Draft's Biggest Letdowns

Overvalued, overrated, call it what you want - these players aren't worth the hype

April 25, 2007

By Rob Rang

Special to CSTV.com from NFLDraftScout.com

 

For anyone who has even a passing interest in the NFL Draft, the image of Aaron Rodgers in 2005 is still fresh.

 

If for no other reason than that it makes good television, the NFL traditionally invites a handful of the elite prospects to Manhattan for the draft. Rodgers was invited in 2005, and although his presence certainly created dramatic television, it was painful to watch him slip from a potential No. 1 overall pick to No. 24 overall to Green Bay, several hours after the rest of the players on hand had been whisked away by private jet to their new teams.

 

The inexact science that is the NFL Draft will always feature players drafted higher or lower than expected. Rodgers had plenty of talent; he was more a victim of few teams seeking a franchise quarterback. And in hindsight, he probably would have had a hard time justifying being a top-10 pick at that point in his career.

 

On the flip side, just as many players are taken in picks highly disproportionate to their level of talent. Here is a list of players who, for one reason or another, will be selected before they should be in this weekend's draft:

 

Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas: As productive as Anderson was last season, a good number of his SEC-leading 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles (second in the conference) for loss were influenced by a creative and aggressive Arkansas coaching staff. Anderson has spectacular size (6-foot-6, 280 pounds), and the former wide receiver has athleticism to develop, but he leaves after only one full season as the starter and is far from a finished product.

 

Mason Crosby, K, Colorado: Crosby remains the draft's elite special teams prospect, but he, like all kickers, does not warrant a selection in the top two rounds (despite his freakish leg strength). Some question just how strong his leg is after Crosby's kickoffs throughout Senior Bowl week failed to make the end zone. Further questions were raised about Crosby's ability to kick under pressure when he hit only 11-of-15 kicks at the Combine.

 

Buster Davis, ILB, Florida State: Characterized by some as the second coming of Ray Lewis, Davis uses his instincts and explosive hitting to make many highlight tackles, but his lack of height (5-foot-10) and short arms are a concern for scouts. Davis isn't particularly effective in disengaging from blocks and he has never been known to be an especially hard worker.

 

Trent Edwards, QB, Stanford: Edwards is being bandied about as the clear No. 3 quarterback in the 2007 class, but his inability to stay healthy has to be a concern for scouts. Edwards missed time during each of his four seasons at Stanford and leaves with only three more touchdowns than interceptions (36 to 33) over his career. Edwards has talent and some of his struggles at Stanford were the result of a poor supporting class, but he never developed into a difference-maker despite arriving in Palo Alto as one of the elite prep prospects in the country.

 

Ted Ginn, Jr., WR, Ohio State: Ginn's explosiveness as a returner will make him a highly sought-after commodity come draft day, but his immediate contributions in the NFL might be limited to special teams. He could make a Devin Hester-type impact in the return game, but scouts question just how effective he'll be as a receiver, considering his less-than-spectacular hands, route-running and toughness.

 

Ryan Harris, OT, Notre Dame: Perhaps due to the endorsement Irish coach Charlie Weis gave him as one of the only true left tackles in the college game, Harris is considered by some to be a better pass blocker than he really is. While he has the foot quickness and balance to protect the blind side, Harris is surprisingly susceptible to speed rushes and certainly lacks both the upper body strength and intensity that define top blockers. Harris might be better suited to guard until he can develop more strength and technique - a concern when you take into account that he started 45 games for the Irish. Simply put, with that kind of experience, Harris should be more ready to contribute as a rookie than he is.

 

Chris Houston, CB, Arkansas: Houston's spectacular junior season will almost surely result in his getting drafted in the first round, but he isn't a player without warts. While he was successful in limiting some of the highest-rated receivers, a terrific Arkansas pass rush reduced the opportunities for quarterbacks to pick on him. With only one season as a full-time starter, Houston lacks technique and is susceptible to great route-runners.

 

Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC: Despite leaving USC early, Jarrett is the Pac-10's career leader with 41 touchdown receptions. While that number is significant in that it obviously shows his production against top competition and speaks to his ability as a short-yardage and red-zone threat, there is also the perception that Jarrett is a true big-play specialist. In reality, he lacks the deep speed to ever become a true No. 1 NFL wideout.

