive tackles/nose tackles to play the run better than Williams in 2015 were the Rams’ Aaron Donald and the Jets’ Damon Harrison—the latter now a member of the Giants.

    A third-round pick three years ago, Williams has started 30 games the past two seasons, amassing 100 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Buffalo Bills

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    Overrated: ILB Preston Brown

    There were many reasons that the Buffalo Bills slumped from fourth in the league in total defense in 2014 to 19th in yards allowed this past season.

    The play of linebacker Preston Brown was one such reason. He was last on the list of 129 inside linebackers ranked by Pro Football Focus. His overall mark of minus-38.2 included a minus-22.9 grade against the run—second-worst in the league at his position.

    A third-round pick in 2014 from the University of Louisville, the 23-year-old defender finished second on the team with 120 tackles last year. But his performance dipped dramatically after a solid rookie campaign.

     

    Underrated: FS Corey Graham

    The 30-year-old defensive back produces no matter where or what position he plays. In 2015, his second year with the Bills, Graham made the move to free safety and led the club with 127 tackles. He also managed one sack, picked off two passes (returning one for a score) and collected a pair of fumble recoveries.

    Over the last four seasons with both Baltimore and Buffalo, the one-time Pro Bowl special teamer with the Chicago Bears (2011) has racked up 10 interceptions and knocked down 39 passes.

Carolina Panthers

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    Overrated: LT Michael Oher

    The NFL has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for Michael Oher. The Baltimore Ravens’ first-round pick in 2009 has been a member of two different Super Bowl teams the past four seasons, including the 2015 Panthers.

    While the 29-year-old performer brought stability to the left tackle spot and excelled as a pass protector, he graded out as the worst player at his position in the league in terms of run blocking.

    Oher should be getting better as time wears on. Instead, he played for his third team in as many seasons in 2015.

    Underrated: FS Kurt Coleman

    The one-time seventh-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles (2010), Coleman enjoyed a career campaign with the Super Bowl-bound Panthers in his first season with the franchise. The 27-year-old pro started 15 games, finished tied for third in the league with seven interceptions and knocked down nine passes.

    Only Luke Kuechly (118) and Thomas Davis (105) topped Coleman (90) in tackles for Carolina last season. He remains a factor on special teams as well.

Chicago Bears

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    Overrated: LB Christian Jones

    This is a case where the numbers do indeed lie. In his second season, inside linebacker Christian Jones led the Chicago Bears with 86 tackles.

    Pro Football Focus wasn’t nearly as kind to the 25-year-old defender. He finished with a minus-6.9 overall grade, and only eight players at his position in the league were less effective against the run in 2015.

    Is it any wonder that the team inked free agents Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan to help a group that was tied for 22nd in the NFL in rushing defense?

    Underrated: NT Eddie Goldman

    After finishing 30th in the league in total defense two straight years, the Bears made strides on this side of the football in 2015.

    One of the big additions was Goldman, a rookie who made 12 starts at nose tackle and finished fourth on the club with 4.5 sacks. The former Florida State Seminole totaled 22 tackles and earned a positive grade for his play against the run in 2015.

    With all of this year’s new faces on defense, the 22-year-old pro has already gotten somewhat lost in the shuffle.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Overrated: MLB Rey Maualuga

    Has the 29-year-old pro seen better days?

    Maualuga has started a minimum of 12 games in each of his seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He played in 15 contests, made 14 starts and totaled 75 tackles in 2015.

    But it’s interesting to note that it was actually reserve linebacker Vincent Rey (an eight-game starter last year) who led the club with 98 stops in 16 games. That’s 23 more tackles than Maualuga, a 2009 second-round pick from USC.

    Underrated: LG Clint Boling

    He’s been Cincinnati’s primary left guard the past four seasons, starting all 16 games three of the last four years.

    The 2011 fourth-round pick from the University of Georgia excels at run blocking. Following a year of learning as a rookie, Boling has garnered positive grades for his play each of the past four seasons.

