Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
NFL draft fans love to ask about sleepers and who’s being underrated, which is a fun topic, but rarely does anyone ask about who is being overrated. This week, that’s changing.
I asked 10 NFL personnel men—scouts, coaches, GMs and executives—to send me a list of five players being overrated. That could mean overrated by the media or overrated by their peers in football. My only ask was that they explained themselves.
Before getting into the news and notes of the week—including thoughts on Jaylon Ferguson having his NFL Scouting Combine invite rescinded and the fallout from the Joe Flacco trade—here are those players the pros feel are being overrated.
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
“He’s probably QB1 in this class, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good quarterback. This is a bad draft for passers, but he’s still going top five. It’s just how the league works now.” — AFC scouting director
“Haskins scares me, but he has the most traits to work with. Still, he’s not [Jared] Goff or anything. He would have been QB4 in last year’s class.” — NFC area scout
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
“Oof…this guy is just bad. I don’t know what to tell you. He doesn’t move well enough to play left. He’s too lazy. I laugh every time he’s in the first round of a mock draft.” — NFC pro scout
“I think this one is pretty obvious because the hype on him has really died down. I remember reading a mock draft in midseason that had him as a top-15 pick, and he was just never that good.” — NFC area scout
Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
“It’s nothing against the kid, but teams should know better than to draft a nose tackle early. He’s Vita Vea. He’s Danny Shelton. These guys are never worth the early pick.” — AFC general manager
Jon Barash/Associated Press
“We keep hearing he’s fake. I know he’s a great athlete and he’s gonna test real well, but he was never the best or even second-best player on [the Clemson] DL.” — NFC scouting executive
David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
“I love the hype on this kid because it means someone good will fall to us. Everyone sees ‘Wisconsin’ and thinks he must be special when the truth is he’s all-day average.” — AFC area scout
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
“Being short [6’2½”], having a beard and wearing a headband doesn’t make you Baker Mayfield.” — NFC quarterbacks coach
—The NFL rescinded the scouting combine invite of Louisiana Tech pass-rusher Jaylon Ferguson after it was learned during a routine background check that he had been convicted of simple battery stemming from a fight at a restaurant when he was a freshman. Ferguson’s punishment? A deferred judgment and a $189 fine, according to his agent, Safarrah Lawson.
Multiple scouts, coaches and general managers reached out Wednesday night after the news broke that Ferguson, widely considered a top-50 prospect, wouldn’t be allowed to attend the combine. Said one GM: “It’s just bulls–t. This is the NFL trying to protect its image instead of letting us actually talk to the kid and figure him out. And then they want to complain when we do draft guys with character questions. It’s a joke.”
Per NFL.com, in 2016, the NFL put into effect a rule that any player whose background check “shows misdemeanor or felony convictions involving violence or use of a weapon, domestic violence, sexual offense and/or sexual assault” is not allowed to participate in the Combine.
—The Denver Broncos pulled off a trade to acquire Joe Flacco, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which left many wondering what to make of the team’s reported interest in Missouri quarterback Drew Lock as a draft prospect. A source within the Broncos organization who is aware of their offseason plans told me that nothing has changed. “We’re going to take the best player on our board when the pick comes up. Period.”
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
The Broncos sent a fourth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for Flacco but still own a selection in that round thanks to a trade with the Houston Texans.
—Kliff Kingsbury squashed the speculation that the Arizona Cardinals would select Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray at No. 1 overall…or did he? Kingsbury, in a press conference, said “Josh [Rosen] is our guy.”
Nick Saban also said he wouldn’t be the head coach at Alabama right before becoming the head coach at Alabama. A skeptic could look at Kingsbury’s statement and add a “for now” to it. Until the buzz around the league of Kingsbury’s interest in Murray dies down, this story won’t go away.
—Noted NFL insider Jay Glazer stirred the pot when asked this week for a bold offseason prediction by writing that the New York Giants would trade Odell Beckham Jr. Glazer, who started his career covering the Giants, is rarely wrong when it comes to breaking news, but this seemed more predictive than reported.
—Two more thoughts before moving on this week:
1. Le’Veon Bell won’t have as many suitors as you think. The rumor around the league right now is that the New York Jets aren’t excited to pay him the money he expects. That could leave the Oakland Raiders as his best bet to get paid.
Matt Rourke/Associated Press
2. I will be very surprised if Nick Foles isn’t a Jacksonville Jaguar when the 2019 season kicks off. There are too many rumors connecting the two right now.
It’s time to update the big board after two weeks on the road evaluating at all-star games. Here’s my most recent top 32:
1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
2. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
3. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
4. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
5. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
6. Devin White, LB, LSU
7. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
8. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
9. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
10. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
11. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Miss. State
12. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
13. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
14. Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
15. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
16. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Miss. State
17. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
18. Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
19. Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
20. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
21. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
22. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
23. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
24. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
25. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
26. Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
27. Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
28. Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
29. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
30. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
31. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
32. Johnathan Abram, S, Miss. State
6. Stock Up
Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley is more than the brother of last year’s first-rounder Calvin; he’s also the best route-runner I’ve studied in the 2019 class of wide receivers.
Sean Rayford/Associated Press
Ridley is smooth through his breaks and shows the ability to drop his weight and transition to breaking routes. The subtle tricks of route running look natural to him. And while he doesn’t have a huge frame (6’2″, 200 lbs) his technique and athleticism should allow him to be an early starter for NFL teams. He’s polished, tough, physical and smart.
A good showing at the scouting combine could push Ridley into the first round.
5. Stock Down
Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler made some ridiculous catches throughout the 2018 season as a redshirt sophomore and looked like a potential star in this year’s draft class. But after studying his tape more thoroughly, I have serious concerns about his drop rate.
In five games I evaluated, he had five drops. The upside is that he’s a dynamic deep threat and is almost unstoppable on jump balls thanks to his 6’6″ frame. He needs to test well in the speed and agility drills at the combine, but the one event I’ll be focused on for him is the gauntlet drill that asks receivers to catch several balls while working across the field in a straight line.
4. Sleeper of the Week
TCU defensive lineman L.J. Collier might not fit into conventional positional size molds—he’s 6’2¼” and 280 pounds—but his tape speaks for itself. Collier has quick, strong hands while also being able to make himself skinny to shoot through gaps to attack the quarterback.
Butch Dill/Associated Press
The TCU staff raves about Collier, too. He’s considered one of the toughest players in the 2019 draft class. And while not being an upper-level athlete, he’s impossible to miss when breaking down the tape.
3. AAF Week 2
Saturday, Feb. 16
Salt Lake Stallions at Birmingham Iron, 2 p.m. ET, TNT
Arizona Hotshots at Memphis Express, 8 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Sunday, Feb. 17
Orlando Apollos at San Antonio Commanders, 4 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Atlanta Legends at San Diego Fleet, 8 p.m. ET, NFL Network
2. If you love Stick to Football and want to meet the crew, you have three chances in March to hang out with us. We’re using a ticketing system for each, but it’s free to sign up (and you get some free swag if you show us your ticket).
1. Stick to Football has three new episodes this week. On Monday, we talked to Temple defensive lineman Michael Dogbe about what tough means at Temple. Wednesday’s show featured our preview of the 2019 free-agent class and North Carolina edge-rusher Malik Carney talking about prepping for the NFL draft and his suspension from the NCAA for selling shoes. Friday brought us Dexter Williams with a lot of Notre Dame talk. Check out the podcast and subscribe if you haven’t already. We will also post a ton of behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram page.
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.