NFL Players Who Won't Live Up to the Hype in 2019

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJune 12, 2019

NFL Players Who Won't Live Up to the Hype in 2019

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    Associated Press

    It's hype season in the NFL, but not all hype comes to fruition. 

    Some of these players are coming off monster seasons but are due to regress. Others have been nearly devoured by expectations after signing OMG-level contracts. Some are high draft picks who are naturally and unfairly expected by many to hit cruising speed on takeoff. Many have joined new teams and are being viewed as potential saviors. 

    In other words, these 12 players are prime recipients of offseason hype. 

    Here's why all of these guys will fail to live up to hoopla in 2019.


Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    Well, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes just won the MVP award at the age of 23. Dude has 17 career starts under his belt, but as a sophomore in 2018, he threw a league-high 50 touchdown passes with just 12 interceptions while routinely performing magic acts for a division-winning team. He also posted the eighth-highest single-season passer rating in NFL history, and he's the odds-on favorite to take home MVP honors again this year.


    Why he'll fall short 

    There's been plenty of chatter about regression for Mahomes, who took the league by storm in his first year as a starter but won't be able to surprise opposing defenses in 2019.

    Throw in that he no longer has Kareem Hunt and might no longer have Tyreek Hill, and it's hard to imagine that Mahomes will come close to 2018-caliber numbers. 

    Hill was suspended indefinitely by the Chiefs in April after audio was released of his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, asking why their three-year-old son said Hill broke his arm. The criminal investigation is no longer active, but Hill may face further discipline from the league or the team.

    That depleted support doesn't mean Mahomes won't excel, because the man is a football artist. But don't be surprised if he hits somewhat of a delayed sophomore slump with less to work with and a target on his back this fall. 

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    The Arizona Cardinals kicked second-year top-10 pick Josh Rosen to the curb and used the No. 1 overall selection on Kyler Murray, who was the focal point of the predraft process throughout the country.

    The guy is already one of the most buzzed-about players in the league, and his performance has already been praised by veterans Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, according to the Cardinals' official website (h/t Jason Owens of Yahoo Sports).


    Why he'll fall short 

    Murray might have a higher ceiling than predecessor Rosen. But the fact remains that Rosen was left high and dry by a poor offensive line last season, and said unit doesn't look any better on paper this year.

    New head coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense might enable the mobile Murray to avoid pressure to more of an extent than Rosen, who was sacked 45 times last year, but we're also talking about a dude who has just one college season as a starter under his belt. 

    As colleague Brent Sobleski said on the Pro Football Fire podcast this week, "Anything less than Offensive Rookie of the Year is a disappointment." And that could be problematic for a relatively raw player who might not be well-supported in Year 1.

Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    Phillip Lindsay fell just short of a record for an undrafted rookie with 1,037 rushing yards in a season with 10 total touchdowns, which is why the Denver Broncos running back will likely be an early-round pick in fantasy football drafts this summer. 


    Why he'll fall short 

    The element of surprise is gone for a player who sneaked up on the league in 2018 but will have a target on his back in 2019. It's possible his rookie success was a fluke and that he was undrafted for a reason.

    Lindsay has also been limited in his first full offseason after undergoing wrist surgery, and the Broncos are probably going to want to give more opportunities to 2018 third-round pick Royce Freeman in the backfield. In other words, check your expectations ahead of the Colorado product's sophomore campaign.  

New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    After making the astonishing decision to sit out an entire season in his prime, running back Le'Veon Bell cashed in with a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the New York Jets. Any back making eight figures in this day and age is basically viewed as a game-changer, and a Jets team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2010 is looking for a savior. 


    Why he'll fall short 

    Running backs aren't saviors these days. Without Todd Gurley, the league's highest-paid and most productive running back, the Los Angeles Rams offense hardly missed a beat late last season. A first-team All-Pro back hasn't won the Super Bowl this century, and only two of this century's 19 Super Bowl-winning teams (Baltimore and Seattle) even had a Pro Bowl back on their rosters.

    Plus, Bell might be running out of gas. Even before he gave up a season in his prime, the three-time Pro Bowler saw his yards-per-attempt average drop from 4.9 to 4.0 between 2016 and 2017, and he had a league-high 321 carries in his last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    How much tread is left on his tires at age 27? Possibly not enough to be a game-changer in New York, where he won't have the support of future Hall of Famers Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown

    Speaking of Brown...

Oakland Raiders WR Antonio Brown

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    Bell isn't the only former Steeler being viewed as a potential savior in a new city. That's also the case with Brown, who signed a new three-year, $50.1 million contract when Pittsburgh traded him to the Oakland Raiders in March.

    Now the team will be counting on the most accomplished active receiver in the NFL to become the centerpiece of head coach Jon Gruden's offense—a unit that ranked 28th in points per game last year. 


    Why he'll fall short 

    Brown is turning 31 in July, and he's already shown slight signs of decline. His yards-per-catch rate dropped from 15.2 to 12.5 last season, while his average yards per game plummeted from 109.5 to 86.5. And now he's going from Big Ben to Derek Carr, who can be deadly accurate but isn't a missile launcher. His career yards-per-attempt average of 6.7 ranks 30th among 32 qualified quarterbacks dating back to 2014.

    In that same category, Roethlisberger ranks third. So it could be tough for Brown to record a seventh consecutive 100-plus-catch, 1,200-plus-yard, eight-plus-touchdown season in 2019. 

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr.

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    At Cleveland Browns minicamp last week, NFL Network dedicated a camera solely to Odell Beckham Jr. on the practice field. That's what happens when one of the league's highest-profile players joins the most hyped team. Plus, Beckham is an absolute stud. He wasn't consistently healthy the last couple of years, but at 26, he already has three 1,300-yard, double-digit-touchdown campaigns under his belt. 


