Thor Nystrom

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All-Overrated NFL Draft team

Monday, April 23, 2018


Note before we get started: This list catalogues players that I’m lower on than the industry consensus. I don’t hate the prospects on this list—I just don’t value them as much as others. With that caveat out of the way, onto the show! 


Quarterback: Josh Allen (Wyoming)

 

I compare Allen to a Jake Locker/Paxton Lynch mashup with JaMarcus Russell's arm. So you know where this is going. On paper, he’s as intriguing as it gets, with a huge frame, plus athleticism and a bazooka arm that will be the NFL’s strongest the second he gets drafted on Thursday night. He was groomed by Craig Bohl and crew, the same staff that developed Carson Wentz.

 

It’s everything else that is the issue for me. Allen lacks accuracy, ball placement, pocket awareness and a firm feel for his responsibilities on the field. I think of him like one of those baseball pitching prospects who can dial it up to 100 mph with ease but has no idea where the ball is going and doesn’t have the secondary pitches required for hitters to not to sit dead-red on the heat. Allen fires 100-mph heaters whether he’s trying to fit the ball into a tight window downfield (good!), throwing a screen pass (not good!) or throwing a touch pass (doh!). He’s never been accurate at any level, including back in his JUCO days.

 

He’s a writer who writes pretty sentences but can’t tell a story. He’s like a pilot who flies fast but has issues landing. He’s like 10,000 spoons, but all we need is a knife.

 

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Running back: Derrius Guice (LSU) and Rashaad Penny (San Diego State)

 

I rank Guice RB3 and grade him as a high-Round 2 value. Here, I’m more responding to the idea that he’s a first-round prospect. Guice lacks homerun speed, he’s a mediocre receiver, and he struggles with durability because he’s a brawling back who doesn’t have ideal size to weather all of the violence his style creates (5’10/224). He’s an NFL starter, to be sure, but I wouldn’t draft him unless he fell into my value range.

 

Penny finished fifth in the Heisman voting last year (2,248 and 23 touchdowns), but I see a prospect with holes. He's a rudimentary receiver and a poor pass blocker. That'll make it difficult to play him on third downs. As a runner, I like his combination of size, speed, physicality and vision. But I think he's flattered a bit by his tape. Keep in mind that San Diego State runs one of the nation's best systems for running backs -- it is for runners what Texas Tech is for throwers.

 

The Aztecs rarely throw (less than 2,000 yards passing total last year) and they use a FB and a blocking TE on every play (FB Nick Bawden and TE David Wells are both NFL prospects in this class). SDSU manhandles undermanned Mountain West defense before Penny has even reached the line of scrimmage. Before Penny took over the lead back last year, he backed up Donnel Pumphrey for three years. Pumphrey set the NCAA all-time rushing record at San Diego State. He was overdrafted (Round 4) and, one year into his career, he's already at a crossroads.

 

Remember last year at this time when we talked about how it was a little alarming that Mitch Trubisky couldn't beat out Marquise Williams at UNC and started for only one year in an extremely advantageous system to put up monster stats? Why isn't the same argument being made about Penny?

 

Penny’s 41.9% composite score ranked squarely between UDFAs Lavon Coleman and Kendrick Foster, and Penny tested worse than no-name fullbacks Jacquet McClendon. Jay Roberson, Luke McNitt and David Jackson. Outside of a strong 40 for his size, Penny's testing numbers were pedestrian. I know all of this sounds like I hate Penny. That's not exactly true. I rank him RB8. It's just that I wouldn't even think about taking him until late Round 3, and that puts me in the decided minority.

 

Wide Receiver: Calvin Ridley (Alabama) and Jordan Lasley (UCLA)

 

Back when I said Ridley was overrated in February (when he was considered a top-10 pick), it was a sizzling hot take. Now it’s a common one. On the field, he’s skinny, and he doesn’t like to get hit. He’s poor in contested situations, he hears footsteps and drops balls because of it and he’ll give up YAC opportunities because he’s so eager to guarantee his safety after the catch. He also tested poorly during the pre-Draft process. All that said, he’s my WR3. I see him as a high-Round 2 talent. He’s fine. He’s a strong No. 2 receiver. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

Lasley had a ton of hype earlier in the process courtesy of the ESPN team, but most of that has since died off. He’s a bigger Will Fuller with worse athleticism and, (if you can believe it) worse hands. Lasley is strong after the catch, but the issue is that he dropped 16-percent of his catchable balls over the last two years and he may not have the athleticism to have his YAC success translate over to the NFL.

 

Tight End: Mark Andrews (Oklahoma)

 

My colleague Ray Summerlin compared Andrews as a prospect to Jace Amaro. I like where his head is at. Like Amaro, Andrews was flattered by his college role (Andrews had a 62-986-8 line last year), leading people to believe he had better athleticism than he really does. Andrews is a jumbo receiver who doesn’t block and may not have the athleticism (44.4% composite score) to become a standout move tight end in the pros.

 

Offensive Tackle: Kolton Miller (UCLA) and Brian O’Neill (Pitt)

 

Similarly to the cases of Guice and Ridley, I don’t hate Miller—I just have him ranked lower than most (and way lower than he’ll go on Draft Day). I see a mid-Round 2 value and peg him as OT4. Miller could be the first tackle off the board on Thursday night.

 

He took a big step forward on the field last season as Josh Rosen’s blind side protector, and then he tested in the 99th percentile as an athlete (sub-5.0 forty with a 4.49 short shuttle, a 7.34 three-cone, a 31.5-inch vertical and a Combine-record broad jump of 10-1 for an offensive lineman). My biggest issue is Miller’s footwork. He can beat by speed. And if he starts overcompensating (i.e. cheating) to take that away, he’s susceptible to counter moves inside. He also plays very high, which allows edge players to get into his chest and control the interaction. Miller has a very high upside, but he fits the profile of a Round 1 tackle prospect who could go bust if the kinks in his game are never worked out.

 

That goes double for O’Neill. I basically had to rank him as a top-10 tackle (OT8) because of his athleticism and upside, but he’s lacking strength, technique and feel. If he adds bulk and receives superlative coaching, O’Neill could be a long-term LT solution for an organization. If he doesn’t, you’re looking at a so-so swing linemen, the type that are readily available for cheap in free agency every winter.

 

Offensive Guard: Alex Cappa (Humboldt State) and Sam Jones (Arizona State)

 

I want to like Cappa, but boy does he have a scary profile. He was a dominant, Terminator-style four-year starter at left tackle in the Division-II ranks. The issue is that he isn’t athletic enough or good enough in pass protection to keep outside. As a guard, he’s a bit tall and thin for his play style (6’6/305). And, of course, he’s about to make a gigantic leap up in competition after he dominated out-gunned D-II defensive linemen over the past few years.

 

Jones is a guy I liked a lot more earlier in the process. I thought he would test well, but he absolutely did not (9.2% composite score). If he indeed lacks the athleticism I thought he had (because he has good feet), then Jones’ evaluation gets much more treacherous. He plays manic and has a tendency to lunge, and he lacks ideal bulk and strength. I knocked him down to OG13 in my final rankings, giving him a sixth-round grade (No. 179).

 


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Thor Nystrom is a former MLB.com associate reporter whose writing has been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to Rotoworld's college football writer on Twitter @thorku.
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