Cleveland Browns

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    Overrated: OLB Barkevious Mingo

    Much more was expected from the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft. This past season, he started the first two games of the season but wound up in a reserve role the remainder of the year.

    The Cleveland Browns defender did finish 2015 with 24 tackles, four passes defensed and an interception. But after totaling five sacks in his rookie campaign, Mingo has totaled only two quarterback traps in 31 games the last two seasons.

    It’s no surprise that the franchise did not pick up the fifth-year option on his contract for 2017.

    Underrated: WR Taylor Gabriel

    Is there anyone remaining on this team to be underrated?

    This offseason, speedy Travis Benjamin left for San Diego via free agency, while the club released fellow wideouts Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline.

    In April, the Browns added four wide receivers in the draft. That group is led by first-round pick Corey Coleman.

    With so many new faces, will that elevate 2014 surprise Taylor Gabriel into a bigger role? He comes off a somewhat disappointing season, totaling 28 catches for 241 yards and no scores. A year earlier, he opened a few eyes by averaging 17.3 yards per reception on 36 grabs.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Overrated: CB Morris Claiborne

    You will recall that the Dallas Cowboys moved up in the 2012 NFL draft to take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick.

    It hasn’t worked out for Jerry Jones and Co. After a rookie season that showed some promise, the 5’11”, 192-pound pro missed a combined 18 games the next two years. Injuries and inconsistent play have plagued the 26-year-old in four NFL campaigns.

    In 2015, he started 11 games at right cornerback and finished with 37 tackles, seven passes defensed and zero interceptions. Claiborne has picked off only three passes in 40 regular-season contests.

    Underrated: DT Tyrone Crawford

    A third-round pick out of Boise State in 2012, the 6’4”, 275-pound pro has lined up just about everywhere on the Cowboys’ defensive front. Crawford comes off a year in which he totaled career highs in tackles (35) and sacks (five).

    His versatility may come into play this upcoming fall with defensive ends Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence suspended for the first four games. “They’ve asked me and asked me to work with others—just be aware of the possibilities,” said Crawford to the Star-Telegram’s Charean Williams earlier this month. “But I’ve been out there before…I know I can play anywhere along the line and do the job.”

Denver Broncos

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    Overrated: NT Sylvester Williams

    Denver Broncos general manager John Elway has watched a lot of players who were part of a Super Bowl championship in 2015 flee the organization—be it their choice or not.

    If nose tackle Sylvester Williams doesn’t elevate his game a notch or two, he could be on the list of departures in 2017. The club has already decided not to pick up the fifth-year option on the 2013 first-round selection.

    Now would be a good time for Williams to come up with a big season. He’s been erratic to date, although he came up big in the 2015 postseason. For the defense’s sake, hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.

    Underrated: RB Ronnie Hillman

    It’s worth remembering that it was Hillman who led the Broncos with 863 yards on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns this past season. He totaled 55 more carries and 143 more yards than teammate C.J. Anderson.

    The bottom line is that this is one of the more effective running back tandems in the league. Hillman (who re-signed to a one-year contract this year) comes off the best season of his four-year career and provides Denver with a nice change of pace out of the backfield. He remains a valuable part of an offense that will run the football even more in 2016.

Detroit Lions

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    Overrated: LT Riley Reiff

    It seems like the Detroit Lions have spent too many years trying to find another reliable left tackle.

    Former first-round pick Riley Reiff hasn’t lived up to billing so far. While he’s been an effective run-blocker, Pro Football Focus tells us that his pass-protection skills leave a lot to be desired.

    In April, the team used a first-round pick on Ohio State tackle Taylor Decker. Was this a warning to Reiff, whose one-dimensional game may not be good enough to ensure a spot in the starting lineup?

    Underrated: DE Devin Taylor

    The Lions opted not to re-sign Jason Jones to play left defensive end. That’s because of the emergence of Taylor, who totaled 35 tackles and finished second on the team with seven sacks last year.

