Every year we see young men enter the NFL Draft as overhyped prospects who are expected to become game-changers for the teams that land them.
Some have exceptional athleticism and size, while others dominated at the collegiate level and put together tremendous game tape.
Of course, this year’s draft is no different. There are more than a few players who’ve been touted by the national media, yet we know at least some will end up as grave disappointments.
So who are this year’s overhyped creations?
We’ll start with one of the most hyped players we’ve seen in a while, the hybrid from Michigan, Jabrill Peppers.
1. Jabrill Peppers, linebacker/safety, Michigan
Even before the pre-draft process, there were rumblings that Peppers was “more hype than substance,” as one top unnamed NFL executive put it.
He sees himself as a pure safety, but NFL teams are certainly not convinced. Some see him as a hybrid linebacker, while others think his impact might be best felt on the offensive side of the ball.
One thing nobody can deny is that Peppers, who moves well with or without the ball, is certainly not a ball hawk. He had just one interception at Michigan, and it was a gift on a tipped pass. Of further note is the fact he defended just 11 passes in 27 games for the Wolverines.
Then there’s the issue of Peppers’ size. At 5-foot-11 and just 213 pounds, he’s not going to be a guy who can take on blockers to stuff the run at the line of scrimmage. He’ll need to have quite the creative defensive coordinator on his side to make a big impact in the NFL as a hybrid box safety.
The bottom line is this: Peppers might end up becoming a decent pro or even very good. But by no means should be expected to become the next Tyrann Mathieu, which is something that’s been tossed around.
2. Mitch Trubisky, quarterback, North Carolina
Trubisky has a real chance to become the next Blaine Gabbert of the NFL. But at least everyone had a good grasp on what Gabbert was capable of doing after he started 26 games for Missouri.
Strong arm? Sure. Athletic? Absolutely. Smart? Very much so. These apply to both players.
The one thing nobody really has any idea about is whether Trubisky will hold up in an NFL pocket with bodies flying around him or if he’ll fold up like a lawnchair, Gabbert style. He sure didn’t look great in his final college game against Stanford — a game that saw Solomon Thomas and Co. put him in panic mode (more on that here).
Yet many different NFL Draft writers believe Trubisky is the best quarterback of the 2017 NFL Draft class — something that makes us remember with horror the abominable 2013 class that produced nary a franchise passer.
Quarterback needy teams should not reach for Trubisky, who is still a huge project quarterback at this time.
3. Jonathan Allen, defensive end, Alabama
That Allen dominated his competition the past two years as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide is an undeniable fact. The big man tallied 30.5 tackles for a loss and 22.5 sacks during the 2015-16 seasons and was a key cog in the team’s national championship-winning team after the 2015 season.
Because of these accomplishments, Allen occupies top spots on big boards across the Internet, usually as a top-five prospect. However, there are two things at play here that could impact him in a major way going forward.
First off, we must address the fact that Allen simply didn’t look explosive or test particularly well at the combine. That’s not a game-changer, as his tape is clearly impressive. But what could be a big deal is the fact his medicals at the combine showed an arthritic issue in his shoulders.
The second thing we’re worried about is whether Allen’s huge impact at Alabama had more to do with the amazing talent Nick Saban has at every position than Allen’s ability to dominate consistently on an island — especially against the NFL’s best.
4. Leonard Fournette, running back, LSU
One of the biggest boom-or-bust players in this year’s draft, Fournettte has some serious potential to become a one or two-year wonder at the next level.
First off, there’s the very real issue of Fournette having dealt with what has been described as a chronic ankle problem during his tenure at LSU. The powerhouse back missed half the 2016 season due to this issue, including the final game of his college career, the Citrus Bowl, as he prepared for the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.
Then there’s the issue that, even after skipping his final college game to prepare for said combine, he kind of bombed the sucker. If not for a surprisingly fast 40 time (watch here), it would have to be said that Fournette’s combine was an utter disaster.
