The men who are widely regarded as the best overall players in the National Football League are well known around the United States and, in some cases, even around the world. That some of those individuals are overrated by casual football fans and also by supposed bright football minds is not a slight against those men. Some receive such high praise because of achievements that they accomplished earlier in their careers. Others, however, are overrated merely because of the contracts that they have received from teams that have been willing to pay those players money that could have been spent on other talent.
The man who is atop this list is undeniably a great athlete and quite possibly the best defensive player in all of the NFL heading into the 2015 regular season. With that said, there are multiple intelligent football minds out there who have questioned the salary cap hits that he is going to be responsible for over the next several years of his career. The old adage in the NFL is that defense wins championships, and that is true to a point. Quarterback remains the most important position in all of pro football, though, and thus the man referenced in this paragraph is overrated.
20. Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a solid first year in the NFL, so much so that some considered him to be a Rookie of the Year candidate. Maybe, though we could all see how well or how poorly he runs the Minnesota offense when taken off of the figurative leash before we anoint him as the next franchise QB. Bridgewater may turn out to be a great player who is named to multiple Pro Bowl squads, but he is not yet at that level. Everybody would do well to remember that before they start envisioning him hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in their daydreams.
19. Odell Beckham, Jr. – WR – New York Giants
The consensus 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year made many highlight reel plays – perhaps you remember that famous one-handed catch that occurred during a Sunday Night Football game against the Dallas Cowboys – and thus he has been crowned as the next great NFL wide receiver by some. Everybody would be wise to pump the breaks just a bit. Sophomore slumps are for real, and they have struck many talented football players in the past. Odell Beckham may prove himself to be more than a one-hit wonder, but he needs to do so before the football community begins comparing him with the likes of Calvin Johnson.
18. Joe Flacco – QB – Baltimore Ravens
There are people out there who would seriously take Joe Flacco over Eli Manning in 2015. They obviously have not watched the overall play of the those quarterbacks, nor have they noticed that Manning was hung out to dry by his offensive line time and time again during the 2013 and 2014 campaigns. Flacco is a true franchise quarterback, and the fact remains that he is underrated by some. Those who would put Flacco ahead of the likes of Manning, Russell Wilson or other proven winners have overrated the starting quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens who is still on the cusp of being elite.
17. Joe Thomas – OL – Cleveland Browns
An offensive lineman who makes it to a Pro Bowl squad early into his career is penciled into that spot so long as he remains healthy and on the field. That has been the case for Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, who is continuously one of the most overrated players in all of the NFL. Fans of the Browns saw what Thomas looks like when Pro Bowl center Alex Mack is not available because of an injury. What they witnessed was a tackle who was somewhere between good and average. Thomas will one day be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, probably after a career that included him winning nothing of merit.
16. T.J. Ward – S – Denver Broncos
There were whispers during the final month of the 2013 NFL regular season that the Cleveland Browns had their reasons for choosing to not re-sign the safety who had, during the early stages of his career, been underrated. T.J. Ward ultimately moved on to the Denver Broncos, where he looked like not much more than an everyday safety who was not worthy of earning a Pro Bowl berth. Ward’s difficulties in pass coverage had been ignored by some until last season, and the Browns seemingly made a wise decision in moving on from the safety at a time when he should have been blossoming into the prime of his career.
15. Victor Cruz – WR – New York Giants
Victor Cruz could show that he is the player of old once the 2015 NFL regular season kicks off, but those who are expecting to see him perform some salsa dances in the end zone during the first preseason game should lessen those hopes. Cruz is coming off of a serious knee injury, the type that could end the careers of other athletes. Yes, Cruz will have the luxury of playing alongside Odell Beckham, and that should open things up for him in certain coverage situations. People who are listing Cruz as one of the best wide receivers in football during the summer months have overrated the Giants star.
14. Heath Miller – TE – Pittsburgh Steelers
Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers still love to belt out “HEEAAATH!” whenever the tight end reels in a pass during games, but the fact remains that age and time have started to catch up with him. Miller showed in 2014 that he can post some decent stats now and again, and he remains a serviceable option at the tight end position. He is also no longer the player that he was even two seasons ago. Miller has been a reliable target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and he has been a loyal soldier for the Steelers during his carer. His career is winding down before our very eyes.
13. Jairus Byrd – S – New Orleans Saints
The Buffalo Bills provided some hints that members of the media had overrated safety Jairus Byrd all the way back in 2013 when the club was actively shopping him even after Byrd signed his franchise tender. Byrd went on to sign a massive deal with the New Orleans Saints before the 2014 season, and he then underwhelmed observers and coaches of the Saints during his first year with the club. He played just four games with the team before missing the rest of the season because of an injury, and some who cover the Saints have already speculated that Byrd could be more of a bust than a star.
12. Antrel Rolle – DB – Chacago Bears
Good for Antrel Rolle for picking up another solid NFL contract, this one awarded to him by the Chicago Bears. Fans of the New York Giants could speak to why Rolle makes the list of the most overrated players in all of the NFL for 2015. Rolle put in many solid outings for Big Blue, but he largely looked like a player who had lost a step last season. His tackling skills in particular seemed to betray him during what was his final campaign with the Giants. Age could be the main issue for the veteran who will now want to show the Bears that he still has plenty left in the tank.