    Why he'll fall short 

    He might be joining a better offense in Cleveland than the one he had with the New York Giants, but that means the competition for catches will be much more intense. Quarterback Baker Mayfield already has established chemistry with Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins, while slot star Jarvis Landry has caught more passes in his first five seasons than any other player in NFL history.

    Don't be surprised if part of Beckham's impact comes from the fact that he'll hog attention from defenses, freeing up teammates to make more receptions and gain more yards. In other words, those expecting another 1,300-plus-yard season from OBJ could be let down. 

Seattle Seahawks WR DK Metcalf

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    Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    This picture is all you really need. DK Metcalf might not have been a first-round pick, but the new Seattle Seahawks wide receiver was one of the most buzzed-about players of the NFL draft season. And his combine performance was as unforgettable as one can be. Now he joins a Seahawks team that is trying to fill the void left by retired wideout Doug Baldwin. 


    Why he'll fall short 

    You need more than awesome muscles to be a good professional football player, and at the combine, Metcalf was as terrible in the short shuttle and the three-cone drill as he was fantastic in the 40-yard dash, the broad jump and the vertical jump. 

    And while he might still be a physical marvel, he isn't fully developed as a receiver after catching a mere 67 passes in three years at Ole Miss. He'll likely require time to adjust to NFL defenses, and in the meantime, look for veterans Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown and David Moore to get most of the work at receiver in Seattle. 

Detroit Lions TE T. J. Hockenson

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    You have to be special in order to be drafted in the top 10 at the tight end position, and that was the case with new Detroit Lions offensive weapon T.J. Hockenson. The No. 8 overall selection is just the third tight end this century to be drafted that high, and there's already been talk about the Iowa product making a strong first impression in a potential pursuit of the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.


    Why he'll fall short 

    A tight end has never won Offensive Rookie of the Year, and even highly drafted players at that position typically experience growing pains early on.

    It's not an easy transition to the NFL, which is something these recent high picks can attest to: Vernon Davis (just 20 catches as a rookie in 2006); Brandon Pettigrew (just 30 catches as a rookie in 2009); Eric Ebron (just one touchdown as a rookie in 2014); Tyler Eifert (just two touchdowns in his first two seasons); and O.J. Howard (just 26 catches as a rookie in 2017). 

    Throw in that Hockenson caught just 73 passes and scored a mere nine touchdowns in two college seasons, and you realize the 21-year-old will need time in what many expect to be a run-first offense anyway.

Oakland Raiders OT Trent Brown

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    Coming off a Super Bowl season with the New England Patriots, Trent Brown struck gold on the free-agent market. The U-Haul-sized offensive tackle (6'8", 380 lbs) became the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history with a four-year, $66 million deal in Oakland, where he's expected to become a perennial Pro Bowler at the right tackle position. 


    Why he'll fall short 

    During his four-year career, he's never been to a Pro Bowl, and he entered free agency as one of the most overrated players on the market. He performed well for much of New England's playoff run, but he benefited greatly from Tom Brady's quick release as well as the presence of heralded offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. And it's not as though he was especially good for much of the year.

    "He was average by pretty much all of our metrics," Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus wrote. "He earned a 66.9 overall grade and ranked 30th out of 57 qualifying tackles in pass-blocking efficiency. The latter of which is undoubtedly helped by Tom Brady having the fifth-fastest average time to throw in the NFL."

New York Jets LB C.J. Mosley

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    Mark Brown/Getty Images

    Genesis of the hype

    C.J. Mosley's new five-year, $85 million contract with the Jets makes him the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in the NFL, and he's already been the subject of plenty of positive press in his first offseason in New York.


    Why he'll fall short 

    While the soon-to-be 27-year-old is a four-time Pro Bowler who should continue to experience success as his prime approaches, it's just too hard for a non-edge linebacker to consistently make a significant impression on games. Mosley had one interception, half a sack and zero forced fumbles last season with the Baltimore Ravens.

    While his impact as a leader and a run defender isn't totally quantifiable, it'll be hard for Mosley to justify that massive salary without putting up big numbers. 

San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    The same week Mosley signed his contract with the Jets ($17 million per year), the San Francisco 49ers made a similar splash by signing another off-ball linebacker, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Kwon Alexander. And the hype is already there for the soon-to-be 25-year-old, who became the fourth-highest-paid player on the team with his monster deal worth $13.5 million per season.


    Why he'll fall short 

    Unlike Mosley, Alexander isn't a perennial Pro Bowler. He's been to one Pro Bowl in four seasons. And unlike Mosley, Alexander isn't healthy. He's recovering from a torn ACL, so it might be difficult for him to make a major impact in the first year of his new contract. 

    "The bad has outweighed the good for Alexander up to this point," PFF's Ben Linsey wrote earlier this offseason. And considering that he's missed 18 games in four campaigns because of either injury or suspension, you wonder if the 49ers will eventually develop buyer's remorse.

Washington Redskins S Landon Collins

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Genesis of the hype

    Meanwhile, Landon Collins is the highest-paid safety in NFL history after signing a six-year, $84 million contract with the Washington Redskins. And there's already chatter about how much he has impressed with his new team.


    Why he'll fall short 

    The problem is Collins is a box safety who has just two interceptions, two forced fumbles and zero sacks in his last two seasons. He plays a non-premium position, and he was routinely exploited in coverage over the last couple of years with the New York Giants. 

    The Redskins desperately need a savior, and they're paying Collins savior-level money. But the 25-year-old hasn't been able to rediscover the magic that earned him Defensive Player of the Year votes in 2016, and there's a good chance that doesn't suddenly happen in D.C.