    Playing opposite Pro Bowler Ezekiel Ansah has its benefits, but Taylor, a fourth-round pick out of South Carolina in 2013, has slowly but surely emerged into a solid performer.

Green Bay Packers

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    Overrated: OLB Nick Perry

    In 2012, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson loaded up on defense. Perry was a first-round selection and also the first of six straight picks on that side of the ball.

    But he hasn’t been much of a pass-rushing factor, as was the expectation. A total of 46 regular-season games have added up to 12.5 sacks and only five forced fumbles.

    Underrated: CB/PR Micah Hyde

    Be it on special teams or defense, he’s remained somewhat hidden when it comes to publicity. Hyde totaled 55 tackles, six passes defensed, three interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries last year. He was responsible for five of Green Bay’s 22 takeaways in 2015.

    That’s after a 2014 showing in which he amassed 59 stops and a pair of interceptions for Dom Capers’ defense. Hyde also returned a pair of punts for touchdowns that season.

Houston Texans

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    Overrated: CB Kareem Jackson

    The Houston Texans not only ranked third in the league in total defense, but only the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks allowed fewer yards through the air in 2015.

    But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a weak spot in the secondary. Jackson missed some time last season, and his career has been erratic. The 2010 first-round pick has played six years, and in four of those he earned negative marks from Pro Football Focus.

    While some may not call Jackson overrated, he’s been an enigma.

    Underrated: OLB John Simon

    On a defense that is becoming crowded with pass-rushers, Simon has staked his claim. He finished 2015 with five sacks, third on the team behind J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus and just ahead of Jadeveon Clowney. He also totaled 53 tackles and one fumble recovery in Romeo Crennel’s defense.

    It could be an interesting battle in training camp for the right outside linebacker spot between Clowney and Simon—with the Texans being the obvious beneficiaries.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Overrated: ILB D’Qwell Jackson

    Somewhere out there a few people might suggest that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck should occupy this spot. Despite his accomplishments, he’s also been turnover-prone during his brief career.

    There’s no reason to kick a man who was down for nine games in 2015. Instead, the attention turns to inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. The 32-year-old veteran led the team with 150 tackles this past season; however, he’s near the bottom of Pro Football Focus’ grading for players at his position (tied for 111 out of 129).

    It’s safe to say the Colts are going to miss free-agent defector Jerrell Freeman (Chicago Bears) this season.

    Underrated: OL Jack Mewhort

    You hear a lot of criticism of the Colts offensive line, and the unit has struggled during the Andrew Luck Era.

    In April, general manager Ryan Grigson used four of the team’s eight draft picks on offensive linemen. He won’t have to worry about finding a replacement for Mewhort, though. In just two seasons, he’s emerged as the team’s best blocker and has proved it at both left guard and right tackle.

    The 24-year-old former Ohio State Buckeye was solid as a rookie and excelled this past season based on the numbers from Pro Football Focus.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Overrated: CB Dwayne Gratz

    Wonder why the Jacksonville Jaguars continue to seek help at the cornerback position?

    This offseason, the team signed Prince Amukamara from the New York Giants and used the fifth overall pick on Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey.

    As a rookie, Gratz opened some eyes and looked to be a solid prospect. The 2013 third-round pick from the University of Connecticut earned positive grades for his play, but he’s been a liability in pass coverage two straight years.

    Underrated: OLB Telvin Smith

    Last year, Smith finished second on the team with 128 tackles. He also totaled 2.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, a pair of forced fumbles and an interception that he returned for a touchdown.

    Defense has been a bit of a four-letter word in Jacksonville, but don’t blame Smith. As a rookie, he was also the Jaguars’ second-leading tackler and made his share of key plays.

    Not bad for a fifth-round draft choice and the 144th player selected in the draft two years ago.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Overrated: T Eric Fisher

    The Kansas City Chiefs overcame a horrible 1-5 start in 2015 to post an 11-5 mark and reach the playoffs.