11. Ndamukong Suh – DT – Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins will be hoping that this assessment is way off the mark starting in September. Miami awarded Suh with a large contract this past offseason, a deal that has been scrutinized by plenty of analysts since before the ink on that paper dried. Suh has been called out multiple times for his performances against the better teams in the league, and there is a perception that he “phoned in” some outings while playing for the Detroit Lions. He has now put pen to paper on the biggest contract to date of his life. Will Suh find the motivation to be a cornerstone of a championship team in Miami?
10. Carson Palmer – QB – Arizona Cardinals
I never would have thought of putting Carson Palmer in a list of the most overrated NFL players for 2015 until I saw some analysts saying that Palmer could still be a top-ten quarterback. Is this some alternate universe in which Palmer will not be 36 years old before the end of the year and that does not include Palmer coming off of an ACL tear, yet another serious injury that he has sustained during his career? Fate has not been kind to Palmer over the years, and those expecting that he will be as good as new when he first takes the field in September could be in for a surprise.
9. Drew Brees – QB – New Orleans Saints
The criticisms that supposed knowledgeable football people have lobbed at New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees all because he has played the majority of home games inside of a dome have been ridiculous. Brees will one day have his day at Canton, and he should be a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee when all is said and done. It cannot, however, be denied that Brees is in the final days of what has been an incredible career, and there have been real signs that his skills have begun to wane. Brees has become overrated as it pertains to 2015, but that does not take away from all that he has accomplished.
8. Cordarrelle Patterson – WR – Minnesota Vikings
Things have gotten so worrisome for the once promising offensive talent that he may no longer actually be overrated. There were hopes that 2014 was going to be a breakout season for Cordarrelle Patterson, but he instead found himself benched by the Minnesota Vikings and dropped by fantasy football owners last fall. Patterson, once believed to be a potential future superstar offensive product, may now be nothing other than a returner if he even manages to get to that level with the Vikings. Odds are that Patterson will not make such a list next year because he will be a forgotten commodity.
7. Matt Ryan – QB – Atlanta Falcons
The Matty Ice admiration that is had by some football pundits and fans is something that needs to be explained at this point. Matt Ryan has never reached the high expectations that were had for him years ago, and there have always been excuses for why that has been the case. Ryan either had to deal with under-performing offensive weapons, or the line tasked with protecting him was beaten up by injuries. Great quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have managed to overcome those setbacks. Ryan has never done so, and that is why he is overrated heading into the 2015 season.
6. Brian Hoyer – QB – Houston Texans
The veteran journeyman quarterback made a name for himself while starting ahead of college football sensation Johnny Manziel with the Cleveland Browns last fall. Brian Hoyer also became less accurate the more that the season went along and the more that opposing defenses saw tape of his play, and there is a real chance that Hoyer will sooner than later lose the starting gig with the Houston Texans. There are plenty of reasonable individuals out there who realize that Hoyer is realistically a career backup who can fill in every now and again. Those who think that Hoyer can be a franchise quarterback have overrated the player.
5. Frank Gore – RB – Indianapolis Colts
Frank Gore turned 32 years old this past spring. Remember that tidbit before you think about grabbing the running back with a high pick in your fantasy football draft. Gore has been a tremendous talent and a consistent producer on offense during his career, but the wall that smashes into veteran running backs is real and it often appears out of nowhere. Even a great athlete such as Gore will not be able to avoid that reality that is swiftly coming upon him. Don’t look now, but Gore’s numbers have diminished over the past couple of seasons. That trend will likely continue.
4. Larry Fitzgerald – WR – Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been an absolute joy to follow and to cover during his NFL career. A class act on and off of the field, Fitzgerald is now in the twilight of what has been a spectacular NFL tenure. Time and the wear and tear that comes with playing in the NFL for over a decade have begun to catch up with Fitzgerald, to the point that he is no longer a No. 1 wide receiver for any team. Fitzgerald still has the goods to contribute and find the end zone, but all indications are that his best days in the NFL are now a thing of the past.
3. Percy Harvin – WR – Buffalo Bills
Wide receiver Percy Harvin is the type of athlete who makes for a dream player in editions of Madden video games. In real life, though, Harvin has never evolved into the elite wide receiver that many hoped that he would be when he first broke into the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets have all allowed Harvin to move on during his NFL career, and he will now be looking to make an impact on the offense of the Buffalo Bills. He may pull off the occasional noteworthy play here and there, but Harvin nevertheless has to be considered to be overrated these days.
2. Tony Romo – QB – Dallas Cowboys
The starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys is an example of a player who is overrated by many and underrated by many others. Tony Romo has put up impressive numbers during his career, to the point that he may very well statistically be the best regular season quarterback in the history of the Cowboys. His lackluster performances during December games and in the postseason have become well known by fans of the club and also by casual football observers, and they have prevented Romo from taking that next step into greatness. The truth of the matter is that Romo may end up being one of the most overrated players of his time if he never wins even a conference championship.
1. J.J. Watt – DE – Houston Texans
The defensive end who features for the Houston Texans may very well be the most talented player on his side of the football in all of the NFL. Those who would rank J.J. Watt as the top player in the league have seemingly forgotten the fact that the NFL is all about passing attacks in this era. Quarterback is the most important position in all of pro football and arguably in all of sports, and that is the biggest reason that Watt ranks atop this list. As special of a talent as he is, there is not a single general manager in the league who would take him ahead of any of the best quarterbacks in the league.