Posted by Walter
The NFL Draft if not a science. If you put 20 different personnel evaluators in a room and asked them to list the top 20 prospects in the draft, you'd no doubt get 20 lists that look absolutely nothing alike. As far as college players go, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Where one team sees a lanky, 6'4'' quarterback with questionable arm strength and lackluster mechanics, another team sees Tom Brady. There are a million different stories just like Brady's, as are there a million stories about overhyped, overrated losers who cost NFL personnel directors their jobs. In fact, hype can mean everything for a future NFL draftee. I mean outside of Chestnut Hill who had ever heard of Mike Mamula before his combine performance hyped him into a top 10 pick? Vernon Davis? But hype can be a dangerous thing, so here I go attempting to remove the hype factor and identify players at each position who are hyped too much (overrated), and hyped too little (underrated).
Overrated: Brady Quinn, Notre Dame
It's become somewhat chic to bash Quinn, so I am going to take the high road. It's not that I don't think Quinn can be a legitimate NFL QB, because I do. It's just that someone who has so consistently buckled against the top defense's in the nation should not be considered a potential #1 overall pick. For the past two seasons Quinn has put up awesome numbers throwing to supremely talented pass catchers (Stovall, Fasano, Samardzjia, McKnight, Carlson), but his performance has flat out stunk against top defenses. Make all the excuses you want for him, but Quinn's hype overshadows his mediocre performance.
Underrated: John Beck, Brigham Young
It's amazing that Beck has flown so far under the radar. Consider the following: (1) he comes from a school with a rich heritage of NFL signal callers, (2) he put up all america caliber numbers playing against legitimate D1 competition (in 2007 alone he faced Arizona, Boston College, TCU and Utah), and (3) he has improved his game in each of his three seasons as a starter. Yes he is a bit undersized at only 6'2''. And yes his mechanics need some work. But Beck completed nearly 70% of his passes this season (!!!) with a 32/8 ratio. Not impressed? Consider his numbers against the top four aforementioned teams he played in 2007: 66%, 1421 yards (355/gm.), and a 9/2 ratio. Beck may never be a star but he deserves some draft love.
Overrated: Marshawn Lynch, California
Despite the fact that this is a weak running back draft, the overhype surrounding Lynch has been amazing. Lynch was an uber-recruit coming out of highschool, and he really made a name for himself as a big play backup to JJ Arrington as a Freshman in 2004. Sadly, Lynch has been living off of that reputation ever since. His yards per carry have dropped in each successive year, and Lynch no longer displays the break away electricity that made him such an appealing back in the first place. Most pundits still consider Lynch the second best option in this draft because he does somewhat blend power and speed (especially when compared to many of the other backs who are all one trick ponies), but I can't help but wonder what is more valuable: a guy like Lynch who has above average power and above average speed, or a guy who is simple outstanding at one of those.
Underrated: Darius Walker, Notre Dame
How can this be? A Notre Dame player underrated? Well, when you play in the shadow of everyone's golden boy this can happen. We here at The 323 have been adamant all season that Walker, and not Quinn, was the most valuable Irish player. Despite the fact that we won't have the opportunity to be proven right next year (when Walker would have been a senior and the MAN on offense), Walker will show everyone what we were talking about in the NFL. Walker possesses ideal size for an NFL back, at a compact 5'10'' and 208 lbs, and is quicker than he is fast. He is a natural runner, who has great ability to feel where the hole is. His style reminds me at times of Priest Holmes. Unlike Lynch, Walker improved his numbers each season, increasing his yards, yards per carry, receptions, and receiving yards in each of the past three seasons. The only knock on Walker's production is that he didn't get into the endzone very much, but anyone who has watched a Notre Dame game in the last year knows that the primary goal one the Irish get inside the 10 yard line is to pad Brady Quinn's stats by throwing fades to the oversized wideouts.
Overrated: Ryan Harris, Notre Dame
Wait a minute, isn't the first excuse I hear from Brady Quinn apologists that his offensive line was so terrible that he never had time to throw? How then can one of his lineman be considered a potential top 2 round pick? Look, nothing against Harris personally, but physically he couldn't handle the likes of LSU, USC, and Michigan....how is he going to handle NFL lineman. Like Mamula, Harris looks the part. He has a very nice frame, and looks very cut and athletic. Harris will no doubt excel at the combine, further pushing his absurd draft stock up boards. The problem for Harris is that football isn't played on the RCA Dome turf without pads on. Running fast and lifting weights will help you get drafted, but it won't help you block a 280 lb. defensive end.