 

Chris Leak, QB, Florida: Florida's run to the national championship wouldn't have occurred without the steady passing of Leak, but winning in Gainesville is hardly an indicator of future NFL success. Leak lacks the size and arm strength to be successful in most NFL offenses, and isn't as accurate as his hype would lead you to believe. When placed in a more traditional offense at the Senior Bowl, Leak's lack of standout physical tools was exposed.

 

Jarvis Moss, DE, Florida: Moss' terrific speed off the edge should help him generate gaudy sack numbers at the NFL level. That said, don't expect him to do much of anything else. Despite his great height (6-foot-6), Moss weighs in at only 251 pounds and lacks the mass and strength to offer much resistance against the run. Moss made two of Florida's biggest plays in blocking two kicks in Florida's 17-16 victory over South Carolina. They were the only two blocks of Moss' career, however. With questions about his size and speed, there were some who projected Moss as a potential outside linebacker, but he struggled in changing direction at his pro day workout and is best suited to remain as a pass rush specialist in the 4-3. Another one-year starter, Moss' ability to provide a pass rush on third down could get him drafted in the first round, but he shouldn't be expected to contribute much else.

 

Greg Olsen, TE, Miami: There is no other tight end in the 2007 draft with Olsen's ability to threaten defenses down the seam, but this is the one aspect in which he ranks significantly higher than his peers. Olsen, despite measuring in at a solid 6-foot-5, 252 pounds, provides very little in terms of blocking and may lack the passion for the physical nature of the game to ever develop much in this area. While his production had much to do with a surprisingly limited supporting cast at Miami, it is also important to note that Olsen's career numbers (87 receptions for 1,215 yards and six touchdowns in 33 games) are hardly eye-popping.

 

Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma: If he can remain healthy, Peterson has the kind of ability to be one of the truly special runners in the NFL. Of course, Peterson remaining healthy is a big, and potentially expensive, "if." His best season came three years ago as a true freshman, the year he was forced to undergo off-season shoulder surgery. For each of the past two seasons, Peterson hasn't been able to make it through the year unscathed. In fact, he was able to start only 14 total games in the past two seasons. He completely missed eight games and left five others early. At 6-foot-2, Peterson is taller than many scouts prefer at running back, and his physical, upright running style leads to big collisions. I've seen too many college linebackers who will soon be doing someone's taxes hit Peterson square to think that the ultra physical linebackers of the NFL won't get some glory shots on this kid. Buyer beware.

 

Paul Posluszny, OLB, Penn State: As instinctive and tough as Posluszny is, he simply lacks the top-flight athleticism teams want at outside linebacker. At the Senior Bowl, Posluszny's lack of range in coverage was exposed and teams wonder just where he fits at the next level. By no means am I forecasting that Posluszny will be a bust, but based on his collegiate production and name recognition, some seem ready to enshrine him into the Hall of Fame. A more realistic projection might be his developing into one of the headier, dependable linebackers in the league - albeit without a dozen Pro Bowl invitations. 

 

Brian Robison, DE, Texas: Robison's shocking workout at the Combine caused some to move him into the first day of the draft, but in reality the Texas pass rusher might be this year's best example of a classic workout warrior. Robison, after measuring in at 6-foot-3, 259 pounds, was clocked at 4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 6.89 in the three cone and posted a 40.5-inch vertical jump - all among the elite numbers provided by any player at 250-plus pounds, regardless of position. On film, however, Robison's freakish athleticism isn't as obvious. In fact, he has always been characterized as a blue-collar defender who makes plays more because of his instincts and strength at the point of attack. Robison's tools and 36 starts at Texas warrant his selection in the middle rounds, but he isn't the football player that his eye-popping workout results would indicate.

 

Aaron Ross, CB, Texas: In winning the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back, one might think Ross was unbeatable in 2006. While he generated 11 turnovers (six interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries) Ross was also repeatedly beaten. Another player who leaves after only one season as a full-time starter, Ross' combination of big plays, size (6-foot-1, 192) and speed (4.44) make him an intriguing prospect. His ability as a return specialist, however, is his most likely immediate contribution. In terms of being able to start right away at cornerback, a team is apt to be disappointed with the number of receptions and missed tackles Ross allows.