    But general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid felt this club needed to get better, especially on the offensive line. Gone are guards Ben Grubbs, Jeff Allen and Paul Fanaika, as well as tackle Donald Stephenson. In is highly regarded right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

    Eric Fisher has looked anything but the part of a first overall pick, which was the case in 2013. He has made steady strides since his rookie campaign, but he’s still receiving below-average grades for his play.

    Underrated: NT Jaye Howard

    The one-time Seattle Seahawk has found a home in Kansas City. Howard has played in every game with the Chiefs the past two seasons. He totaled 57 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries in 2015.

    In 2014, he made 36 stops for the club and became a part of the defensive line rotation. He combines with Dontari Poe at nose tackle to give opponents a lot to think about.

Los Angeles Rams

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    Overrated: WR/KR Tavon Austin

    Don’t be fooled by the fact that the eighth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft tied for the team lead with 10 touchdowns this past season.

    In three seasons with the franchise, Austin has appeared in 44 games and totaled 123 receptions for 1,133 yards and nine scores. That adds up to a disappointing 9.2 yards per catch for the speedster.

    Yes, the 25-year-old performer is a multipurpose threat who scored three different ways in 2015. But much more was and is still expected from the top-10 selection.

    Underrated: SS T.J. McDonald

    While he didn’t put up the numbers that he managed the previous season, the 2013 third-round pick is one of the Rams’ better defenders on a unit that has changed dramatically from a year ago.

    After totaling 105 tackles in 2014, McDonald was limited to 11 games and made 63 stops. He’s an unsung member of a defense that still has its share of talent.

Miami Dolphins

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    Overrated: DT Earl Mitchell

    The Miami Dolphins come off another disappointing year and still haven’t posted a winning season since winning the AFC East in 2008.

    Each offseason, the team makes plenty of changes. Perhaps it’s time to say goodbye to disappointing defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who has done nothing to improve the porous run defense of recent seasons. Only four teams gave up more yards on the ground than Miami did in 2015.

    Don’t be surprised if he’s supplanted in the starting lineup by free-agent pickup Jason Jones.

    Underrated: FS Isa Abdul-Quddus

    Speaking of additions, unsung safety Isa Abdul-Quddus has taken his talents to South Florida. A former member of the Detroit Lions secondary, he will make a solid impression in his first season with his new club.

    The former undrafted free agent saw his playing time increase dramatically a year ago. His run-stopping prowess is a major plus for a Miami defense that can use all the help it can get.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Overrated: LT Matt Kalil

    In four seasons, 26-year-old Matt Kalil has started every game at left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings.

    After earning Pro Bowl honors as a rookie, the 6’6”, 306-pound performer has been under fire ever since. In 2015, Kalil earned a negative grade for his play (minus-10.6, including playoffs) for the third straight season.

    The fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft had his issues down the stretch this past year, especially when it came to protecting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

    Underrated: DT Tom Johnson

    Although the former New Orleans Saints defender had his issues against the run in 2015, Johnson continued to be a steady threat as a pass-rushing threat.

    One year after finishing second on the team with 6.5 sacks, Johnson ranked third with 5.5 quarterback traps. He also played in all 16 games for the second straight year.

New England Patriots

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    Overrated: WR Aaron Dobson

    A second-round pick in 2013 from Marshall, the 6’3”, 210-pound specimen started nine games for the New England Patriots that year. Dobson totaled 37 receptions, good for 510 yards and four touchdowns.

    He hasn’t come close to matching that output since, with injuries playing a part in the decline. A dozen outings have added up to 16 catches for 179 yards and zero scores.

    Underrated: DE Rob Ninkovich

    It’s been quite a seven-year run in Foxborough for the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins product. Ninkovich has been unspectacular but certainly steady. He’s started every game for the Pats the last five years, racking up a minimum of 6.5 sacks each season.

    His resume with New England includes 42 sacks, nine forced fumbles and 19 takeaways (14 fumble recoveries, five interceptions). Now he’s the veteran on a defensive front that was overhauled this offseason.

