There are several players currently in the NFL who prosper above expectations in a certain system. But once one of those players signs with a different team and are no longer in the system that made them the most comfortable, some of them tend to look like a fish out of water. They say that the best of the best can adjust and play anywhere in the league. Or as Emmitt Smith put it, “some work hard, others work harder in preseason.” Might sound cliché, but some players admire getting all the reps they can get, whatever it takes to make them a better player on the field. Others tend to take the safe route and sit back most of the preseason, which can lament their play on the field.
We all have our own perception on certain players in the NFL. Here are a few that myself and many others believe are overrated.
5. Andy Dalton – Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
-The Bengals were one of the cinderella teams to make the playoffs last year, due in part to a good defense and over-exceeding rookie play from A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. The Bengals traded long-time starting quarterback Carson Palmer, who basically quit on the team and said he will retire if he is not traded. Dalton was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft and everyone thought Cincinnati would be rebuilding last year and have no playoff aspirations. They did however make the playoffs. But the quarterbacks get all the credit for wins, so it is only fair that they get the blame for the losses. In his last 10 games, Dalton is 4-6 and has thrown 11 touchdowns, as well as eight interceptions. The play has been mediocre as of late from Dalton. He focuses in on one receiver (Green) and looks lost when pressure is in his face. Playing college ball at TCU, Dalton did not face big-league competition, so I am not very high on him as a starter. I am hoping that he proves me wrong, but as of now he is not looking like the long-term solution for Cincinnati.
4. Carlos Rogers – Cornerback, San Francisco 49ers
-Rogers had a huge year in 2011, which was without a doubt the best year of his career so far. The 49ers defense plays like every head coach wishes his defense played. They mix up coverage in the secondary; they have great rushers off the edge; they have the best linebacker core in the NFL, who can also cover tight ends and running backs out the backfield; and they will not let you run the ball on them. Rogers was one of many to make the pro bowl last year on the 49ers defense. He was the best defensive player on the Auburn Tigers defense, but I think that was blown out of proportion because of the stellar offense play by Jason Campbell, Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown. In six seasons with the Redskins, he was pretty forgettable and didn’t make any quarterback fear throwing his way. Granted, he was injured a lot during his run with the Redskins, but he was also often picked on when healthy. The 49ers pass rush can be a factor into his success in San Francisco, as quarterbacks don’t have much time to get rid of the ball. But the niners also have two young corners who play just as well, if not better than Rogers. It made me think less of him when he started to complain about defending Victor Cruz in the NFC Championship game in 2011 and was constantly asking for help. When I thought he got away from the stigma and was resurrected into an elite cornerback, I thought that was the same old Rogers we saw in Washington. I wish him the best in the NFL, but him being an elite cornerback is a blasphemous term. Rogers is overrated.
3. Richard Seymour – Defensive Linemen, Oakland Raiders
-Seymour is in his fourth year with the Silver and Black and made two pro bowls, which were clearly out of whack. The Oakland Raiders have another defensive tackle named Tommy Kelly who has outplayed Seymour since Seymour joined the Raiders. His contract is another thing that I don’t think he deserves, as he signed a 5-year, $37 million contract extension to stay with Oakland. Seymour is 33 years old and I am not sure he’ll play another five years in the NFL. Last week against Miami, Seymour played about half the snaps on defense and Desmond Bryant played the rest. While in the game, Seymour was getting owned on the right side by Dolphins LG Richie Incognito, and when he moved inside, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was driving Seymour backwards worse than Incognito was. He was coined as a “beast” with the New England Patriots, where he played defensive end in a 3-4 schemed defense. Oakland runs a 4-3, so one might argue Seymour can’t adjust to the defense (after four years). That being said, he was probably a system defensive lineman with the Patriots during those three Super Bowls won during the 2000s.