A running back who isn’t durable, isn’t explosive and doesn’t catch the ball naturally with consistency, Fournette is extremely overhyped heading into the 2017 NFL Draft.
5. Marlon Humphrey, cornerback, Alabama
One of the sexiest trends going on these days in NFL circles is finding big cornerbacks who excel in man coverage. Humphrey fits this mold. He measures in at 6-foot, 197 pounds and showed durability the past two years at Alabama, appearing in 29 games.
In that time, Humphrey intercepted five passes, defended 13 passes and returned one interception for a touchdown.
Humphrey also showed off some wheels at the combine, running his 40 in 4.41 seconds and showing quickness with a 6.75-second 3-cone drill. Needless to say, he’s being touted as a top-three cornerback by many around the draft community.
However, he isn’t as polished as he needs to be in order to stand up to the NFL’s top receivers. While Humphrey does exhibit excellent hip fluidity, he isn’t strong when the ball is in the air if he hasn’t already been tracking it and also played his college ball with the best front seven in the nation.
In such a deep class for cornerbacks, there are better players to be found before taking a shot on this ‘Bama product.
6. Ryan Ramczyk, offensive tackle, Wisconsin
Outside of Cam Robinson, the 2017 draft class is extremely light on talent at the crucial left tackle position. And the NFL has more than a few teams in need of one of those. So it’s not going to be surprising whatsoever if Wisconsin product Ramczyk ends up getting selected in the top half of the first round, and many a big board has him featured as a clear-cut first rounder in terms of talent.
But that’s a huge gamble.
First off, Ramczyk only played one year at a top school — his 2016 season at Wisconsin. He ended up skipping a year after high school to go to a tech school, then he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point for two seasons. Following that endeavor, Ramczyk transferred to Wisconsin, sat out the 2015 year and had an outstanding 2016 season for the Badgers.
Unfortunately, he then had to miss the team’s bowl game and needed hip surgery, which also kept him from participating in drills at the combine and his pro day.
There are an awful lot of question marks on this young man’s resume. Teams better know what they’re getting into before making a big investment in the first round.
7. Obi Melifonwu, safety, Connecticut
Nobody won more hype for himself at the combine than Melifonwu, who absolutely blew scouts away with his blend of size (6-foot-4, 224 pounds), speed (4.40-second 40) and explosion (44-inch vertical, 141-inch broad jump).
Built like a linebacker with the speed of a track star, Melifonwu was not the first combine workout warrior from Connecticut. His broad jump was second in the history of the combine. Former Huskies defensive back Byron Jones (now with the Cowboys) holds the best mark, which was also a world record.
However, while Melifonwu possesses ideal physical traits he isn’t as sure a thing as his combine numbers would suggest. Despite a productive career at Connecticut where he started four years, the big issue is that he just isn’t an instinctive player. And he’s not a true ball hawk, despite his four interceptions last year.
Some team is going to fall in love with his potential. We already know what kind of reaction he garnered during his week-long stay in Indianapolis this February. But the hype is a bit too much with this kid, who could end up becoming a marginal starter at the NFL level.
8. Joe Mixon, running back, Oklahoma
On the field, Mixon is a very good player who has the ability to impact games both on the ground and through the air. During his two years as a player for Oklahoma, Mixon accumulated some gaudy stats for as much as he was used, totaling 2,921 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2015-16.
This is a guy who was once going to be undraftable according to some, based on his significant off-field red flag — the 2014 incident in which he hit a female student. Now suddenly he’s taking visits with a few teams, including one whose owner has long said would never touch a player who injured a woman.
He also played in the Big 12, which we all know isn’t defensive-minded, and had the benefit of being one of a handful of tremendous impact players for the Sooners.
Mixon has gained plenty of momentum since being banned from the combine. He had a great pro day and might even be picked up on Day 2 by a risk-taking NFL owner like Jerry Jones, Mike Brown or Dan Snyder.
But let’s not kid ourselves here. Marshawn Lynch 2.0 he is not.