NFL

35 NFL Players Whose Reputations Are Greater Than Their Skills

Darren - November 19, 2020
NFL

35 NFL Players Whose Reputations Are Greater Than Their Skills

Darren - November 19, 2020
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

10. Khalil Mack

Mack has some phenomenal skills as a brilliant interception against the Minnesota Vikings proved. However, the Chicago Bears’ linebacker is a little bit overrated. In 2019, Chicago went 8-8 while Mack posted the lowest number of sacks in his career so far. It doesn’t look like they’ll do much better than that in 2020. Mack is excellent but one man can only do so much.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, there are question marks about his future. Some even speculate that he could return to the Raiders. It could be unfair to say he doesn’t deserve his reputation, but he could do with a change of scene. Perhaps better teammates would enable Mack to shine even more. If he wants to silence his doubters then a move to a Super Bowl contender would be the right move.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Trey Flowers

So far the Detroit Lions have massively overpaid Flowers. The two-time Super Bowl champion missed a chunk of 2020 with injury but it wasn’t like he was brilliant from the start of his Lions’ career anyway. Flowers is very good at pressuring the quarterback but is he worth a $90 million contract. The Patriots didn’t want to get into a bidding war over the Alabama native so perhaps that should have been a warning sign.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Flowers averages less than seven sacks per game which is not worth the massive contract he currently enjoys. Furthermore, it’s not like he’s singlehandedly transformed the Lions defense. Can one player change an entire defense? When you invest that much of your salary cap in one player then the short answer is, you hope so. But Flowers doesn’t appear to have the skills to do that.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

8. Le’Veon Bell

Bell surely has one of the best agents in the game. After a nightmare time with the New York Jets, he finally left that purgatory for the reigning Super Bowl champions. He left the worst team in the NFL for the best in the Kansas City Chiefs. However, he definitely doesn’t merit a starting place with Kansas at the moment ahead of Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Bell rushed for just 3.2 yards per game in 2019. Yes, we know the Jets were terrible but we’re still talking about a supposedly elite player. Diamonds shine in a bed of coal and the best players will drag their franchise up by the scruff of the neck. Bell isn’t the same player that he was for the Steelers because he no longer has the physical skills required to give his team a rare cutting edge.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

7. Dak Prescott

Patrick Mahomes’s contract warped the picture for future NFL quarterback deals. Just what will happen with Prescott and the Cowboys? ‘America’s Team’ desperately needs a top QB as Prescott’s absence through injury shows. But is he the man to lead them forward into the future? Do they really want to commit $100 million to a player who still has it all to prove?

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

These are huge questions but the issue is that Prescott hasn’t proven himself yet even though he played great before his injury. In short, he’s not the type of gamechanger who will singlehandedly guide his team into the Super Bowl. A poor 2019 and an unfortunate 2020 make Prescott’s future very muddy indeed. But it does seem like Prescott or his management team overrated himself.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. JuJu Smith-Schuster

First of all, let’s be fair, Smith-Schuster missed Ben Roethlisbergerlike the rest of the Steelers did in 2019. The lack of a solid quarterback under center definitely affected his output. But there remain question marks over whether his skills match his reputation. The wide receiver is now a fourth-year NFL veteran, but the one-time Pro Bowler is yet to fully deliver on his promise. Can he evolve into an elite star player?

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He is one of the most marketable players in the league and that definitely has helped his on-field depiction. While he has matured with the Steelers’ remarkable consistency in 2020, he’s not a game-changer in his own right. Overall, Smith-Schuster needs to balance all of his styles with some more substance to banish the overrated label. He has to show his true ability to silence the haters.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Todd Gurley

Gurley is very good but not great. The Rams let him go for a reason and it hasn’t hurt their offense at all. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons struggled immensely in 2020 with Gurley directly responsible for one defeat. All he had to do was not score a touchdown. However, somehow he still got this wrong. But if we’re fair, that was a freak moment; however, overall he lacks the skills to be a game-defining star.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

But that alone isn’t why he is on this list. Mistakes happen of course, but Gurley has a low yards-per-carry average. While his rushing numbers are still good, his overall game isn’t what it once was. There were question marks about Gurley’s ability after suffering knee injuries. The simple answer is that he’s definitely a solid running back with some skills, but isn’t at an elite level anymore.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. Jadeveon Clowney

There’s a reason why the Seattle Seahawks didn’t break the bank for Clowney. That’s because he’s not a mega-money player and they rightfully didn’t make him one. Clowney is capable of delivering dominant performances, but far from in every game. The Titans’ star has a terrible injury record. He only started 11 games in his final season in Seattle while he missed more games of his first year with the Titans whilst on injured reserve.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Clowney was a three-time Pro Bowler but has never made All-Pro. Clowney needs to stay fit and deliver consistently for a season or two before we can say he’s one of the best in the world. Right now, he isn’t in the top tier and that’s entirely fair to say. It’s not enough just to have the skills if you’re not on the field enough to make an impact.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Tom Brady

Tom Brady is 43 and one of the greatest players of all-time, and that should be respected. But reputations are malleable. The fact is that the Tampa Bay edition of Brady is not the same as the early 2010s version of the same person. The New England Patriots were happy to allow him to leave for a reason because he isn’t the same force. But some people don’t realize that and expect him to show the same skills as when he was 30.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

In sum, Brady is just older. While he is still performing at a strong level, his overall ability to influence is no longer the same. As we said, he’s 43 so that’s no big shock nor a damning statement. But he isn’t the best quarterback in the game anymore, no matter what anybody thinks. Just enjoy him while he still plays because he won’t be around forever. However, we can’t say that he’s the best in the world anymore.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. Odell Beckham Jr.

Firstly there is no doubt that Beckham is a supremely talented player and athlete. However, there’s also no doubt that he has definitely underachieved thus far in his career. Injuries have decimated his ability to make a sustained impact with the Cleveland Browns as seen by the fact that he will miss most of the 2020 season. In sum, he’s one of the most frustrating athletes in the entire NFL.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Beckham still has one of the best reputations in the game yet that time is running out. While he is capable of playing like the best receiver in the league on his day, those days are too few. The former Giants’ star lacks consistency and his body continues to let him down. Maybe one day, he’ll recapture the numbers of 2016 when he lit the league on fire and smashed record after record. But he’s not there right now with his skills or fitness.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. Colin Kaepernick

Some people will find it strange that Kaepernick is on this list because he isn’t an active player at the time of writing. However, his absence from the field has only enhanced his reputation. In fact, many non-football fans believe that he has the skills of Joe Montana or something. Of course, any self-respecting NFL fan knows that Kaepernick’s final couple of seasons with the Niners were poor.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

But many people, who clearly don’t actually watch football, believe that Kaepernick should oust Patrick Mahomes or Russell Wilson. The reality of course is that he would do well to be a backup at this point in his career because he has missed so much football. In sum, it’s one of the strangest revisionist stories in the sport. By not playing, Kaepernick has created a myth and a mystique that simply doesn’t correlate with what he achieved – or didn’t – on the field.

Advertisement