Underrated: Kyle Young, Fresno State
Gotta love this guy. Young is huge at 6'5'' and 330 lbs. He played guard, tackle, and center in college. He's mean, he's nasty, he's basically everything you'd want an offensive lineman to be. Yet nobody is talking about him. The knock on Young is that he doesn't really have a position. He's too immobile to play center, he's not athletic enough to play guard, blah blah blah. Where I come from there's a place where you put 6'5'' 330 lbs. men who play like they just ate nails for breakfast and genuinely enjoy kicking the snot out of someone.....it's called right tackle. Some NFL team is going to be very happy when they draft Kyle Young, stick him at right tackle, watch him outphysical everybody he goes against, and run behind him every time you need to pick up a crucial 3rd and 2 for the next 10 seasons. Will Young give up some sacks in pass protection? You bet he will. But his contributions to your team's toughness, physicality, and intimidation factor will far outweigh his shortcomings. Think Jon Runyan and Erik Williams.
Overrated: Greg Olsen, Miami
Maybe it's unfair to denigrate Olsen for his poor production at Miami, I mean he did have no capable QB throwing him the ball. That said, it's not like he's a wideout and he needs a stud QB to hit him on those pinpoint post patterns. He's a tight end who should make his living by settling into zones and catching relatively easy balls to throw. Whichever it may be, the fact remains that in 32 collegiate games Olsen caught a paltry 85 passes. For you math whizes that's less than 3 per game. Even more disturbing is the fact that at 6'5'' and 250 lbs. he was only able to get into the endzone six times during his whole career, and only once his senior year. I mean what's all that size and speed good for if you can't get into the endzone. And it's not like Olsen provides a real boost in the running game. He doesn't have a whole lot of interest in blocking, he doesn't catch a ton of balls, he's not a force in the redzone.....why is this guy thought of as a first round pick? Yeah, I don't know either.
Underrated: Johnny Harline, Brigham Young
We already have John Beck on here, why not his favorite target. Consider Harline the polar opposite of Olsen. Harline isn't 6'5'' with 4.5 speed....he's more like 6'4'' with 4.8 speed, but he also isn't sitting here with virtually no production on his resume. Harline played only two seasons at BYU, amassing 25 total starts. In those 25 starts Harline caught 121 passes for nearly 1800 yards and 17 TD. While it's true that at only 240 lbs. Harline isn't really strong or tough enough to be much of a factor in an NFL running game, but hell, neither Olsen or Zach Miller (the other top TE prospect) have any interest in blocking.
Overrated: Ted Ginn Jr.
So what do we know about Ginn? Well we know he is fast.....really fast. We know that he is a great kick returner. We know that he is a great big play threat. That it? No, we also know that he is slight at only 180 lbs. We know that he tends to disappear in games when teams play over the top coverage on him? We know that he isn't all that tough (I think that was him limping around the sidelines in the national title game as his Buckeyes were getting torched). All in all, we know that Ginn is somewhat of a one trick pony. There may be no better wideout in this draft for running a fly pattern, but there may be no worse wideout for running an eight yard dig on third and 7. You know what Ginn is? He is the classic player who is just unstoppable in video game football, but just sucks in real life. Like Mike Vick is an unstoppable force in Madden, yet on the field for every big play he makes he does 3 little things to help his team lose. Ginn will catch his share of long touchdowns in the NFL, but for every TD he catches he'll also give you a 5 yard gain on third and 6, or the alligator arms on a skinny post.
Underrated: Matt Trannon, Michigan State
Trannon only makes it here because just about nobody is talking about him.....and they should. Trannon is a combine lover's wet dream. He is a legit 6'5'', 235 lbs., and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. Oh, by the way, did I mention Trannon also played basketball in East Lansing, so yes he can jump as well. By way of comparison, Florida's Dallas Baker runs an identical 40 time, weights nearly 30 pounds less, is 2 inches shorter, and is projected by some as high as the third round. Now I don't want to get ahead of myself with Trannon, but it's hard to understand why he has been so ignored. Forgetting his unreal triangle numbers for a moment, Trannon actually has some decent production. We know how maddeningly inconsistent the Michigan State offense has been under Drew Stanton, but Trannon has managed to put up back to back 500 yard seasons. Further, his reception and yard totals have improved in each of his 4 seasons. Trannon is a project, no doubt about it, but how is nobody talking about such a unique physical specimen.