New Orleans Saints

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    Overrated: FS Jairus Byrd

    Safety Jairus Byrd was a three-time Pro Bowler in his five seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

    He has yet to show that form with the New Orleans Saints. Injuries have played a part in his lack of quality play. But the ball-hawking safety has forced only two turnovers in as many seasons (15 games) in the Big Easy.

    During his stay with the Bills, Byrd totaled an impressive 27 takeaways. Two years ago, he signed a six-year, $54 million contract to join the Saints. It’s a deal that continues to make the club wince.

    Underrated: CB Delvin Breaux

    It’s tough to find a bright spot on a defensive unit that was ranked next-to-last in the league in total defense while surrendering an NFL-record 45 touchdown passes in a single season.

    But Breaux managed to escape 2015 unscathed and was a top-10 performer in the league at his position in terms of pass coverage. He led the Saints with three interceptions and 19 passes defensed.

New York Giants

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    Overrated: RB Andre Williams

    A fourth-round selection in 2014, running back Andre Williams looked like he may be the answer to the New York Giants’ recent running woes. But the 23-year-old pro has been less than scintillating to date.

    While the former Boston College product has appeared in all 32 games in his brief career, it’s added up to just 978 yards on the ground and a disappointing 3.2 yards per carry. Williams has also been a non-factor in the passing game, totaling only 19 catches for 137 yards.

    Underrated: DT Damon Harrison

    Just because he received significant bucks from his new employer this offseason doesn’t mean he’s gotten his just recognition. On a New York Jets defensive front that included Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and 2015 first-round pick Leonard Williams, Harrison got lost in the shuffle.

    Opposing blockers would hardly call the 27-year-old underrated. He comes off a 2015 campaign in which he earned positive grades from Pro Football Focus and was again one of the league’s premier run-stoppers.

New York Jets

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    Overrated: TE Jace Amaro

    Fair or unfair? Amaro missed all of last season while recovering from shoulder surgery. This followed a fairly productive but somewhat deceptive showing by the rookie in 2014.

    The New York Jets made the former Texas Tech product the 49th overall pick two years ago. He finished his debut campaign playing in 14 games (four starts) and totaling 38 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns, but his play was erratic.

    Prior to April’s draft, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini felt that Amaro was entering a critical season for the franchise. To date, he’s looked like anything but a second-round selection.

    Underrated: LG James Carpenter

    It’s amazing what a little continuity and confidence will do for a player.

    Last season, his first with the Jets, Carpenter was a 16-game starter for the first time in his five-year career. The 27-year-old former first-round pick with the Seattle Seahawks was an unsung star for his new team this past season. He earned a high grade from Pro Football Focus (plus-9.9) after four subpar years in the Pacific Northwest.

Oakland Raiders

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    Overrated: TE Mychal Rivera

    Thought to be the next hot thing in terms of Oakland Raiders tight ends, Mychal Rivera has cooled off quickly.

    The sixth-round pick in 2013 comes off a season in which he averaged just 8.8 yards per catch on 32 receptions while not making a start in 16 contests. In his first two NFL campaigns, the 25-year-old former University of Tennessee product pulled down 96 balls for 941 yards and eight touchdowns.

    Overrated or outplayed? These days, the Raiders’ preference at tight end is Clive Walford.

    Underrated: CB David Amerson

    In 2015, he was on the list as the Washington Redskins' most overrated player. Now Amerson has become an unsung hero for the Silver and Black.

    This past season, he finished sixth on the team with 58 tackles, totaled four interceptions (returning one for a score) and knocked down 25 passes. Things will only get better with new teammates such as cornerback Sean Smith and free safety Reggie Nelson.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Overrated: DE Brandon Graham

    Brandon Graham was thought to be a pass-rushing terror when the Philadelphia Eagles made him the 13th overall pick in 2010.

