It’s never fun to go negative when discussing professional football players. Sadly, that’s what we’re going to have to do here in looking at those who are overhyped heading into the 2019 NFL season.
Multiple quarterbacks just aren’t as good as their stature and/or contracts suggest. That includes former NFL MVP Cam Newton.
Meanwhile, NFL teams continue to devalue the running back position at a time when the New York Jets paid Le’Veon Bell a whole lot of cash.
These two are among the 10 most overrated players on the gridiron heading into the season.
Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, Houston Texans
For someone looking to become one of the highest-paid defenders in NFL history, Clowney certainly has not lived up to the hype. He’s failed to record double-digit sacks in each of his first five seasons after being selected No. 1 overall back in 2014. Sure Clowney has nine-plus sacks each of the past two seasons. But his production is not indicative of $20-plus million annually. That’s especially true given that he’s had J.J. Watt acting as a running partner since joining Houston.
Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Minnesota Vikings
A guy that earned $84 million in guaranteed cash over three seasons can’t win against good competition. That’s the moral of the story surrounding Mr. Cousins as he enters an important second season in Minnesota. Cousins boasts a 5-25 record against teams with a winning record throughout his career, including a 1-6 mark last season. Considered by most to be a garbage-time quarterback, Cousins is quickly running out of time to prove that narrative wrong.
A.J. Green, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
The unfortunate reality is that Green is unlikely to ever be the same player who averaged over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns in his first five NFL seasons. Back in 2016, Green missed six games to injury. He caught just 52 percent of his targets in 2017, struggling big time with drops. Last season represented another injury-plagued campaign that saw Green miss seven games. He’s now dealing with yet another injury and will miss multiple weeks to open the 2019 campaign. The All-Pro receiver that dominated in Cincinnati is a thing of the past.
Marcus Peters, cornerback, Kansas City Chiefs
During his three-year stint in Kansas City, Peters was able to make up for giving up the big play by forcing turnovers at a near-record clip. That span included 19 interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Unfortunately, the big plays continue to plague this still-young cornerback. According to Pro Football Focus, Peters ranked as a bottom 10 corner in the NFL during his final season in Kansas City. After struggling early last season, Peters did pick it up in the second half of the schedule. The issue here is that he is slated to become one of the highest-paid corners in the league during free agency next March.
Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, Cleveland Browns
There’s a reason Miami gave Landry up for pennies on the dollar in a trade with the Browns last offseason. The team did not want to pay a possession receiver top-end cash. Instead, the Dolphins allowed Cleveland to sign Landry to a five-year, $75.5 million deal. He responded by putting up 976 yards on 149 targets for an average of 6.6 yards per target. Those are some rather poor numbers for someone who is being paid like a true No. 1 receiver. Landry should be aided by the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. this season, but he’s both overrated and overpaid. It’s that simple.
Trey Flowers, defensive end, Detroit Lions
Based on both production and salary, Flowers remains one of the most overrated players in the game. Sure the Lions needed an upgrade from the pass rush in free agency, but handing him a five-year, $90 million contract was a massive overpay. New England was also smart not to get into a bidding war for its leading sack getter of the past couple seasons. Flowers, 25, has not recorded more than 7.5 sacks in any of his first four NFL seasons. While he does pressure the quarterback a lot, those numbers are not indicative of one of the highest-paid defenders in the game.
Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
Two Pro Bowl appearances in his first three NFL seasons. Slated to become one of the five highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL at an average of $30-plus million. Outside of winning games, what has Prescott proven to justify this? Said wins are more indicative of the presence of Ezekiel Elliott than anything else. In fact, Prescott is a pedestrian 4-4 with a 76.3 rating when Elliott doesn’t play. He’s 28-12 with a 100.0 rating when Elliott is on the field. The moral of this story? Prescott relies too much on his back to be considered a top-end quarterback.
Le’Veon Bell, running back, New York Jets
We saw it first-hand in Pittsburgh last season. With Bell holding out for all 16 games, second-year back James Conner filled in tremendously in his stead. Conner gained 1,470 total yards and 13 touchdowns — numbers similar to Bell’s averages over the previous three seasons. Despite this, New York handed the All-Pro performer a four-year, $52.5 million deal. In a league that continues to rightfully devalue running backs, this was a massive overpay. We’re not expecting the Bell of two years ago to show his face in Jersey this season.
Derek Carr, quarterback, Oakland Raiders
After earning three Pro Bowl appearances in his first four NFL seasons, Carr fell off the cliff big time under first-year head coach Jon Gruden in 2018. He tallied just 19 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions. The bigger issue here is Carr’s inability to get the ball down the field. He’s legitimately a dump-off king in the same vein as Alex Smith. In fact, Carr boasts the lowest yards per attempt average when having a clean pocket in the NFL since he joined the league. This must change if he wants to be considered the Raiders’ franchise quarterback moving forward.
Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers
Sure injuries have not helped. We’re also not going to ignore the fact that Carolina’s brass has done a horrible job finding a capable offensive line in front of Newton. But at some point, this former league MVP has to take responsibility. He takes way too many hits, deciding to run with the ball or hold on to it too long rather than throwing it away. That’s a major issue. Over the past three seasons, Newton has accounted for just 65 touchdowns and 43 interceptions while boasting a 23-21 record. That’s not indicative of his standing as one of the faces of the NFL. And it has him overrated in a big way.