2. Nnamdi Asomugha – Cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles
-Nnamdi Asomugha, who was once regarded as one of the two best cornerbacks in the NFL, has looked completely out of place since signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. During his tenure with the Oakland Raiders, Asomugha was comfortable in Al Davis’ press-man coverage scheme, where he used his huge size and lengthy arms to disrupt wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and make quarterbacks think twice about throwing in his direction. Almost immediately after signing with Philadelphia, quarterbacks did not waste any time to throw the ball in Asomugha’s direction, daring him to defend the pass. So far, the QBs have gotten the best out of Asomugha. He doesn’t look very comfortable in Philly’s complex defense, and he got beat several times this past Sunday against Ravens’ wide receiver Jacoby Jones. The Eagles heavily invested in Asomugha in the 2011 offseason, signing him to a 5-year, $60 million contract and he has yet to show that he can live up to his contract. However, he was a safety at Cal who converted to cornerback in the NFL, and by his third season in the NFL he was among the elites. Philly is running out of time with the regime it has now, as head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Michael Vick are on the hot seat. They need Asomugha to get it together ASAP, as time waits for no man in the city of brotherly love.
1. Dez Bryant – Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys
-I am pretty sure a lot of people might disagree with who’s coming in first on our most overrated list. Bryant is loaded with potential, but that is why he’s on our list. He has in fact held himself back from reaching his potential. So far, that is. Bryant is still young, but even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is growing impatient with him. Bryant has constantly been in the most erratic off-the-field altercations, including striking his mother in the face. Bryant had a decent sophomore year in the pros with a little over 60 receptions and nine touchdowns. The pedestal that he is placed on – by others and not himself – is why he is so overrated because he is capable of being a top-5 wide receiver, but probably isn’t in most peoples’ top 10 yet. Bryant has seven receptions for 102 yards so far this season. It isn’t the most in the league, but it is a fairly decent start for the first two games of the season. With Laurent Robinson in Jacksonville now, who somewhat stole the spotlight from Bryant as he was Tony Romo’s most reliable receiver, Bryant should expect more balls thrown his way, which he should capitalize off of. Jerry Jones is doing a good job as of lately in making sure Bryant cleans his act up. Hopefully he stays on the right path, which we all want him to do, but as of right now, he is just another overrated wide receiver in the NFL who has yet to show us what he is fully capable of. He is breaking out of his shell, but we need him to burst on the scene.
-Jay Cutler – It is still early in the season, so Chicago shouldn’t hit the panic button just yet, but Jay Cutler has yet to utilize the weapons he now has in Chicago with Michael Bush, Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery. He looked okay against the Indianapolis Colts, but flaccid to say the least against Green Bay. I actually had them winning the NFC North this season. Despite it still being early in the year, Cutler will have to get it together on the field and in the locker room, which is just as important. Chicago didn’t trade away their entire future for him for no reason.
-Rob Gronkowski – Yeah, I said it! Nothing but the utmost respect for Gronkowski and his game, but him being crowned as the best tight end in the NFL is beyond me. He set an NFL record for most touchdowns scored by a TE in 2011 with 17, but the majority of his big statistical games came against mediocre defenses and safeties/linebackers who do not have good cover skills. In the two meetings against Buffalo, he racked up 15 catches, over 200 yards and four touchdowns. In the two meetings against the Jets, he had 12 catches and two touchdowns and he also had two TD games against the Colts, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers. The Colts were without Antoine Bethea, the Chiefs without Eric Berry, and the other two teams don’t have any good cover safeties or linebackers (no disrespect to Eric Weddle). It isn’t Gronkowski’s fault that the teams he played against can’t defend him, but the praise he receives is irreverent. He put on a pernicious performance against those teams, but against the Oakland Raiders, all-pro safety Tyvon Branch shadowed Gronkowski and held him to one catch for 15 yards on five targets. That is only a diminutive of how irrelevant Gronkowski can be in a game when a decent person is covering him. Don’t get me wrong, though, we love seeing that spike he does after scoring.