    This past season, the former University of Michigan standout set career highs for starts (10) and sacks (6.5). But in six years he’s dropped opposing quarterbacks 23.5 times. Perhaps the right home still hasn’t been found for the 6’1”, 263-pound pro, who has spent his career at both defensive end and outside linebacker.

    The arrival of new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz may be a blessing for the 28-year-old performer.

    Underrated: DT Bennie Logan

    One of the more underappreciated members of the Eagles defense may be getting ready to blossom.

    Again, with Schwartz now calling the shots in the City of Brotherly Love, Logan will become an even bigger factor this season. He was the team’s seventh-leading tackler this past season with 55 stops.

    Yes, these Birds finished dead last in the NFL in rushing defense in 2015. But don’t blame this 26-year-old, who was Pro Football Focus’ 11th-ranked defensive tackle against the run.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Overrated: RT Marcus Gilbert

    The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line has emerged as a team strength in recent years. Performers such as center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro have stood out the last few seasons.

    Right tackle Marcus Gilbert has been serviceable but hasn’t lived up to being a second-round draft choice, which was the case in 2011. He received a high grade for his play in 2015, but the season was again marked by inconsistency. Plus, he struggled in the playoffs against the Cincinnati and Denver defenses.

    Underrated: DE Stephon Tuitt

    Only two teams in the league totaled more sacks than the Steelers in 2015. Usually, the heat comes from the outside linebackers, but Tuitt finished second on the club with 6.5 sacks, just behind fellow defensive end Cameron Heyward (seven).

    The second-year pro also totaled 55 tackles and one interception. The 23-year-old made 14 starts in his second season and bears watching.

San Diego Chargers

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    Overrated: DT Corey Liuget

    The 18th overall pick in the 2011 draft, defensive end Corey Liuget was limited to just 11 games last season. The former University of Illinois product totaled only three sacks for the San Diego Chargers’ 20th-ranked defense.

    After totaling seven sacks in his second season with the club (2012), his production in this department steadily declined in this department despite playing all 16 games each of the next two years. An erratic performer at best, perhaps Liuget will get a boost from the arrival of rookie defensive end Joey Bosa.

    Underrated: LT King Dunlap

    It was a rough year for the 30-year-old pro. An early-season concussion followed by an ankle injury caused him to miss nine games this past season.

    As for his health? Dunlap spoke to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune in April: "I’m good. As far as I’m concerned, if I have another one, that’s not the end…I appreciate people being concerned, but I’m fine. I feel great. The ankle is good, head is good. Concussions, they happen. We play a contact sport. I’m ready to roll. Missing as many games as I did last year, I’m ready to roll."

    A former seventh-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, Dunlap was exceptional in his first two seasons with the Bolts before last season’s issues. Look for a bounce-back year from the seven-year pro.

San Francisco 49ers

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    San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock participates in May's OTAs.
    San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock participates in May's OTAs.Associated Press

    Overrated: DT Glenn Dorsey

    Some may recall that defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey was the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Be it with his original team or the San Francisco 49ers, he’s done little to distinguish himself to date despite lining up in various spots on the defensive front. Last year, he was limited to 10 games (seven starts) before suffering a torn ACL in late November. As for his status?

    “I’m never going to give a definitive because you don’t know,” said general manager Trent Baalke to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle in April. “You could always have a setback, but right now he’s made great progress. Looks good.”

    Prior to his injury, Dorsey earned a minus-5.3 grade for his play last season. A year earlier, he was one of the league’s better run-stoppers at his position—arguably his best showing in what has been a disappointing run.

    Underrated: CB Tramaine Brock

    After the team’s worst showing since finishing 5-11 in 2007, it may be difficult to find an underappreciated performer with the Niners.

    Brock was a 15-game starter for a team that ranked 27th in the league in pass defense. He finished with 53 tackles and three interceptions and led the club with 11 passes defensed. He received above-average grades for his overall play and his pass-coverage skills.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Overrated: RB Christine Michael

    When 2015 was all said and done, Christine Michael spent the season with both the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks. And the 25-year-old pro hasn’t done much to date regardless of the venue.

