I wrote a lot the last two weeks about some of my favorite sleepers in the draft and a few quality prospects I see as flying under the radar currently (Malik Gant, Isaac Nauta), but now it is time to flip the switch. Y’all know I’m never shy about putting my name on a piece on overrated prospects, so here’s five that I think need to be rated lower by the consensus.
1. Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Things I like about Wilson: his ball skills and splash play ability in coverage, despite his inconsistencies, aren’t something you see in college every year. Things I don’t like about Wilson: missed tackles, slow mental processing and struggles to beat blockers to spots or shed them in the run game.
He’s an ideal third down option with developmental traits, but even in coverage Wilson isn’t perfect, and his run defense in the box leaves a whole lot to be desired. You can argue that is less important in today’s NFL than ever before, but if you want to play every down at a high level and not turn into the next Alec Ogletree, you’re gonna need to show me a little more development before you head to the NFL. If Wilson tests well and you’re taking him day 2 to develop, I’m good with it. Round 1? I’ll let someone else take that gamble.
2. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Sorry, but after Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, DeVante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham, Devin Funchess, Kelvin Benjamin and Jaelen Strong, I’m very wary of big-bodied receivers with either average athleticism or an unpolished route tree. Harry has unbelievable size, strength and some highlight-reel catches, but the man just does not separate well, nor is he a particularly well-rounded route runner.
Talking to me about Harry in the mid-day 2 range of the draft? Sure. But unless he tests much better than I expect and runs Mike Williams-fast (4.54), I’ll continue to be puzzled by the Round 1 buzz he receives.
3. Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford
Not only do I find Smith’s tape disappointing, I also think his upside is way more limited than most analysts do. Smith’s biggest issue on tape is his inability to separate from man coverage and keep from being re-routed by physical defenders, as he constantly plays with an opponent in his hip pocket.
I could live with that if he showed great athletic upside, but I think he’s slow and lacks explosiveness out of his breaks as well. A disappointing Combine might finally bring other analysts to my side of things, especially considering how loaded this tight end class is as a whole.
4. Dexter Lawrence, IDL, Clemson
My itinerary for valuing interior defensive linemen is as follows: 1. Can he rush the passer? 2. Can he make impact plays behind the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis? 3. Can he dominate the point of attack and re-route backs with his physical presence up front?
For Lawrence the answers are as follows: 1. A little bit, but not enough to be a preferable every down player. 2. No 3. In streaks, but not in the same way someone like Derrick Nnadi did a year ago.
In short, Lawrence is a good run-stuffing prospect with enough upside and athleticism to not be a complete dud on passing downs, which would be awesome in the middle of day 2/early Round 3 portions of the draft. The problem is he’s been getting top ten hype for two years now, and there is just no way he belongs in the Round 1 discussion.
5. Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
I cannot believe that it is February and we are still talking about Jaylon Ferguson as a Round 1 prospect. Forget about the sack record for a second, the guy is stiff as a board on tape, lacks high-end explosiveness and struggles to corner on a consistent basis. The primary track that top-tier edge rushers win on as pass rushers is on the outside hip of the offensive tackle. If you can’t win there on a regular basis, you’re going to be limited as an edge rusher.
It has been rumored that Ferguson will kill the Combine, which would floor me based on his tape and watching him get consistently overwhelmed down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. But even if he does, why doesn’t such athletic ability show up on tape against even low level competition? Ferguson can help a team as a rotational nickel inside rusher due to the pop and power in his hands, but that’s not a skill set I would value in the top 100.