    Injuries have played a part in the disappointment. Last offseason, the Seahawks dealt Michael to Dallas, but he’s back with the organization that made him a second-round pick in 2013.

    A total of 22 regular-season games have added up to 525 yards and zero touchdowns. Enough said.

    Underrated: WR Doug Baldwin

    He was one of the hottest pass-catchers in the league during the second half of last season. He also remains somewhat underpublicized.

    Baldwin finished 2015 with 78 catches for 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns—the latter tied for the most in the league. In the team’s final six contests, Baldwin reached the end zone 11 times.

    The former Stanford University product has caught 50 or more passes in four of his five seasons. He’s also hauled in 39 catches for 518 yards and four touchdowns in 10 postseason games.           

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Overrated: G J.R. Sweezy

    Last offseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers added a pair of starters to the offensive line via the second round of the draft. The selections of left tackle Donovan Smith (16 starts) and right guard Ali Marpet (13 starts) gave the team two rookies who earned immediate on-the-job training.

    That makes the decision to add free-agent guard J.R. Sweezy an odd one. Yes, the club needed to fill the void left by the retirement of Logan Mankins. But the former Seattle Seahawks performer earned negative grades in each of his four seasons with his previous club. Pro Football Focus graded 145 guards this past season, and Sweezy finished at No. 131 on the list. That’s a discouraging sign.

    Underrated: LT Demar Dotson

    From a questionable signing to the team’s most reliable blocker. Dotson missed most of last season with a knee problem, but the 30-year-old pro returned to play in six contests and started three of the club’s final five games.

    One of the game’s best run-blockers at his position, the 6’9”, 315-pound performer has earned positive grades from Pro Football Focus in each of the past five seasons.

Tennessee Titans

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Overrated: WR Kendall Wright

    The 20th overall selection in the 2012 draft has yet to set the NFL on fire. The numbers are rather ordinary when it comes to Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright—who was limited to just 10 games in 2015.

    In four seasons, he’s totaled just 251 receptions for 2,828 yards and 15 scores. Wright has averaged only 11.3 yards per catch during his brief career, and his longest pass play in 55 games is only 52 yards.

    Underwhelming, to say the least.

    Underrated: SS Da’Norris Searcy

    In his first season in Nashville, the former Buffalo Bills defender was a bright spot for a club that finished 12th in the NFL in fewest yards allowed. The previous year, only five teams in the league were ranked lower in total defense.

    Searcy was one of the higher-graded safeties in the league last year. He ranked sixth on the Titans with 55 tackles, knocked down four passes and hauled in one interception. He’s an ideal player in Dick LeBeau’s system.

Washington Redskins

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Overrated: ILB Perry Riley

    Only four teams in the league allowed more total yards than the Washington Redskins in 2015. This despite the fact that the club went on to win the NFC East.

    Washington general manager Scot McCloughan was busy in free agency trying to fix the defense. He allowed inside linebacker Keenan Robinson to walk via free agency, and it will be interesting to see what the call is this summer on Perry Riley.

    The fourth-round pick in 2010 has struggled mightily the last three seasons and has proved to be a liability against the run. He made nine starts this past season and earned a minus-14.5 grade for his play from Pro Football Focus.

    Underrated: SS David Bruton

    Even though he’s yet to play a down for his new employer, you can expect good things from the 28-year-old defender. Bruton spent the first seven years of his career with the Denver Broncos before signing with the Redskins this offseason.

    While he made only eight starts during his career in Denver, the former Golden Domer could equal or surpass that figure this upcoming season. He’ll add veteran savvy to a team that allowed the most points (379) of any of the 12 playoff participants in 2015.

    All free-agent information and player signings/transactions are courtesy of Spotrac. Depth chart information comes via Ourlads. Unless otherwise noted, all player and team statistics come from Pro Football Reference and ESPN.com.

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